Us & Them

Podcast

Us & Them is a podcast exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Peabody Award winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on cultural issues.

Us & Them is a joint project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, PRX and Trey Kay Productions.

You can subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR OneRadioPublicSpotifyStitcher and beyond. 

You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio. Tune in on the fourth Thursday of every month at 8 PM, with an encore presentation on the fourth Saturday at 3 PM.

This project has been made possible through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

Us & Them: We The Purple

Dec 12, 2019

Democracy may need a reboot, or a kickstart. Pick your favorite term, but the fact is, our system of government requires our participation. When we lose trust, it suffers.

Do you disagree with any of your close friends or family members about abortion? When’s the last time you actually talked about it? For many of us, the abortion debate defines Us & Them and sometimes, we feel it better to avoid the subject altogether.

Recently, several states have enacted laws restricting access to abortion services. Some states have signed laws banning the proceedure and next year, the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case that could change the right to legal abortion.

Nikki Tundel / Photo of Paul Dorr from APM Reports, a production of Minnesota Public Radio®. © 2018 Minnesota Public Radio®. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Paying taxes is one of those things we just can’t avoid… except for the local tax measures we get to vote on. One of the best examples is school spending. When local school officials ask for additional money for new academic programs or school buildings, taxpayers must approve it. There’s one man who has worked with citizen’s groups in dozens of places to fight against more money for public schools. He’s been successful in many places and his efforts highlight the Us & Them in all of these communities.

WV Archive

For decades, coal was king in West Virginia. It paid good wages, paid the bills for many local services through taxes, and kept small towns alive. But more of our nation’s electricity is starting to come from other sources like wind and solar power. Coal is losing out.

Jesse Pratt Lopez/100 Days in Appalachia

We’re in the midst of the 2019 hurricane season, and people in the Bahamas are still digging out from Hurricane Dorian. In 2018 hurricane Florence hit the coast of North Carolina, which left 51 people dead and caused $24 billion in damage in the state. 

William Ronald Pulliam, 65, in court as he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting 15-year-old James Means to death in Charleston’s East End.
Kenny Kemp / Charleston Gazette-Mail

For the past three years, the Us & Them team has tracked the case of James Means, the 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by 62-year-old William Pulliam on the East End of Charleston, W.Va.

The case got national attention partly because Pulliam is white and Means was black. This week, the story came to a sad unexpected conclusion.

Ashley Rodgers

Science and faith can offer a different perspective of the world... of life... and of what we believe. When you mix in a third ingredient - politics - the dynamic can become toxic. Whether you consider evolution versus creationism or the causes of climate change, there are people who say their religious beliefs make it difficult for them to have faith in science. However, some scientists say there is nothing in theology that separates them from their faith and beliefs. This episode looks at people of faith and people of science to find some common ground. Trey speaks with Dr.

Bob Aaron / WCHS-TV

The Us & Them team has tracked the case of James Means - a 15-year-old boy who William Pulliam shot and killed in Charleston, W.Va., in November 2016. The case got national attention partly because Pulliam is white and Means was black. It was one of a number of shootings that focused on questions about racial injustice in our legal system. Last month, Pulliam agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder. A week later, he wrote to the judge and asked to revoke his plea. Last week the judge called Pulliam into court to get a clarification.

Daniel Breen

Last spring, we put out an episode called “Farm Wars.” It was about Arkansas farmers' never-ending battles with “pigweed” or as some call it “Satan’s Weed.” It’s incredibly hard to get rid of. There’s a controversy in that state over a herbicide called “dicamba” that’s used to keep the weeds at bay, but has divided the farming community. 

Mitch Hanley

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the last two years, 2 million people in the United States misused prescription opioids for the first time. “Steve,” a curious kid from New Hampshire, found his mom’s oxycodone pills in the medicine cabinet and liked the way they made him feel. Before long, he wanted to see what the big deal was with heroin, and doubted that he’d become addicted. As it turns out, he got hooked on his first try. In this episode, we’ll hear Steve’s struggle to stay clean and how his addiction became a family affair.

William Pulliam
KENNY KEMP / Gazette-Mail

Last week, William Pulliam -- a 65-year-old Charleston, West Virginia man -- agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder. He was originally charged with first degree murder for killing an African-American teenager named James Means. On Tuesday, the judge received a letter from Pulliam, asking for the plea deal to be revoked.

Classic Alfred E. Neuman
Norman Mingo / MAD Magazine

MAD Magazine, once the touchstone of American satire and snark, is winding down its publication after 67 years. Trey says, as a kid, MAD’s adolescent-focused, subversive content helped him connect with his inner “wise ass.” It made him feel smarter and stupider at the same time. And now he’s trying to reconcile an Us & Them world without MAD firing its arrows toward the sacred cows of our culture.

Nafea (Fay) Adkins (left), mother of the late James Means, and Dominique Cole outside of a courtroom in Charleston, WV
Trey Kay

For nearly three years, the Us & Them team has followed the James Means’ case - a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed  in Charleston, WV, by William Pulliam, who was 62 years old at the time. The case got national attention partly because Pulliam is white and Means was black. It was one of a number of shootings that focused on questions about racial injustice in our legal system. Pulliam’s trial was scheduled to begin  late this summer, but instead there’s been a surprise outcome.

My Friend From Camp

Jul 25, 2019
Albert Melise and Mitch Hanley

Two men, one a British citizen of Pakistani heritage, and the other a former housing police officer in the Boston area, were unlikely to meet, until the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. But after the Bush Administration launched the War on Terror, Moazzam Begg was detained and held at the U.S. Detention Camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where Albert Melise was a guard. You can’t get much more Us & Them than that.

Detainees are seen outside tent shelters used to hold separated family members, Friday, June 22, in Fabens, Texas.
Matt York / AP Photo

U.S. immigration policies are very much in the spotlight recently with reports on conditions at some of the southern border detention camps and fresh concerns about children being held apart from their parents.

Ted Brightwell performing at Gay Pride Celebration, Charleston, WV June 2019
Chris Gosses

It’s Gay Pride month across the country and a celebration of increasing tolerance and rights for the LGBTQ community. Attitudes have changed in many places, including the Mountain State - where more than 50 percent of residents believe the Bible is the word of God.

Motortion

Two college freshman spend a night together. There’s inexperience, miscommunication and things go wrong -- really wrong.

One of them calls what happened sexual assault, the other calls it rape. But together, they’ve found a remarkable way to recover, heal and learn.  

For this episode, Trey speaks with Stephanie Lepp, the producer of the podcast “Reckonings” about the story of Anwen and Sameer and one night that has changed their lives.

Farm Wars

May 22, 2019
Organic farmer Shawn Peebles voicing his concern about dicamba to the Arkansas State Plant Board.
Loretta Williams

America’s trade war with China is fueling a long-running battle over weedkillers in American farm fields. It's a tough time to be an American farmer -- especially if you grow soybean. They are a $40 billion business in the U.S., but the price of soybeans plummeted last year because of the trade war. Soybean farmers are desperate to restore their profits and one way to do that is to boost their harvest.

Still Waiting For Justice

May 8, 2019
Charleston Gazette

For the past two and a half years, a first-degree murder case has worked its way through the courts in Charleston. A 15-year-old boy, James Means, was shot and killed in the city's East End back in 2016.

Waiting for Justice

Apr 24, 2019
Wayne Casey

In Charleston, WV back in November 2016, William Pulliam, a 62-year-old white man, shot and killed James Means, a 15-year-old African-American boy. The case made national headlines. Reports say during his confession, Pulliam told police, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off of the street.”

Tony Wagner / American Public Media

For this episode, Trey speaks with Caitlin Esch, a reporter for The Uncertain Hour podcast, which is produced from the Wealth and Poverty Desk at APM’s Marketplace.  They’ve produced a series that examines the history of the so-called “War on Drugs.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Measles cases have spiked in the first quarter of 2019 with outbreaks in ten states. Vaccinations prevent many communicable diseases, but measles is back. Epidemiologists believe it's because some parents do not immunize their children. As a result, the so called “herd protection” from disease that public health officials rely on, is weaker.

In the winter of 2016, we told the story of Anne Kelly Skinner, a Charleston, WV lawyer, who was transitioning from male to female.  As Anne's body became less dude-like and more womanly, she was pleased. However, she worried her voice wouldn’t match her new body. There are many physical challenges for transgender people, one that doesn't get a lot of attention is how a trans woman learns to sound like a woman. If a woman sounds like a guy, can she truly feel like a woman?

As a West Virginia teenager, Amber Miller dropped out of school, took drugs and robbed homes. She wound up on the wrong side of the law and served time for a felony. In a youth correction center, she turned her life around, but after her release, had trouble finding a job to support her two sons.

The Black Talk

Feb 13, 2019

How old were you when you first learned that police may think of you as a threat? You’ve never been told that? Chances are you’re not African American. In this episode, Trey Kay examines “The Black Talk,” which is the sober conversation that many black families have with their teenage kids – particularly teenage boys – about how they should conduct themselves when stopped by the police.

Throughout history, men have been seen as the dominant gender. Why is this? Some assume the model goes all the way back to the primitive cave man. Others believe the gender pecking order was commanded by God.

In this episode, Trey speaks with John Biewen and Celeste Headlee about their “Men” series for the "Scene On Radio" podcast. In this episode we dive deep into how, when and why men invented the patriarchy, and how it hurts everyone.

 

 

My Friend From Camp

Jan 14, 2019

Moazzam Begg, a British citizen of Pakistani heritage, and Albert Melise, a former housing police officer in the Boston area, were unlikely to have their life stories intersect and become friends; but then September 11 happened.

After the Bush Administration launched the War on Terror, Begg was detained and held at the U.S. Detention Camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Melise was a Gitmo guard. You can’t get much more Us & Them than that.

It’s that time of year again when Trey’s Twitter and Facebook feed flare up with posts about a “War on Christmas.” Every year there’s hubbub over how saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is TOO politically correct, or that a nativity scene doesn't belong on government property. Christmas traditionalists feel there’s an attack on this sacred holiday. While secularists seem bothered that this religious holiday has a privileged place in a country known for its separation of church and state.

Culture Clash
Eric Schwabel

Back in the 1990s, Trey got into Culture Clash, a trio of Latino comedians who do social satire. He loved that they skewered public figures and poke sacred cows.

Culture Clash enjoys making the audience squirm, no matter what part of the political spectrum they're on. Their critically acclaimed work in the 90s had to do with tension along the U.S-Mexico border.

Recently, they’ve been reviving and updating their pieces because – if you haven’t heard – news from the border is pretty relevant these days.

Origins of the Epidemic

Dec 3, 2018

Last year, 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.  A lot of those deaths -- about three-fourths -- were caused by opioid medication prescribed by doctors or substances like heroin obtained on the street.

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