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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
A studio with a view (of the tracking room). Our offices on Loring Park are coming along nicely. Can’t wait to start recording Krista’s interviews here!
(via trentgilliss)
A studio with a view (of the tracking room). Our offices on Loring Park are coming along nicely. Can’t wait to start recording Krista’s interviews here!
(via trentgilliss)

A studio with a view (of the tracking room). Our offices on Loring Park are coming along nicely. Can’t wait to start recording Krista’s interviews here!

(via trentgilliss)


Esoteric teachings on reincarnation and consciousness; simple teachings on compassion and ethics. Geshe Thupten Jinpa is a man who finishes the Dalai Lama’s English sentences. This On Being interview with the philosopher and former monk, now a husband and father of two daughters, is a meditation on what happens when the ancient tradition embodied in the Dalai Lama meets science and life.


Dr. Rami Nashashibi

There are so many inspiring people who are doing the good, hard work that are needed in our communities. We need to hear from more of these unrecognized heroes. Rami Nashashibi is definitely one of them, especially as the news of late is reporting about the rash of killings in Chicago this year.

Mr. Nashashibi lives on the South Side of Chicago, and is the founder of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. He’s working with people of all ethnicities and races and sees the U.S. as still the best place for an emerging American Muslim dream. He’s creative in his approach to community-building — using graffiti, calligraphy, and hip hop as a healing force in his work. He’s an activist who converges religious virtues, social action, and the arts. His life is a creative response to ethical confusion in a world of disparity.

Listening to his conversation with Krista is definitely worth an hour of your time. Please reblog and share if you’re down with what he says.


"The human is matter at its most incendiary stage."
~Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)

Where is technology taking us? Are we heading towards greatness, or just hyper-connected collapse? This challenge was foreseen a century ago by Teilhard de Chardin.

A world-renowned paleontologist, he helped verify fossil evidence of human evolution. A Jesuit priest and philosopher, he penned forbidden ideas that seemed mystical at the time but are now coming true — that humanity would develop capacities for collective, global intelligence, that a meaningful vision of the Earth and the universe would have to include “the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter.”

The coming stage of evolution, he said, won’t be driven by physical adaptation but by human consciousness, creativity, and spirit. It’s up to us. Krista Tippett visits with Teilhard de Chardin’s biographer Ursula King, and we experience his ideas energizing New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson.


Enhancing YouTube Audio of Sarah Kay’s “Tshotsholoza” for Public Radio

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Making quality public radio and illustrating a guest’s point can be a tricky. Take, for instance, the poem going into the midpoint break of our interview with Sarah Kay. The clip is excerpted from Ms. Kay’s June 2010 performance of “Tshotsholoza” at the Acumen Fund’s *spark! event in New York City.

What we hoped for was a broadcast-quality recording. Unfortunately, the Acumen Fund only had a YouTube video of it. The audio is good but not great, but the strength of the content took precedent over the quality of the audio. So, our technical director stripped the audio from the video, imported it into ProTools, added some broadband noise reduction to minimize the buzz and hum, and then used audio compression to aid in some of the dynamic range.

First take a listen to the audio above. Then listen to the video below (with your eyes closed) and see if you can notice the difference.

Anonymous asked:
how can I listen to On Being on my Kindle Fire??

Good morning, Anonymous—

Listening to On Being on the Kindle FireI’m going to do a partial punt on this one because none of us on staff have a Kindle Fire, and thus do not have an intimate knowledge of the device that might offer you specific steps. That said, we do offer each weekly show and unedited interview via podcast or as individual downloads on each episode’s show page at the On Being website. I’ll defer to our readers and Tumblr dashboard audience to offer better advice on apps that might make this experience easier.

I am one of those cats who uses Amazon’s Cloud service. A lot. Perhaps I can offer a possible workaround in which you download the mp3 to your device and then sync it to your Amazon Cloud account. That way you can use the native music player to stream your favorite On Being episodes without having to hound-dog them on your device!

When you find a solution, please let me know what works best. We’re starting to receive a number of questions about Kindles and I’d like to be able to share your solutions with others.

Happy holidays,
Trent Gilliss, senior editor


From Zone 8 to Cell Block to Urban Network Bookstore

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

"My mama became my hero and my father became my mentor."
Yusef Shakur

Yusef Shakur and sonHunkered down in a WDET motor city hoodie and a down sleeping bag listening to KAXE in northern Minnesota, I caught the first episode of The Listening Post, a documentary series from the BBC that “invites close, unhurried listening to the stories of individuals.” And wouldn’t you know it, the first profile tells the story of a Detroit native.

Yusef Shakur, who now runs a bookstore and community center in Zone 8, grew up in the same neighborhood and became a gangster as a teenager. At the age of 19 in 1992, he began serving a nine-year prison sentence. While there, he reaches out to his father who’s also serving time — a man he’s never met and considers “a sperm donor.” His father’s reply changes the course of his life:

"Son, let your past mistakes become your teacher because your mistakes can become our greatest education. … You must use this time to prepare yourself to leave better than what you came in as. Turn your cell into a university by rebuilding yourself from the inside out. … P.S. You misspelled knowledge, religion, envelope, address, message and religious. If you don’t have a dictionary, you need to get one. Words are powerful because they convey who we are. Use your mind to free yourself or somebody will use your mind to keep you a slave."

It’s a story about the power of a lost father’s love, hope and resurrection, and a tale of the meaning of time and attention in the most dire of circumstances.


What Do You Think Williams’ Mother Meant by Giving Her Those Journals?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

spiralsThis bit of audio from our Terry Tempest Williams interview has us all mystified. It resulted in this “thought experiment” among our staff, which led to wildly varying interpretations.

Take a listen to this confounding story about the journals her mother left her:

What do you think Williams’ mother was trying to say about herself? To tell her daughter?

What do those pages say about “voice” to the rest of us?

I’ve told and retold this story to many of my friends and family, and each person has a distinct take on what it all means, but they all ask with a wrinkled brow: Why? Why? Why? I’m anxious to hear your interpretation because I can easily come up with a half-dozen theories.


Is Poetry Enhanced or Diminished with Music?

by Shubha Bala, associate producer

“Autumn Passage” sans music (mp3, 1:12)
"Autumn Passage" with music (mp3, 1:49)

Poet Elizabeth AlexanderFor this week’s exercise, we’re interested in hearing your preference. The two audio clips above feature Elizabeth Alexander reading her poem "Autumn Passage": the first version pairs her poetry with music and the second without. Does the added production enhance her reading of the poem or does it interfere with your experience? Why is that?

If you heard our interview with the poet in "Words That Shimmer," you might have noticed there was a mix of poems highlighted with music, while others were left unadorned. This sparked a discussion among our staff. Some, especially the long-time Alexander fans, preferred the poetry to stand alone, while others felt the music brought the poet’s words and reading style to life and added to the experience.

Ultimately, we decided to offer you both versions of all eight poems on our website — her poems with and without music — which you can download as mp3s.


Love the Podcast. Turn It Up!

by Chris Heagle, producer

I’d like to give a shout out to Danny from Tennessee who emailed the show about our podcast levels. He noticed that our show was significantly quieter than some of his other favorites. Turns out that he was right, and we’re going to do something about it.

There are a surprising amount of steps involved in creating the final podcast you get on your mobile device, all of which occur after the final audio is produced for the broadcast version of the show. Believe me, I wish we could produce the show like we would for a CD, giving the listener the best possible experience. Unfortunately, in the world of the podcast, file size and download speeds as well as the myriad of playback devices are limiting factors with which we wrestle while trying to preserve audio quality.

To add to that, we attach a bunch metadata to the audio including the carefully designed album art and descriptions that accompany each episode. So, long story short, in an attempt to provide more complete and interesting metadata, On Being has taken a different route through APM’s normal podcast encoding software. By doing manually encoding and adding information to the file, we are able to create a better experience for our online listeners.

What we didn’t realize was that our audio was doing an end around some processing that would boost the levels to match our parent company’s other shows like Marketplace and The Splendid Table.

Sometimes, innovation can have unintended consequences, but thanks to feedback from our listeners, we’ll keep trying to raise the bar in all aspects of our show. Keep listening and, by all means, keep telling us what we can do better!

Tagged: #audio #podcast
Ten years later, it’s still tough. You never get away from it. It’s like losing family, you know? You could try to fill the hole, but you’re always going to feel the loss.

— U.S. Navy Supply Officer Robert Overturf

I had an NPR driveway moment yesterday listening to producer Matthew Ozug’s non-narrated piece featuring the voices of USS Cole crew members whose ship was bombed by al-Qaida 10 years ago today. I particularly like the pacing, and the use of music and the closing lines featured in the quote above.

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer


Observing Yom HaShoah with a Prayer from Elie Wiesel

by Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

Helping and HealingOn May 18, 1945, American chaplain Rabbi Herschel Schacter conducts a religious service for Jewish survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after liberation. (credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

Today marks Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each year it’s observed on the 27th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.

To commemorate Yom HaShoah, we wanted to share with you a clip from our program with Elie Wiesel, "The Tragedy of the Believer." The Nobel laureate is probably best known for his memoir Night, which tells the story of his experiences at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Holocaust.

During his conversation with Krista in 2003, Wiesel dispels the misconception that he forever lost his faith in God after the war. He also describes how language becomes holy through prayer. In the audio clip above (download mp3), he recites a prayer he wrote that ends his book, One Generation After

I no longer ask you for either happiness or paradise; all I ask of You is to listen and let me be aware of Your listening.

I no longer ask You to resolve my questions, only to receive them and make them part of You.

I no longer ask You for either rest or wisdom, I only ask You not to close me to gratitude, be it of the most trivial kind, or to surprise and friendship. Love? Love is not Yours to give.

As for my enemies, I do not ask You to punish them or even to enlighten them; I only ask You not to lend them Your mask and Your powers. If You must relinquish one or the other, give them Your powers. But not Your countenance.

They are modest, my requests, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land.

I ask you, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too.

I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only beg You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together.

They are modest, my prayers, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land.

I ask You, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too.

I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only implore You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together.


Forgiving His Daughter’s Murderer
Shubha Bala, associate producer

Hector BlackIn response to last week’s show, Hector Black pointed us to this StoryCorps interview. The listener from Tennessee tells the story of his daughter being murdered in her home and his process of seeking vengeance and granting forgiveness:

"I’d never been in favor of the death penalty, but, I wanted that man to hurt — the way that he had hurt her. I wanted him to hurt the way I was hurting. But after a while I wanted to know who it was…"

He narrates the events in detail — from the murder of his daughter to the process of wanting revenge, and ultimately to granting forgiveness. The heinousness of the crime makes me think of Desmond Tutu speaking about forgiveness during the South African truth and reconciliation process. He said you would think there are things that are unforgivable, like the horrendous violence of apartheid. And yet, he says, they saw many people who ought to have been bristling with bitterness and anger but actually embraced their perpetrators when they met face-to-face.

In some small way, it’s a good lesson reminding me that it should take much less mental work to forgive the person that steals your parking spot or cuts in front of you in line.


Einstein on Race
» download (mp3, 13:46)
Colleen Scheck, senior producer

"But after I accepted that…he actually said such things, the next puzzle for me was why? Because…prior to Martin Luther King, I don’t know of any other Nobel Laureate who spoke so forcefully for the rights of African Americans."
— S. James Gates, Jr., string theorist

"My trip to this institution was in behalf of a worthwhile cause. There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it."
— Albert Einstein, speaking at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1946

Albert Einstein’s spiritual sensibility is the center of this week’s program, "Einstein’s God," but I want to highlight a section from our companion show, "Einstein’s Ethics," that explores the nature of his humanitarian passions and public ethics, including his views on race. It contains one of my favorite interviews: Krista’s conversation with S. James Gates, Jr, a professor of physics whose work focuses on string theory and supersymmetry — things I don’t fully comprehend.

Originally, he was not on our radar for this program, but when we heard him speak at a conference on Einstein’s legacy, we were impressed not only by his scientific insight, but also by his reflection on Einstein the person. In this excerpt from our program, Gates speaks eloquently and thoughtfully about how he discovered Einstein’s passion for the problem of racism, and his "capacity for ethical engagement and his scientific creativity" — something Gates himself embodies. You’ll hear the beautiful voice of the legendary opera singer Marian Anderson, whom Einstein invited to stay at his home after she was denied a room at Princeton’s best “whites only” hotel.


More Science Behind the Human-Animal Connection
Shubha Bala, associate producer

I was catching up on my Radiolab and caught the "Animal Minds" episode. In line with our discussion on animals and spirituality, this episode delves into different scientific research on whether or not animals and humans have a mental or emotional connection.