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Us & Them

Trey Kay and WVPB

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We tell stories from the fault lines that separate Americans. Peabody Award-winning public radio producer Trey Kay listens to people on both sides of the divide.

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The Elephant in the (Class) Room: How I Survived Iraq and Vassar College

32:40 | Jun 1st, 2017

After four years of commanding a tank in Iraq, David Carrell, a Republican from Texas, had the opportunity to study at a liberal college in the northeast. He tells Trey what he’s observed about Red and Blue America.

Hello Mary Lou...

35:46 | May 21st, 2016

Mary Lou Bruner, who made headlines with her wild accusations about President Obama, is running for Texas State Board of Education. If elected, she’ll be responsible for guiding the nation’s second largest public school system. Could she influence th...Show More

Reconnecting With Femme Voice

52:05 | Mar 13th

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...Show More

Scarlet Letters and Second Chances

28:28 | Feb 27th

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...Show More

Black Talk

50:52 | Feb 13th

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 b...Show More

Cave Men, The Patriarchy & Fairytales

29:56 | Jan 30th

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 Bi...Show More

My Friend From Camp

51:52 | Jan 14th

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 Admin...Show More

War on Christmas…Really? 2018

52:36 | Dec 18th, 2018

It’s that time of year again, when Trey’s Twitter and Facebook feeds 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 nativit...Show More

Culture Clash: Back to the Border

24:15 | Dec 5th, 2018

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 sp...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.10 -- Origins of the Epidemic

11:26 | Nov 30th, 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. A disproportionate number of the dead are...Show More

The Great Textbook War

57:33 | Nov 21st, 2018

In 1974, a fierce controversy erupted over some newly adopted school textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia. School buildings were hit by dynamite and Molotov cocktails, buses were riddled with bullets, journalists were beaten and surrounding coa...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.9 -- Make applebutter, not war

11:51 | Nov 21st, 2018

Election season’s over, but we sure haven’t put politics behind us. Not with the holidays approaching. Some families avoid talking politics over the turkey, but other family gatherings descend into political fights. Trey takes us on a visit to a fami...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.8 -- The Media

10:20 | Nov 16th, 2018

Political debate in this country has become anything but civil. Who do you blame? Nearly a third of Americans surveyed by NPR blamed “the media.” In this episode, Red State host Trey Kay goes to a Trump rally to see how reporters are treated, and Blu...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.7 -- Two Views

10:03 | Nov 9th, 2018

The midterm election results seem to deliver conflicting messages depending on where you live. In California, candidates were rewarded for opposing President Trump -- critics like California’s new Gov. Gavin Newsom won big. But in West Virginia, Sen....Show More

Reading Wars

25:51 | Nov 7th, 2018

Researchers say science makes it clear that there's a direct, systematic way we should be teaching kids to read. But lots of people discount the science of reading. They say teaching kids to sound out words is boring, and kids will learn to read natu...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.6 -- Deana & Linda

13:06 | Nov 2nd, 2018

When we cast a ballot, it's personal. About as personal as it gets. That’s easy to forget when we talk about big blocks of voters, like congressional districts or entire states. So Blue State host Chery Glaser takes it to the personal level and tal...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.5 -- Immigration

10:24 | Oct 26th, 2018

The migrant caravan moving through Mexico is nowhere near the U.S. border, but it's smack dab in the middle of the nation’s politics. As we draw near the midterm election, this week's episode brings us views on immigration from Angelenos in the “Blue...Show More

"Steve"

52:47 | Oct 25th, 2018

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the last 2 years, 2 million people 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 lik...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.4 -- Coal: Hero or Villain?

10:03 | Oct 19th, 2018

In the past, President Trump has called climate change a hoax. Then this week, Trump told 60 Minutes that he believes the climate is changing — but that the change isn’t caused by humans, and it will probably change back. Trump said the economy is mo...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.3 -- Why is Joe Manchin a Deomcrat?

11:24 | Oct 12th, 2018

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Manchin was the only Democrat in the Senate to cross party lines, and he did it in a very public way. Manchin’s vote didn’t surpri...Show More

Rural Voters: You Can't Ignore Us

24:43 | Oct 10th, 2018

Why did rural Americans love Donald Trump so much in 2016? Some say they’ve felt left out of the economic recovery. Others say the culture is changing in ways that makes rural people feel uncomfortable. Others say it was simply because Trump made rur...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.2 -- The future of the Supreme Court

11:21 | Oct 5th, 2018

There have been times time when the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to be apart from the partisanship that’s infected other government institutions. But President Trump’s choice of Kavanaugh -- and the sexual assault accusations against the him -— have sen...Show More

EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.1

10:09 | Sep 28th, 2018

If you really listen, we sound like two different countries: Red America and Blue America. Then again, most of us aren't listening. As we head into the midterm elections, WVPB and KCRW are teaming up to try to change that. “Red State, Blue State” is ...Show More

And Now... on the Radio!

53:39 | Sep 27th, 2018

We’re excited to announce that West Virginia Public Broadcasting has invited Us & Them to be a regular part of their radio programming. Starting this week, West Virginia audiences are going to hear stories about America’s culture divides -- many tha...Show More

‘Us’ Music: a Conversation with Stephan Said

27:39 | Sep 12th, 2018

The Village Voice and Billboard Magazine have compared Stephan Said to Woody Guthrie because uses his music to bridge divides between people. He's taken his guitar to war zones in Iraq, refugee camps in the Mediterranean and to ravaged Houston after ...Show More

Shack!

41:23 | Aug 29th, 2018

The start of the football season has once again, seen players standing up, kneeling down or not showing up for the national anthem. Some see this as a question of patriotism, others as an issue of free expression. If it seems football has, perhaps un...Show More

Hillers and Creekers

35:09 | Aug 15th, 2018

Americans tend to sort themselves into tribes that share similar culture, ideas and values. Trey recalls kids at his West Virginia high school sorting themselves into different camps, and how the way one dressed was often a defining factor, right dow...Show More

The Church Lady

30:53 | Aug 1st, 2018

Are America’s schools hostile to religion? There’s been a tussle over this issue since the early 60s, when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer and school-sponsored Bible reading were unconstitutional. Since then, evangelical Christians have claimed t...Show More

Gentrification (or that Kumbaya moment)

37:33 | Jul 18th, 2018

Things have changed in the old neighborhood. There are cool little restaurants and cafes, funky little shops and a vibrant art and music scene. On one side, you have the newcomers— people who came here to open new businesses and live in this trendy n...Show More

The Elephant in the Classroom

34:36 | Jul 4th, 2018

Hey, it’s Independence Day - the official birth of our nation! Watching fireworks on July 4th may be as close as some of us get to expressing a shared love of country with fellow citizens. As you very well know, there is a great deal of polarization ...Show More

Housing in Paradise

33:01 | Jun 21st, 2018

Places like Lake Tahoe, Nantucket and Colorado ski country are playgrounds for the wealthy. To make the playground run smoothly, there’s a dire need for people to cook food, bus tables, clean rooms, mow lawns, manicure golf courses and operate ski li...Show More

Revisiting the Grand Palace

39:21 | Jun 6th, 2018

Trey Kay has observed how things have changed significantly for LGBTQ people where he lives in New York. But he’s not sure if anything’s changed in a more conservative place like West Virginia, where he grew up. A recent Pew survey shows that more t...Show More

Love, the Ayatollah, and Revolution

28:39 | May 23rd, 2018

America and Iran used to be close allies, but since the Iranian Revolution began in 1979, the relationship has been akin to a bad divorce. After President Trump’s announcement to pull the U.S. out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, cable news has been abuzz w...Show More

Touching the Third Rail with Katharine Hayhoe

35:34 | May 9th, 2018

In today’s culturally polarized society, discussing whether the planet is warming and if humans have an impact on the climate is a topic that’s often avoided. Why? Because speaking about it can be akin to touching the “third rail” of religion and pol...Show More

Heroin: N'ganga Dimitri

35:15 | Apr 25th, 2018

As the United States works through what the American Medical Association describes as “the worst drug addiction epidemic in its history,” we revisit the story of Dimitri. This former junkie was delivered from a 27-year heroin addiction by a controver...Show More

Under the Microscope: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

32:38 | Apr 11th, 2018

Back in 2015, we aired an episode called “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” that didn’t go over so well with a bunch of our listeners. We received messages saying that Trey mishandled a conversation between a physicist who defends climate science a...Show More

EXTRA CUTS: My Friend From Camp

14:02 | Apr 5th, 2018

As promised, we are posting some additional segments from our last episode, My Friend From Camp that we just couldn’t fit in. If you haven’t heard that episode yet, by all means, head over to your Us and Them feed and have a listen to that one first....Show More

My Friend From Camp

54:42 | Mar 29th, 2018

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 Admini...Show More

A Suburb of Hell

30:32 | Mar 15th, 2018

For a little more than a century, there’s been at least one concentration camp somewhere on earth. The fact that camps still exist and that humans can justify forcing other humans into such inhumane living conditions is the “us and them” dynamic take...Show More

The Black Talk

38:51 | Feb 28th, 2018

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 b...Show More

The "Talk"

43:55 | Feb 14th, 2018

Despite all the fuss about sex education in America, students get precious little of it. Jonathan Zimmerman, an education historian, tells Trey how Americans spend more time arguing about what kids should learn about human sexuality in schools than t...Show More

Trapped on the Turnpike

30:39 | Feb 1st, 2018

On Friday, January 22nd, 2016, I was in New York City preparing to head to West Virginia. So was a blizzard called Jonas. The blizzard that took the East Coast by storm hadn’t hit by the time I rolled into in Harrisburg, PA.  I was assured by meteoro...Show More

Panhandlers: To Give Or Not to Give?

31:18 | Jan 17th, 2018

What do you do when a panhandler hits you up for some money? Whatever your answer is, what experiences or facts inform your policy for giving or not giving? People have strong opinions on this. With this episode we try to separate the facts, supposit...Show More

A New Year, A Reprise, Amazing Grace

26:47 | Jan 4th, 2018

Everyone knows the song "Amazing Grace." People who don’t even consider themselves spiritual or religious find it meaningful. And while John Newton penned the hymn to connect with Christians, it has transcended religion and become a folk song and an ...Show More

Feminism Is The Word

35:53 | Dec 21st, 2017

Merriam-Webster declared that the word for 2017 is 'feminism.' The term was the most-looked-up on their online dictionary, and there were 70% more searches for the word this year than in 2016. Trey feels this couldn’t be more timely because this year...Show More

His Name's DJ

34:40 | Dec 7th, 2017

We revisit the story of “Steve,” a young New Hampshire man that we met back in the spring of 2016. In our episode called “The Changing Face of Heroin,” we followed him and his father as he reported for the last visit of a court ordered drug rehab pro...Show More

Killing James Means

25:58 | Nov 20th, 2017

On November 21, 2016, William Pulliam, a 62-year-old white man, shot James Means, a 15-year-old African-American boy, after the two had an argument outside of a Dollar General Store in Charleston, WV. The shooting conjured memories of the death of T...Show More

The Church Lady

29:02 | Nov 8th, 2017

Trey speaks with journalist Linda K. Wertheimer, the author of Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion In an Age of Intolerance. In her book, she has a chapter titled “The Church Lady,” where she recounts her experience of her family moving from western Ne...Show More

Community and Cops Talking Across the Divide

27:22 | Oct 25th, 2017

High-profile confrontations between African-Americans and police officers have fueled tensions across the country. West Virginia is NOT a place where people are comfortable talking about these things. But in Trey's hometown of Charleston, some of the...Show More

A Policeman is a Person in Your Neighborhood, In Your Neighborhood, In Your Neigh-bor-hoo-ood!

30:57 | Oct 12th, 2017

Errol Randle is a cop in Charleston, WV. He thinks police have to do more than arrest bad guys: they should also help fix struggling communities. He champions a program that encourages officers to resettle among Charleston’s high crime neighborhoods....Show More

Shack! - A Civil Rights Story

39:49 | Sep 27th, 2017

At a time when the President of the United States questions the patriotism of African American football players protesting social injustice, we present the civil rights struggle of another African American who, nearly 50 years ago, broke a color barr...Show More

Two Tales of Coal

35:59 | Sep 12th, 2017

Like many from his state, Trey was weaned on the jingle “Coal is West Virginia!” For this episode, we meet two West Virginians who see the mining industry in completely different ways: one who believes coal is the lifeblood of the state's workers; t...Show More

Hillers & Creekers

35:10 | Aug 23rd, 2017

Americans tend to sort themselves into tribes that share similar culture, ideas and values. Trey recalls kids at his West Virginia high school sorting themselves into different camps and how one dressed was a defining factor, right down to the shoes.

Confederate Reckoning: When Will The Civil War End?

53:50 | Aug 17th, 2017

The tragedy in Charlottesville, VA makes us wonder if it’s possible to reconcile different versions of history. This episode features two American foreign correspondents of color who’ve sought to answer this quandary. They fly from Kenya to New Orlea...Show More

Remembering New Math & Common Core

34:45 | Aug 3rd, 2017

When conservatives and liberals fight about school curriculum, the disagreements aren’t just about science and history. Even math has been a battleground in the culture wars. Also, Common Core was a hot button issue during the 2016 Presidential Campa...Show More

Deanna, Tymel & Amarie

28:44 | Jul 18th, 2017

Deanna McKinney’s been through one of the hardest things a parent can endure. Her teenage son was gunned down on her front porch by a kid looking to join a gang. Now she’s making meaning out of the tragedy by working to ensure a better community for ...Show More

Amazing Grace

26:56 | Jul 1st, 2017

Everyone knows the song. People who don’t consider themselves spiritual or religious find it meaningful. John Newton penned the hymn to connect with Christians, but it has transcended that and become a folk song and an anthem for civil rights. The or...Show More

Sodomy, Stonewall & Pride

31:51 | Jun 19th, 2017

Not that long ago, you could get locked up for being gay. A West Virginia man tells Trey about being sent to a mental institution for violating sodomy laws. While standing in front of the historic Stonewall Inn in NY’s Greenwich Village, gay activist...Show More

Gentrification: That Kumbayah Moment

37:23 | May 20th, 2017

When a neighborhood transforms, newcomers can feel unwelcome, while longtime residents feel threatened. But is there a sweet spot when everyone in the community lives in harmony?

What I Learned About Empathy from a Textbook

30:08 | Apr 24th, 2017

Empathy... it's a word we've heard a lot in the past year. But what is it? And do we need it? Trey explains what he learned about empathy from... a textbook!

Reasserting Femme Voice

38:51 | Apr 5th, 2017

North Carolina repealed its notorious bathroom law, but not necessarily for the better. Transsexuals remain outside NC’s equal protection laws—whether in the bathroom or in the workplace. All of this has got me thinking about my friend Anne Kelly.

Love, the Ayatollah & Revolution

27:17 | Feb 15th, 2017

Essi and Katie fell in love before the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution and growing antipathy between America and Ayatollah Khomeini. Despite many fantastic twists and dangerous turns, their love has triumphed over archenemies' hatred.

Coming Out of the Closet

30:03 | Jan 25th, 2017

Where some Trump supporters have been loud and proud, others have remained in the shadows. With the new boss installed, it’s “olly olly in come free!” Trey speaks with Trump voters about their hopes, dreams and expectations.

Serious as a Heart Attack

40:13 | Dec 14th, 2016

An Us and Them conversation turns ugly and Trey loses it. He becomes concerned about with his physical, mental and spiritual health.

Taking an Ass Whoopin’

17:26 | Nov 15th, 2016

The 2016 presidential campaign was one of the most brutal in America’s history. Trey was stunned by the outcome and is trying understand what the whole thing means. Are truth and bitter reality the new Us? Have our news sources become Them?

The Changing Face of Heroin

42:40 | Apr 26th, 2016

Something has shifted in the way our society thinks and talks about heroin addicts these days. Could it be that smack users seem more like ‘us’ and less like ‘them’?

Heroin I - N'ganga Dimitri

39:26 | Mar 22nd, 2016

Dimitri Mugianis has an undying love for drug addicts.  He's a former junkie who's been clean for a decade. Now he feels a calling to help other addicts -- "my people," he calls them -- by using unconventional “shamanistic” treatment methods.

Femme Voice

36:45 | Feb 29th, 2016

Anne Kelly always felt like she was born into the wrong body. She began life as a man, but is now transitioning into a woman. She’s got the looking like a woman part down. It’s the sounding like a woman thing that’s harder than she expected.

Shack!

34:07 | Feb 5th, 2016

In 1969, James “Shack” Harris became the first African American quarterback to break the color line in the NFL.

Trapped on the Turnpike

28:46 | Feb 3rd, 2016

How 27 hours of being snow-bound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike helps Trey file a report to the Keystone State’s “Office of Lessons Learned.”

The Refugee Trail with Scott Carrier

35:49 | Jan 17th, 2016

Veteran journalist – or “cultural anthropologist” – Scott Carrier speaks with people fleeing war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries as they seek refuge in Europe.

War on Christmas…Really?

33:28 | Dec 21st, 2015

Some feel there’s an attack on this sacred holiday. Others are bothered that this religious holiday has blurred America’s church/state separation. But is this really a war?

Islamophobia

26:32 | Dec 10th, 2015

With acts of terrorism in Paris and San Bernardino, some Americans are suspicious of Muslim neighbors and immigrants. Warranted fear or paranoia?

Atheism

21:11 | Nov 19th, 2015

Would Americans vote for an atheist president? A recent poll says no way. In this episode, a social psychologist tells us why this might be.

Enemies

19:39 | Nov 6th, 2015

Jesus said, “Love your enemies." Today’s politicians ask God to bless America, but in the same breath, they call their political opponents "enemies." Labels help us organize the world along fault lines, but is this the best policy?  In a polarized Am...Show More

Locked Up For Sodomy

28:50 | Oct 15th, 2015

Not that long ago, you could get locked up for being gay. A West Virginia man tells Trey about being sent to a mental institution for violating the state’s sodomy laws.

A Confederate Reckoning

49:08 | Oct 3rd, 2015

Can we reconcile different versions of history? Two American foreign correspondents of color fly from Kenya to Louisiana to report on an unfinished civil war back home.

Strangers With Cameras In Appalachia

51:32 | Sep 17th, 2015

A recent photo essay depicting Appalachians has stirred controversy in that region.  Some locals feel violated when outsiders come into their communities snapping photos.  Are these shutterbugs depicting reality or reinforcing stereotypes?

New Math

21:20 | Sep 1st, 2015

When conservatives and liberals fight about school curriculum, the disagreements aren't just about science and history. Even math has been a battleground in the culture wars. Trey talks with historian Christopher Phillips.

Textbook Watchdogs

29:36 | Aug 16th, 2015

Lots of American school districts have fierce fights over what kids should learn in school, but nobody fights like Texans. And no citizens have had a bigger impact on what goes into public school textbooks than Mel and Norma Gabler.

The Church Lady

28:55 | Jul 31st, 2015

The Supreme Court says you can't have organized prayer in public schools. But most Americans don't agree with that call -- and some people are still finding ways to make sure public school children have a chance to hear about God.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

38:18 | Jul 15th, 2015

Two men with strong opinions about evolution and climate change are willing to lay their money on the line.

In Dixieland, I'll Take My Stand

38:01 | Jun 26th, 2015

The Condederate flag and the song "Dixie" -- two enduring Old South icons that make us wonder if the war ever ended.

Sex Ed for Grown-ups

16:32 | Jun 15th, 2015

The chair of the University of Minnesota's program for Sexual Health Education tells Trey most sexual health instruction focuses on adolescents and that maybe adults might also need some instruction.

The Talk

43:08 | Jun 1st, 2015

Despite all the fuss about sex education in America, students get precious little of it.  Jonathan Zimmerman, an education historian, tells Trey how Americans spend more time arguing about what kids should learn about human sexuality in schools than ...Show More

To Give or Not to Give

30:19 | May 15th, 2015

If you give money to panhandlers, are you helping them or hurting them? And do they really need help? People have strong opinions. We try to separate the facts from the ideology.

Revisiting the Grand Palace

39:34 | May 1st, 2015

Americans' attitudes toward gay relationships have changed dramatically in a short time. Trey Kay returns to his home state of West Virginia to see how this change is playing out in a state where 53 percent of residents believe the Bible is the liter...Show More

Marrying Gays When It Wasn't Cool - Rev. Jim Lewis

07:40 | May 1st, 2015

Decades before same-sex marriage became legal, the Reverend Jim Lewis of Charleston, West Virginia sparked outrage by blessing the unions of gay men and lesbians in his church.

The Great Textbook War

57:43 | May 1st, 2015

In 1974, Kanawha County West Virginia was an early battleground in the American culture wars. The fight focused on what children should learn in school. This documentary won a Peabody Award and a DuPont Silver Baton in 2009.

Trey & Alice

31:20 | May 1st, 2015

A blue state secular liberal and a red state conservative Christian have an unlikely friendship. And a slug burger.