Alternative Radio

Sunday 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

A weekly one-hour public affairs program, Alternative Radio provides information, analysis and views that are frequently ignored or distorted in other media.

Alternative Radio is a weekly one-hour public affairs program offered free to all public radio stations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and on short-wave on Radio for Peace International.

Established in 1986, AR is dedicated to the founding principles of public broadcasting, which urge that programming serve as "a forum for controversy and debate," be diverse and "provide a voice for groups that may otherwise be unheard." The project is entirely independent, sustained solely by individuals who buy transcripts and tapes of programs.

Its "headquarters" is situated to correspond with its position in the mainstream mass media: down an alley, behind a house, on top of a garage in Boulder, Colorado. From this rarefied location, AR's programs manage to reach over 125 radio stations and millions of listeners. AR is part of the non-profit Institute for Social and Cultural Change.

09/29/2014 - States have their iconic heroes. Founding Fathers. Jinnah in Pakistan, Ataturk in Turkey, George Washington in the U.S., Gandhi in India. To criticize them is risky business as they have been elevated to god-like status. Gandhi is no exception. He is revered and honored. His portrait hangs in many buildings and homes. His statue graces many public squares. And he is on the rupee note. The adulation extends outside of India. The British government recently announced that his statue would be placed in Parliament Square. But all people have cracks in their armor.

09/22/2014 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a long history of spying on African Americans including Nobel Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The great writer Richard Wright, who was also snooped on, wrote the poem "The FB Eye Blues:" Woke up this morning/FB Eye under my bed/Said I woke up this morning /FB eye under my bed/Told me all I dreamed last night, every word I said. Racism and surveillance are closely intertwined. Today, state security agencies and police departments profile and target Muslims. Their organizations and mosques are infiltrated.

09/08/2014 - Large parts of the Middle East today are engulfed in violence. Why? What historical factors shape the current conflicts? Take Iraq for example, a country in chaos. The U.S. has been intervening in Iraq non-stop for decades. What has it produced? Sectarianism and strife. Death and destruction. Actual U.S. policy in the Middle East is buried in a blizzard of propaganda about democracy and human rights while in practice Washington backs feudal and repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Emirates as well as dictatorships like Egypt. Justification for U.S.

07/28/2014 - When it comes to climate change the operative word is “hot” with “record” and "unprecedented" closely following. UN conferences on climate do little beyond the powerful issuing grandiose proclamations about how green they are and then it’s back to their destructive policies. The Guardian, captures the hypocrisy,  “governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority.” Rome is burning.

07/21/2014 - Imagine a gigantic vacuum cleaner scooping up all electronic communications. That’s what the National Security Agency does. Think you are safe from NSA snooping? That you can hide behind clever passwords? Think again. The Agency has the capability to generate one billion password guesses per second. On top of that it can remotely activate your cell phone and computer and use them as eavesdropping and tracking devices. The NSA is at the center of a system of monitoring and control beyond the wildest dreams of the greatest tyrants in history.

07/14/2014 - Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches.

07/07/2014 - Through its myriad booms and busts, capitalism manages to roll with the punches and emerge standing. We are constantly told: it's the only show in town. Do you want the old Soviet Union? No way. But can't we imagine an economic system that is responsive to the needs of people and our precious planet rather than Wall Street and the investor class? Idealistic, you say? Maybe. But the fiscal ship is headed for a huge crash and no amount of moving the deck chairs around will avert it.

06/30/2014 - Security, security. Can’t get enough of it. Paradoxically, the more we have of it the less secure we feel. The latest weapons and massive military spending are never enough. Since 9/11 the term is bandied about. There is the huge bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. Within it is the TSA, with its 60,000-plus employees and a budget over $7 billion. We go through checks and searches. Then there’s the NSA surveillance. Could U.S. global policies from drone strikes to invasions actually be undermining our security?

06/23/2014 - When looking into the past, the great historian Howard Zinn said, "We never get 'just the facts.'" We often get glaring omissions and distortions. History is always a selection from an infinite number of facts. And what is selected is based not just on one's personal interest but on race, class, gender, and other factors. A true picture of the past is rarely achieved, and never by presenting "just the facts." Historians need the eyes of thousands of people, the ears of poets, a nose for secrets, the hands of a master painter.

06/16/2014 - The pretext of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the September 11 attacks. Washington announced it was pursuing Osama bin Laden. But very quickly the Bush administration changed its objective to include the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Kabul. That mission switch precipitated the longest war in U.S. history. Washington and its NATO allies have said they are withdrawing their forces at the end of 2014. But it seems almost certain that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan.

David Cay Johnston

Jun 4, 2014

06/09/2014 - The Societal Impacts of Inequality - The U.S. has the dubious distinction of being the most unequal of all developed countries. The gaps between rich and poor have not been seen since the Gilded Age over a century ago. The one-tenth of one percent is loaded with stocks, bonds, hedge funds, cash and property. The respected business journalist Martin Wolf writes, "An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid." Inequality is corroding democracy.

Black Box

May 24, 2014

05/31/2014 - This hour, we examine three very different kinds of black boxes—those peculiar spaces where it’s clear what’s going in, we know what’s coming out, but what happens in-between is a mystery. From the darkest parts of metamorphosis, to a sixty year-old secret among magicians, to the nature of consciousness itself, we confront the stubborn gaps in our understanding.

05/19/2014 - Are sports simply a form of entertainment or is there some deeper meaning off the field we are not seeing? From ancient Greece to modern times, sports have always been a big attraction. But in the cable and digital age it is bigger and more lucrative than ever. Sports encompass the world. From soccer in Latin America to cricket in India to hockey in Canada, millions of people are energized by and care about their teams and players. Heroes rise and fall. Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Lance Armstrong. There are sex scandals, doping, and murder trials.

05/12/2014 - When the U.S. goes to war, private contractors salivate. When it comes to making money, there is no business like war business. Control or oversight? Not much. There is a feeding frenzy at the troughs of public money accompanied by the almost inevitable cost overruns, waste, fraud and theft. The corruption is fueled by the revolving door syndrome between corporations and the Pentagon. Almost seamlessly, today’s assistant secretary of defense becomes tomorrow’s vice-president of Raytheon.

5/5/2014 - If you’d ask most people, they’d rather stay at home and watch a Seinfeld rerun than go to a poetry reading. Yet almost imperceptibly poetry enriches our lives and generates cultural growth and change. Think about it. Add up all the myriad poetry-related activities: readings, workshops, symposia, retreats, undergraduate and MFA programs at universities, books, zines, websites, spoken word recordings, then throw in lyric writing for theater and the multi-billion dollar music industry.


Apr 24, 2014

04/28/2014 - Dollarocracy: a system of government where private wealth determines political outcomes. Sound at all familiar? The corruption bred by boatloads of cash contaminates and pollutes our entire political process. So-called reforms won’t cure the ailment. Radical surgery is required. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this well when he counseled, “Timid supplications for justice will not solve the problem. We’ve got to massively confront the power structure.” Washington is Lobbystan. The thousands of influence peddlars pretty much get what they want for their paymasters.

04/21/2014 - When faced with injustice what options are open to people? Turn away and ignore it or confront it? The destruction of the environment is an injustice. We are turning parts of the Earth into a toxic waste dump. What comforts are we willing to give up to protect Mother Nature? Will we make real sacrifices or simply kick the ball down the road and be content with placebos like shopping differently? The planet is facing a medical emergency. In response, activists are sitting in, chaining themselves to fences and blocking roads.

04/14/2014 - A steady stream of reports on the deterioration of the environment is issued. There is a brief flurry of media coverage. The corporate-funded climate change deniers make counter claims. We wake briefly to the crisis then most of us lapse into a couch potato stupor. Neoliberal dogma and an almost mystical belief in capitalism makes almost certain that little will be done to avert coming calamities. Charades called climate summits offer nothing more than photo ops of smiling world leaders and vacuous press releases. We blithely turn our heads away from reality.

04/07/13 - excerpts from David Barsamian's exclusive interview with Noam Chomsky

Bryan Stevenson

Mar 24, 2014

03/31/2014 - Justice for Some - In her bestselling book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander says, the huge number of people behind bars in the U.S.

Max Blumenthall

Mar 24, 2014

03/24/2014 - Israel: Siege Mentality - From Kissinger to Kerry, U.S. Secretaries of State engage in endless rounds of shuttle diplomacy. They issue rosy statements about progress and breakthroughs. But little changes. Israeli policy has created concrete facts on the ground. Settlement building on Palestinian land, illegal under international law, has expanded over decades. Some 500,000 Israelis live in settlements from Ariel to Ma’ale Adumim.

03/17/2014 - Chris Hedges - The demonic Captain Ahab in Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick represents a quest for power and domination that is a death wish. Hubris will doom Ahab and his Pequod crew, all perish except for Ishmael. Is there a larger lesson to be learned? Is the United States much different? The U.S. with its obsessive drive for control of oil and other resources, its relentless hunger for profits, its garrisoning the globe with military bases, its arrogant disregard for the environment, is on the same suicidal path as Ahab.

03/10/2014 - The news item was brief and buried in the back pages: “India: Maoists Ambush Patrol, Killing 7 Soldiers. The attack occurred in a rebel stronghold in Jharkhand State. Thousands of people have been killed in the past decade in violence involving Maoists, who claim they represent India’s dispossessed, particularly indigenous tribal groups.”

03/03/2014 - Emma Lazarus in her poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty wrote: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Bedros, my father might have seen those words in 1914 when he landed at Ellis Island and Araxie, my mother too, seven years later when she arrived. My parents were highly motivated to leave Armenia, their ancestral homeland in Eastern Turkey. Genocide does a lot to focus the mind on survival. For them, and millions of others, America was a safe haven. Today, violence. economic terror and hunger drive many to come to these shores.

02/24/2014 - Juan González, in his classic book, Harvest of Empire, writes, “We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.” Sadly, instead of walls coming down, walls are literally going up. The border is militarized. The tens of millions of Latinos in the U.S. represent an enormous diversity from Dominicans to Bolivians and Salvadorans to Chileans.

02/17/2014 - The role of creative people in society has long been debated. Should they focus on their art and stay away from politics? Poets, writers, painters, filmmakers, musicians, artists in general occupy a unique position. Their impact and influence extend far and wide. They illuminate realities in imaginative ways that expand awareness and understanding. Think of Dylan’s “Masters of War” or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman or Picasso’s “Guernica” or Langston Hughes’ poem “Columbia,” where he exposes the depredations of U.S. imperialism. He writes:

2/10/2014 - The Olympics are perhaps the crown jewels of sports. The pomp and circumstance, the pageantry and international competition make the games special. They began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus, king of the gods. Today, the gods are fame, fortune, and national pride. The Olympics are a multi-billion dollar extravaganza. Behind the spectacle of athletic prowess and the patina of global harmony, brass-knuckle politics and brute economics reign.

02/03/2014 - What’s in a seed? Life itself. Ten thousand years ago, Iraq, Egypt and India were the sites of the earliest sowing and harvesting of plants that had previously been gathered in the wild. It was a revolutionary development and made civilization possible. Since then humans have been able to grow food and feed themselves. Today, that freedom embodied in seeds is threatened. Multinational corporations, like Monsanto, have radically changed the agricultural landscape.