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With Good Reason
Wednesday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm

With Good Reason examines a wide range of topics with leading scholars. Each week, we share exciting discoveries, rigorous debates, and new knowledge, with ever-curious host Sarah McConnell guiding the conversation.

  • In 1979, the US government commissioned a fictional account of the aftermath of nuclear war…set in Charlottesville, Virginia. George Perkovich says the report inspired The Day After - one of the most popular made for TV movies of all time. And: Remember when fears of the Y2K computer bug sent everyone into a frenzy at the turn of the year 2000? Matthew Gabriele (Virginia Tech) says a similar apocalyptic panic took place at the end of the first millenia. He studies how early Christians thought about the end of the world. Also: Matt Pryal watched live as NASA successfully completed the DART mission back in 2022. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. He says it was a massive undertaking that may help save humanity in the distant future. Later in the show: During the Cold War, tensions between the US and Russia were at an all time high. A kind of existential fear seeped into many aspects of society - including the silver screen. Todd Sechser charts the shifting anxieties over nuclear war reflected in movies from the 1960’s to the 80’s. Plus: Heat waves, flooding, drought and other extreme weather have become the norm. It sometimes feels like we’re in the throes of a climate apocalypse. But Frances Flannery says we should avoid using that word - apocalypse - when we talk about the climate crisis.
  • The Soulmasters was a 1960’s interracial soul band from Danville, VA. Jerry Wilson and John Irby were the two African-American lead singers and the other band members were white. Jerry reflects on what it was like touring the South during the height of segregation. And: We all have that one song that soothes our soul. This ability to escape through music was a lifeline for American troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Later in the show: Meet Folklorist Katy Clune! Her passion for diverse folklife traditions stems from growing up all over the world as the child of a parent in the foreign service. Plus: Back in the early 1980’s, Grace Toney Edwards developed Radford University’s first Appalachian Folklore class and when she retired, Ricky Cox took over the class. They reflect on some of their favorite student projects - which have all been digitized at Radford’s Appalachian Folklife Archive.
  • Much has been said about the golden age of gospel music in the 1940s and 50s. But what about the gospel music that came later when hip-hop and soul were dominant? Claudrena Harold’s in her book, When Sunday Comes, takes us to the Black record shops, churches, and businesses that transformed gospel after the Civil Rights era and nurtured the music that was an essential cultural and political expression for African Americans. Later in the show: Historian Lauranett Lee shares the history of the Juneteenth holiday. She says in this country we have parallel histories, with Black and white Americans knowing about and acknowledging different pasts. But local historians are elevating the stories of African Americans so that those parallel histories are brought together. One of those is Wilma Jones, who grew up in the mostly Black community of Halls Hill in Arlington, Virginia. Now the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and Black families like hers have been pushed out. Jones says it’s too late to save Grandma’s house, but it’s not too late to save her history.
  • Citizens quickly took Fidel Castro up on his offer to leave Cuba from the Port of Mariel if they had someone to pick them up. From Spring to early Autumn of 1980, over one hundred thousand Cubans emigrated to America by boat. They arrived raw and tender-hearted, trying to reconnect with family members. Terry Marsh recalls the great attempts FEMA made to reconnect families and determine who was going to go where. And: People who live in hurricane and flood prone areas are often unreceptive to advice about evacuation or even flood insurance. Dan Richards has learned that trust and transparency are central to communicating flood risk. Later in the show: There’s not much tree canopy in formerly redlined neighborhoods. People often seek medical attention for heat related illnesses. Steve Woolf and his colleagues found that this heat costs the United States approximately $1 billion in health care costs every summer. Plus: In 1973, The Endangered Species Act was created to protect animals and plants and their habitats. Matthias Leu says that species have always competed with human interests to make the list.
  • Dog breeds get stereotypes. There’s the well-heeled, intelligent border collie or the good-natured, but not-so-bright golden retriever. Jennifer Holland’s new book, Dog Smart digs into what we actually know about dog intelligence. And: In recent years, honeybee-keeping has seen an impressive increase in the U.S. The rising numbers means more beekeepers are concerned with viruses that threaten hives. Wei-Fone Huang is studying honey bee pathogens and hopes to find novel solutions to fight them. Later in the show: If you grew up with pets, you probably had a local vet who saw every pet in town. Vets offices used to be pretty mom and pop. Lisa Scott says that these days, they’re way more specialized and operate a lot closer to the way human medicine does, with vet techs–like nurses–doing a lot of the work. Plus: Pet ownership is up and it’s getting harder and harder to find medical care for beloved animal friends. Megan Taliaferro explains why there’s a shortage in veterinary care and how she’s working to address it. Megan Taliaferro was named an Outstanding Faculty member by The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
  • Immigrant incarceration has a long history in the US - starting with the Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882. Brianna Nofil says it’s part of a system of mass incarceration that’s still largely intact today. And: In 2015, Levi Vonk joined one of the first migrant caravans, marching with hundreds through Mexico. It’s where he met a 37 year old computer hacker named Axel Kirshner who had just been deported from the US. The two hit it off and wrote a book together about Kirshner’s life called Border Hacker. They recently sold the rights to Hollywood to turn it into a film. Later in the show: When it comes to human beings, there aren’t many worse than William Hanson. His career as a Texas Ranger and a top official in the US Immigration Service was marred by rampant corruption. John Weber says Hanson shaped how many US policymakers still understand the border today: as a dangerous place to be policed. Plus: From 1775 to 1898, the US had numerous opportunities to expand its territory: 23 to be exact. But while the great European powers jumped at every chance to enrich their empires, Richard Maass says America often resisted that impulse.
  • The International Olympic Committee has never required men to prove that they are men. But from nude inspections to DNA swabs, women have had to prove their womanhood since the 60s. Bonnie Hagerman says that this is more sinister than creating an “equal” playing field. And: Matt Andrews is taking his students to the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. Later in the show: Tim Passmore explores how nations use the Olympics to improve their reputation both domestically and abroad. Plus: Brett Bebber walks us through a history of the Olympic Games.
  • HBCUs rose from the ashes of slavery and have been educating Black students for generations. Cheryl Mango says HBCUs are currently experiencing a renaissance, sparked from Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for racial justice. Plus: HBCU bands like the Trojan Explosion at Virginia State University play with power and energy. It’s an audio and visual display, with high-step marching and decked-out drum majors at the center of the performance. Taylor Whitehead says that HBCU sound and style is the pinnacle of Black musical excellence. Later in the Show: What do William Faulkner and a cool pair of sneakers have in common? More than you might think. Jemayne King is a sneakerhead and English professor. He’s combined his two passions into the first ever college English course on sneaker culture.
  • In the 19th century, French doctors were finally on the cusp of treating pain. It was a new horizon in the history of medicine. Sara Black says they were experimenting with all kinds of mind-altering drugs… on themselves. And: Greg Wrenn’s journey to forgiving his parents through a psychedelic rainforest tea called ayahuasca. Also: If you’ve had a cable TV subscription in the last 20 years, chances are you’ve seen at least an episode or two of Crime Scene Investigation. Tracy Sohoni looks at how CSI depicts drugs and violence over the course of its 15 seasons. Later in the show: Sabrina Laroussi studies books about the world of Latin American drug trafficking called narconovelas. She says this emerging genre of literature tends to glorify drug lords and downplay the brutality of drug war violence. Plus: Whether through a family member, friend, or even our own personal struggles - we’ve all been touched by addiction. But Regina Brisgone says addiction isn’t a one-size-fits-all disease, women experience it differently than men.
  • Before the covid-19 pandemic, there were clearly cracks in the healthcare system for maternity and postpartum care. But during the pandemic, those cracks became much more visible. Patricia Kinser and Sara Moyer were driven to create quick change for new birthing parents, and so the Thrive guide was born. The Thrive Guide is a bit like a birth plan, but for after the baby is born. And: As of January 2024, twelve states, including Virginia and Washington DC, have implemented Medicaid coverage for doula care. DaShaunda Taylor is researching how access to doulas affects the health of new moms and babies. Later in the show: In Japan women who don’t have kids–either by choice or not–are a hot topic. Kimiko Tanaka explores Japanese womens’ choices about and experiences of motherhood. Plus: Giving birth is always a trauma for the body. But sometimes the experience leaves emotional trauma, as well. Elizabeth Johnson-Young is trying to understand what causes birth trauma and how people respond to its aftermath.
  • Hampton Roads is home to the largest coal export operation in the United States. Crosswinds, a podcast from the University of Virginia’s Repair Lab, follows the efforts of Lathaniel Kirts and his friend and collaborator Malcolm Jones, as they seek environmental justice for decades of coal dust that they, and their community, inhaled. Crosswinds is produced by Adrian Wood. Later in the show: People want to breathe better air in Hampton Roads, Virginia. How Kim Fields and the Repair Lab are working with community members to seek environmental justice for the decades of coal dust that they’ve inhaled. Plus: The success of citizen science according to Mike Shell.
  • Teenagers have long turned to books for a guide on how to live, but for kids of immigrant parents, those guides can be particularly important. Addie Tsai’s first novel was a YA book that wrestled with many of the same complex issues they faced as a kid. And: SJ Sindu says that everything she writes is translated through the lens of her experience as an immigrant, a refugee, and a queer person. Those perspectives come out in the outsider characters from her YA graphic novel Shakti and her new short story collection, The Goth House Experiment. Later in the show: Majo Delgadillo immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. as an adult and these days, she writes in both English and Spanish. Majo says that because she comes to English as an immigrant, it still feels a bit weird and that gives her English stories permission to be a bit weird themselves. Plus: Most immigrants are deeply familiar with the challenge of translation, but Yuemin He takes on the extra challenge of translating poetry.