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Under the Radar Podcast

Under the Radar with Callie Crossley looks to alternative presses and community news for stories that are often overlooked by big media outlets. In our roundtable conversation, we aim to examine the small stories before they become the big headlines with contributors in Boston and New England.

  • In the days when professional baseball was segregated into white and Black teams, a Black woman named Toni Stone made history. Stone was a sports phenom, and she rose through the ranks to become the first woman to play regularly in the Negro leagues, a series of men's professional baseball leagues. The teams attracted talented players including Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. But Stone proved to be of the same caliber — when Aaron was picked up by Major League Milwaukee Braves, Stone took his position at second base with the all-male Indianapolis Clowns in 1953.“I had not heard of Toni Stone, and I was shocked and dismayed and then really not surprised at all, because that's what history does to black women,” said Lydia Diamond, author of the play, “Toni Stone.” “That's what history does to Black people. That's what history does to women of all colors. But then it angered me, and I felt like I had to take it on, and that it was my honor to take it on.”Until recently, Stone’s remarkable story had been largely forgotten. Award-winning playwright, Lydia Diamond, takes on Stone's story in a new play featured at The Huntington Theatre.GUESTLydia Diamond, award-winning playwright whose works include “The Gift Horse,” “Smart People,” “Stick Fly” (Broadway) and “The Bluest Eye,” she is an associate professor of playwriting at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and her new play, “Toni Stone,” is running at the Huntington Theatre
  • This week on Under the Radar's Local News Roundtable — City Hall shifts, ballot questions, lifeguard news and more.Boston’s Environmental Chief is moving on. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond used her three-year cabinet tenure to amplify equity in the city’s environmental policies from expanding the city’s green jobs to reducing heat islands in neighborhoods. She left the position to focus on her role as a pastor at Dorchester’s New Roots AME Church.Plus, advocates for rideshare companies are hyping up their public campaign for a potential November ballot question that would decide whether their drivers would be classified as employees rather than independent contractors.And the city of Worcester’s new partnership with the YMCA of Central Massachusetts could solve their lifeguard shortage — an ongoing problem in the summer for many Bay State communities.Dip your toes in those stories and more on Under the Radar's Local News Roundtable. GUESTSGin Dumcius, reporter at CommonWealth BeaconMike Deehan, reporter at Axios BostonKatie Lannan, State House reporter at GBH News
  • Mother expressions run the gamut of familiar advice.”If everybody jumps off the bridge, will you do it, too?” “I’m the mother; that’s why.” “We have food at home.”These and other motherly quips have lasting resonance — not always positive.“If you came to my mom and told her you were bored, you got assigned a cleaning task. Can't be bored washing the windows, you know?” Carissa Burk, author of “The Little Green Book of Mothers’ Wisdom” told Under the Radar.This Mother’s Day we reflect on the sayings, quotes and expressions that both nurture and challenge our relationship with mom. Rachel Marie Martin, author of “Mom Enough: Inspiring Letters for the Wonderfully Exhausting but Totally Normal Days of Motherhood,” says that ultimately, motherhood is about doing your best. She said you can find value even in your mistakes.“Learning from it [a mistake] and really learning to embrace the other women that get to walk this journey with you — and walking hand in hand without the judging, but with the loving and knowing that they too are really trying to do their best,” she said.GUESTSCarissa Burk, CEO of Creative Green Living Media Group, author of “The Little Green Book of Mothers' Wisdom”Rachel Marie Martin, founder of and author of “Mom Enough: Inspiring Letters for the Wonderfully Exhausting but Totally Normal Days of Motherhood”
  • On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court overturned legal segregation in America’s public schools in the landmark ruling, Brown v. Board of Education. The decision dissolved the “separate but equal” doctrine, effectively ending legal segregation in American education.The ruling 70 years ago was a defining moment for the country’s racial progress — it also marked the beginning of what turned out to be a slow and arduous process of integrating Black students into majority white schools. In 1974, Boston drew national headlines for the violent response to the busing of Black students. And it wasn’t until 1988, more than 30 years after the Brown decision, before close to half of Black students were in desegregated schools. Since then the numbers have significantly decreased.On this 70th anniversary, Under the Radar considers the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education in Boston and nationwide.GUESTSTomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and professor of history at Harvard UniversityMichaele N. Turnage Young, senior counsel and co-manager of the Equal Protection Initiative at the Legal Defense FundAlisa R. Drayton, executive director of the Yawkey Club of Roxbury
  • Author Suzanne Park's new rom-com, “One Last Word,” is a novel centered around a Korean tech entrepreneur — and what happens when her new app accidentally sends intimate messages to all the important people in her life.“Her goal is just to get from point A to point B. I've been conditioned to work hard and get good grades and work hard at work, and I'll get promoted, and my life will go in this trajectory that's predictable,” said Park. “And then when all of this falls apart and, crumbles around her, she sees that what she had thought in her life, as her life plan, isn't actually turning out the way she thought it was.”The fictional main character Sarah Chae is jobless, estranged from her best friend, and still carrying a torch for a high school buddy who has no idea how she feels. She puts her life on hold to create a new app about death — but then it all blows up.Park said her main character's story is not just figuring out her career and romantic life. “She also has to figure out, is her life outlook even aligned to where it should be? Because she had believed all these things before and now she's seeing that what she had believed is actually not necessarily true,” said Park.The new romantic comedy serves up a life-altering pivot for Sarah that leads to an even sweeter happy ending. “One Last Word” is Park's latest novel and the May selection for “Bookmarked: The Under the Radar Book Club.” Listen to the full interview above.GUESTSuzanne Park, author of four romance novels, including her latest, ”One Last Word”
  • Organizations across the Bay State are joining together to take on a bold mission — eliminating hunger in Massachusetts.More than one million people in the state try to make ends meet with federal funds for food; many of those include families with children.The new Make Hunger History Coalition includes leaders of food banks, legislators and other advocates for hungry residents whose stated goal is to make Massachusetts “the first state to end hunger, permanently.”GUESTSJennifer Lemmerman, chief policy officer for Project BreadAndrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
  • America loves hot sauce. A 2021 Instacart survey found 74% of consumers eat hot sauce with their food, and when there was a shortage of the popular Huy Fong Foods' sriracha hot sauce last year, one bottle would go for as much as $52 on Amazon. Right now, they go for $9. But given Greater Boston’s reputation for cuisine that is the opposite of spicy (clam chowda, anyone?) you might be surprised that Massachusetts has a long history with hot sauce — the first bottled cayenne sauces appeared here in 1807.“There is a really, really long history of use of hot and spicy foods in the Americas,” Megan Elias, director of the food studies programs at Boston University, told Under the Radar. “The capsicum comes from the Americas. And it was, then exported out to Europe and to the rest of the world, really crucially. So it ends up in South Asia and ends up in Africa, getting kind of involved ... in the foods there. And then, eventually kind of comes back to the U.S.”The hot sauce market in the U.S. is projected to grow from about $3 billion in 2023 to more than $5 billion by 2030, and there will be plenty of spicy food for local fans to sample at the upcoming, inaugural Rhythm N' Spice festival in Cambridge on Saturday, May 4. It reflects the area's growing desire for spicy flavors, says Nicola Williams, producer of the festival. She plans to highlight the culinary diversity that exists in Greater Boston.“We have a spicy Jamaican vegetarian and beef patty challenge. We have a spicy pizza challenge with a local, Black-owned restaurant right here in Cambridge. We have, wings. And we're going to have three categories of flavors, from African sauces, to jerk, to hot sauce from all over the world,” she said. “And so we want to make sure that we infuse all of this spice throughout the event. We also have dance so you can shake it off after you've blown your mouth or palates.”GUESTSNicola Williams, producer of the Rhythm N' Spice Hot Sauce Fest, president of The Williams AgencyBrian Ruhlmann, founder and owner of Craic Sauce in Lowell, MassachusettsMegan Elias, director of the food studies programs at Boston University
  • Each year more than one million American women begin menopause — an experience many don’t understand and few talk about. Often referred to as “the change,” the most common symptoms include — hot flashes, brain fog and fatigue.“I had insomnia for years,” Dr. Tina Opie, a management professor at Babson College, told Under the Radar. “I was sweating profusely. I would be at work and forget my train of thought.” What’s more, many are still in the dark about how to navigate this natural transition in life, even with new information and medication available. For some people like Marian Themeles, a breast cancer survivor who has experienced hot flashes, the standard hormone replacement therapy treatment is not viable, despite her severe symptoms. She says it feels like, “suffocation from the inside. You get incredibly hot, and you feel like you can't breathe, and that lasts several minutes.”However, there is a newly approved drug, Fezolinetant, designed to treat hot flashes for patients who cannot take the standard hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Jan Shifren, a reproductive endocrinologist and obstetrician/gynecologist said, for the first time, “we are really targeting a place in the brain where hot flashes occur and in very well controlled trials, it reduces the severity and frequency of hot flashes.”This conversation and more this week on Under the Radar with Callie Crossley. GUESTS Dr. Jan Shifren, a reproductive endocrinologist and obstetrician/gynecologist and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Midlife Women's Health CenterMarian Themeles, a patient of Massachusetts General Hospital who uses the prescription menopause medicine, Veozah (Fezolinetant)Dr. Tina Opie, an associate professor in management at Babson College
  • From Oscar-winning movies like “Parasite” and the Oscar-nominated “Past Lives,” to the innovative modern fashion and the thumping beats of K-pop groups like BLACKPINK and BTS, South Korean culture has risen to global prominence. It’s known as the Korean Wave, or Hallyu.The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is highlighting Korean culture with “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” a new 250-piece exhibit which includes ancient art, current music and pop culture trends. The exhibit's curator, Christina Yu Yu, hopes that this exhibit can reach audiences of all ages. “For the younger generation, they can learn more about history... maybe for the parents and grandparents' generation, this exhibition can also help them to learn about this contemporary cultural phenomena,” Yu Yu said on Under the Radar.The exhibit also highlights the influence of fan culture for K-pop through the display of different K-pop groups' light sticks and online activism in the K-pop community. “The fandom has been the vehicle for this new phenomenon and I think it will be the crucial factor to [keep Hallyu] sustainable,” said professor Irhe Sohn, a Korean culture expert.This week Under the Radar discusses the significance of Hallyu, the links between the exhibit's pop culture and ancient pieces, and the fandom culture that continues to popularize South Korean media. GUESTSChristina Yu Yu, chair of Art of Asia at the Museum of Fine Arts, BostonIrhe Sohn, assistant professor of Korean Language and Literature at Smith College
  • This year 21 anti-transgender laws have passed nationwide with hundreds more under consideration. But Maine’s legislature has gone against the trend, instead approving a new “shield law” protecting health care workers who provide gender-affirming care. It is headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.It is incredibly important “to protect states where care is legal because providers are worried,” said Polly Crozier, director of family advocacy for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “There's really a lot of disinformation and misinformation out there. And we want to make sure that in states where care is legal, that providers are able to provide best practice medical care.”Plus, Massachusetts U.S Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren successfully fought for $850,000 in federal funds for an LGBTQ+ Senior Housing Development known as The Pryde. This is a big win, says Janson Wu, senior director of state advocacy and government relations at The Trevor Project, but the battle for funding like this shouldn't be so difficult.“$850,000 is a big deal for this project. But when you think about it in the context of an appropriation bill, it's a fraction of a fraction of a percent,” Wu said. “And so the other story here is that it shows the extent that extreme conservatives in Congress have used the budgeting process as a way to attack the LGBTQ community. And that's a disturbing trend to have.”And while the South End once held the crown, many now claim Dorchester to be Boston’s star “gayborhood.” But trends come and go, says Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth.“I'm so old that I could tell you that back in the day, the Fenway was considered the gay neighborhood and Somerville was the lesbian neighborhood. And so, all of it, JP, Dorchester, South End were all up and coming since then,” said Sterling Stowell. “But I think it's important to acknowledge that, certainly historically, before the days of legal protections, and at least a relative greater level of public acceptance, the LGBTQ folks were not economically a group that could afford higher rents. And so historically, we were living in areas where rents were lower.”It's all on Under the Radar's LGBTQ News Roundtable.GUESTSGrace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth, or BAGLYJanson Wu, senior director of state advocacy and government relations at The Trevor ProjectPolly Crozier, director of family advocacy for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, or GLAD
  • When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion rights were pushed into a blazing spotlight. The intense fallout from the 2022 decision resulted in new state-sponsored legal limits to abortion access as well as the successful blocking of would-be abortion bans in states like Kansas. Despite the highly charged ongoing national debate about abortion, national surveys show Americans’ attitudes remain about the same. A new poll of Bay State residents by GBH and Commonwealth Beacon conducted by the MassINC Polling Group echoes the national polling. MaryRose Mazzola from the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts told Under the Radar she has seen an influx of out-of-state patients since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She said new abortion bans, “force people to travel or they force people to seek other options and figure this out on their own.”Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will soon rule on how Americans can access mifepristone — a major abortion medication and method used by nearly two-thirds of all who seek abortions. Arizona’s highest court ruled earlier this week that an 1864 law banning abortion is now enforceable.Amelia Bonow from Shout Your Abortion argues that the prevalence of abortion is more than what it seems from public opinion polls. “We all know a lot of people who have had abortions,” said Bonow on Under the Radar. “One in three women has at least one abortion in their lifetime and that is a consistent statistic across demographics race, class.”The stigma around abortion is what fuels the national debate says Erin O'Brien, a political science professor from UMass Boston.“The more that Massachusetts and other states can do to talk about how normative of an experience abortion is, that's better for politics and reproductive health for all women, regardless of whether they choose to have an abortion,” said O'Brien.GUESTSErin O’Brien, associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. MaryRose Mazzola, chief external affairs officer for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Amelia Bonow, executive director of Shout Your Abortion, an abortion rights advocacy organization.
  • Rhode Island taxpayers are feeling sticker shock as they may shell out over $130 million in debt payments for a soccer stadium in Pawtucket. One reporter noted it was similar to the amount the government of Pakistan is charged to borrow money.Plus, the bids are in for major offshore wind projects that could bring energy and jobs to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where New Bedford and Salem stand to gain big shares of the money pie.And a surprise resignation by New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster has stirred fierce competition for the seat — including a top Biden aide with local roots.It’s Under the Radar's Regional News Roundtable.