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AMERICAN MOSAIC - February 14, 2003: 'Reality Television' / Question from India About Columbia Shuttle Astronaut Kalpana Chawla / Music for Valentine's Day - 2003-02-13



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today,

We play some music for Valentine’s Day...

Answer a question about American astronaut Kalpana Chawla...

And tell about a new kind of popular Amerian television program.

Reality Television


Many Americans have been watching a new kind of entertainment. It is called “reality television.” There are many kinds of reality television programs. Each week, people who are not famous compete in unusual situations. Some try to win money by answering questions on game shows. Others compete to see who is the best singer. Still others try to meet someone to marry. Jim Tedder has more.


One of the most popular reality television shows right now is called “American Idol.” The program searches for the best young singers of popular songs. Three entertainment professionals judge the young singers. One judge on the program gives sharp criticism or high praise. The winning singer receives a recording agreement and becomes famous.

Another popular reality show is called “Survivor.” It observes people as they struggle through severe conditions in different areas of the world. A new series of “Survivor” started this week. One team of women and one team of men were taken to the Amazon jungle in South America.

They face dangers from nature and from the other competitors. They get little food or sleep. One-by-one, those declared the weakest are forced to leave. The last one to remain wins one-million dollars. Producer Mark Barnett says twenty-million people watch “Survivor.” He says people in one-hundred countries have seen the show and it is influencing popular culture.

A popular reality game show is called “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” The competitors answer a series of questions with the goal of winning one-million dollars. “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” is seen in one-hundred countries.

Some reality shows have been criticized. One of these is called “Joe Millionaire.” A group of young women competed on this show to win the love of a young man. They were told that the man had been given fifty-million dollars by his family. The women did not know that the man is not really rich. He is worker who earns low pay.

Television critics are not sure why these programs are so popular. Some say the viewers want to know what happens each week to people who are just like them. Some critics say reality television may lose popularity as one show copies another. But producers say that more reality television shows are likely to be made as long as the demand for them continues.

Kalpana Chawla


Our VOA listener question this week comes from India. Sampath asks about Kalpana Chawla, the Indian-born American astronaut who was one of the seven people killed on the space shuttle Columbia.

Kalpana Chawla was responsible for more than twelve scientific experiments on the sixteen-day flight of the Columbia. It was her second trip into space. She first flew on a space shuttle in nineteen-ninety-seven. She described earth as very beautiful, and said she wished everyone could see it as she had.

Kalpana Chawla was born forty-one years ago in Karnal, about one-hundred-thirty kilometers north of New Delhi. Her friends say she always wanted to fly. She moved to the United States in the nineteen-eighties, after graduating from Punjab Engineering College. She continued to study aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas in Arlington and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She became an astronaut in nineteen-ninety-four.

After Mizz Chawla became an American citizen, she continued to communicate with students at her school in her hometown. Every year, she invited two of them to visit her at the American space agency. Students say she told them to follow their dreams, and that she would help them if their dreams could not come true in India.

Hundreds of students had gathered at the school when the Columbia astronauts were expected to return to Earth. They prayed together when they learned the news that the shuttle had broken apart.

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian-born woman in space. But she told Indian reporters that she did not feel Indian when flying. She said that looking at the stars made her feel that she was from the solar system, not from one area of land on Earth.

Millions of people in India, the United States and other nations mourned the loss of Kalpana Chawla and the other six Columbia astronauts. President Bush spoke about their lives and their work at a memorial service last week in Texas. He said the American space program would continue so that their scientific work would not be lost.

Valentine’s Day Music


Today, February fourteenth, is Valentine’s Day in the United States. The holiday is named for Saint Valentine, an early Christian churchman who reportedly helped young lovers. Valentine was executed for his beliefs on February fourteenth, more than one-thousand-seven-hundred years ago. The ancient Romans also celebrated a holiday for lovers more than two-thousand years ago. So Valentine’s Day has been a special day for people in love for a very long time.


Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day by sending cards and gifts such as flowers and candy. Men and women may go out to a restaurant for a special meal. Sometimes a man will propose marriage to the woman he loves on Valentine’s Day. Some people plan to have their weddings on Valentine’s Day.

The music of love is important on Valentine’s Day. Here is a song that attempts to describe the feeling. It is called “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.” It is sung by Andy Williams.


This next famous love song is sung by rock and roll great Elvis Presley. It is called ”Love Me Tender.”


We leave you now with another love song popular on Valentine’s Day. “My Funny Valentine” was written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. Ella Fitzgerald sings it.



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Cynthia Kirk and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Glen Matlock. And our producer was Paul Thompson.