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AMERICAN MOSAIC - May 16, 2003: 'Trading Spaces' / Question About Rainbows / Singer Kelly Clarkson - 2003-05-15



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


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We answer a listener’s question about rainbows ...

Play music by singer Kelly Clarkson ...

And report about a popular American television show.

Trading Spaces


Would you like to re-design a room in a friend’s house? Paint the walls, build new furniture and maybe work on an art project or two? Would you like to do so even if you knew your friend was changing a room in your house too? That is what happens on a very popular American television show called “Trading Spaces.” Phoebe Zimmermann tells about it.


On a recent show, one homeowner jumped on the friend who has changed her living room. As they both fell to the floor, the homeowner yelled that she hates the color brown. That is the color her friend painted on the walls.

Such actions by homeowners on “Trading Spaces” are not unusual. Some people cry, some laugh and some get angry about the changes made to their homes.

“Trading Spaces” is in its third season on the cable television network TLC. American producers took the idea for the show from a British program called “Changing Rooms.”

The show works with two teams of homeowners whose houses are very near each other. The homeowners move into each other’s homes for two days. The homeowners work with one of the eight “Trading Spaces” designers. They all have very different ideas about home design.

Each team is given one-thousand dollars to spend on the room. And they share the help of a carpenter who can build things.

The host of the show is stage performer Paige Davis. She makes sure everybody follows the rules. Both rooms must be completed by the end of the second day. Sometimes the homeowners are forced to work all night to finish the room. Mizz Davis also makes sure the designers do not spend more than their budget.

And, Paige Davis often has to play the judge when disputes arise between designers and homeowners. And, the arguing can get pretty intense! Listen:


“Are you sure we can’t think of something else? ‘Cause I just think the girls really were against animal print. And I know it was not intended to be animal print.


“It is not an animal print!”


“I know it’s Gottlieb! And, I love you, but I just ... I cannot appreciate Gottlieb!”

Sometimes the design results are beautiful. Sometimes they are horrible. But the show is always surprising. This may be a reason for its popularity. The show has about fifteen-million viewers each week.

The television network TLC has released a book about the show that is selling very well. And it produced two videos of old programs for viewers who can not wait to see the shows again.



Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Liu asks how a rainbow is formed. Is its perfect circle shaped by the air or sunlight?

A rainbow is a circle of colors that appears in the sky when sunlight shines on raindrops. The sunlight and water work together to form rainbows. Think of sunlight flowing out in many lines, called rays. The rays are an equal distance from each other.

The light energy of the rays acts similar to waves. The light waves have different lengths. Sunlight is made up of several wave lengths. People see the mix of lengths as what is called white light.

But things change when a ray of white light hits a raindrop. That is when the colors that make up white light slow to different speeds. The light bends as it enters the raindrop. Shorter wavelengths bend more sharply. This bending separates the white light into colors, each color weakening as it moves into the next color. The light rays turn or bend again when they come out of the raindrop. This continuous bending through an area of raindrops is what makes the rainbow a perfect circle.

You will not always see a rainbow when it rains while the sun shines. The sun must be in the right position over the horizon. And remember to turn your back to the sun when you look toward the sky. A rainbow will never appear in the path between you and the sun.

If you are on the ground, you will only see a part of the rainbow. This is because the earth blocks the rest of the circle. You can see the whole circle if you are flying high in a plane when a rainbow happens. The shadow of the plane would be in the center.

Rainbows hold an important place in the traditional stories and beliefs that make up many cultures. For example, in ancient Greek stories, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow. She would travel over rainbows to carry messages from the gods to humans. Other cultures say the rainbow represents a bridge between life and death. Still others see the rainbow as a sign of good things to come.

And, there is always the rainbow’s famous “pot of gold.” That ancient European story says if you can travel to the end of the rainbow, you will find gold there. But, of course, that is impossible! The rainbow is for our eyes only!

Kelly Clarkson


Another popular television show in the United States today is called “American Idol.” It is a search to find the best new singers. The winner last year recently released her first album. Kelly Clarkson’s record “Thankful” quickly became the most popular in the country. Shep O’Neal tells us about her and plays some of her songs.


Kelly Clarkson is twenty years old. She grew up in the western state of Texas dreaming of becoming a professional singer. She heard about a new show where non-professional singers compete for a chance at a recording agreement. She sang for “American Idol” and got on the show. Listen now to the voice that won her that chance. Here she sings “A Moment Like This.”


Kelly Clarkson then sang before millions of television viewers every week and was judged on her singing ability. She won the competition. She also won many fans who are buying her record in large numbers.

Here is a song she sings with another “American Idol” competitor, Tamyra Gray. The good friends perform “You Thought Wrong.”


Kelly Clarkson wrote “You Thought Wrong” and several other songs on the album. We leave you now with a song that probably expresses how Kelly Clarkson has been feeling lately. It is called “Thankful.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. Write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a gift.

Write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or send e-mail to Please include your name and mailing address.

Our program was written and produced by Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Rick Barnes. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.