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AMERICAN MOSAIC - July 13, 2001 - 2001-07-12


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today ...

We play songs by Chet Atkins...

answer a question about two American inventors...

and, tell about a popular rock carving that has come to represent the American Southwest.



Almost two-thousand years ago, a Native American used a sharp rock to cut a picture into a larger rock. He cut the image of a happy man playing a simple instrument called a flute. Members of the Hopi Tribe called this imaginary man Kokopeli. Shep O’Neal tells us more.


The old rock images of Kokopeli can be found in an area extending from Mexico to Arizona and further west to California. It is always easy to recognize him, a happy little man playing his flute with both hands. He usually has long hair or feathers that bend back from his head. He usually has one foot in the air. He seems to be dancing. It is very difficult not to smile when looking at the image of Kokopeli.

To the Hopi Indians, Kokopeli represented happiness, joy and fertility. They believed this imaginary little man talked to the wind and the sky. When he played his flute, the sun would come out, snow would melt, grass would grow and birds would sing. The cold of winter would turn to the warmth of spring. All the animals would gather to hear his songs. He was also known to play tricks on people. And he was a teacher and storyteller.

The Hopi believed that Kokopeli visited villages carrying seeds to plant corn. Everyone sang and danced through the night. When people got up the next morning they found the corn was almost full grown and Kokopeli was gone. They might also find that many of the young women of the village were pregnant.

In recent years, the image of Kokopeli has been used to represent the American Southwest. Several different native American tribes from the Southwest make rings, pins and bracelets that carry the image of Kokopeli. There is more than one hotel named Kokopeli. You can buy T-shirts that carry his image. He is also found on women’s dresses. An eating place in Virginia that serves southwestern food has an alcoholic drink called Kokopeli Beer. Kokopeli can be found in many different shapes and sizes in almost any gift store in the Southwestern United States.

If you would like to see a picture of Kokopeli, use a computer to search for his name. It is spelled K-O-K-O-P-E-L-I. Again, it is K-O-K-O-P-E-L-I. And when you see his happy little image, you too will smile.

Farnsworth & Zworykin


Our VOA listener question this week comes in an e-mail from Venezuela. Luis Fernandez asks about two inventors, Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin (ZWAWR uh kihn). Both were involved in the development of television.

Vladimir Zworykin was born in Russia in Eighteen-Eighty-Nine. He came to the United States in Nineteen-Nineteen. He worked as a research engineer for the Westinghouse Electric Company. He invented the first successful television camera tube in Nineteen-Twenty-Three. He also invented one of the first television receivers.

Later he worked for the Radio Corporation of America. He improved television technology and helped develop the electron microscope. The United States government gave him the National Medal of Science, the highest science award, in Nineteen-Sixty-Six. Vladimir Zworykin died in Nineteen-Eighty-Two.

Philo Farnsworth was born in the western state of Utah in Nineteen-Oh-Six. He was much younger than Mister Zworykin. Yet he also developed an electronic television system in the Nineteen-Twenties. He was the first to show a television image on his system. Philo Farnsworth invented more than one-hundred devices that helped make modern television possible. He also developed early radar. And he worked on developing peaceful uses for atomic energy. He died in Nineteen-Seventy-One.

During the Nineteen-Thirties, Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin were involved in a dispute about the invention of television. The Radio Corporation of America began legal action against Mister Farnsworth. It said Mister Zworykin had invented television before Mister Farnsworth. Mister Zworykin was working for R-C-A at the time.

The company wanted the right to produce and market televisions. Philo Farnsworth's high school science teacher was able to prove in court that Philo had the idea for television when he was only fourteen years old. So Philo Farnsworth won the legal action and the right to own the invention of television.

However, he did not have the money or support to build a television industry. It was the Nineteen-Fifties before television became a major force in American life. Vladimir Zworykin and R-C-A were the names connected to the new industry.

Chet Atkins


American guitar player Chet Atkins died last month of cancer. He was known for his ability as a musician and for his work in the country music industry. Shirley Griffity tells us about him.


Chester Burton Atkins was born in the southern state of Tennessee in Nineteen-Twenty-Four. His father and grandfather were musicians.

Chet Atkins performed on local radio programs. Then he played for professional singers like the Carter Sisters. He started recording on his own in Nineteen-Forty-Seven. One of his first hit records was the song “Country Gentleman.”


Chet Atkins recorded seventy-five albums of country music. He sold more than seventy-five-million albums. He also played on hundreds of hit records, including those by Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and The Everly Brothers. His own biggest hit was this song, “Yakety Axe”, recorded in Nineteen-Sixty-Five.


Chet Atkins is remembered in the country music industry for saving country music after rock and roll became extremely popular. He produced country records that were popular with an expanded audience. He helped many young country music singers, including Dolly Parton, Charley Pride and Waylon Jennings. He also won many awards, including fourteen music industry Grammy awards. We leave you now with the song that won Chet Atkins his last Grammy award in Nineteen-Ninety-Six. It is called “Jam Man.”

((CUT 3: JAM MAN))


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 Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Skip Sisk. And our producer was Paul Thompson.