Accessibility links

Breaking News

AMERICAN MOSAIC - Real-life Experience in Washington / Singer Marvin Gaye / Sports Illustrated at 50 - 2003-11-21

Broadcast: November 21, 2003



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a VOA Special English program about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson. This week, we answer a question about the singer Marvin Gaye. And we report about the fiftieth anniversary of a major sports magazine.

But first – a look inside one of the college programs in the United States where students get to experience life in Washington, D.C.

MSU Internship Program


Many American college students from all over the country want a chance to live, work and study in the nation’s capital. One school that offers this kind of program is Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Shep O’Neal tells us about the student experience.


Michigan State University’s Semester Study Program in Washington, D.C. is for students who are studying political science, criminal justice, psychology, or communications. The students work four days a week, but do not earn any money. Their jobs are called internships. The students also go to Michigan State University classes held in Washington two times a week. The students write a research paper and make an oral presentation to complete the program.

About twenty students are now taking part in the fall semester program. Most of the students live in the same hotel. Some live with family members or friends. They all travel to work on the underground Metro train system.

The students in the program all have different jobs. Some work for congressional representatives. Others work at radio or television stations. Most of the students work for non-profit organizations.

Laura Seidl works at Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers’ office. She answers telephone calls from citizens and carries out other office duties. She says her experience so far has been excellent. John Sturk works for another congressman from Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter. John is doing so well as an intern that he has been offered a job there after graduation. Chi-Un (JEE-un) Lee is interning here in Special English. She enjoys working with news writers and seeing how radio shows are produced.

Students have many things to do when they are not at work or in class. They explore the city of Washington. They see theatrical shows. They attend local events, like the Taste of D.C., where people taste foods prepared by different eating places. Some students enjoy visiting the many museums and monuments in the city.

Internship director Joel Clarke praises the program. He says students change so much in the three months they are in Washington. Students gain valuable work experience. They also learn more about the kind of job they want to have in the future. And he says many of the students like the Washington experience so much that they return to live in the city after they graduate.

Sports Illustrated at 50


Do you love sports? Well, a lot of Americans do. And, there is a weekly magazine that has been celebrating sports in the United States for almost fifty years. Faith Lapidus tells about Sports Illustrated and what the magazine is doing to observe its fiftieth year.


It is August, nineteen-fifty-four. Eddie Matthews of the Milwaukee Braves baseball team is at bat. A magazine photographer takes a picture of the baseball player in the middle of a swing. The catcher has his glove up --- ready to catch the ball if the batter misses his target. The game official behind the plate is in position to make a call on the play if necessary. And, in the background, a huge crowd watches the action from the seats of the baseball stadium.

That picture became the first cover of Sports Illustrated. The magazine’s goal was to cover American sports. About five-hundred-thousand people paid to receive the magazine at their homes each week back then. Now more than three-million people subscribe. They pay almost ninety dollars a year to get the magazine sent to their homes every week. Other people buy it on newsstands. Today the magazine says it has about twenty-million readers.

The huge majority of Sports Illustrated readers are men. However, about four-million women read the magazine too.

In July, Sports Illustrated officials announced plans for a year-long celebration leading up to the magazine’s fiftieth anniversary. The plans include a new weekly report on each of the fifty states in America. The reports discuss a sport or sporting event that is special to the state.

Sports Illustrated is also producing four large anniversary issues. One was released last week. It honored Sports Illustrated cover pictures throughout the years. The magazine included small versions of all two-thousand-five-hundred-forty-eight cover pictures.

The issue also reported some interesting facts about the magazine’s covers. For example, the most popular sport based on covers is American football. It was the subject of more than five-hundred Sports Illustrated covers. Among athletes, a famous American basketball player had his picture on the most magazine covers. Michael Jordan was the subject of forty-nine Sports Illustrated covers.

Marvin Gaye


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nigeria. Venah Obiasor asks about the life, and death, of the singer Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye was born in Washington, D.C., on April second, nineteen-thirty-nine. His father was a Christian minister. Young Marvin first sang in his father’s church. But he wanted to sing other kinds of music. He joined several groups before Motown Records chief Berry Gordy got him to sing alone. His first hit song was called “That Stubborn Kind of Fellow.”

Marvin Gaye also recorded songs with several female singers, including Tammi Terrell. Here they are with “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing.”


Marvin Gaye had another big song with “Mercy, Mercy Me.” It appeared on the album “What’s Goin' On” in which he performed songs he wrote himself. He sang about social problems, like pollution and poverty.


In the nineteen-seventies, Marvin Gaye developed a drug problem. He became dependent on cocaine. He stopped work for a few years. Then, in nineteen-eighty-two, he recorded an album called “Midnight Love.” The recording industry honored him with two Grammy awards. His personal life, however, remained unhappy. He continued to use cocaine, and threatened to kill himself.

Marvin Gaye died on April first, nineteen-eighty-four, the day before his forty-fifth birthday. His father shot him during an argument.

We leave you now with one of Marvin Gaye’s biggest hits, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”



This is Doug Johnson. Send your questions about American life to If we use your question, we'll send you a gift. So make sure to include your name and mailing address. Our postal address is American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.

Our program was written by Chi-Un Lee, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver. Our producer was Paul Thompson.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.