Broadcast: June 25, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
This is Doug Johnson.
On our show this week: music by country singer Gretchen Wilson.
And a question about the nickname of former President Ronald Reagan.
But first, we report about blogs.
Do you know what a “blogger” is? Well, here is Shep O’Neal to tell us.
A “blogger” is a person who writes on an Internet computer Web site called a “blog.” The word “blog” is a short way of saying Web log, or personal Web site. Anyone can start a blog, and they can write about anything they like.
There are millions of blogs on the Internet today. They provide news, information and ideas to the many people who read them. They contain links to other Web sites. And they provide a place for people to write their ideas and react to the ideas of others.
A research company called Perseus has studied more than three-thousand Web logs. It says that blogs are most popular with teenage girls. They use them to let their friends know what is happening in their lives. The study also says that more than one-hundred-thousand bloggers stopped taking part in the activity after a year.
However, some people develop serious blogs to present political and other ideas. For example, the Republican and Democratic parties in the southern state of Kentucky recently started their own blogs. And American companies are beginning to use blogs to advertise their products.
At the same time, some long-standing blogs have ended. Last week, blogging leader Dave Winer closed his free blog service, weblogs.com. He says the site became too costly to continue. He started the blog four years ago, and thousands of people had written on it. They are now upset because they did not know that the site was closing.
One blog that is still going strong is called Rebecca’s Pocket. Rebecca Blood created the Web site in nineteen-ninety-nine. She wrote about the history of blogs on the site. That article led to a book called “The Weblog Handbook.” It has been translated into four languages so far.
Mizz Blood says Rebecca’s Pocket gets about thirty-thousand visitors a month. She writes about anything and everything -- politics, culture and movies. She recently provided medical advice. And she wrote about how to prevent people from stealing money from on-line bank accounts.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from N’Djamena, Chad. Awada Ehemir asks about the meaning of the phrase “the Gipper”, used to describe former President Ronald Reagan.
President Reagan died earlier this month. He was called “the Gipper” by many announcers broadcasting his funeral on television. The explanation goes back to Mister Reagan’s early years in Hollywood, California, before he entered politics.
Ronald Reagan moved to Hollywood from the American middle west and became a movie star. He appeared in about fifty movies, including “King’s Row,” “Bedtime For Bonzo” and “Hellcats of the Navy.” But he became known as “the Gipper” because of a real person he played in a movie.
The real life “Gipper” was named George Gipp. He played football at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana from nineteen-seventeen to nineteen-twenty. He was one of the best college football players ever. But his story was a sad one. George Gipp developed a throat infection during one of his final football games at Notre Dame. He died a few weeks later, at the age of twenty-five.
Before dying, he told his football coach what to do when the team was in danger of losing. He said to tell the team to “win one for the Gipper.” Eight years later, when Notre Dame was in danger of losing a game, Coach Knute Rockne told the players the story of the Gipper. And the team won the game.
In nineteen-forty, Hollywood made a movie about the famous Notre Dame coach. It was called “Knute Rockne—All American.” Ronald Reagan played the part of George Gipp. In the movie, he speaks those famous words just before he dies.
AUDIO: “ ... ask them to go in there with all they got, win just one for the Gipper.”
After the movie was made, two men were known as “the Gipper” -- George Gipp and Ronald Reagan. And the words, “win one for the Gipper,” later became Ronald Reagan’s political battle cry.
One of the most popular new country singers in the United States today is Gretchen Wilson. She tells about herself on her new album, “Here for the Party.” It has sold more than one-million copies since its release last month. Gwen Outen has more.
Gretchen Wilson was born in nineteen-seventy-three in a small town called Pocahontas in the middle western state of Illinois. She grew up poor, and without a father. She tells about her hometown in this song, “Pocahontas Proud.”
The first hit song from Gretchen Wilson’s new album is “Redneck Woman.” “Redneck” is a slang word used to describe a poor white person in the southern United States. The term is sometimes used as an insult but often used with pride. The song tells us even more about Gretchen Wilson.
Critics have praised “Here for the Party” as a great first album. And they expect more fresh country sounds from Gretchen Wilson in the future. We leave you now with the title song from her new album, “Here for the Party.”
This is Bob Doughty.
Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Roy Benson.
I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English