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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Music from Modest Mouse / New Hope for Private Space Travel / A Listener Asks About TV Talk-Show Host Jerry Springer - 2004-10-08

Broadcast: October 8, 2004


DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music from Modest Mouse ...

A question from a listener about television talk-show host Jerry Springer ...

And a report about why the next place for travelers could be out of this world.


How would you like to take a rocket ship into space? The flight this week that won the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize could launch new chances for space travel. Faith Lapidus explains -- oh, and if you would like to buy a ticket, you might have to start saving your money now.

FAITH LAPIDUS: On Monday, a rocket plane named SpaceShipOne entered the part of space just above the Earth’s atmosphere. It was released from an airplane over the Mojave Desert in California. Pilot Brian Binnie was at the controls. It was the second flight of SpaceShipOne in six days.

To win the ten million dollars, a spacecraft had to be built without government help. It had to make two flights within two weeks. And each time, it had to reach a height of one hundred kilometers. It also had to carry the pilot and enough weight to equal two passengers.

Burt Rutan designed SpaceShipOne. His company, Scaled Composites, built the rocket plane in an effort to win the X Prize.

Peter Diamandis is an official with the X Prize Foundation. He says the prize was an effort to do for space flight what early prizes did to build the airplane industry. The goal now is to develop lower-cost space vehicles, like SpaceShipOne.

British businessman Richard Branson has an agreement with Burt Rutan and Paul Allen, Mister Rutan's business partner. Mister Branson will pay for the right to build rocket planes similar to SpaceShipOne. He will also start a new company to offer rides into space. The company will be called Virgin Galactic.

Mister Branson wants Virgin Galactic to offer two-hour space rides. The price of a ticket? It could be as much as one hundred ninety thousand dollars.

Jerry Springer

DOUG JOHNSON: From New Zealand, our VOA listener question this week comes from a Chinese student named Philip. He says he has seen "The Jerry Springer Show" on television recently, thinks it is very funny and wants to know more about Jerry Springer.

On the show, people talk about their lives and their problems, but mostly their problems. Sometimes, the show surprises one of its guests. For example, a person who has betrayed the guest may appear. Or a person whom the guest is keeping a secret from. The show is known for times when people scream at each other or get into physical fights.

Some critics have called “The Jerry Springer Show” the worst show on television. Even Jerry Springer says his show can be "really silly and stupid at times." He also says he is sure some of the guests have made up their stories. But there is more to the story of Jerry Springer.

He was born in London in nineteen forty-four. His parents had fled Germany just before World War Two. When he was five years old, his family moved to the United States. They settled in New York City.

After college, he attended law school. He became politically active for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.

He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and worked for a law firm. In nineteen seventy, he was a candidate for Congress. He lost that election. But later the people of Cincinnati elected him mayor of the city.

Jerry Springer also worked in Cincinnati as a news reporter and television announcer. He won ten Emmy awards.

He started “The Jerry Springer Show” in nineteen ninety-one. As a result of its success, he has hosted television shows in England and South Africa. An opera was produced in London about "The Jerry Springer Show."

He has recorded country songs in Nashville and has appeared in movies and on the Broadway stage. A few years ago, Jerry Springer wrote a book about his life. He compared his job as a talk show host to that of the person who leads a circus. He named his book "Ringmaster!"

Modest Mouse

The band Modest Mouse is preparing for a short series of concerts around the United States. The first stop is in Los Angeles on November sixth for the event called All Tomorrow’s Parties. Bob Doughty has our report.

BOB DOUGHTY: All Tomorrow’s Parties is a festival organized each year by a guest artist or band. It started in England in nineteen ninety-nine and now has a second location, in Los Angeles.

So far, about twenty bands are set to perform at the two-day event in California. These include the hosts this year: Modest Mouse. Here is their current hit, “Float On. ”


Singer and guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Jeremiah Green formed Modest Mouse in nineteen ninety-three. The group started in Washington state, in the Pacific Northwest.

The band recorded on independent labels. In nineteen ninety-seven, Modest Mouse released “Lonesome Crowded West.” It got more radio play than earlier albums. One of the popular songs was “Convenient Parking.”


In two thousand, Modest Mouse signed with Sony. We leave you now with the band performing “Ocean Breathes Salty." It is from their latest album, “Good News for People Who Love Bad News.”


DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English. This program was written by Nancy Steinbach, Caty Weaver and Paul Thompson, who was also our producer. Our engineer was Jim Sleeman.