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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Hybrid Vehicles / History of Television / Music by Alison Krauss - 2004-12-10

Broadcast: December 10, 2004


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music by Alison Krauss…

A question from India about television …

But first, get ready for a ride!

Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles are increasingly popular in the United States. Hybrids combine the usual internal combustion engine with a battery-operated electric motor. These automobiles produce their own electrical energy to keep the battery charged. Hybrids use less gasoline, so they save oil. And they pollute less, so they are friendlier to the environment. More from Gwen Outen.

GWEN OUTEN: Hybrids are still a very small part of the market. But the most popular hybrid in the United States currently is the Toyota Prius [PRE-us]. Motor Trend magazine named the Prius its two thousand four car of the year. The Prius can run either on gasoline or electric power, or both together. Toyota says the Prius can travel more than twenty kilometers on a liter of gasoline.

Other popular hybrids in the United States are the Honda Insight and the Honda Civic Hybrid. Their design is a little different from the Prius. Their electric motor cannot run the car alone.

Higher gasoline prices might be helping to fuel the interest in hybrid vehicles, but most are small cars. Many Americans want bigger sport utility vehicles.

Last year, Ford Motor Company came out with a hybrid version of an S.U.V. Like the Prius, the Ford Escape can run on either electricity or gasoline or both. The Escape is a small S.U.V. But it is much larger than the Prius and sits higher off the ground.

However, both vehicles are built for only a driver and four passengers. That is not enough space for some people. So bigger hybrids are coming. In early two thousand five, Toyota is expected to have a full-size hybrid S.U.V. The Highlander will have three rows of seats and hold seven people. Lexus, the luxury car division of Toyota, plans to begin selling a hybrid S.U.V. next year also.

And General Motors sells a full-size hybrid pickup truck, the Sierra, in several markets around the country.

History of Television

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes from India. K.M.V. Shenoy asks about the history of television, and the differences among broadcast, cable and satellite TV.

A twenty-one-year-old American named Philo Farnsworth built the first working television receiver in nineteen twenty-seven. Many scientists around the world had made important discoveries that led to the development of television. But Philo Farnsworth had recognized as a boy that electrons could capture a picture sent as light and sound waves through the air.

Over the years, the technology has changed and improved. But the idea behind broadcast television is still the same. TV stations send a powerful signal from a transmitting antenna. An antenna connected to a television set receives the signal.

The problem with this system is that the receiver antenna has to be in line with the transmitting antenna. Mountains or tall buildings can interfere. One solution is cable television.

This system began in the nineteen forties in Pennsylvania. Only a few television stations existed then, and they were in large cities. People in small towns could not receive the signals. So a store owner put an antenna on top of a pole and placed it on a nearby mountain. This antenna received the television signal. Wires led from the antenna to the store. The cable brought clear pictures to the television sets inside. Later, the idea of cable television spread to cities, to provide people with more stations to watch.

Today, people can watch hundreds of stations. And another way to receive them is with a satellite dish antenna. A small round device the size of a pizza can receive signals from satellites high above the Earth. The antenna is connected to a special receiver which connects to the television set. Some broadcasts over satellite can be watched free of charge. But the others cost money, just like cable service.

Engineers continue to develop new technologies to send and receive television. People who go to buy a TV now have more choices. Too many, some would say. It can be difficult to know the difference.

But some people know they are not happy with a traditional television. So they choose a set that can receive high-definition TV. This produces clearer, larger pictures. This way, even if a show is not very good, at least you can see it better.

Alison Krauss



That was some fiddle music played by Alison Krauss with Union Station, her band. Together they produce some of the best bluegrass, folk and country music recorded today. And they have a new album out. Faith Lapidus has our story.


Alison Krauss got her start playing fiddle with Union Station. One day, another member of the band asked if she could sing. So she did.

Here is a song called “Wouldn’t Be So Bad.”


Alison Krauss and Union Station have just released an album called “Lonely Runs Both Ways.” The name of this song is “Restless.”


Alison Krauss and Union Station have been collecting a lot of music awards in the past few years. In February, Allison Krauss won three more Grammys. She now has seventeen Grammy awards. That is more than any other female artist ever honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

We leave you with another song from "Lonely Runs Both Ways." This one is called "Unionhouse Branch." It shows just how much fun bluegrass music can be.


DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC.

This program was written by Nancy Steinbach, Caty Weaver and Paul Thompson, who was also our producer. And our engineer was Efeem Drucker.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.