Us & Them

We tell stories from the fault lines that separate Americans. Peabody Award-winning public radio producer Trey Kay listens to people on both sides of the divide.
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Us & Them




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Sep 12, 2017

Like many from his state, Trey was weaned on the jingle “Coal is West Virginia!”  For this episode, we meet two West Virginians who see the mining industry in completely different ways: one who believes coal is the lifeblood of the state's workers; the other who argues coal is to blame for keeping West Virginians poor.

Aug 23, 2017

Americans tend to sort themselves into tribes that share similar culture, ideas and values. Trey recalls kids at his West Virginia high school sorting themselves into different camps and how one dressed was a defining factor, right down to the shoes.

Aug 17, 2017

The tragedy in Charlottesville, VA makes us wonder if it’s possible to reconcile different versions of history. This episode features two American foreign correspondents of color who’ve sought to answer this quandary. They fly from Kenya to New Orleans to report on the angry protests over the dismantling of Confederate monuments.

Aug 3, 2017

When conservatives and liberals fight about school curriculum, the disagreements aren’t just about science and history. Even math has been a battleground in the culture wars. Also, Common Core was a hot button issue during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Have you heard much about it lately?

Jul 18, 2017

Deanna McKinney’s been through one of the hardest things a parent can endure. Her teenage son was gunned down on her front porch by a kid looking to join a gang. Now she’s making meaning out of the tragedy by working to ensure a better community for the daughter her son left behind.

Jul 1, 2017

Everyone knows the song. People who don’t consider themselves spiritual or religious find it meaningful. John Newton penned the hymn to connect with Christians, but it has transcended that and become a folk song and an anthem for civil rights. The origins of the song are complicated -- Newton was a slave trader who did not renounce slavery until long after he wrote it. 

Jun 19, 2017

Not that long ago, you could get locked up for being gay. A West Virginia man tells Trey about being sent to a mental institution for violating sodomy laws. While standing in front of the historic Stonewall Inn in NY’s Greenwich Village, gay activist Brendan Fay tells Trey how things have changed over the past five decades for LGBT people in America and around the world.

Jun 1, 2017

After four years of commanding a tank in Iraq, David Carrell, a Republican from Texas, had the opportunity to study at a liberal college in the northeast. He tells Trey what he’s observed about Red and Blue America.

May 20, 2017
When a neighborhood transforms, newcomers can feel unwelcome, while longtime residents feel threatened. But is there a sweet spot when everyone in the community lives in harmony?


Apr 24, 2017

Empathy... it's a word we've heard a lot in the past year. But what is it? And do we need it? Trey explains what he learned about empathy from... a textbook!

Apr 5, 2017

North Carolina repealed its notorious bathroom law, but not necessarily for the better. Transsexuals remain outside NC’s equal protection laws—whether in the bathroom or in the workplace. All of this has got me thinking about my friend Anne Kelly.

Feb 15, 2017

Essi and Katie fell in love before the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution and growing antipathy between America and Ayatollah Khomeini. Despite many fantastic twists and dangerous turns, their love has triumphed over archenemies' hatred.

Jan 25, 2017

Where some Trump supporters have been loud and proud, others have remained in the shadows. With the new boss installed, it’s “olly olly in come free!” Trey speaks with Trump voters about their hopes, dreams and expectations.

Dec 14, 2016

An Us and Them conversation turns ugly and Trey loses it. He becomes concerned about with his physical, mental and spiritual health.

Nov 15, 2016

The 2016 presidential campaign was one of the most brutal in America’s history. Trey was stunned by the outcome and is trying understand what the whole thing means. Are truth and bitter reality the new Us? Have our news sources become Them?

May 21, 2016

Mary Lou Bruner, who made headlines with her wild accusations about President Obama, is running for Texas State Board of Education. If elected, she’ll be responsible for guiding the nation’s second largest public school system. Could she influence the content of textbooks across the nation?

Apr 26, 2016

Something has shifted in the way our society thinks and talks about heroin addicts these days. Could it be that smack users seem more like ‘us’ and less like ‘them’?

Mar 22, 2016

Dimitri Mugianis has an undying love for drug addicts.  He's a former junkie who's been clean for a decade. Now he feels a calling to help other addicts -- "my people," he calls them -- by using unconventional “shamanistic” treatment methods.

Feb 29, 2016

Anne Kelly always felt like she was born into the wrong body. She began life as a man, but is now transitioning into a woman. She’s got the looking like a woman part down. It’s the sounding like a woman thing that’s harder than she expected.

Feb 5, 2016

In 1969, James “Shack” Harris became the first African American quarterback to break the color line in the NFL.

Feb 3, 2016

How 27 hours of being snow-bound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike helps Trey file a report to the Keystone State’s “Office of Lessons Learned.”

Jan 17, 2016

Veteran journalist – or “cultural anthropologist” – Scott Carrier speaks with people fleeing war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries as they seek refuge in Europe.

Dec 21, 2015

Some feel there’s an attack on this sacred holiday. Others are bothered that this religious holiday has blurred America’s church/state separation. But is this really a war?

Dec 10, 2015

With acts of terrorism in Paris and San Bernardino, some Americans are suspicious of Muslim neighbors and immigrants. Warranted fear or paranoia?

Nov 19, 2015

Would Americans vote for an atheist president? A recent poll says no way. In this episode, a social psychologist tells us why this might be. 

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