17-19 Segment 1: Religion Behind Bars

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Since the beginning of the US prison system, religion has been suggested as a way to help rehabilitate criminals. We talk to Tanya Erzen, a professor of religion, about why that is and what role prison ministries play in the lives on inmates.

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17-19 Segment 2: The History of Physics

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The history of physics is a long and extremely interesting one, littered with the names of some of the most famous scientists in the world, like Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Einstein, Curie, and others. We talk to a science historian about a few of the highlights throughout the long history of physics and astronomy.

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Culture Crash 17-19: Radio Dramas Get an Update in Gimlet Media’s “Homecoming”

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Related Links: Homecoming

Welcome to Culture Crash, a segment where we examine literature, film and entertainment to explore issues and trends affecting the country. It’s pretty clear that nostalgia media is “in” right now – last year, Jungle Book was remade, this year we got a new King Kong and I’m pretty sure they’re making new Star Wars films from now until the sun burns out. But Homecoming, a recent podcast from Gimlet Media, harkens back to an age before any of those. It recalls a time when the family would gather around, not to watch TV, but to listen to radio dramas like The Shadow or the famous Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast.

Homecoming is an original thriller told exclusively with sound. You know when someone’s getting in their car from the jangling of keys, you can tell a character is outside from the sounds of traffic. And if the format sounds like a bit of a throwback, the show itself is very contemporary. It’s set in the modern world of psychology and features soldiers struggling with PTSD. Homecoming is written by author Eli Horowitz and has attracted big-name vocal talent like Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer. To get a feel for the show, take a listen to this clip from the first episode where Catherine Keener’s character Heidi is being questioned…

Homecoming isn’t some self-indulgent regression into radio past, it’s helping pave the way for a new future of podcasting. Until recently, podcasts have taken mainly two forms – they’ve been either talk shows like This American Life or The Bill Simmons Podcast or they’ve been explorations of non-fiction topics, like Serial or Hardcore History with Dan Carlin. Homecoming joins the more uncommon realm of fiction podcasts. While it’s not the first of it’s kind, other shows like, Limetown, The Truth, and Issa Rae’s Fruit have done it before, Homecoming may be the first to use such notable actors, so it’s attracted more attention than its fiction-pod predecessors.

The series is being developed for television by Sam Esmail, who wrote the TV show Mr. Robot, but there’s something magical and entirely worth your time about its audio-only origins. Season one is out now and can be heard on iTunes and Soundcloud. For a link to Homecoming’s site, along with more information and links to the other shows mentioned in this piece, visit viewpointsonline.net. I’m Evan Rook.