On the Radio
4:17 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

In case you missed it...

Turn your radio dial to public radio and you're bound to come across some great stories and interviews. It's impossible to hear them all, but here are a few I caught in that last week that I thought I'd share with you.

Fresh Air - 'Book of Mormon' Creators on their Broadway Smash

The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are known for making fun of just about everybody on their show.

Mormonism has been one religion that often seems to be a target of ridicule on South Park.

So when Stone and Parker decided create a musical about Mormons, I'd assumed it would be a musical that would take a cynical look at the religion - but it doesn't - from NPR's Fresh Air:

If you think the musical skewers Mormons, though, think again. Parker and Stone do challenge the literal credibility of the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the Mormons they write about come across as lovable and optimistic.

"I don't think anybody would want to see a two-hour-long Mormon-bashing, and we wouldn't want to see that either," Parker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Stone and Parker said that in musicals, "everyone wants to see a piece of themselves up there."

It's something they think they've accomplished in this musical. And the critics seem to agree, The Washington Post's Peter Marks said the musical is "one of the most joyously acidic bundles Broadway has unwrapped in years."

And the reaction from Mormons? Stone and Parker said that during the show you could find the pockets of Mormons, or ex-Mormons, watching. They said you could hear them laugh at the inside jokes only Mormons would understand.

The reaction of the official Mormon Church to the musical has been "a cool American response to a ribbing." The Church said "the Book of Mormon the Musical is entertaining for one night, the real Book of Mormon could help you for a lifetime."

Parker and Stone said, "there, see? They're cool."

You can hear the interview with Stone and Parker here:

NPR's Planet Money - The History Of The Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling was once a topic that only Washington insiders or economists talked about. But now it's becoming the center of a mainstream political debate. Should the debt ceiling be raised?

The U.S. government's limit on how much money it can borrow stands at $14.3 trillion right now. And the government hit that ceiling recently, so to pay its bills, the Treasury Department has to do a little finagling.

But that can't last forever, so the Treasury wants to raise the debt ceiling in order to keep the government running along in good standing.

So how did the whole idea of a debt ceiling start in the first place? This NPR Planet Money segment explains how a Congress in war-time handed the responsibility of making financial decisions to the Treasury Department:

NPR's Planet Money - A Former Crack Kingpin On The Economics Of Illegal Drugs

Money makes the world go around, and Planet Money does an excellent job of explaining how that money stream affects us.

Demand for drugs is what economists call "inelastic" - no matter what the price, people will still pay for them.

There have been several academic papers that say U.S. drug policy "makes drug dealers rich and increases violence on the streets."

Alex Blumberg ran some of these theories by  "Freeway Rick" Ross. He was one of the biggest crack dealers in Los Angeles. Hear what Ross has to say here:

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