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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.

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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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.






Culture Clash: Back to the Border

Back in the 1990s, Trey got into Culture Clash, a trio of Latino comedians who do social satire. He loved that they skewered public figures and poke sacred cows. Culture Clash enjoys making the audience squirm, no matter what part of the political spectrum they're on. Their critically acclaimed work in the 90s had to do with tension along the U.S.-Mexico border. Recently, they’ve been reviving and updating their pieces because – if you haven’t heard – news from the border is pretty relevant...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.10 -- Origins of the Epidemic

Last year, 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. A lot of those deaths -- about three-fourths -- were caused by opioid medication prescribed by doctors or substances like heroin obtained on the street. A disproportionate number of the dead are from West Virginia. For several years, the state has led the nation in per-capita opioid-related deaths. In this episode, hosts Trey Kay and Chery Glaser talk about the origins of the Appalachian drug epidemic. They're joined by Los Angeles...


The Great Textbook War

In 1974, a fierce controversy erupted over some newly adopted school textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia. School buildings were hit by dynamite and Molotov cocktails, buses were riddled with bullets, journalists were beaten and surrounding coal mines were shut down by protesting miners. Textbook supporters thought they would introduce students to new ideas about literature and multi-culturalism. Opponents felt the books undermined traditional American values.


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.9 -- Make applebutter, not war

Election season’s over, but we sure haven’t put politics behind us. Not with the holidays approaching. Some families avoid talking politics over the turkey, but other family gatherings descend into political fights. Trey takes us on a visit to a family with deep political divisions — but they also have a trick for keeping it friendly.


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.8 -- The Media

Political debate in this country has become anything but civil. Who do you blame? Nearly a third of Americans surveyed by NPR blamed “the media.” In this episode, Red State host Trey Kay goes to a Trump rally to see how reporters are treated, and Blue State host Chery Glaser talks with a West Coast journalist about how journalists should respond.


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.7 -- Two Views

The midterm election results seem to deliver conflicting messages depending on where you live. In California, candidates were rewarded for opposing President Trump -- critics like California’s new Gov. Gavin Newsom won big. But in West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin was returned to office while siding with the president on key issues. What's going on? Trey talks with Cherry Glazer of KCRW in California in the latest episode of “Red State Blue State,” our weekly chat between Trump Country and...


Reading Wars

Researchers say science makes it clear that there's a direct, systematic way we should be teaching kids to read. But lots of people discount the science of reading. They say teaching kids to sound out words is boring, and kids will learn to read naturally if they're read to and exposed to lots of books. This is more of an angry argument than a polite debate. It's been raging for years. And there's a lot at stake. Millions of American adults are not proficient readers. Trey talks with Emily...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.6 -- Deana & Linda

When we cast a ballot, it's personal. About as personal as it gets. That’s easy to forget when we talk about big blocks of voters, like congressional districts or entire states. So Blue State host Chery Glaser takes it to the personal level and talks with two voters. In Southern California, Linda Rife is a music composer. She identifies as "liberal," but she’s registered as an independent. In West Virginia, Deana Samms is a family therapist and an evangelical Christian. She voted for...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.5 -- Immigration

The migrant caravan moving through Mexico is nowhere near the U.S. border, but it's smack dab in the middle of the nation’s politics. As we draw near the midterm election, this week's episode brings us views on immigration from Angelenos in the “Blue Bubble” and red-state West Virginians at a rally with Vice President Mike Pence.



According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the last 2 years, 2 million people misused prescription opioids for the first time. “Steve,” a curious kid from New Hampshire, found his mom’s Oxycodone pills in the medicine cabinet and liked the way they made him feel. Before long, he wanted to see what the big deal was with heroin, and doubted that he’d become addicted. As it turns out, he got hooked on his first try. In this episode, we’ll hear Steve’s struggle to stay clean and...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.4 -- Coal: Hero or Villain?

In the past, President Trump has called climate change a hoax. Then this week, Trump told 60 Minutes that he believes the climate is changing — but that the change isn’t caused by humans, and it will probably change back. Trump said the economy is more important than the climate, so trying to fight climate change makes no sense. He said it would cost jobs, and for no good reason. These two related issues – climate change and energy jobs – get very different reactions in California and...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.3 -- Why is Joe Manchin a Democrat?

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Manchin was the only Democrat in the Senate to cross party lines, and he did it in a very public way. Manchin’s vote didn’t surprise many Mountain State voters, but it left a lot of people in other states asking, “Why is he even a Democrat?” That question came from listeners. “Red State Blue State” is a collaboration between Us & Them and KCRW in Santa Monica, California....


Rural Voters: You Can't Ignore Us

Why did rural Americans love Donald Trump so much in 2016? Some say they’ve felt left out of the economic recovery. Others say the culture is changing in ways that makes rural people feel uncomfortable. Others say it was simply because Trump made rural people feel like they mattered. Trey talks with three journalists who live in rural places and report on rural issues talks with three journalists who live in rural places and report on rural issues. Trey asks what they're hearing from the...


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.2 -- The future of the Supreme Court

There have been times time when the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to be apart from the partisanship that’s infected other government institutions. But President Trump’s choice of Kavanaugh -- and the sexual assault accusations against the him -— have sent Americans on the Left and the Right running to their corners. “Red State” host Trey Kay went to a Trump rally to talk to supporters and “Blue State” host Chery Glaser brings us the voices of fearful protestors.


EXTRA: Red State Blue State, Ep.1

If you really listen, we sound like two different countries: Red America and Blue America. Then again, most of us aren't listening. As we head into the midterm elections, WVPB and KCRW are teaming up to try to change that. “Red State, Blue State” is a weekly conversation between West Virginians and Californians about the issues that divide us. Trey co-hosts the series. Over the next six weeks, we’ll bring you “Red State Blue State” as an Us & Them extra.


And Now... on the Radio!

We’re excited to announce that West Virginia Public Broadcasting has invited Us & Them to be a regular part of their radio programming. Starting this week, West Virginia audiences are going to hear stories about America’s culture divides -- many that our devoted podcast listeners have been enjoying since 2015 – but now… On The Radio!!! Can you tell that we’re excited?


‘Us’ Music: a Conversation with Stephan Said

The Village Voice and Billboard Magazine have compared Stephan Said to Woody Guthrie because uses his music to bridge divides between people. He's taken his guitar to war zones in Iraq, refugee camps in the Mediterranean and to ravaged Houston after Hurricane Harvey. When he gets to these places, he sits down with local folks to play music and help the healing begin.



The start of the football season has once again, seen players standing up, kneeling down or not showing up for the national anthem. Some see this as a question of patriotism, others as an issue of free expression. If it seems football has, perhaps unwillingly, become a platform for civil rights issues, well, keep it mind that didn’t start with Colin Kapernick but with James “Shack” Harris, the first African American to be named in the NFL as a starting quarterback.


Hillers and Creekers

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 the way one dressed was often a defining factor, right down to the shoes.


The Church Lady

Are America’s schools hostile to religion? There’s been a tussle over this issue since the early 60s, when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer and school-sponsored Bible reading were unconstitutional. Since then, evangelical Christians have claimed that God and religion have all but been driven out of education and secular Americans, concerned about blurring the wall between church and state, have been vigilant over any erosion of that separation. The fact is religion has been a part of...