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Containers

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Location:

United States

Description:

Containers is an 8-part radio documentary about how global trade has transformed the economy and ourselves. Host and correspondent Alexis Madrigal leads you through the world of ships and sailors, technology and tugboats, warehouses and cranes. At a time when Donald Trump is threatening to toss out the global economic order, Containers provides an illuminating, deep, and weird look at how capitalism actually works now.

Language:

English


Episodes

Episode 8: Robots, Piers Full of Robots

4/19/2017
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In the conclusion of this series, we peer into the future of human-robot combinations on the waterfront and in the rest of the supply chain. We’ll hear about the strange future of cyborg trucking and meet the friendly little helper bots in warehouses. The view of automation that sees only a battle between robots vs. humans is wrong. It’s humans all the way down.

Duration: 00:29:46


Episode 7: The Lost Docks

4/12/2017
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It’s 1979 and containerization is sweeping through the San Francisco waterfront, leaving the old docks in ruins. As global trade explodes, a group of longshoremen band together to try to preserve the culture of work that they knew. They take pictures, create a slide show, and make sound recordings. Those recordings languished in a basement for 40 years. In this episode, we hear those archival tapes as a way of exploring the human effects of automation.

Duration: 00:38:01


Episode 6: And They Won, They Won Big

4/5/2017
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It started with a puzzle: why were people in West Oakland dying 12-15 years earlier than their counterparts in the wealthier hills? The people in the flatlands were dying of the same things as the people in the hills, just much younger. Meet the doctor who helped make the case that air pollution from cargo handling was one big part of the answer, and the smart-dressing, wise-cracking environmental activist who helped to clean up the air. This is an inside look at the problems that...

Duration: 00:29:44


Episode 5: The America-First Ships

3/28/2017
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American companies pioneered container shipping, but now the ocean freight business is dominated by foreign firms. Thanks to the Jones Act, a 1920 law, all cargo between American ports must be carried on American-made ships, so we do still have a fleet. But the ships are old and outdated. In episode five, we explore the tragic consequences of this "America-first" trade policy, beginning with the El Faro, which sank in October 2015.

Duration: 00:26:40


Episode 4: The Hidden Side of Coffee

3/21/2017
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The coffee world has changed since Starbucks rose to prominence. Not only has the sourcing of beans acquired wine-like precision, but now there are many small, local roasters. How'd this all happen? Episode 4 brings you into the infrastructure underpinning third-wave coffee from a Kenyan coffee auction to a major coffee importer to a secret coffee warehouse in San Leandro with beans from every coffee-growing nation in the world. We’re guided by Aaron Van der Groen, the green...

Duration: 00:33:59


Episode 3: The Ships, The Tugs, and the Port

3/14/2017
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You know you’ve always wanted to ride in a tugboat as it pushes around a huge cargo ship, right? Well, that’s what we do in Episode 3. We go inside working life on the San Francisco Bay to see how brutal competition among shipping companies threatens the viability of the small businesses that ply the waters. Meet a tugboat dispatcher, a skipper, and the first female captain of an American freighter. It’s a case study in how globalization works and our first look at the challenges the port...

Duration: 00:29:29


Episode 2: Meet the Sailors

3/7/2017
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What is life like as a modern sailor, a tiny person on a huge ship in a vast ocean? Here is your answer. Episode 2 brings you a rare look into the lives of two Filipino sailors, fresh off a trip across the Pacific Ocean. These are regular people doing heroic work to support their families. And without them, the global economic order doesn't work.

Duration: 00:25:07


Episode 1: Welcome to Global Capitalism

3/1/2017
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Alexis Madrigal brings you the gripping story of how a new way of shipping stuff across the ocean fed the Vietnam War, destroyed America's great port cities, and created global trade as we know it.

Duration: 00:39:41


Introducing Containers

2/24/2017
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Containers provides an illuminating, deep, and weird look at how capitalism works now. It's about huge ships and global trade and the work people do to bring you the stuff you buy from all over the world.

Duration: 00:02:53