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The Sunday Special

The Sunday Special is where we pick public radio specials and series, nationally-syndicated documentaries, storytelling events, music features, and more. Hear something new every week, Sunday afternoons at 5.

December 27
Immigration Uncovered: Untold Stories of Moving South
The U.S. Has always been a beacon of hope for those searching for safe haven, a place to build a better life. Though the barriers are high, and the odds are stacked against them, hundreds of prisoners leave their homes in Mexico, Honduras, and other Central American countries and head for the U.S. Immigration Uncovered flies close to the ground, bringing you personal stories, sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking, but always surprising, of people crossing borders, encountering new cultures, and building new lives in a new land.

December 20
Moth Radio Hour Holiday Special
Stories of the holidays from the Moth. A family tradition endures a community-wide scandal, a single woman tries to find her soulmate for Hanukkah, a daughter honors her mother's last Christmas wish, and the holiday spirit fills an emergency room.

December 13
Reveal dedicates an hour to investigating stories about food. We go on a salmonella road trip to take a closer look at the chicken we eat. And we uncover the hazards workers face to make year-round strawberries possible.

December 6
Heating Up: An NPR Climate Change Special
A closer look at the science and politics of climate change. The NPR News special Heating Up examines the challenges nations face during the climate summit in Paris, and what's at stake for our planet's future.

November 29
Considering Loneliness
The holidays can be the loneliest time of year for some. And now some researchers suggest that loneliness can cause potentially lethal physical and emotional effects. We'll look at the science of loneliness; how it can lead to health problems, and devolve into anti-social behavior. We'll also look at constructive loneliness...when its just another personal choice.

November 22
The Life and Times of Solidod, An Apache Original
We honor Native American Heritage Month with a story on the life and times of Solidod, the last remaining member of her village of Mescalero Apache who lived on the edge of Death Valley. Solidod is in her 80s, and tells about 300 years of her life stories in her recent book. Her reservation disbanded, Solidod wandered from place to place, working as a horse-trainer, trans-Atlantic sailor, carpenter, gardener, and artist. Today, she paints, and makes jewelry and friends wherever she goes.

November 15
The Vietnam Memorial Wall: An American Icon
How do you build a monument to a war that was more tragic than triumphant? Maya Lin was practically a kid when she got the commission to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. Her minimalistic granite wall was derided by one vet as a “black gash of shame.” But inscribed with the name of every fallen soldier, it soon became a sacred place for veterans and their families. Hear the stories of the people who come to visit it, and the items they leave behind in remembrance. And explore how the wall has influenced how we think about war.

November 8
The investigative storytelling show Reveal returns with a joint investigation with New Hampshire Public Radio unveils 40 years of abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at specialty rehabs across the U.S.

November 1
Political Junkie Election Special: One Year Out
The presidential election is a full year away. That means its the perfect time for a report card from public radio's Political Junkie Ken Rudin. He'll be joined by a gaggle of political analysts, journalists, and even former candidates, reviewing critical moments from the campaign so far, and evaluating how the candidates are connecting with voters. Also, a look back at historic moments in past primaries, campaigns and conventions, and answers to your burning questions about the election cycle.

October 25
Intelligence Squared Debate: Containment is Not Enough, ISIS Must be Defeated
In June 2014, the Sunni militant group ISIS declared that it had established a new caliphate spanning territory in Syria and Iraq. Since then, the region under its control has expanded, despite airstrikes and the deployment of U.S. military advisors, and Jihadist groups across the Muslim world have pledged their allegiance. What should the Obama administration’s next steps be? Should the U.S. goal be containment, or can ISIS be defeated?

October 18
Reveal: Water
From the parched California coast to soaring water bills in New York, a new episode of the investigative storytelling show Reveal takes an in-depth look at water issues around the country. This week, Reveal reporters track down water guzzlers in the Golden State, where some people are using millions of gallons of water in a year in the middle of a historic drought. But their identities are kept secret. We also explore a fight for clean drinking water that’s been raging for decades along the Texas-Mexico border.

October 11
Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent's Dilemma
Kelly McEvers recently joined the All Things Considered staff as a co-host. But in 2011, she was in a very different place. She was NPR's Middle East correspondent during the time of the Arab uprisings, braving gunfire, explosions, and tear gas to report from dangerous places like Syria and Yemen. The next year, 2012, was the deadliest year on record for journalists. So McEvers turned her reporting skills inward. Her goal was to answer one question: Why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives when they don't have to? Join us for a special documentary, Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent's Dilemma. It's an unprecedented and intimate portrait of the sacrifices reporters and their families make to tell untold stories.

October 4
Los Reyes de Albuquerque y La Familia Martinez
We honor Hispanic Heritage Month by hearing the story of Los Reyes de Albuquerque. The family-based ensemble has been presenting and preserving the traditional Hispanic folk music of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado since 1962. We'll meet the Martinez family, the heart of the group. Founder and patriarch Robert Martinez, Sr. talks about how his music is filled with a sense of place. We'll also hear how the family has experienced its share of highlights and heartaches, even as it continues to preserve the music of the land, and the music of the people. Robert Martinez, Sr. passed away in 2013.

September 27
Reveal: Cold Cases
This Sunday, we go inside America’s coldest cases. There are more than 10,000 John and Jane Does in the U.S. – unidentified and unclaimed bodies languishing in limbo for years, sometimes for decades. The investigative storytelling show Reveal travels the nation tracing John and Jane Doe cases, showing why so many bodies remain unidentified despite new and powerful forensic tools. Often the job of solving these cases is taken up by amateur web sleuths.

September 20
The Iran Nuclear Deal: an NPR News Special
Few Americans remember that Iran launched its nuclear program in the 1950s with the direct backing of its then ally, the United States. That American support would turn to sanctions and threats of war over Iran's nuclear ambitions. The bitter rivals opened secret negotiations two years ago and are now party to a high-risk deal. Supporters and critics agree it's a pivotal moment -- but for better or worse? We'll take a closer look at the Iran nuclear deal, in an NPR News Special. Host Steve Inskeep examines how the deal came to be, and how it could play out in the Middle East as it goes through a period of historic upheaval.

September 13
Beyond the Blackboard: Building Character in Public Schools
In the 1940s British headmaster Kurt Hahn set up a wilderness school called Outward Bound to teach young men skills they needed to survive World War II – skills like leadership, persistence, and working together. Hahn believed these were skills conventional schools should focus on too. Fifty years later, Hahn’s ideas about education inspired a network of public schools in the U.S. We'll explore what's known as the “Expeditionary Learning” approach, trace the history of ideas that led to its inception, and investigate what American schools could learn from its success.

September 6, 2015
Where There's Smoke: A History of Fire
Colorado has largely avoided serious wildfires this year. So far. But elsewhere in the West, hundreds of thousands of acres are burning. It’s yet another reminder that this force of nature, mastered but not tamed, doesn’t always bend to our will. This week, we'll hear stories of fire. The show Where There's Smoke: A History of Fire is produced by BackStory with the American History Guys. It introduces us to Henry Bergson, a former firefighter who collects artifacts related to the job, to see an early firefighter’s most important tool: the bed wrench. We'll also show take a closer look at the science of arson investigations; see how San Fransisco's Chinatown rose from the ashes of fires that followed the 1906 Earthquake; and we'll remember the Big Blowup, a massive wildfire that raged across the West in 1910, and started the practice of fire suppression.

August 30, 2015
American Radioworks: Teaching Teachers
Research shows that good teaching makes a big difference in how much kids learn. But the U.S. lacks an effective system for training new teachers or helping them improve once they're on the job. We'll ask why on a back-to-school edition of the KSUT Sunday Special. The American Radioworks documentary Teaching Teachers looks at what it might take to improve American teaching on a wide scale. We'll also go inside U.S. schools that are taking a page from Japan, and rethinking the way they approach the idea of teacher improvement.

August 23, 2015
Re:sound: The Randomness Show
Two stories in which random events change lives forever, and a third pulled randomly from the phonebook: When record store owner Jeff Bubeck buys an old record collection out of an abandoned storage unit, he has no idea what he's (randomly) stumbled across. Jeff learns the collection once belonged to the late, great hip hop producer J Dilla. Along with the thousands of LP's from Dilla's personal collection, there's something else that's uncovered, something huge. And, one day in February 1997, four young men decided they would go up to the top of the Empire State Building. What happened in the observatory that day was as random as it was terrifying and cast a long shadow over everything that came after.

August 16, 2015
Aspen Ideas Festival: What Every American Should Know
Imagine hundreds of inspired and innovative people from many fields coming together in one place to teach, speak, and lead. It happens each year, at the Aspen Ideas Festival. In this festival session on cultural literacy, we look at the core knowledge that everyone should know. With recent profound demographic shifts, what should we know to be civically and culturally literate?

August 9, 2015
We'll meet a woman who says she was abused, shunned by her faith, and then left behind by her family. Reveal looks at the power of shunning and shaming. And, the con man meets his mentor. We'll get to know the men behind a multi-million dollar investment scam.

August 2, 2015
Re:sound: If You Build It
The storytelling show Re:Sound looks at who built it...and who came. In rural Crossville, Tennessee, you'll find a peculiar mansion, 15,500 square feet and eight stories high. It also spans seven trees. It is the world's largest tree house. Find out the price man who built it paid for it. And we'll also poke around some ruins near San Francisco, and try to imagine that they were once part of a palatial swimming pool and amusement park built in 1898.

July 26, 2015
Philosophy Talk: Edward Snowden and the Ethics of Whistleblowing
A look at whistleblowing, and the growing trend of punishing them more harshly than alleged wrongdoers. We'll examine our moral duty to reveal wrongdoing, and how society sees whistleblowers. The show also features the first-ever radio interview with the era's most renowned whistleblower, former CIA analyst Edward Snowden.

July 19
Re:sound: The Dinner Table
The dinner table and all it inspires. Re:sound host Gwen Macsai reports from her first Clothing Optional Dinner; five very fat women meet to feast and discuss their relationship with food; and a man tells of how he used to make every girl he dated watch the home movie he made when he was 17 of his family's Rosh Hashanah.

July 12
Reveal: Part 6
The once-a-month investigative storytelling looks at people who get hurt at work and who’s responsible for protecting them: companies, governments and sometimes, the workers themselves. We also explore the legacy of toxic chemicals used in electronics manufacturing. And, we take to the fields and look into why it was so hard to ban one tool that was injuring agricultural workers.

July 5, 2015
Explorers of the Brain
Right now, inside your head, is a three-pound, non-stop, multitasking marvel. How does it work? Why does it work that way? How can we find the answers? Explorers of the Brain takes audiences to the front lines of research in brain science. From the magnetoencephalography lab at NYU, to the Center for Neuroscience at UC Davis, to the Digital Brain Bank and at several stops in between, we meet a dozen leading scientists and engineers working to bring us closer to a fundamental understanding of how and why the brain does what it does. Explorers of the Brain was produced by award-winning documentary producer and author Richard Paul in association with the National Science Foundation.

Heard earlier this year on the Sunday Special:
Remembering Leonard Nimoy
Taxed Off!
Lincoln: Now He Belongs to the Ages
The Hidden World of Girls
B.B.'s Blues: A B.B. King Appreciation
Moth Radio Hour Mother's and Father's Day Specials
Confronting Hatred: 70 Years After the Holocaust
Third Coast Audio Festival's Best of the Best