One Day, 350 Haircuts

Milan Dennie

Some people donate money. Others donate time. A St. Paul barber has a different approach to helping others. One day every year, Milan Dennie gives away free haircuts. I reported this story for KFAI’s Minneculture series. (Photo by Nancy Rosenbaum)

Origin Stories podcast featuring Frans de Waal

I produced this episode of the Leakey Foundation’s Origin Stories podcast featuring primatologist Frans de Waal who is best known for his studies on empathy and altruism in animals, including bonobos and chimps. In this podcast segment, de Waal talks about why bonobos are a “sexy species” and what yawning has to do with empathy.

Christina Ham’s Imaginary Worlds

Playwright Christina Ham loves little known stories inspired by history. But after she digs in the archives, Ham sets aside the research and lets her imagination take over. Local audiences can’t get enough of Ham’s imaginary worlds. Her play about the singer Nina Simone set box office records and had grown men crying on her shoulder. I reported this story for KFAI in Minneapolis. (Photo by Rick Fleischman)

NPR: Covering Prince’s Death

Prince Paisley Park MemorialOn the day that Prince’s death was announced in April, I got a call from Ken Barcus, who is NPR’s Midwest Bureau Chief. He wanted to know if I could go to Prince’s Paisley Park estate and interview mourners. I got in my car and headed south to Chanhassen, Minnesota, which is about 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis. When I arrived in the late afternoon, the scene was somber and expectant. Helicopters were flying overhead. Fans trickled in with cards and flowers. The international news media was there, waiting for something to happen. Over the next few days, the fence around Paisley Park would explode into a memorial thick with poems, flowers, artwork, and many purple balloons. But on that first day, the fence was sparsely decorated. Fans at the scene seemed shell shocked. One of the people I interviewed that day was Suzanne O’Keefe (pictured below), who told me she had broken down crying when she learned about Prince’s death while sitting in a bank parking lot.


I filed several newscast spots for NPR in those first days following Prince’s death. Here’s a sampler of that coverage.

Prince Paisley Park Memorial

Culture as Catharsis: BBC Cultural Frontline featuring Jayanthi Kyle

Jayanthi Kyle

In 2014, when news broke that the police officer who shot and killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri would not be indicted, Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jayanthi Kyle transformed her grief and frustration into art. She teamed up with fellow musician Wes Burdine to co-write a protest song that would go on to become a fixture at racial justice protest rallies in the Twin Cities. I interviewed Kyle for the BBC’s Cultural Frontline about the genesis and impact of the song, which is titled “Hand in Hand,” and how it became an unofficial anthem for the local Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo credit: Tony Webster)

Editor’s note: Another version of this story aired on KFAI as part of the station’s Minneculture series on Minnesota arts, culture, history, and the environment.

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