"Imperial Dreams" By Tim Gallagher

Extinction may be part of nature's plan.  99% of the creatures that ever roamed the Earth are now extinct, but in the workings of  natural selection an extinction may lead to a new and well-adapted species -- feathered dinosaurs are in the lineage of birds.  However, when extinction is caused by a human-driven disruption of the natural environment it is a loss to the natural world and shame to the people who caused it. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1027663.mp3

There should be no wonder that people will dedicate their lives to finding species said to be extinct, and reversing the forces of extinction, if possible.  Tim Gallagher of Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology went in quest of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the swamps and back regions of Arkansas and Louisiana and describes his expedition in the 2005 book "The Grail Bird".  That successful attempt surely influenced his plan to find a related bird believed to be extinct: el pitoreal, the Imperial Woodpecker of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.  The Sierra Madre Occidental (whose "treasure" was made famous by B. Traven's novel and the John Huston movie) is both physically remote, topographically rugged and socially unstable.  The Sierra Madre has been largely under control of Mexican narcotraficantes.  Prior to his departure for Mexico, Tim Gallagher had recurring dreams of retaliation by someone with an AK-47.  In the real world there were murders, kidnappings and hostages held for ransom, ranchers being forced off their land and a general sense of dread among the few people who still inhabit the Sierra Madre.  "Every time I come to Mexico," observes Tim, "It seems ten times more dangerous than the time before." But the draw of the Campephilus Imperialis was too strong, and if one was to be found time was not running in favor of Tim Gallagher and his fellow Cornell bird researcher Martjan Lammertink.  They were guided in part by an 1898 article by Edward W. Nelson in the ornithological journal "The Auk".  Even then it was not easy to encounter the largest of all woodpeckers, despite its distinctive upswept plumage and a "queer, nasal, penny-trumpet like" call.  At 7,000-feet elevation the air was thin and  in the pine forests the trail could disappear completely. It took us three hours to reach Tres Castillos on dirt roads far worse than those we'd travelled the day before.  We could plainly see the three huge rock outcroppings looming above the plain, only a mile or two away, but we were having trouble reaching them.  We kept hitting muddy areas and sinking into the mire.  Each time that happened, we had to back up quickly to avoid getting stuck and try another route.  In several places our way was blocked by arroyitos, or small gullies, just deep enough to be impassible.   --from "Imperial Dreams"
Gallagher is taken ill numerous times, nearly falls to his death while climbing a steep slope and pushes himself beyond his limits.  All the while, the imperial woodpecker seems worse than elusive.  It may indeed be extinct, victim of 1950-era shooters and of poisoning by foresters who didn't appreciate that woodpeckers only feed on rotted trees that the commercial timber industry would never use. Tim Gallagher's interest in birds dates from his childhood.  He is an experienced falconer, a founder of WildBird Magazine and now the editor-in-chief of Living Bird, the quarterly journal of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  "Imperial Dreams" goes beyond the search for the imperial woodpecker to tell about the natural history and native cultures of Mexico as well as the people that have played a role in Mexican life, including the Apaches and the Mormons.

Artist & BMX Builder Joby Springsteen from Independent Producer Jon Walley

Independent filmmaker, Jon Walley (American Hand) spent most of his life traveling around the world with his parents who were in the Army, finally settling down in a little town called Vestal NY. It was there that he went through High school and continued on to Binghamton University to study Cinema and found out what he wanted to do with his life. After College he worked in local news for a bit but decided it was time for something different. He now lives in Boston,  MA where he works for Berklee Online by day and as an Independent Producer by night. Jon created this American Hand segment featuring local artist and BMX builder, Joby Springsteen.

John Stanky & The Coalminers, Show One

WSKG is proud to welcome the legendary John Stanky and his Coalminers to Let's Polka!  John Stanky is the “Gentleman Of Polkas” and he began his musical career back in 1945. He formed his first band in 1950 and changed their name to the “Coalminers” in 1962 due to his bandmates working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Over fifty years later, John is still entertaining audiences with his crack musicianship. Kimberly Bukowski, Deborah Horoschock and Norbert Wisniewski join John on-stage and augment his sound perfectly with their horn playing. John Ptashinski and Vincent Horoschock provide the backbeat with percussion and electric bass, respectively. Highlights of this set include the classic, 'Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie' and a rousing rendition of the 'Hungarian Czardas'.

The Golden Tones, Show One

The Golden Tones have been playing music for over thirty years and WSKG is happy to welcome them to Let's Polka. The group was started by a teenage Rich Machey in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. While inspired by polka veterans such as Eddie Blazonczyk and The Polskie Swingmaster, Rich and the group have developed their own drive style through the years. The Golden Tones now consist of six musicians and they are Rich Machey, (sax, clarinet and vocals) Jerome Machey, (trumpet and vocals) Joe Krzysik, (accordion keyboards and vocals), A.J. Wanyo, (drums) Mike Yevich, (accordion, trumpet, guitar, bass and vocals) and Paul Pehala, (accordion, concertina and vocals). Highlights of this set include 'Lucky's Polka' and the 'Love My Girls Polka'.

Storyteller Santino DeAngelo

Santino DeAngelo works as a writer, composer and director of experimental theater, musical theater, and film. He is the owner of Santino DeAngelo Presents, through which he produces his new works. Santino has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Rod Serling Award for Best Screenwriting, the Harpur Fellows Award, the United Cultural Fund Grant, and the Classical Club Project Grant. Through a Presidential Initiative Grant from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States he composed the musical score for the world premiere translation of ‘Plautus Mostellaria’ (translated as ‘The Ghoul Next Door’) which played as the center piece of an academic conference on ancient Roman comedy. He is a recent graduate of Binghamton University, receiving a degree in Classical Civilization, Myth and Performance.

"As I Knew Him, My Dad Rod Serling" By Anne Serling

Television was seemingly born into a "Golden Age".  Even before the new visual medium had national reach and when some stations would suspend programming for a few hours in the afternoon because they had nothing good to show an audience comprised largely of curious shoppers,  there were those rare individuals whose talents were perfect for the small black-&-white screen.  That little screen might cost around $400, a big bite for the average household, so initially the viewing public consisted of a higher proportion of better educated people in the upper income brackets. From the late 1940s to the mid 50s broadcasters could feel confident airing programs other than wrestling matches, roller derby and old travelogues.  Live drama on shows like "Studio One" and "Lux Theater" attracted some of the day's most venturesome dramatists, who were willing to do their best work for television.  It could be frustrating to labor within the time constraints and corporate policies of commercial television, but the scripts by playrights like Reginald Rose and Paddy Chayevsky stand as some of the best drama of their time.  Of all those writing for the emergent medium and stepping into the new position of "writer-producer" none had the influence or the celebrity of Rod Serling. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1026842.mp3
Rod Serling grew up in Binghamton, served as a paratrooper in the Pacific during World War 2, returned home shaken by the war and uncertain of his future.  He enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio and had his first exposure to broadcasting during an internship at New York radio station WNYC.  He later worked in local radio in Binghamton and Ohio, and began writing for TV when the first television stations went on the air in Cincinnati.  His initial success prompted Serling to leave Ohio for New York and pursue a freelance writing career.  His teleplays "Patterns", "The Entertainer" and especially "Requiem for a Heavyweight" defined the "golden age".  It was also during this time that Rod and his wife Carol became parents of two daughters, Jodi and Anne.With dramatic production moving to Caifornia, in 1958 the Serlings also moved west.  Anne recalls entering the family's new home in Pacific Palisades, California as her earliest clear memory.  Every summer the family would come back to their cabin on Cayuga Lake. Rod Serling is well remembered today for the science fiction series "The Twilight Zone".  It premiered on CBS in 1959 and ran for five seasons; Serling wrote 92 of the 156 scripts in the series as well as serving as executive producer.  His on-screen presence at the open and close of each episode brought him into the nation's living rooms in a way few other writers would attain.  His ongoing battles against network censorship, his crusading voice against discrimination and for justice and equality, gave him the reputation of an "angry young man".  And his death of a heart attack at age 50 in 1975 would bring a sudden and tragic ending to a creative life, leaving behind a sense of a good man devoured by the pressures of the television industry.  In what turned out to be his latter years, Serling had extended his career (and, some felt, soiled his standing) by such mundane professional activity as hosting a game show and doing commercial voice-overs. If there was something that kept Rod going through those years of writing twelve to fourteen hours a day, it was love for his family and especially devotion to his daughters.  It is this side of the man from "The Twilight Zone" -- warm, funny, joyful, in some ways still a kid -- that Anne Serling writes about in "As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling".  The book is a combined biography and autobiography, a rollicking tale of family life and a poignant memoir of a woman struggling to deal with the weight of personal loss.  But it is also a memoir of childhood and the ritual of her father checking to assure her there were no monsters under her bed, or the performance he'd put on to make Anne drink her milk.

Ceramicist Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson's love for nature and the wheel speak strongly to his work. His designs can best be described as collaboration between functional pieces and naturalistic styles, turned into intricate assemblages. He uses wheel-thrown objects commonly used in function, such as plates, bowls, and cups, and alters them into obscure and complex pieces. Adding to his work inspiration is his travel abroad. While studying in Barcelona Spain, Matt traveled throughout Europe and gained an appreciation for the unique cultures.

"Late Morning" Selected Poems By Peter Fortunato

During four decades a good poet can wrestle with many ideas, mold all manner of images, broaden his or her knowledge and feelings and, gaining a clear vision of how this adds up, give the world an impressive collection of poems.  The years have been good to Peter Fortunato.  He is a senior lecturer in writing at Cornell who recently completed four years teaching at the Weill Cornell Medical College in the Persian gulf nation of Qatar.  Fortunato is also a performance artist and founder of two theatrical companies, Spideroot Theater and Spirit Horses. Beyond seeking personal truth and enlightenment to inform his poetry he conducts a private practice as a holistic counsellor, life coach and hypnotherapist, which can give him extraordinary insights into human needs and wishes.  He is recipient of the Emily Dickinson Prize of the Poetry Society of America and a Pablo Neruda Prize from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa.  And so with a forty-year running start, Peter Fortunato can offer "Late Morning: New and Selected Poems", his words discovered and disciplined by Buddhist beliefs. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1027354.mp3
Is it intuition, my way of knowing
the skunk who grubs outside my door? We're one, but scram, you're stinking up the place. Nagarjuna doesn't have the last word here,

and I don't expect amphibians from Sirius
to dish the skinny on What-Has-Never-Been-Born...