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April 2007

April 18th-The Sisters in Minnesota at St. Cloud University, Minnesota
This year, the focus of the event is purely on female documentary artists and is titled "FRONTLINES: Women Documentary Artists." More »Voicings: The Kitchen Sisters By Adam Hammer

On Air - WHER radio disc-jockette, Janie Joplin, honored on
NPR's All Things Considered

A special obit in honor of WHER pioneer, Janie Joplin, produced by Art Silverman. listen at

Vida Jane Joplin: A Memphis Radio Pioneer
APRIL 2, 2007
Memphis Flyer online

Janie Joplin passed away in Ellendale last week at the age of 85. Her name may not be familiar to Memphians today, but in the 1950s, Janie Joplin was a household word. She and a dozen or so other young women were the disk jockeys on WHER, the nation’s first all-female radio station.

WHER, recently featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” was the brainchild of Sun Studio owner Sam Phillips. The station first went on the air on October 29, 1955, and survived until the novelty wore off several years later. During that time, the entire staff — djs, sales staff, secretaries, even the record librarians — was female.

Joplin worked as an on-air broadcaster and copywriter, and later moved to WHBQ radio, where she worked as an advertising writer until her retirement in the mid-1980s. In her Commercial Appeal obituary, her family observed, “For many years it would have been hard to listen to radio in Memphis without hearing her distinctively pleasant voice.” During her career at WHER, her popular sign-off for the AM-1430 — advertised as “the station with 1,000 beautiful watts — was “Be good, and you’ll be happy.”
More about Janie and the women of WHER.

Watch a short video

March 2007

Saturday, March 24
On Air - KCRW's Good Food Show 89.9 Fm
Davia reveals out-of-sight places, events and traditions that celebrate food. From stepping off the tarmac at the Bob Hope Burbank Airport a few weeks ago and discovering the car rental agencies' hidden kitchens, to the singing Trinidadian shuttle driver sharing his stories of his own favorite LA hidden kitchens... the discovery of these below-the- radar, unexpected hidden kitchens and stories of tradition and culture are revealed all in morning of travel while she visits her hometown of LA. These stories and more. Tune into KCRW's Good Food show, Sat. 11am - 12 noon.

February 2007

Black History Month - Stories from Lost & Found Sound, Hidden Kitchens & The Kitchen Sisters Archives

In honor of Black History Month here are some stories from our archives we thought you might enjoy knowing about. You can listen to them online.
Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins » Disk jockey William Allen Taylor went looking for the sound of the voice of the father he never knew. He learned late in life that his father was Bill Hawkins, Cleveland's first black disk jockey.

R.A. Coleman's "Electronic Memories" » The second of the Lost & Found Sound Memphis trilogy presents a glimpse of life through the recordings of African American photographer RA Coleman, making his living by documenting the black community in the 1950s South.

A Man tapes his town: The Unrelenting Oral Histories of Eddie McCoy » A self-made historian, since 1979, Eddie has done some 140 interviews and knows just about every detail of the life and lore of Oxford. His neighbors, his friends and total strangers. Eddie records the who, what, when, where, why of slavery times, of sharecropping, the civil rights era, who poured the first concrete in Oxford.

Liberace and The Trinidad Tripoli Steelband » The steel drum musical instrument was first created in Trinidad, hammered from biscuit boxes, brake drums and oil barrels. One of the biggest "steel pan" bands of the 1960s was the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steelband, who gained worldwide fame when an unlikely patron heard their act and took them on tour. Lost and Found Sound presents a story of calypso music, steel drums and flamboyant pianist Liberace.

Pan American Blues » In searching out this sound, we were led to the remarkable story of Harmonica Wizard DeFord Bailey, the first black to perform and tour with WSM's Grand Ole Opry, whose signature song, Pan American Blues, inspired the naming of the show. DeFord's story, along with the story of WSM and its legendary Grand Ole Opry make up this program.

Persuading the Dead » The Persuasions started out singing soul, and since then, they've covered everything from gospel to Motown to Kurt Weil to Frank Zappa. The Grateful Dead combined bluegrass and folk influences with the radical spirit of their times. So when the a cappella group took up the songs of the musical icons of the 1960s counterculture, it was a twenty-first century recording session devoted to the songs of a quintessentially twentieth century group with musical roots stretching into the nineteenth century and earlier.

Georgia Gilmore and The Club from Nowhere: A Secret Civil Rights Kitchen » In the '50s, a group of Montgomery, Ala., women baked goods to help fund the Montgomery bus boycott. Known as The Club from Nowhere, the group was led by Georgia Gilmore, one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights era.

King’s Candy: A New Orleans Kitchen Vision » Held for nearly three decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana's Angola State Prison, Robert "King" Wilkerson perfected a recipe for pralines, which he made in a makeshift kitchen in his tiny cell.

Unfinished Business: Daughters of Destiny » A quarter-century after boxing's celebrated "Thrilla in Manila," Ali and Frazier entered the ring. But this time the combatants were the daughters: Laila Ali, 23-year-old daughter of Muhammad Ali; and Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, 39-year-old daughter of Joe Frazier. We take NPR listeners behind the scenes with the two fighters, from the trash-talk of the press conferences to the exhaustion of the training camps.

January 2007

Friday, January 26
The Tables of New Crowned Hope: Mozart's Hidden Kitchens
For the past year Austria has been Mozart-crazy, commemorating his 250th birthday with every kind of celebration, including “New Crowned Hope”, a month-long festival produced by theater director Peter Sellars, It isn’t every day an arts festival presents a new John Adams opera, an avant garde Maori dance troupe, Ethopian mud dome installations, Alice Waters and lunch ladies from across Europe.  On the eve of his 251st birthday, The Kitchen Sisters take us to Vienna, to Mozart's Hidden Kitchen and The Tables of New Crowned Hope.

The Kitchen Sisterhood - We call it The Kitchen Sisterhood, a new aspect of The Kitchen Sisters Productions in 2007. Details here »

Thursday, January 11
Sounds and stories from over 25 years of Kitchen Sister radio collaboration.
8 PM on KQED 88.5 FM and streaming on the web
KQED will broadcast and stream online the onstage conversation with Davia & Nikki from Stanford University's Aurora Forum with host Alan Acosta.

January 10-12
"Two Sisters. " on American Routes
A re-broadcast of American Routes June 15th story "Two Sisters" restaurants in New Orleans.
A tour of two famous New Orleans restaurants. Produced for Nick Spitzer's American Routes. listen»

November/ December 2006

Story # 19: Deep Fried Fuel: A Biodiesel Kitchen Vision

Most Emailed Story list
on NPR for 4 days.

Public Radio Program Directors Conference / 2006
Public radio trying to improve reception - Michael Klein / Philadelphia Inquirer
If the hundreds of public-radio programmers who gathered in Philadelphia this week seemed a tad edgy, it is because they are facing a new challenge: a declining audience.
...To help them buck the trend, the 540 attendees at the Public Radio Program Directors' annual conference were treated to wonkish sessions such as "Living Your Demo," as well as roundtables on programming, such as "Making Your Own Driveway Moments," in which Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, the "Kitchen Sisters," talked about creating stories that compel listeners to sit in the driveway, riveted to the radio. read more >>

Thursday, Nov 23rd
Hidden Kitchens Story #20: FARM AID
On Thanksgiving Morning, The Kitchen Sisters take us to the 21st annual Farm Aid Benefit Concert in Camden, New Jersey for some turkey stuffin', potato mashin' music and some deep stories of an endangered tradition — the American family farm. Web exclusive photos, recipes and additional interview clips here >

Sterling Houston - Friend of The Kitchen Sisters, author and playwright, December 3, 1945-November 8, 2006. Sterling grew up in and around icehouses in San Antonio. We spent one evening with Houston visiting some of his favorites - he gave us a grand tour. We honor his passing today. To read an excerpt from his novel on our Hidden Kitchens Texas Icehouse link>
for more on Sterling including his most recent play, Living Graces, link >

May 19, 2006
Hidden Kitchens Audiobook Wins 2006 Audie Award
Best Audiobook Adapted From Another Medium
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Exectutive Producers: The Kitchen Sisters and Mark Thompson

Hidden Kitchens Audiobook wins award at a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C. on May 19, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) recognized their peers at the annual The Audies award ceremony. This year’s award winners celebrate the vast array of audiobooks that have helped make this industry grow,” said Mary Beth Roche, president of the Audio Publishers Association.


NPR podcastAlong with NPR we have launched our first ever podcast. We're starting with the earlest stories and working our way forward. All you have to do is copy and paste this URL into a podcasting tool: and you'll start receiving the archived Hidden Kitchens stories each week or visit this link for more info>>

Readings and Road Trips — New York, Texas, New Jersey & California and more. Snapshots from our most recent road trips and book readings.

Terra Madre, Italy - Where 1600 food communities from 5 continents and 150 countries, 5000 farmers , breeders, fishermen and traditional food producers, 1000 cooks and 200 universities meet in Italy. Terra Madre was inspirational for us as we developed stories for
Hidden Kitchens. Here's an excerpt from our book link

New Releases — Hidden Kitchens featured in Best Food Writing 2006 / Fast Food Nation
at the movies.

The Kitchen Sisters in New Orleans for Nick Spitzer's American Routes

Dear friends of The Kitchen Sisters

Our Hidden Kitchens series was honored with a duPont-Columbia Award for broadcast journalism at a ceremony in the beautiful old Low Library at Columbia University. We were among 13 other producing teams and networks that received this award, what some call the Pulitzer Prize for television and radio. HBO was honored for an expose of child slavery connected to camel-racing in the United Arab Emirates, ABC for its live coverage the death of Pope John Paul II, CNN for its tsunami coverage in South Asia, The Sundance Channel for a haunting investigative story of a local murder. A Cleveland reporter for uncovering a scandal in the school bus system there. The Kitchen Sisters. Well, it seems it was our story "An Unexpected Kitchen: The George Foreman Grill" in particular, but the whole approach of the NPR Hidden Kitchens series to food in America, that made the jury decide to give us an award that traditionally goes to the most highly regarded news stories of the year.

As we said in our thank you speech, over a thousand people had a hand in shaping these Hidden Kitchen stories. Radio producers, writers, butchers, foragers, grandmothers, boxers, chili queens, Nascar drivers, farmers, homeless people. We could not do these ground breaking, soul shaking, finger popping documentaries without our community.

The duPont-Columbia Awards have produced a PBS special that features the work of six of the 2006 award recipients and we are part of this documentary "Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism". We hope you will be able to see some of the outstanding work in the field from the past year and feel heartened by the efforts of our colleagues to seek and tell stories that matter.

“Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins—In Search of My Father” written and performed by W. Allen Taylor — opens Jan. 5 to Jan. 28, 2006 at The Marsh. Back in 1999, our colleague Ellen Sebastian Chang, the play's director, produced "Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins" as a radio story with The Kitchen Sisters for our NPR Lost & Found Sound series on All Things Considered. The piece is a moving, musical chronicle of William Allen Taylor's search for the father he never knew — Bill Hawkins, the first black disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio.We urge you to go see this remarkable and popping story. For details click here and visit>

Listen to “Walkin Talkin Bill Hawkins”, produced by The Kitchen Sisters
& Ellen Sebastion Chang
for Lost & Found Sound, Dec. 17, 1999


We have won the 2006 duPont-Columbia University Broadcast Journalism Award
for our Hidden Kitchens series on NPR.

13 winners of the 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism announced. The Kitchen Sisters and NPR for Hidden KitchensChosen from a pool of 628 radio and television news entries that aired in the United States between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2005, the winners will be presented with silver batons, the symbol for excellence in television and radio journalism, at an awards ceremony on January 18 at Columbia University. Hosting the ceremony will be Bob Schieffer, anchor of The CBS Evening News and moderator of Face the Nation. Joining him in presenting the silver batons will be Michel Martin, ABC News correspondent, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and Journalism School Dean Nicholas Lemann. A one-hour documentary about the winners, Telling the Truth: the Best in Broadcast Journalism, hosted by Michel Martin, will be broadcast nationwide on PBS stations beginning Tuesday, January 24.


The Coen Brothers Present The Kitchen Sisters, Nov. 26 NYC
Frances McDormand, Paul Auster,Siri Hustvedt, Oliver Platt, Ruth Reichl & NPR's Morning Edition host, Rene Montagne were guest readers at our Hidden Kitchens book event at the temporary Illy Cafe in downtown NYC. Yvvone Yvvone's Jamaican Jerk Chicken truck came down from the Upper West Side, Gus's Pickles from the Lower East Side brought 5 barrels of their famous pickles, Robert Wilkerson, from New Orleans, sent some of his homemade "Freelines" and a selection of recipes from the Hidden Kitchens book were whipped up for everyone to enjoy.

Ethan Coen, Nikki, Davia and Joel Coen at Illy event. November, 2005

One Ring Zero seranades

Yvvone Yvone's Jamaican Jerk Chicken truck

November 2005

After our story about Robert King Wilkerson, “King’s Candy: A New Orleans Prison Vision” aired on Nov 3rd on NPR we received many heartfelt calls and emails. Here are just a few.

Letters from Listeners:

Dear Sisters:
I was and am ecstatic about your series—an exquisite respite from the daily war in Iraq, the pain and struggling of evacuees making their way back home: New Orleans, Pakistan, Africa.  I just wanted to say that I love the series and ask if Mr. Wilkerson is no longer making candy.  If and when he does again would you be so kind as to let those on your mailing list know about it?  I think it would be a perfect gift for those of us still fortunate enough to be able to give something to our friends and family at holiday time.  Thanks again for your work as artists and activists—reminding me that I need never feel hopeless and that a single person can forever make a difference.

Best regards,
Sharon Carpentier

Another Hidden Kitchen Story

Hello Kitchen Sisters,
It was fun to hear the radio spot about your hidden kitchen stories. I wish I could have contributed my own experience when I worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a welder in the repair shops in Holidaysburg PA. I was a young woman about 27, the rest of the 2000 workers were men. Part of the repair work on the railroad cars required driving hot rivets with an compressed air gun. It was a good skill that I learned from one of the old timers. The rivets were about 4 inches long  and an inch thick. They were heated to white hot in rivet furnaces, which were hand made miniature blast furnaces with an inside space about a foot or two cubed. Turned on, they were like a little view of hell, loud and screamingly fiery. Turned off, they eventually cooled off and served as - ovens. The men would bring in game wrapped in foil with lots of butter. Depending on the season they brought squirrel, rabbit, woodcock, quail, pheasant, or venison. It was an art to know how long to heat the furnace so that when it was turned off, the meat would cook slowly over 3 or 4 hours. What came out was fall off the bone tender, rich with butter, variously flavoured meat that I always looked forward to tasting when offered by the generous hunters. It brightened up the long days spent in that noisy grimy factory.

Betsy Wertz, Bedminster, PA

October 2005

Things are a little different around here  at the moment Kitchen Central.  Along with working on a new cycle of Hidden Kitchen stories for NPR's Morning Edition,  we are about to embark on our first nationwide book tour  for our first ever book, "Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes and More from NPR The Kitchen Sisters.”

Memphis, Tennessee:
We chose  to start our book tour  in Memphis, Tennessee, because it is sonic ground zero  for The Kitchen Sisters and the source of  much of the  inspiration of our earlier national collaboration, Lost & Found  Sound. Three of our most cherished pieces  are about  some of the sonic pioneers that come from there,  Sam  Phillips and the Memphis Recording Service: We Record  Everything, Anywhere, Anytime, R.A.Coleman’s Electronic  Memories,  and WHER – 1000 Beautiful Watts.

After we  had  made our travel arrangements it turns out that we had picked  the 50th anniversary of launch of WHER. So, our book  event  at Davis Kidd Book Store will also be a celebration  of  the women of the first all-girl radio station in the nation  in  October, 1955.

Gathering  Story
We’ll be on the road searching for new hidden kitchen  stories for our NPR Morning Edition series and we  want to hear yours. We hope you’ll come visit us and  if we’re not coming to your town SEND  US an email with  your hidden kitchen story.

Tell us, who is cooking on your  street  corner, in your neighborhood?  Who are the local  kitchen pioneers and visionaries?  Who glues your community  together  food?   What unusual or significant kitchens  should  we know about?  What kitchen traditions and are  disappearing  from your family, your neighborhood, the planet  and  need to be chronicled before it disappear or change beyond  recognition?

Read More > “What’s  New” from The Kitchen Sisters (pdf)



Memphis, Tennessee:

We chose  to start our book tour in Memphis, Tennessee, because it is sonic ground zero for The Kitchen Sisters and the source of  much of the inspiration of our earlier national collaboration, Lost & Found Sound. Three of our most cherished pieces  are about some of the sonic pioneers that come from there,  Sam Phillips and the Memphis Recording Service: We Record  Everything, Anywhere, Anytime, R.A.Coleman’s Electronic  Memories, and WHER – 1000 Beautiful Watts. After we  had made our travel arrangements it turns out that we had picked the 50th anniversary of launch of WHER. So, our book  event at Davis Kidd Book Store will also be a celebration  of the women of the first all-girl radio station in the nation  in October, 1955.

The Original WHER disc jockettes

Reunion of the WHER gals in NYC at the Museum of Television & Radio, 2000


Marge Thrasher and Wanda Martin, WHER discjockettes at the Memphis Book Reading 2005

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