Podcasts about Places and Issues

George Jacob with Jill BidenThe Future Comes to San Francisco

One of the world’s most iconic cities is about to experience a transformation. George Jacob, president and CEO of the Bay Ecotarium, has plans for San Francisco’s Smithsonian-affiliated Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39: He and his team are transforming it into a startlingly unique Climate Resilience and Ocean Conservation Living Museum.

I visit with Jacob about the Ecotarium’s immersive exhibits focusing on climate change, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, micro-plastics … on possible solutions … and on the consequences of inaction. What will the Bay Area be like in 50 or 100 or 200 years if we continue in the direction we’re going now? Then we get into the Ecotarium’s impressive biomimetic façade that generates power using micro-algae; a holographic waterfall; the “Mother Portal,” which cyber-curates live streaming environmental data from around the world, bypassing geopolitical boundaries; and the Ecotarium’s use of artificial emotional intelligence—which allows machines to react to a human’s emotional state in intelligent ways. Wow!

Listen in: Visit with futurist George Jacob about his plans for the new San Francisco Bay Ecotarium

What’s the secret that makes Cuban pork so delicious?

Why is Cuban pork so delectable? To find out, Laurie McAndish King follows a trail of rose petals up a candle-lit marble staircase to Paladar Los Mercaderes in Old Havana. The restaurant’s owner, Yamil Alvarez Torres, lets us in on the secret of perfect pork and talks about mouth-watering Cuban cuisine, his customers’ favorite dishes, and the Cuban farm-to-table tradition.

We’ll also find out about the development of private restaurants in Cuba—and hear first-hand the effects recent U.S. government regulations are having on the Cuban people. And if you want to travel to Cuba, that’s legal and easy for Americans to do in groups, although individual travelers now have a bit of red tape to contend with.

Listen in: What’s the secret that makes Cuban pork so delicious?

Elephants Threaten Your Coffee, Your Coffee Threatens Elephants

Elephants are the world’s largest agricultural pests, threatening the livelihoods—and even the lives—of coffee growers in southern India. Of course, the reason for human/elephant conflict is that humans are encroaching on the elephants’ land. I interviewed the producers of a documentary film, Elephants in the Coffee, that considers this deadly problem. Listen in as DK Bhaskar and Dr. Thomas Grant discuss the situation from multiple perspectives and what they’re doing—with the help of the enterprising students in CLIC Abroad—to raise global awareness.

Are there elephants in your coffee? Listen in…

Taiwan: A Beautiful Island Rediscovered

Taiwan, named Isla Formosa or “Beautiful Island” by the Portuguese, is known for friendly people, tasty cuisine, and inspiring scenery. Listen in to learn how to petition the Moon Elder for a new relationship, why some riders think the bullet train is too smooth, how a sub-tropical climate affects whiskey-making, and how Taiwan’s annual Lantern Festival is becoming one of the world’s preeminent celebrations. You’ll hear the famous changing of the guard ceremony and find out how to toast in Taiwanese, too.

Listen to Taiwan, Isla Formosa


Global Climate Change and Wrangel Island

Dr. Ross MacPhee (from the American Museum of Natural History) and Dr. John Harte (a physicist-turned-ecologist at U.C. Berkeley) discuss the extinction of woolly mammoths and the future of humans. Find out how you can travel with them to Wrangel Island to learn more. (2007)


Learn about climate change from the experts


New Aer Lingus SFO-Dublin Daily Service

Find out why flying from San Francisco to Dublin Ireland is easier than ever. Come along and join Associate Producer, Laurie McAndish King in San Francisco as she visits with Dave Cooney and Helen Maguire with Aer Lingus. They talk about the launch of daily direct non-stop service between San Francisco and Dublin, as well as some Aer Lingus vacation package offerings, business-class lie-flat seats, and expedited-reentry arrangements with U.S. Customs. Listen to the show on the Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR.ORG digital media travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer.

Find out how to fly through Customs with Aer Lingus



Interviews with Travel Writers, Photographers, and Adventurers

Don George at the Commonwealth Club

A professional travel writer and editor for the past four decades, Don George has explored the farthest corners of the world.  The former travel editor for the San Francisco Examiner and SF Chronicle, George founded the Wanderlust section of Salon.com and was recently the global travel editor for Lonely Planet Publications. George’s work has appeared in many publications and he is a frequent guest on NPR and CNN.

In his new book, The Way of Wanderlust, George’s adventurous tales over the last 40 years—climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, ascending Yosemite’s Half Dome, a moving homestay experience in Cambodia—come together in one inspiring volume.

I had such fun interviewing Don! It was the first time I’d done a live interview, and there was a lot to keep track of: asking questions, listening to responses and following up, weaving in questions from the audience, keeping an eye on the time and inserting a “commercial” fifteen minutes before the end of the interview, and — the most fun — banging the official Commonwealth Club gavel three times at the beginning and end of the session.

Hear Don George talk about the craft of travel writing

Jeff Greenwald on Ethical Travel and Science Fiction

Writer, photographer, performer and activist Jeff Greenwald is a co-founder of Ethical Traveler and has published six travel books. He tells us about the creation of the Ethical Traveler — inspired by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — and its impact on issues ranging from the Tasmanian logging industry to the Cambodian sex-slave trade.

ShoppingForBuddhasGreenwald also talks about the world’s best ethical travel destinations and offers ideas for ways individual travelers can be more attuned to sustainability. We hear how Jeff chooses his book topics, the ways in which his love for science fiction has influenced his travel writing, and his most recent assignment — a road trip on a high-performance all-electric motorcycle (a great trip except for Jeff’s accidentally amputated fingertip). Jeff’s bestselling book, Shopping for Buddhas, was recently re-released in a 25th anniversary edition.

Hear Jeff Greenwald on ethical travel and science fiction

Catherine Karnow’s Travel Photography Insights

National Geographic photographer and conference instructor Catherine Karnow discusses her approach to composing photos, tips for photographing people, how to communicate with photo subjects who speak another language, and the proper role of Photoshop post-processing.

She also tells us about her photoworkshops in Italy and Vietnam — which sound like a blast, with lots of opportunities for interacting with locals, as well as ready-made photoshoot set-ups, great food, and Catherine’s expert instruction. VietnamcoverAnd we hear about the surprising and deeply moving experiences Catherine has had photographing victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Check out her beautiful book, Vietnam: 25 Years Documenting a Changing Country.

Hear Catherine Karnow’s insights on travel photography


David Farley Searches for the Holy Foreskin

David Farley, travel writer and author of An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town, is an instructor at the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers conference (as well as at NYU and Columbia University). Farley tells us how he researched his book — the true story of his search for a unique holy relic, the foreskin of Jesus, which went missing from an Italian church under mysterious circumstances. Irreverent Curiosity(Check out the National Geographic special about Farley and his search for the holy foreskin.)

Farley also considers what makes good travel writing, ways to use a quest, and how to approach writing story leads. And he seduces us with visions of his extensive collection of 19th-century wooden legs.

Hear about David Farley’s search for the holy foreskin

Marianne Bohr’s Expert Travel Tips

When Marianne Marianne Bohr was 55 she took time off work to have a “Senior Year Abroad” with her husband, Joe. The two had planned their trip for 30 years, ever since backpacking together in Europe after college. Marianne not only traveled the world, she also wrote a book about it, called Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries. The book reads like a personal travel narrative, with details about the places Marianne and Joe saw. By the end of the book I was not only informed and inspired — I was ready to take my own gap year.

GapYearGirlFind out how Marianne planned for such a dramatic change and what her advice is for people who have a dream of traveling extensively. We discuss packing essentials, traveling in countries where you don’t speak the language, readjusting when you return home, and much more. Marianne also gives us an insider’s view of the Book Passage Travel Writers Conference and shares some of what she learned there.

Listen to Marianne Borh’s expert travel tips

Perry Garfinkel on the Benefits of “Travel Writer’s Mindset”

What do travel writing and Buddhism have in common? How can a “travel writer’s mindset” extend your vacation and make it more enjoyable? Why does a professional travel writer recommend modeling after the masters—and stealing freely? And what did Perry Garfinkel steal from Woody Allen?

Learn all this and more from Garfinkel, a travel writing teacher and author of Buddha or Bust: In Search of Truth, Meaning, Happiness, and the Man Who Found Them All and Travel Writing for Profit and Pleasure. He will also give us a preview of his upcoming travel writing workshop (August, 2015) on Martha’s Vineyard.



Listen to Perry Garfinkel on the benefits of “Travel Writer’s Mindset”

Human-Powered Circumnavigation

Erden Eruc is preparing to row a boat from California to Australia. Why would anyone attempt such a challenging feat?







Join us to find out…

Roz Savage holds four world records, including First Woman to Solo Row Three Oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian. She is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2010 and a Yale World Fellow 2012.

Here’s how Roz describes her new book: “Based on my Pacific crossing between 2008 and 2010, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing is a story about my quest to raise awareness of environmental issues, as well as a personal search for happiness and meaning. It describes my failed voyage of 2007 and the soul-searching that ensued, followed by three successful voyages to make me the first woman to row solo across the Pacific. I share the insights I gained along the way—psychological, spiritual and environmental.


Listen in: Roz Savage plans to be the first woman to row, solo, across the Pacific Ocean.Part 2: Roz Savage prepares to row from San Francisco to Hawaii…!