Monday, September 01, 2014


Audio Podcast: The Best Of 'The Blender' 1st Anniversary Show!

On this week's edition of The Blender, a look back at the best of the past year, as RFE/RL's only weekly English-language podcast celebrates its first anniversary.

We asked each of our four regular hosts -- Grant Podelco, Daisy Sindelar, Bruce Jacobs, and Pavel Butorin -- to choose some of the best moments from the previous 52 episodes -- the top news, features, interviews, and music since the first Blender was uploaded to iTunes on January 14, 2011. Ahh, they were so young then.

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We gathered them all in Studio P-10, asked faithful Blender editor Tanya Kancheva to assume her usual place in the control booth, opened a bottle of Champagne (OK, it was actually Czech sekt, The Blender entertainment budget not being what it used to be) and then we hit the record button.

What resulted is, I think you'll agree, an informative, entertaining, and often funny look back at some of the important -- and not so important -- stories from the past year.

We hope you enjoy it.
The Best of The Blender Anniversary Show (Episode 53)
The Best of The Blender Anniversary Show (Episode 53)i
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Listen to or download Episode 53 of The Blender above, or subscribe to The Blender on iTunes. For the complete Blender archives, click here.

Got a question or comment about The Blender? We'd love to hear from you. Click here to send us your feedback or leave a comment below.

Audio Podcast: Uzbekistan’s Wrongs On Rights, And A Tale Of Torture In Afghanistan

Steve Swerdlow of Human Rights Watch discusses Uzbekistan at RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague.

On Episode 52 of The Blender, we take an up-close-and-personal look at the situation in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights Watch released a report last month stating that the Central Asian nation has failed to provide its citizens with basic legal rights. The New York-based watchdog was also critical of Western governments, including the United States, for seeking closer ties with the authoritarian regime in Tashkent, despite its many abuses.
 
The Uzbek government expelled HRW’s Uzbekistan researcher Steve Swerdlow from the country last year. Swerdlow sat down for an interview in Prague with RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier, a veteran Central Asia reporter.

They talk about Swerdlow’s personal experiences and observations and the many human rights violations that still occur in Uzbekistan.
 
Sahar Gul in a Kabul hospital on December 31Sahar Gul in a Kabul hospital on December 31
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Sahar Gul in a Kabul hospital on December 31
Sahar Gul in a Kabul hospital on December 31
We also have the story of the brutal torture  a 15-year-old newlywed girl in Afghanistan says she was subjected to.

Sahar Gul says she suffered terrible injuries at the hands of her husband’s family before being rescued by police. The case shocked the country and its president, Hamid Karzai, who vowed to take action against the perpetrators.

We have a report produced by Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents Bashir Ghazali and Hameed Mohmand in Baghlan and Kabul.
 
This week's host is Bruce Jacobs.
Uzbekistan’s Wrongs On Rights & An Afghan Tale Of Torture (Episode 52)
Uzbekistan’s Wrongs On Rights & An Afghan Tale Of Torture (Episode 52)i
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Listen to or download Episode 52 of The Blender above, or subscribe to The Blender on iTunes. For the complete Blender archives, click here.

Got a question or comment about The Blender? We'd love to hear from you. Click here to send us your feedback or leave a comment below.

Audio Podcast: The First Blender Mind Bender News Quiz!

Unwitting Blender News Quiz contestants Kathleen Moore (left), Brian Whitmore, and Andy Heil in The Blender studio

So you think you know a lot about world events? Of course you do. You’re reading this website, after all.
 
But are you willing to put yourself to the test? More specifically, our test?
 
In Episode 51 of The Blender, we present our first-ever Blender Mind Bender News Quiz, hosted by Grant Podelco. The questions cover events that took place in 2011 and are mostly related to RFE/RL’s broadcast region.
 
Host Grant PodelcoHost Grant Podelco
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Host Grant Podelco
Host Grant Podelco
Three members of our highly informed staff accepted the challenge. The contestants are:
 
-- Central Newsroom editor Brian Whitmore. He specializes in our European areas of coverage and is the author of The Power Vertical blog and podcast aimed at Russia wonks and Kremlin watchers. He also has an extraordinarily deep knowledge of Apple products and U.S. politics.
 
-- Central Newsroom Deputy Director Kathleen Moore. With her well-honed knowledge of events, current and otherwise, she usually knows the answer to a question before you realize you're even going to ask one. She speaks Russian, Czech, and Scottish and is always available to translate any of those into English upon request.
 
-- English language website editor Andy Heil. He is known for sharp-eyed copy corrections, his environmentally-oriented tweets, and his quick-witted quips. His stance on over-hyphenation was unknown at the time of this writing.

We laughed. We cried. The host said "excellent" about 20 too many times.
 
Who will win the first-ever Blender Mind Bender News Quiz? Listen in and play along.
The Blender News Quiz -- 12/30/11 (Episode 51)
The Blender News Quiz -- 12/30/11 (Episode 51)i
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Listen to or download Episode 51 of The Blender above, or subscribe to The Blender on iTunes. For the complete Blender archives, click here.

Got a question or comment about The Blender? We'd love to hear from you. Click here to send us your feedback or leave a comment below.

Audio Podcast: The Blender Year-Ender

German soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) approach locals during a patrol in the village of Isa Khel in the Chahar Dara district.

It's a Blender year-ender with a look at three hot spots in our coverage area as we talk with RFE/RL service directors about the major developments of 2011.
 
In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces are set to hand over security responsibility in 2014 to Afghan forces. Some of the transition has gone smoothly, but militants continue to cross the border from Pakistan, brutal attacks by the Taliban have continued, and reconciliation efforts appear to have collapsed. Correspondent Ron Synovitz sat down to talk about the year's with Akbar Ayazi, a regional director of broadcasting for RFE/RL responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. 
 
In Belarus, former presidential candidates faced political trials, the economy was thrown into crisis, driving the country closer to Russia, and anti-government protesters came under intense pressure. Belarus service director Alexander Lukashuk covered these issues and more about troubling turns of 2011. 
Akbar AyaziAkbar Ayazi
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Akbar Ayazi
Akbar Ayazi
And in Azerbaijan, practicing journalism remained a dangerous business this year. Journalists faced prison, threats, and even murder. RFE/RL editor Brian Whitmore spoke with Azerbaijani service director Kenan Aliyev about the poor state of media freedom in the country.
 
This week’s host is Bruce Jacobs.
It's A Blender Year-Ender -- 12/23/11 (Episode 50)
It's A Blender Year-Ender -- 12/23/11 (Episode 50)i
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Got a question or comment about The Blender? We'd love to hear from you. Click here to send us your feedback or leave a comment below.
 
Listen to or download Episode 50 of The Blender above, or subscribe to The Blender on iTunes. For the complete Blender archives, click here.

About This Podcast

Brian Whitmore
Welcome to "The Blender," the weekly podcast from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "The Blender" presents the best of RFE/RL -- features from our far-flung bureaus, interviews with newsmakers and correspondents, reports on language, music, and culture, even a little humor now and again. A new episode is posted every Friday. Download the latest episode at left or subscribe on iTunes. Your feedback is welcome, either in the comments section or write to podcast@rferl.org.