June 22, 2021
The Cold War is ending, the Soviet Empire is crumbling.
In Central Asia, new countries are being born - or built - in the ruins: Kazakstan, Krygystan, Tajakstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
Allegiances and borders are shifting, overshadowed by the ghosts of ancient kingdoms. Exciting times. New histories in the making. And it all needs reporting.
Documentary maker MONICA WHITLOCK visits the Bureau to tell tales of her times as the Central Asian foreign correspondent for the BBC.
And what tales they are: lost treasure; Polish cemeteries in the Uzbek desert; tiny paintings on matchboxes smuggled from gulags; state murder and a last desperate dash across the runway, fleeing Tashkent after being accused of abetting terrorists.
This episode features some of Monica's collection of field recordings.
June 7, 2021
London’s East End and Soho were the centres of a unique musical culture in the years between the 20s and the 50s.
Award wining oral historian and radio producer ALAN DEIN returns to the Bureau to tell stories of songs that soundtracked that world and feature on ‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World', the album of super rare tunes by London jewish jazz artists he has unearthed.
We hear tales of poverty and glamour, Soho gangsters, ghettos, vaudeville swing, comedy, cuisine and cabaret - and of some of the musicians who escaped the squalid streets of Whitechapel to become international stars. And we discuss what it means to be an oral historian, the power of story and how much radio still matters.
For more on Alan’s work
For the ‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World’ album