Podcast: U.S. Tries To Be More Civil, Plus Iran’s Deep Voice Of Satire

U.S. Tries To Be More Civil, Plus Iran’s Deep Voice Of Satire
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In Episode 45 of The Blender, we talk with Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser on civil society and emerging democracies.

His title is quite a mouthful, and his duties may not immediately get your blood racing, but as Tillemann points out, many of the most momentous events in recent history have been instigated by civil society — most recently the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, but also the efforts to combat climate change, to reduce the debt burden of the world’s poorest countries, and the micro-credit movement.

Not to mention the events of 1989 that led to the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.


Farshid Manafi
​​The Obama administration is making an unprecedented push to engage with members of civil society around the world, in recognition of the extraordinary role that activists now play.

We talk with Tillemann about these efforts and how they relate to some of RFE/RL’s more democratically challenged broadcast countries, such as Iran, Belarus, and Uzbekistan, and about concerns that affiliation with the U.S. State Department could sometimes be seen as less than advantageous.

Farshid Manafi’s activism is of a different sort.

The RFE/RL broadcaster makes a difference in his home country of Iran through satire and humor, using the platform of his popular radio show, “Pasfarda.” Five days a week, Farshid is on the air on our Persian-language service, Radio Farda, skewering the politics, politicians, and social mores of Iranian society.

Dan Telegin
​​Manafi just received the Association of International Broadcasting’s International Radio Personalty of the Year award for 2011.

Correspondent Kristin Deasy sits down with Manafi to discuss his show, his life, and why Iranians respond so well to satire.

And in our monthly “Ear to the Ground” segment, Lucian Stefanescu profiles Russia’s post-punk, lo-fi genius Dan Telegin, whose new EP, “Mua,” was influenced by “Glamorama,” the 1998 novel by American author Bret Easton Ellis.

This week’s host is Grant Podelco.

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Listen to or download Episode 45 of The Blender above, or subscribe to The Blender on iTunes. For the complete Blender archive, click here.

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