A new radio documentary that explores the history of the race to the moon and celebrates the 50the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing will be broadcast by KRCU Public Radio at Southeast Missouri State University on Fridays, July 5-26.
From award-winning public radio producer Richard Paul, “The Lunar Landing: A 50th Anniversary Celebration” five-part series, will take listeners behind the scenes of putting an American on the Moon, and provide insight on the space program, political movements and social movements of the decade.
Each year on the anniversary of the Moon landing or on the anniversary of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s call to send a man to the Moon, the media is filled with nostalgic sounds from the 1960s and images of dark lunar footprints and fiery rocket pads. But, in the glory of those remembered moments, it’s easy to forget the political climate that shaped the race to the Moon.
“When I was in high school, they used to tell us that it took 50 years to know what any particular event’s impact would be,” said Paul. “Fifty years after the Moon landing, we have a vague nostalgia for that time that could use a substantial reality check. The value in taking a deep dive into the late 1960s is that it shows us what’s changed, what hasn’t, and what keeps coming back up again.”
“The Lunar Landing: A 50th Anniversary Celebration” will consist of one two-hour segment and three one-hour segments. The first, “Washington Goes to the Moon, Part 1 and Part 2” will be aired Friday, July 5, at 11 a.m., in place of KRCU’s “Caffe Concerto.” The following one-part episodes, “Rocketing Ahead,” “Rocket Girls and Astro-nettes” and “Race and the Space Race” will be aired at noon on July 12, 19 and 26.
“The moon landing is a significant event, and we’re glad to be able to offer this programming to our listeners,” said KRCU General Manager Dan Woods. “This is the only radio program in southeast Missouri being broadcast about the political and social movements in the 1960s in celebration of the 50th anniversary, and it’s a great way to celebrate such a milestone in our nation’s history.”
The series lineup will be as follows:
“Washington Goes to the Moon Part. 1: Washington, We Have a Problem”
July 5, 11 a.m.
NASA management, White House budget politics and U.S. Congressional oversight had as much to do with Apollo 11 reaching the Moon as the Saturn 5 rocket. This episode, “Washington, We Have a Problem,” looks at the battle to keep the Apollo space program funded and on deadline. It tells the story of how, after pledging to send a man to the Moon, U.S. President John F. Kennedy got cold feet and tried to get out of the commitment by bringing the Soviets on-board. Listeners will also learn about attempts by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s budget director to scrap the goal of getting to the Moon by 1969 in order to help pay for the Vietnam War.
“Washington Goes to the Moon Part 2: Trials and Fire”
July 5, noon
Today it’s understood better than ever that the exploration of space is a risky business — the explosions of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003 made that clear. In this episode, “Trials and Fire,” listeners will be taken back to the fire on board Apollo 1 that killed three astronauts, a disaster which nearly derailed the entire Apollo program. This episode also explores how the fire revealed deep flaws in a NASA management structure that businesses and governments around the world viewed with envy, and how NASA’s attempts to hide those flaws fed into U.S. Congressional distrust.
July 12, noon
In 1969, humans landed on the Moon. But why? Why did we go? The answers have a little bit to do with science and a lot to do with politics. In this episode, listeners will learn about how the Democrats rode Sputnik to the White House in a campaign that forever changed science, technology and academia in America.
“Race and the Space Race”
July 19, noon
Narrated by Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, this episode tells the unlikely story of civil rights and the space program. The Space Age began when America was going through a wrenching battle over civil rights. And, because the heart of the old Confederacy was chosen as its base, NASA played an unintended role in civil rights history. In this episode, listeners will learn about those who broke the color line at NASA, their stories of frustration and their stories of perseverance.
“Rocket Girls and Astro-nettes”
July 26, noon
Narrated by Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of a space shuttle, this episode chronicles the story of women in the ultimate man’s world — the labs and shuttle crew cabins of NASA. Told in the first person, the episode will explore the experiences of NASA’s first woman engineers, scientists and astronauts. Listeners will also hear about the fascinating story of a group of women pilots who, in the early 1960s, were led to believe that they would be America’s first female astronauts and were even given the same physical tests as the Mercury astronauts.
For more information about “The Lunar Landing: A 50th Anniversary Celebration,” visit https://www.krcu.org.
KRCU is a National Public Radio member station and is located on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University and broadcasts on 90.9 FM, KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and 88.9 FM, KSEF in Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri. KRCU can be heard anywhere in the world at www.krcu.org.