News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
People


Documentarian Ken Burns unfolds images of America at Kent State
Burns says his documentary on Shakers has a special place
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Ken Burns talks with reporters before his appearance on the Kent State main campus
Courtesy of WKSU
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Ken Burns, called by many the great American documentarian, came to northeast Ohio Tuesday. He was the fifth visitor in Kent State University’s Presidential Speaker Series—WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on what he came to say…and to see.

LISTEN: Burns talks war and peace

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:35)


Student of the people
Ken Burns has been studying America and telling its stories with award-winning films for a quarter of a century. So, when he took a moment to talk with reporters before his public appearance, WKSU's Tim Rudell asked him what he sees in this one corner of the country.

“Well, I’m a Midwestern boy, and I grew up in Ann Arbor, so I see a lot that of things that are very familiar to me. A college town, and a big campus, and the influence of students. I grew up in the 1960's. There was a much more activist student body. But I see the same thing. I mean, there is the same kind of questing. There’s the same curiosity. And I think that's what you hope stays alive.” 

May 4th, 1970
Burns also says he has a specific interest in northeast Ohio right now, and in visiting the May 4th Memorial at Kent State -- because of one of his film projects…

“The themes that we engage in our films seem perpetual; about the nature of human freedom; about the role of the government; about the question of race; all sorts of sort of sub themes to American history. And in some ways I make the same film over and over again…and in some ways each film is utterly unique. And so all of this is grist. And I am anxious to be here. I am working on a film on the history of Viet Nam War and May 4th 1970 is a hugely important day. And the introduction of our film has the iconic image of the woman standing over the body of her friend…and the lines are: ‘the Viet Nam War was a decade of agony’.”

Love ‘em all
Perhaps the most iconic of Ken Burns films also has to do with war…the Civil War. But he has done many other documentaries that drew acclaim and tremendous viewership…from “Baseball” to “Jazz.” 

So which is his personal favorite?
“You know, I’m the father of four daughters…here comes the cop-out, right? And I would be a terrible father if I liked one of them more than the other…and I don’t. And so, “Civil War” will be part of the first line of my obituary. I keep trying really hard not to make sure that isn’t, but I understand why that is. But I made a little film, my second film, after my first film on the Brooklyn Bridge, was about the celibate religious sect, the Shakers. They were in Ohio. Shaker Heights. They were an incredible group. And I love that film as much as I love the Civil War series.”

Something different
Burns typically has half a dozen film projects going at once— because they typically are panoramic tales that most of a decade to complete. But his latest, released a week ago, isn’t like that at all. It is the story of a small boarding school for boys with social and learning issues that require special care.

“For the 35 years that this school, the Greenwood School has been in existence they’ve asked there boys to memorize and then publicly recite the Gettysburg Address. Which would be a challenge for anyone, but a minefield of anxieties and terrors for these children.”

Inspirational
And yet, Burn says, they do it…magnificently. In fact, he believes what the boys do in presenting what he calls “some of the greatest words in American history,” is so inspiring he posted it on the PBS website…where he also asks everyone to join them. “…In what could be the largest mass memorization in all of history, you go to PBS. Org, the address, and follow the prompts.  And it allows you, your family, your friends, your class  to upload what you’ve done. And this could be a terrific moment for all of us. The kind of medicine ti was for the United States during the Civil War…the kind of medicine it could be for us today. “ 


Related WKSU Stories

World War II on the Home Front
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Video of Cleveland police shooting a 12-year-old is critical to the investigation
While I think this is a very unfortunate, the fact is that police are trained to aim for the large mass of a human to stop them. If they aimed for the leg it w...

Wayne County teacher says he was fired for criticizing dairy
This is bull crap Smithville Schools have changed ever since the new school I'm so ashamed at the district I wish I could pick my house up and move it to anothe...

White Castle is closing its five Northeast Ohio restaurants
you should open a white castle in logan ohio.i'm pretty sure you disappointed,thank you...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University