Chris Lydon

Profile

Christopher Lydon is the host of Radio Open Source, a conversation on arts, ideas and politics from Brown University's Watson Institute. Proto-blogger Dave Winer calls Chris Lydon "the original podcaster."

In the background now are too many years in straight journalism, covering city and state politics for the Boston Globe and presidential campaigns (McGovern, Humphrey, Reagan, Carter et al.) for the New York Times, anchoring "The Ten O'Clock News" at WGBH-TV in Boston, and founding "The Connection" on public radio with producer Mary McGrath. Chris Lydon had run for mayor of Boston in 1993 -- a spur-of-the-moment stab at making a difference, or perhaps just surprising himself. In 1994, it turned out, the surprise that made the difference was radio. In the new millenium, the onset of blogging, podcasting, and the myriad extensions of the internet expanded all Chris Lydon's horizons and the resonance of Emerson's essay "Circles," a Lydon standby: "Life is a series of surprises. We do not guess today the mood, the pleasure, the power of tomorrow, when we are building up our being.... Now for the first time seem I to know any thing rightly. The simplest words, -- we do not know what they mean except when we love and aspire."


Stories by this author

  • | November 2nd, 2011
    Here's the short form, as we say: nearly a month of strong conversation in Pakistan this past summer, distilled to two radio hours. The first hour explores the living history and dynamic present of "the country that could kill the world ...":...
  • | September 21st, 2011
    Ashis Nandy, our sparkling Sage of New Delhi, is in effect a psycho-analyst of post-colonial South Asia. On the way home from Lahore, we stopped to ask the great man about Pakistan -- and the "myth of Pakistan" which, he has written, "originates...
  • | September 19th, 2011
    LAHORE -- Rashid Rana is Pakistan's prize entry in the global art scene. Images that contradict themselves on closer inspection are his signature work. In his "Veil" series, for example, what look like stylized impressions of shrouded Muslim...
  • | September 15th, 2011
    Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan is one of Pakistan's superstar singers, an embodiment of the dynamism inside South Asian music. The mix is full of contradictions and surprises, starting with the rule of thumb that -- for all the agonies associated with the...
  • | September 14th, 2011
    Imtiaz Alam has the gruff manner of your classic, chain-smoking, get-to-the-point "Front Page" news editor. He seems a Chicago sort of newspaper guy, except that he works and represents the profession in Pakistan, "the deadliest place in the world...
  • | September 12th, 2011
    LAHORE -- Kamil Khan Mumtaz, an eminence in Pakistani architecture, is giving us the gentlest of introductions to a revival in Pakistan of Islamic thinking about art and design and meaning in life. He's tracking two West-to-East journeys of his own...
  • | September 8th, 2011
    SpeakSpeak, your lips are free.Speak, it is your own tongue.Speak, it is your own body. Speak, your life is still yours.See how in the blacksmith's shop The flame burns wild, the iron glows red; The locks open their jaws, And every chain begins to...
  • | September 6th, 2011
    LAHORE -- Zeb and Haniya could set you to wondering all over again why musicians aren't asked to run the world. In their studio in Lahore, we are puzzling how they make it look so easy to teach us new songs? to call fresh tunes on stage -- as so...
  • | September 1st, 2011
    Nadeem ul Haque introduced himself with a bit of bluster as Pakistan's official "growth" strategist, then began blurting out his frustrations. There's no growth to speak of in Pakistan, he said -- less than inflation anyway, and nothing like India'...
  • | August 31st, 2011
    Salman Rashid, adventurer and prolific author, had offered to guide our discovery tour of Pakistan -- in the spirit of Kipling's Kim and his lama, or earlier of the Victorian genius and spy Richard Burton. Our terrain would run from Karachi -- from...
  • | August 29th, 2011
    LAHORE -- Mohsin Hamid wrote the hair-raising novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist that will soon be a major motion picture directed by Mira Nair of "Monsoon Wedding" fame. The character in the title is a young Pakistani with a resumé a lot like...
  • | August 25th, 2011
    Ali Dayan Hasan polices the shaky, wavy line of free speech and civil rights in Pakistan with iron conviction, a booming parliamentary baritone, and not much else. He was the first to sound the alarm last May at the abduction of the journalist...
  • | August 24th, 2011
    ... One inmate had got so badly caught up in this India-Pakistan-Pakistan-India rigmarole that one day, while sweeping the floor, he dropped everything, climbed the nearest tree and installed himself on a branch, from which vantage point he spoke...
  • | August 23rd, 2011
    It takes a historian of Ayesha Jalal's power to crystallize an awkward truth: that the agony of Pakistan today is inseparable from the tragedy of Pakistan's birth in 1947. Still more bluntly, that Pakistan as we know it is not at all the country...
  • | August 22nd, 2011
    I-S-L-A-M-A-B-A-D, baby.Let's play Wii: Crash into each other till we have to sleep. There's no other place I'd rather be... I-S-L-A-M-A-B-A-D, baby. Get caught up in this motha fuckin cycle of life, And we're all just having fun... ... from Adil...
  • | August 20th, 2011
    ISLAMABAD -- Alia Amirali is a second-generation change agent in a society that's stuck -- or maybe worse: scared, confused, depressed, afraid it might be sinking. Her project, she begins, is to "rebuild the left" in Pakistan. She is giving us...
  • | August 17th, 2011
    KARACHI -- "Plausible deniability" has been the first principle of the US-Pakistan relationship, from the beginning, as Haris Gazdar explains it. He's explaining not least why nobody else can explain it: because like a sleazy affair or an abusive...
  • | August 16th, 2011
    KARACHI -- Dying is easy, as the old comedian could have said about Karachi today. It's making jokes about it that's hard. This is Saad Haroon's calling as a Pakistani version of Jon Stewart, on television and in the comedy clubs that survive,...
  • | August 15th, 2011
    KARACHI -- Shahrukh Hasan is a Pakistani media mogul who's made peace with India his personal, professional crusade. In American terms, he's a throwback to the days when lively newspapers, fat with readers and profits, had editorial chieftains who...
  • | August 11th, 2011
    KARACHI -- We are taking the fishermen's measure of Pakistan's distress here in a fishing village that goes back to antiquity, that fights the present-day odds with spirit. The fisherfolk all around us are the sea-level "canaries" in a shrinking...
  • | August 9th, 2011
    KARACHI -- Dr. Geet Chainani is the young American dream I hadn't counted on meeting in Pakistan this summer. She's a Yank born in India, raised in New York City, trained as a medical doctor in the Caribbean. And for most of a year now she's been...
  • | August 9th, 2011
    KARACHI — Mohammed Hanif, prize novelist of A Case of Exploding Mangoes (2008), is piercing a cloud of calamity and crisis that hangs over his city, Karachi, as we speak. The news headline as we arrived was "Karachi Continues to Burn and Bleed...
  • | September 3rd, 2010
    NEW DELHI -- Ashis Nandy has a big idea about "loss and recovery" in the history of colonialism. The bumpersticker version is that the conquerors and colonists lose in the end; the vanquished victims win. He is talking, of course, about England...
  • | August 31st, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Sudhir Kakar (17 minutes, 8 mb mp3) NEW DELHI -- Sudhir Kakar has built a Freudian bridge to the alternate universe that is India. The India he writes and talks about is different not only from our world...
  • | August 26th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Tarun Tejpal (66 minutes, 32 mb mp3) NEW DELHI -- Tarun Tejpal -- muckraker, editor and novelist -- is speaking with professional zeal and a certain generational remorse about his remarkable ten-year-old...
  • | August 25th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Mark Tully (40 minutes, 19 mb mp3) NEW DELHI -- Mark Tully is something like the Edward R. Murrow of India. He has been the beloved voice of the BBC in New Delhi since 1964 -- knighted by Queen Elizabeth...
  • | August 24th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Shashi Tharoor (41 minutes, 20 mb mp3) NEW DELHI -- Shashi Tharoor is the global Indian who came home -- who scored a thundering victory in his first run for office, and has been paying the price ever...
  • | August 20th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with M. A. Baby (29 minutes, 14 mb mp3) TRIVANDRUM, Kerala -- M. A. Baby is giving us an introductory dose of Indian leftism in power. A Communist and a Catholic, too, he is the Minister of Education and...
  • | August 17th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Paul Zacharia. (33 minutes, 15 mb mp3) Paul Zacharia is a novelist and story writer eminent in the Malayalam language and in Trivandrum, the southernmost big city in India and the capital of the famously...
  • | August 16th, 2010
    Click to listen in on Chris' slum tour with Brindge Adige. (54 minutes, 26 mb mp3) BANGALORE -- Brinda Adige, a self-starting social activist, in yellow sari, is our guide to the slum side of Bangalore and the virtual canyon between the public...
  • | August 12th, 2010
    "First I hit.  And if he still has his senses, then we talk." This is Kamakshi speaking. In the smelly slum that houses about 10,000 families or 50,000 souls near the heart of India's digital boomtown, Bangalore, Kamakshi is the first and...
  • | August 12th, 2010
    Click to listen in on the conversation at Koshys Cafe. (35 minutes, 16 mb mp3) "... And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy or punctuality, does have...
  • | August 11th, 2010
    Click to listen in on Chris's visit to the Ubuntu workshop in Ramanagar. (22 minutes, 11 mb mp3) RAMANAGAR -- We drove out about 50 kilometers south and west of Bangalore to see a busted "silk city" and a social "silver bullet" in action. Vibha...
  • | August 5th, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris's conversation with the Ramachandra Guha. (58 minutes, 28 mb mp3) BANGALORE -- Ramachandra Guha, the provocative, critical historian of India After Gandhi, has vitality and charisma to match his country's. Writing and...
  • | August 3rd, 2010
    Since anyone can remember, people in India kept their teeth healthy by scrubbing them with mango leaves and chewing sticks of the Neem tree.  Natural antibacterial properties kept mouths happy, they say. Today all middle and upper class Indians...
  • | August 3rd, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris' conversation with Namita Gokhale (34 minutes, 17 mb mp3) NEW DELHI -- Namita Gokhale -- novelist, publisher, sparkplug of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival -- says the essential (maybe the only) revolution in India...
  • | August 3rd, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris's conversation with the Suprabha Seshan. (27 minutes, 13 mb mp3) BANGALORE -- Suprabha Seshan -- a gardener and guardian of the land, living for the last 17 years in the wild rain forest of Kerala, near the southwest tip of...
  • Bharati Raja Reddy
    | July 27th, 2010
    Bharati Raja Reddy is the Indian entrepreneur we didn't expect to meet: a young man of the Old India happy to be dropping out of the New.  He is a soft-spoken Hindu nationalist who's devoted to the social comfort of his upper caste, denoted by...
  • | July 26th, 2010
    Flexibility, hierarchy, politics, non-aggression and horns -- India reveals itself on the road. Of course street life is the lowest hanging fruit for an outsider of a society to witness, but after talking to all kinds of Indians for two weeks,...
  • | July 24th, 2010
    The graceful ladies in a needlework-training collective are a glimpse of the proud poverty everywhere to be seen in India. We're in a third-floor sewing workshop run by the NGO Ubuntu-at-Work in Ramanagar, a busted silk city not far from Bangalore...
  • | July 22nd, 2010
    Click to listen to Chris's conversation with the Chhiber-Mathew family. (46 minutes, 22 mb mp3) BANGALORE -- Neelam Chhiber met her husband Jacob Mathew in graduate school, the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Today, with their 19-year-...
  • | July 19th, 2010
    On the backside of the Bangalore boom, the stinky private squalor supporting the world-class private affluence is the shocker. The new Indian slum -- growing up with the Information Technology capital -- is a work-in-progress between shanty town and...