Dick Gordon

Host, "The Story"

Before coming to North Carolina Public Radio to host The Story, Dick Gordon was host of The Connection, a daily national call-in talk show produced in Boston, from 2001 to 2005.  Gordon is well-known in the profession as an experienced, seasoned journalist with an extensive background in both international and domestic reporting. He was a war correspondent and back-up host for the CBC's This Morning, a national current affairs radio program.  An award winning journalist, he has also served as a Parliamentary reporter, Moscow correspondent and South Asia correspondent for both radio and television. 

In his career Gordon has covered the conflicts in Bosnia, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as well as the unrest in South Africa, Mozambique, Pakistan, India and the Middle East.  He has received two Gabriel Awards, two National Journalism Awards and has been nominated twice for the ACTRA Award for excellence in reporting. He is a graduate of Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada and the Kent School, Kent, Connecticut.

Ways to Connect

Nate Phelps, son of Westboro Barptist Church founder Fred Phelps
Nate Phelps

The pastor of the much-reviled Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, has died at age 84. Phelps' message became synonymous with hatred. The pastor and his family made it a point to carry signs at funerals saying, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” They showed up to events with signs that read, “God Hates Fags.”

Nate Phelps is the sixth of Fred’s 13 children. He describes his father as verbally and physically abusive. When he was 18, Nate ran away from home and from religion.

In recent years Nate found himself publicly squaring off with his father and siblings to reverse their legacy of intolerance. He lives in Calgary, Canada, where he has become a public speaker who champions LGBT rights and raises awareness about the connection between extreme religion and child abuse. He is currently writing a book about his life and is the subject of an upcoming documentary. He spoke with Dick Gordon in 2012. The story, "Son of a Bigot," was featured on Salon.com.

Listen to Nate Phelps' conversation with Dick Gordon from 2012:

Here are some highlights of the conversation:

What was your childhood like?

Photo: Mohammed, Mais and little Lamees wait in the airport in Amman to come to the U.S.
Ahmed Fadaam

In the last show of WUNC's The Story, we check in with guests who came on the program at moments when their lives were in transition.

When Deyanira Chavez was first on the show, she’d come to the United States from Mexico, undocumented, and was about to begin studying architecture in college.  Today, after much difficulty, we find her back in Mexico.

Dick Gordon, host of the The Story
Indaia Whitcombe

Friday is the last day for The Story on WUNC.  The program's host, Dick Gordon, is leaving the station after eight years with the nationally distributed show.  He spoke with Morning Edition's Eric Hodge one last time Friday morning.

ERIC HODGE: Good morning Dick.

DICK GORDON: Hi, Eric.

HODGE: So, why the move, Mr. Gordon?

Photo: Sheikh Jarrah
Grassroots Jerusalem

Mohammed El Kurd grew up in the East Jerusalem house where his family has lived for more than 50 years. In 2009, a group of Israeli settlers moved into a building on the property, claiming it as their own. Host Dick Gordon speaks to Mohammed and to a settler, Yaakov Fauci, to explore their relationship to the soil they share.

Also in this show: Playing the trumpet helped Jack Tueller get through a rough childhood, get through World War II – and meet his wife.

Illustration: 'Lady Madonna' single cover
Capitol Records

When Michael Humphrey was growing up, he would sometimes hear his father telling strangers a story about how the Beatles stole a song he wrote. People would almost always be confused and bewildered – and Michael would wish he weren’t there. “It didn’t matter to me whether it was true or not. It was just embarrassing that something so outrageous was being said,” he remembers. In this conversation, Humphrey tells host Dick Gordon how he eventually looked into his father’s claim that the Beatles stole the composition for “Lady Madonna.” Humphrey interviewed his father, and set out to find sheet music and anyone close to Paul McCartney who would speak to him.

Photo: Nate Kalichman and Paula Givan
Paula Givan

Nate Kalichman was 90 and Paula Givan was 67 when they got married. Sit with them and it seems like their love is brand new and like they’ve been married for years. In this 2012 conversation with host Dick Gordon, they share their stories of finding love late in life and making plans.

Also in this show: Tending Monet’s Garden, and Judy Garland’s flight attendant on a cross-country flight.

Bailey Karpa

Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Department of Education has reported a steady decline in the numbers of students who drop out of school before graduating. It says the rate dropped from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2011.

But a stark figure remains: On average, about one million students leave every year before graduation.

In this special program, American Graduate: Crossing the Stage, host Dick Gordon looks at ways – some innovative and some traditional – that educators are trying to keep students in school and help them succeed in the careers they choose.

Photo: Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist
All Eyes Media

About eight years ago, long-time musicians and partners Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler moved from their native Cincinnati to an 1830s brick farm house in rural Ohio. The latest album their band Over the Rhine put out is inspired by the place they live, and is a love letter and an ode to the joy of home. They speak with host Dick Gordon about the place they call “Nowhere Farm” and their album “Meet Me At The Edge Of The World.”

Photo: A child in a camp for Syrian refugees
Deb Barry

Deb Barry of Save The Children has been working in one of the refugee camps for Syrians, in Erbil, Iraq. She says the smallest things, like an ink pen and notebook, bring a small measure of normalcy to children’s’ lives.

Terry Tempest Williams

Western writer Terry Tempest Williams was given a gift by her mother as she was dying: her journals - three shelves of them. When she sat down to read them, she found that they were all blank. Terry Tempest Williams has spent 25 years sorting out the message her mother meant to give her.

Also in this show: Photographer Charlotte Dumas likes to photograph working animals, and spent time at night in the stables of Arlington National Cemetery.

Photo: A woman at the March on Washington
David Johnson/ Library of Congress

By the morning of Aug. 28, 1963, Naomi Moore, Jurgen Ahler, David Johnson and Gunny Gundrum had traveled to the heart of Washington D.C. – some from across town, others from across the country – for an event that none of them would forget.

Illustration: Whale
WikiPaintings

When Lynne Cox was 17 years old, she'd already broken several world records for long-distance swimming. She'd crossed the English Channel twice and always trained. One morning, she was swimming in the ocean off Seal Beach, Calif., before the sun was up.  Suddenly, she realized a baby whale was following her. She couldn't swim back to shore because he'd follow her and run aground, so she stayed in the water with him for hours and hours, hoping his mother would come back for him. Cox tells guest host Phoebe Judge the story of Grayson.

Photo: A topographer at work with an alidade and plane table.
U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

What's a centroid? It is a hypothetical calculation of the exact center of the U.S. population. It involves the U.S. Census and has changed over the country's 220 years, sometimes falling in a town and at other times settling in the middle of rural country. Orion Magazine writer Jeremy Miller explores the centroid and finds that its movement has matched the country's westward expansion and development.

Photo: Amsterdam, 1937. Children sit in a sandbox, including Anne Frank  and Barbara Rodbell.
Barbara Rodbell

In 1933, when Nazi power was surging, Barbara Rodbell's family left Germany for Amsterdam. There, in the Jewish community, Barbara and her sister became good friends with Anne Frank and her family. The Nazis began to round up Jews in Amsterdam and at age 17, Barbara chose to hide in plain sight - to pass as a non-Jew. She took off her yellow star and obtained false identification papers. She connected with a group of resistance activists, and this is how she survived.

Illustration: Man meditating in an office
thedigitaldetox.org

At 23, Levi Felix was the vice president of a startup in California, making a good salary, but he was working around the clock, not eating well, and sleeping with his cell phone under his pillow. Then, one day he felt weak and checked himself into the hospital.

When his doctors ordered him to slow down, he set off on what would become three years of around-the-globe traveling and completely disconnecting from technology.

In this conversation, Felix tells host Dick Gordon what he learned about disconnecting and how he brought it back to the U.S. through what he calls Digital Detox, a summer camp and retreat for anyone who wants to get away from her gadgets.

Hear the full conversation at The Story's website. Also in this show: Ed Rosenthal went for what he thought would be a short hike in the Mojave Desert, then wound up lost; and Margareta Claesson and her husband, noted physiologist Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, studied the camel and found the key to its survival is in its nose.

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