All Things Considered

Weekday Evenings 2-3, 3:30 - 5:30, & 6-7
  • Hosted by Desmond O'Boyle, Audie Cornish, Kelly McEvers, Ari Shapiro, Robert Siegel

Breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special -- sometimes quirky -- features.

One of the most popular programs for helping the world's poor has gone sour in India.

Microcredit, the practice of making small loans to very poor people, grew into a multibillion-dollar business. But microfinance companies have been accused of predatory lending and collection practices so harsh that they drove some borrowers to suicide. One state government in India has enacted legislation that will, in effect, put the microlenders out of business.

What do the Rev. Fred Lane, the Maddox Brothers & Rose, and Eddie Cole & His Gang have in common?

Give up? They're all from the state of Alabama -- the featured state in the Oxford American magazine's 12th annual Southern Music edition.

You'll find more than two dozen songs on the accompanying CD. Some of the artists are well-known outside the state; others are more obscure -- such as King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan.

If you spend any time looking at music websites like this one, you've spent the past few weeks getting bludgeoned with best-of lists, from the results of the All Songs Considered listener poll to the decidedly more esoteric titles on Lars Gotrich's list of the year's best cassette-only releases.

In this, the final week of the year, we found ourselves wondering: where are we in this economic crisis? How are we doing compared with this week, a year ago.

Even with the help of wizards, vampires and premium 3-D prices, Hollywood's year will not make the record books. North American box offices took in about $10.5 billion in 2010 -- a bit less than last year.

But if the numbers don't impress, the product did often enough. When I sat down to put together a Top 10 list, I realized there was no way I'd be able to stop at just 10. And as I thought about ranking the best of the best, a few patterns seemed to emerge.

Is a hit song always a product of its time? Or is there a song so magical -- so potent -- that you could release it any year, in any decade, and it would be a number one record?

It's a question inspired by the driving habits of singer, songwriter and producer Ryan Tedder. I spoke with Tedder earlier this year, as we were just starting to think about the questions that would lead to the Hitmakers series that has been running on All Things Considered this month.

Pianist Shai Wosner has been performing to critical acclaim for years, but he has only recently made his debut recording, titled Shai Wosner: Brahms and Schoenberg.

Above is the audio for a remembrance of Billy Taylor, on All Things Considered. Below is a brief written obituary of him.

Billy Taylor, a pianist who became one of the country's foremost ambassadors for jazz music -- including many years as an NPR host -- died Tuesday night. The cause was a heart attack, according to his daughter, Kim Taylor Thompson. He was 89.

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written some tunes you might have heard, including "Hound Dog," "Love Potion No. 9" and "Yakety Yak." Though they've worked together for years, their relationship hasn't always been easy.

"I can't remember if it's Mike or Jerry who describes their relationship as a 50-year-old argument," says David Ritz, who ghostwrote Leiber and  Stoller's joint memoir. Ten years ago, the pair described that partnership on NPR as "long, long years of stepping on each other's words and toes and sentences."

I am not a person who re-reads books. The world is too large, and life too short. A book re-read steals time away from a new book I have yet to discover, a book that on my death bed will have gone unread. So, when I tell you that I have read Blindness, by Jose Saramago, three times, you will know how serious I am about it. Three times is two times more than I've ever voluntarily read any other book in my adult life.