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June 21 & 24: the last Dispatches

From our correspondents around the world...


The crew at Dispatches preparing the final show: (from left: Alan Guettel, Rick MacInnes-Rae, Nima Shams, Steve McNally, Alison Masemann, and Dawna Dingwall). 

This week -  we say good-bye.

It's our last program but we're going out with boats, baboons, and a bang.

We'll touch on some of the stories we've brought you over the years, some of the places we've been, and some of the strange and sublime people we put into your radio.

Along the way, we'll hear some of the moments that stopped us in our tracks. And hear some untold stories from our our correspondents.

We saved the best for last. 

Listen to the program now (left click)

Download the podcast (right click: save target as) 

Listen to individual items on pop-up players

Seaweed farmer Uledi tends her crop in tidal pools on Zanzibar island in Tanzania. Alison Dempster reported from the seaweed farms of Zanzibar on a past episode of Dispatches. (Photo REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

After 12 seasons this is our last, after the latest round of budget cuts here at the CBC.
Over the years we'd been striving to bring you the world, and in the words of poet Seamus Heaney, from "the frontier of writing."

And at the beginning, in the morning of this program, we set out to sit you on the shoulder of stories, large and small, often early in the day when their world begins.

Listen to a selection of morning scenes from past stories 

Related links:

Listen to Ben Gilbert's original dispatch from Baghdad

Listen to Alison Dempster's original Dispatch from Zanzibar

Listen to Prue Clarke's original Dispatch from Ghana

Listen to Meribeth Deen's original Dispatch from Malaysia

Journalist Bill Gillespie in Chechnya. (Photo: CBC)

Some of the most compelling sounds we ever aired were filed from Afghanistan back in 2003, by recently-retired CBC correspondent Bill Gillespie.
It was a story that moved Dispatches listeners like no other.

Listen to an excerpt, and Bill's reflections years later

Related link:

Listen to Bill Gillespie's original story from Afghanistan in 2003

CBC Correspondent Derek Stoffel (right) talks with a group of Syrian refugees living at a camp at the Turkey/Syria border. (Photo: CBC)

The plight of those caught in the crossfire of global conflicts like Afghanistan has been a constant theme in our programming.

Time and again, our correspondents documented the ways insecurity and economics drive people from their homes, a story as old as war itself.

Listen to excerpts from past Dispatches, depicting people on the move or forced to flee

Related links:

Listen to Derek Stoffel's original dispatch from the Turkish-Syrian border

Listen to Margaret Evans' original dispatch from Sudan

Listen to Rick's original dispatch from Shanghai

Listen to Darrell Harvey's original dispatch from Ivory Coast

Listen to Dominique Jarry-Shore's original dispatch from Mexico

Listen to Marine Olivesi's original dispatch from Libya

Correspondent Jennifer Westaway (Photo: CBC)

As we look back at some of the stories our correspondents have brought you over 12 seasons, some were hard to stomach. Literally.

During the worst of the Bosnian war, our nightly diet in the basement bunker was mystery soup and bread of such distinctive shape it was quickly called the "penis bun."

Much more palatable was a night out overseas recounted by CBC Correspondent Jennifer Westaway.

Listen to Jennifer's recollection of that night out in Japan

Ivar Loene's 5-year-old grandson Henrik's favourite food is smalahove, as he tells visiting students. (Photo: Nachammai Raman)

A tough job, but we're glad Jennifer Westaway got to do it.

Looking back, it's surprising how many of our stories turned on food. Though some dining out on this program suffered less tasteful results. Can you say bug nuggets?

Listen to excerpts from past stories where food was the focus 

The CBC's Anthony Germain in China at the end there a couple years ago, putting paid to the idea a correspondent's life is all five stars and open bars.  

Journalist Jared Ferrie

Anthony's story about food reminded Rick that the life of a journalist is sometimes decidedly un-glamorous. And he remembered apossibly apocryphal story, about a journalist doing a story about a sniper, only to be horrified when the man turned and shot two people entirely for his benefit.

In this business, you have to be careful what you wish for, as Jared Ferrie learned running down a drug story for us in the west African state of Guinea-Bissau.  

Listen to Jared's memories of that assignment 

Related link:

Listen to Jared's original story from Guinea-Bissau

And there's this memory from long-time Dispatches correspondent Megan Williams in Rome.

Listen to Megan Williams reflecting on the legacy of Dispatches

Left to right, journalists Connie Watson, Anthony Germain, and Margeret Evans (left to right, top to bottom).  

Each week on this program we promised you dispatches from our correspondents around the world.

For our final show, Rick was joined by three who filed many of them. Margaret Evans is the CBC's Europe correspondent in London.  Anthony Germain was the CBC's China correspondent for five years. And Connie Watson is the CBC's Latin America correspondent based in Rio. 

Rick asked what stories they won't forget.

Hear what they had to say

Journalist Laura Lynch (Photo: CBC)

The CBC's Laura Lynch has a lot of memories about covering Zimbabwe for us, a country that's become a faded memory of itself.

Listen to Laura's account of her Zimbabwe assignment

Listen to Laura's original dispatch from Zimbabwe on the blood diamond trade

Laura remembered the empty shop shelves she saw the last time she'd been in the country and so went to see what was in the stores this time.

Listen to it now.

Canadian photographer Paul Nicklen talked to Rick in 2010 about his bizarre encounter with a leopard seal in the waters of the Antarctic. The deadly predator seemed to think Paul needed to be fed.  (Photo: Paul Nicklen)

Fact is, whether it's curious Customs officials or withering warlords, correspondents actually spend rather a lot of time answering questions.

But as host of Dispatches, Rick always got to ask them, often of people in pretty remarkable circumstances.   

Some of the questions and answers that have resonated with us  over the years

Related links:

Listen to Rick's interview with American journalist Scott Carney from Oct 2007

Listen to Rick interview Khatune Chapichadze, in March 2008

Listen to Rick's interview with Jon Gnarr, from June 2010

Listen to Rick's conversation with Wall Street Journal reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi near Sendai, Japan in March, 2011

Listen to Rick as he listens in on Dr. Laura Stachel and a midwife in the exam room in Febuary, 2012

Listen to Rick's interview with Hildebrand Bijleveld from November, 2010.

Listen to Rick's interview from June, 2010 with Paul Nicklen

Listen to Rick's April, 2010 interview with filmmakers Flora Lazar and Chris Hegedus

Listen to Rick's interview with Nick Reding, from September, 2009

Listen to Rick's Feb 11, 2010 interview with David Goodman

Listen to Rick's interview with author Philemon Matibe

It was a story about a quest for answers that stays with our longtime contributor Rhoda Metcalfe. 

Listen to Rhoda's account of her time in Turkey

Listen to Rhoda's original story from Turkey

One of our stories was set on a boat, on the waters of the marshes of Southern Iraq. Here, yung Iraqi girls smile as they stand by marshes near Basra. (Photo: REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby)

If faith can transport us, as Rhoda Metcalfe discovered, so can a great story. And a lot of ours were actually set on transportation. 

On trains, planes and automobiles, reminding us travel is not always about the destination. Sometimes the voyage is its own reward. 

Listen to excerpts from our stories set on planes, trains and automobiles, and boats

Related links:

Listen to Margaret Evans' original dispatch on the Marsh Arabs of Iraq

Listen to Hadani Ditmars' original dispatch on the road to Northern Ireland

Listen to Michel Bolduc's original dispatch from India's car boom

Listen to Blake Lambert's original dispatch on Mali's motorbikes

Listen to Megan Williams' original dispatch on racial tension in Italy's textile town

Listen to Connie's original trip down the Amazon

Listen to Bojan Fuerst's original dispatch on returning to Vukovar

You've heard this one before, "pack plenty of patience". As freelance reporter Lindsey Mackenzie prepared her dispatch from Yemen, she found she could have used a bigger suitcase.

Listen to Lindsey Mackenzie's story of trying to leave Yemen by plane

Sometimes everyday transportation is much more than just that. Just listen to the CBC's Bruce Edwards. He once had a car that ended up revealing to him that things are not always as they appear. 

Related link:

Listen to Bruce's original story from South Africa

Wildebeests cross the Mara river during a migration in the Masaai Mara game reserve, southwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Reporter Anjali Nayar spent the evening with the Masai and included it in her piece about the migration.  (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)

That brings us to the end of the day for Dispatches and into evening, when things are put away and retired.  Even then, life does goes on, as we've heard over the years. 

Listen to a montage of evening scenes from past Dispatches 

Related links:

Listen to Prue Clarke's original dispatch from Monrovia, Liberia

Listen to Craig Desson's original dispatch from Sierra Leone

Listen to Laura Lynch's original dispatch from the Zimbabwe-South Africa border

Listen to Anjali Nayar's original dispatch from the Masai Mara


Andrew Princz (l), Joe Bageant (middle), and former CBC correspondent David McLauchlin (r), all contributors to Dispatches. 

Before we go off the air, we want to pay tribute to some of the correspondents Dispatches has lost. 

In 2003 Dispatches lost one of its most adventurous, passionate and incisive voices with the passing of CBC Radio reporter David McLauchlin. The year before he died, David went to Afghanistan and co-produced The Sky Cries Blood with Connie Watson. 

Their series is here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A colourful, original voice who appeared on Dispatches was the American writer Joe Bageant. He died of cancer in March 2011.

The Virginian gave his gruff take on the world a few times on this program and your email let us know you liked it.

A few years ago, he did us a piece from "Kibby's Cool Spot," a bar in Hopkin's Village, Belize -- then sent it from a laptop in the local surf shop.

Joe Bageant didn't seem to stand much on ceremony, especially in the early days of the U.S. election year of 2008.   

Joe's 2008 Dispatch from Belize

And the post-election follow-up

Joe Bageant's latest book is being issued posthumously.  It's called, with typcial reserve, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir.   It's published by Scribe.  He was 64.


Andrew, at Machu Picchu.

Andrew Princz, a longtime contributor to Dispatches, died of a heart attack in Quito, Ecuador on June 24.

He was 40, and at the peak of a career as, what he called, a cultural navigator. 

Based in Montreal, Andrew toured the world to help others create their own adventures, and along the way filled a website with colourful stories and pictures of some of the most amazing spots on the planet.

More info about Andrew, his work and his memorial are on his facebook page

So is Andrew's biography       

His many stories are on his website: www.ontheglobe.com/

Andrew on Dispatches:

Andrew visited the breweries of The Czech Republic back before it was a popular tourist trek. He found tradition (exemplified in a splendid performance of The Hymn Of The Hops), a growing post-Communist micro-brewing industry -- and a battle between that new republic and the North American beer barons of who stole the name Budweiser.

  Andrew went to Peru to trace the origins of thousands of artifacts from Machu Picchu that are still in the vaults of Yale University. He climbed to the this ancient Inca city and heard the demands -- from right up to the president of Peru -- for their return to their home country for the 100th anniversary of their "discovery."

 Just this past May, we aired Andrew's adventures in a headhunters' longhouse in Borneo 

Rick's reflections on 12 years of Dispatches 

Rick writes: 

This program began back at the turn of this century, when the CBC asked me and a colleague to create 11 episodes of a foreign affairs program. 

Then they asked for two more. Then they stopped asking, and Dispatches kept going, for nearly five-hundred more.  

Early on, I asked our contributors to write like drunken poets. To experiment. To leave in the stuff conventional news leaves out. The personal stuff.

And questions.  Let the listener hear you thinking out loud.   

When we got it right, a colleague says it reminded her of beat poet Jack Kerouac when he wrote;

"the only people for me are the mad ones,
the ones who are mad to live,
mad to talk,
mad to be saved,
desirous of everything at the same time,
the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing,
but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles,
exploding like spiders across the stars."  
That's how I found myself in the castle of a Druze warlord with flintlocks on the walls. 

Singing on a mountain road with a bunch of inebriated Basque nationalists.

In the middle of a racial standoff in Hot Coffee, Mississippi.

In a Lebanese prison so recently abandoned the laundry was still wet.

And in this chair, talking to you.

When we got it right, our stories had a beginning, a middle and an end. And twelve seasons on, so does this program.

Thank-you for listening down the years. For writing. For being constant. It's been an honour.

Listen to a collage of correspondents signing off for Dispatches 

Remember that our website archives will remain online for the next year and a half. We'll be putting together a bit of a "listeners' choice" page full of past stories you've told us you want to listen to again. If there's a favorite you remember from our vaults, email us at dispatches@cbc.ca and tell us why.

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, and Steve McNally, Rick MacInnes-Rae, with thanks to Michael Finlay and Thomas Rose. Our technical producers are Victor Johnston, Tim Lorimer and Nima Shams. The Senior producer is Alan Guettel.

We brought you the world!

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