I cried when I listened to John Biewen’s piece, “Hiroshima Revisited.” I’m a child of the Cold War who clearly remembers the moment in the late 1970s when it suddenly occurred to me I could be blown up at any time, by people I didn’t know, for a reason I couldn’t justify. It made me very angry.
I vividly recall the dreams, too, though I should call them nightmares. Standing on the top floor of a skyscraper, seeing the flash, and feeling the floor give way under my feet. Or, riding in a boat in the ocean and looking back to the coast to see a row of mushroom clouds in a neon sky. Or, a visit to a hospital where the floors were covered with bodies.
So, the bombing of Hiroshima – the beginning of the Cold War – looms large for me even though I wasn’t there.
These days, the Cold War has subsided even though both the US and the Russians are still armed to the teeth. The nuclear angst I felt as a teen and later in my 20s and 30s and even my 40s has subsided. But, it all came back, quickly, hearing “Hiroshima Revisited” and the voices of hibakusha, Japanese for “bomb-effected people.”
“Hiroshima Revisited” was originally produced by John Biewen in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the bombing. John was a reporter at Minnesota Public Radio at the time.
With President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima earlier this year, John dusted off the documentary to feature it on his podcast Scene on Radio. But, when he listened, there was a lot he didn’t care for in the writing, the mix, and pacing. His production sensibilities had changed over the years. But, rather than let the piece be, John re-wrote, re-mixed, and re-voiced it. There’s a lot to glean from his new choices.
On this episode of HowSound, we compare John’s old work with the new and we feature the 2016 production in its entirety.