Boston Calling

110 EpisodesProduced by BBC World Service

How the world looks through American eyes, and the myriad and unexpected ways that the world influences the United States.

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History in the making

April 13th, 2019


These days the majority of migrants crossing the US border with Mexico are from Central America. But that wasn’t always the case. For decades, the majority of people crossing the border were Mexicans, seeking jobs and …

Journey interrupted

April 6th, 2019


In 1976, 13 year-old Benny Davidson was on a flight bound for Paris when two Palestinians and two Germans hijacked his plane and forced it to fly to …

The legacy edition

March 30th, 2019


The legacy of racial segregation and institutionalized racism still persists in the US. Wesleyan College in Georgia was once a whites-only school, …

Time to act

March 23rd, 2019


Patricia Okoumou does not shy away from action. Last year, on 4 July, Ms Okoumou climbed up the Statue of Liberty to protest against the detention …

Caste in America

March 16th, 2019


At 30, Suraj Yengde has earned multiple degrees. He has done graduate and post-graduate research at the prestigious Harvard University. But when he …

Conversations without borders

March 9th, 2019


We join a group of American tourists on an organised trip across the border to find out what life there is really like.

Also, a trilingual interpreter tells us about the challenges of interpreting for asylum seekers who …

Outside the lines

March 2nd, 2019


Martina Navratilova made some controversial statements about transgender athletes. She said that it’s cheating when transgender women compete in women’s sports. But many activists disagree with her and are pushing back.

The boy in the caravan

February 23rd, 2019


Vladi was just 15 years old when he joined a migrant caravan, travelling all the way from El Salvador, to Tijuana on the US-Mexico border. He arrived …

Forty years of consequences

February 16th, 2019


It’s been 40 years since the Islamic revolution in Iran. In 1979, many Iranians felt a strong sense of hope as change was sweeping through their …

The Together Edition

February 9th, 2019


For Dora Crespin, the United States is a lonely place. She’s happy living in El Salvador where she has her friends, familiar food, and most importantly her family. But Dora is moving to the US anyway, leaving her son …

The Influencer Edition

February 2nd, 2019


Your social media timelines are filled with influencers; people with huge numbers of fans and followers who are sometimes paid to promote products. …

Transatlantic Sins

January 26th, 2019


Four hundred years ago pirates brought enslaved Africans to Virginia’s shores.

Taboos, Bans and Barriers

January 19th, 2019


Ada Hegerberg is a professional football player from Norway. In December Hergerberg won the first Ballon d'Or for women, one of football's most prestigious awards. Hergerberg sees this moment as an opportunity to …

Living Green in 2019

January 12th, 2019


The next couple of years will be crucial for governments to take action on climate change. In this edition we hear why and what’s being done about it.

We meet Hilda Heine, a global leader on climate change and President …

The Friendship Edition

January 5th, 2019


El Salvador is one of just a handful of countries where abortion is banned in all circumstances. The ban is so comprehensive, that every miscarriage …

The Lungs of the World

December 29th, 2018


The fate of the Amazon is in jeopardy. Logging, cattle ranching, and soya bean farming are threatening its very existence. But the threat doesn’t end there; carbon dioxide coming from cities thousands of miles away is …


December 22nd, 2018


The US opioid epidemic is a major public health crisis that has affected many communities across the United States. We’ll hear from an expert in addiction psychiatry who thinks that doctors bear much of the blame.

Also: …

Brain Gain

December 15th, 2018


"Brain Drain" is what happens to a country when its best and brightest minds leave and don't return. The flip side of this is called "Brain Gain." But even when countries benefit from new arrivals, they don’t always …

The Migrant Caravan

December 8th, 2018


President Trump has been determined that the migrant caravan not be allowed to enter the US. Now his administration has extended the deployment of more than 5,000 troops on the US-Mexico border to the end of January, …

Unmade in America

December 1st, 2018


The history of the US auto industry goes back more than a century, and Americans take a lot of pride in it. It’s part of the American psyche. So when this past week, General Motors announced that it is shutting down 5 …


November 24th, 2018


In November of 1969, a group of Native Americans occupied the notorious prison island of Alcatraz to protest about federal policies that …

Into The Woods

November 17th, 2018


Most of the town of Paradise, California, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has been obliterated by raging wildfires. Dozens of people are known to have lost their lives and hundreds are still missing. Ellen VandenBerg …

Identity Crisis

November 10th, 2018


President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric ran high in the run up to the US midterm elections. He called the migrant caravan making its way north through Mexico an invasion. He even sent troops to the southern border …

It’s All Political

November 3rd, 2018


At a point of strong political division in the US, where everything from “migrant caravans” to global trade is being politicised, Safiya Wazir is …

A Half Degree of Separation

October 27th, 2018


One of the stated goals recent United Nations report on climate change is to prevent the planet from warming more than one and a half degrees …

Time Served

October 20th, 2018


Should someone who has committed a serious crime, like murder or rape, be automatically banned from voting? What about lesser crimes? In the US, even …

City of Angels

October 13th, 2018


On the night of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968, a photographer caught an image of the presidential candidate just after he was shot. In it, a young hotel worker named Juan Romero cradles Kennedy's head, …

Trade and Tariffs

October 6th, 2018


The nearly 25 year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is to be replaced by the US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA). The name might be …

Well Read

September 29th, 2018


Every Day Is Extra is the title of a new memoir by former US senator and secretary of state John Kerry. He chronicles his time serving in Vietnam, five terms in the Senate, his presidential run, and his tenure as …

The New Normal

September 22nd, 2018


In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, scores of colleges and universities in Puerto Rico had to close because of all the damage. Schools on the US …

Untold Afghanistan

September 15th, 2018


In the early 2000’s the US helped fund Afghanistan's first private university. It was part of an effort to help rebuild Afghanistan's education system. Over time, the American University of Afghanistan has become a …

The Blockbuster Edition

September 8th, 2018


Crazy Rich Asians is one of the top box office hits of the summer. The film’s plot may just sound like your typical romantic comedy, except it's set …

Northern Neighbours

September 1st, 2018


As a result of President Trump's immigration crackdown, many migrants are seeking a warmer welcome in Canada. Since 2017, 33 thousand people have …

Tech’d Off

August 25th, 2018


This week, Microsoft announced that it detected and stopped attacks on US institutions by Russian hackers linked to the Kremlin. The attacks involved …

No Place Like Home

August 18th, 2018


Karolina Chorvath grew up caught between different countries and languages. She’s a third culture kid, which can mean lots of things; some are the …

The Survivor Edition

August 11th, 2018


Dorelia Rivera and her daughter were onboard the Aeromexico jet when it crashed at the end of the runway and burst into flames. Dozens of people were …

Recycle This

August 4th, 2018


One of America's biggest exports to china is its recycling. But in recent months, China has been refusing shipments because so much US recycling is contaminated with food and other waste. That's forcing communities …

Food for Thought

July 28th, 2018


President Trump has promised to help America’s soya bean farmers, who have found themselves caught in the middle of the US-China trade war. But will his help be enough?

Also: an ice-cream maker in Philadelphia exports …

The Red Line

July 21st, 2018


Did Donald Trump commit treason in Helsinki? Legal experts weigh in on the “T” word.

Also: we learn all about Russia’s GRU, the country’s largest military intelligence agency; we remember Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 …

Baby Guaranteed

July 14th, 2018


One in six Americans is affected by infertility, according to a recent study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The US has legal commercial surrogacy programmes, but they can cost more than $100,000, so …

Talk to Me

July 10th, 2018


Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, gives his take on the upcoming Trump-Putin summit.

Also: we meet indigenous language interpreters …

Game On!

June 30th, 2018


I was just really happy,” says The New York Times en Español editor Paulina Chavira, “I was crying because it was a victory for me.” She convinced …

It’s The Law

June 23rd, 2018


There is nothing special about the building at 606 South Olive Street in Los Angeles. But if you're an immigrant fighting deportation, what happens inside is all-important.

Also: we hear about a child who was separated …

The Father’s Day Edition

June 16th, 2018


“What I remember about my dad is that he had this penetrating smile.”

We recall the life of Tony Acevedo; from child of unauthorised immigrants from …

The Unforgettable Edition

June 9th, 2018


): Young Navajo in the southwest grapple with a traumatic chapter in US history.

''Nobody shares these stories with me, and I don’t understand why I feel the way I feel. I want to know what happened.''

We learn how the …

The Automated Edition

June 2nd, 2018


Bananas and foreign travel: What it means to be a computer hacker in North Korea.

In North Korea’s spy agency, operatives aren’t just trained to gather intel. They also hack banks. We hear from a couple of North …

The Heist Edition

May 26th, 2018


North Korea’s cyber-hackers have raked in millions of dollars.

Also: US border agents on the search for illegal animals; the cheese smugglers of …

The Deadline Edition

May 19th, 2018


As NAFTA talks grind on, thousands of skilled workers wonder if they will keep their jobs.

A Trade NAFTA or "T-N visa” allows citizens of Canada and …

Inside the Box

May 5th, 2018


As traditional business models continue to break down, entrepreneurs have their sights on one more area to disrupt: traditional orthodontics.

Also: …

On the Move

April 28th, 2018


Alabama used to be known for its textile industry. Now, it’s becoming the automotive hub of the South.

Also: we find out what it’s like to fly on Air Koryo, North Korea’s national airline; we meet Dean Huang, a …

American Justice

April 21st, 2018


All over the world, countries are imprisoning women at higher rates than ever before.

On the programme: We visit a new kind of drug treatment program for women in the Midwestern state of Ohio; we hear about why more and …

Crimes and Misdemeanours

April 14th, 2018


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to dedicate resources towards fighting hate speech. People in Sri Lanka have been asking for that for years.

The Incredible Journey

April 7th, 2018


In 2015, Summer Nasser traveled from her home in New York City to marry Muntaser Yaghnam in his home country, Yemen. Then, civil war broke out. They tell us about what it was like to get married amid airstrikes and …

Friends and Followers

March 31st, 2018


In India, revelations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official app has been sending user data to a third party provoke outrage.

Also: Author Mona Eltahawy starts #MosqueMeToo to give Muslim women an outlet to speak …


March 24th, 2018


Vitaly Bespalov wrote fake news at a Russian troll farm. He tells us the real story of what he found.

Also: Boston author, Louie Cronin, on how she …

It’s Not Easy Being...

March 10th, 2018


The American economy may be strong, but the wage gap remains a huge concern.

Also: solar panel tariffs could be a boon for US producers; residents …


March 10th, 2018


As Trump ends Obama-era protections for Salvadorans; a family in Minnesota has few good options to stay together.

Also on the program: An American family finds their way in Mexico after deportation; a group of indigenous …

Walls We Don’t See

March 3rd, 2018


It’s not just the wall. There are lots of invisible barriers keeping immigrants from coming into the US. On this edition we explore some of those …

Right to Bear Arms?

February 24th, 2018


Former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend says we need new methods of addressing gun violence.

Also: we learn how the gun lobby brought gun …


February 24th, 2018


"I got out of the car and I looked at the people and they all looked like me… and at that moment I realised where I came from."

On the programme: A fourth-generation Chinese American travels to his ancestral village in …

The Local Edition

February 10th, 2018


Six stories that all take place within greater Boston.

#MeToo echoes through a play about Nigeria; a black church provides sanctuary to an unauthorised immigrant from El Salvador; two Rohingya refugees start a new life; …

On the Waterfront

February 5th, 2018


Levi Draheim, 10, is suing the US government over climate change with 20 other young people.

Also: fishermen in Greenland are doing better than ever, and that’s in part thanks to climate change; instead of fighting …

The Breakthrough Edition

January 27th, 2018


Fewer international students are coming to the US for post-graduate degrees in science and engineering. We look into why.

Also: Cuba has a lung cancer vaccine but many US patients can’t get it without breaking the law; a …

The Protest Edition

January 20th, 2018


Jasiel López never expected to be an activist. Then he learned that the DACA programme, which allows him to stay in the US, could be rescinded.

Also: …

Better Together

January 13th, 2018


For George Lampman and Lee Sook Ei it was love at first sight. Then, the Korean War broke out.

Also: A monastery in Missouri, about to close its doors, is saved by monks from Vietnam; Spanish speaking actors in Miami …

Face Value

January 6th, 2018


Flying out of the US? You might have to go through a facial scan at the airport. We discuss the implications of that.

Plus: we find out why a selfie app that drastically alters the way you look is all the rage in China; …

All Dressed Up

December 31st, 2017


About 80 percent of garment industry workers are women. For the past few months, Jasmine Garsd has travelled the globe to meet these workers, in …

The Case of the Stolen Fortune Cookie Fortunes

December 23rd, 2017


"Some men dream of fortunes. Others dream of cookies." This is a real fortune cookie fortune. It would be a prescient fortune for Yongsik Lee. He …

The Ripple Effect

December 16th, 2017


Edmaris Carazo, a blogger in San Juan, adjusts to life in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Also: the destruction in Puerto Rico has a ripple effect …

Dance Lessons

December 9th, 2017


It’s the beat that drives the bugaloo and mambo. Ayana Contreras travels to Cuba to understand the clave.

Plus, we go beneath a motorway flyover in Rio de Janeiro, where US hip-hop from the 1990s gets re-imagined every …

The Second Amendment

December 2nd, 2017


"Every time you hear a piano note, that's another mass shooting." A new way to hear the stark numbers on gun violence.

Also: Adam Lankford, a …

At the Movies

November 28th, 2017


Hollywood has been criticised for its practice of whitewashing. Now, the voice acting world faces questions.

Also: Kelvin Han Yee, a Chinese-American …

The Taste of Victory

November 18th, 2017


Wilmot Collins came to Helena as a refugee. Now he’s been elected as the city’s mayor.

Also: Abdi Nor Iftin tells us what it feels like to win the …

The Future is Now

November 11th, 2017


Selina Wang, a tech reporter for Bloomberg News, says that Twitter could still do more to stop Russian and Ukrainian spam accounts from spreading …

The Scientific Edition

November 4th, 2017


Victoria Barrett, a college student in Wisconsin, aged 18, is suing the Trump administration over climate change.

Plus: we meet one of the first …

Speak Out

October 28th, 2017


Thousands of French women post the name of their sexual harasser on Twitter, using the hashtag, "Squeal on Your Pig".

Plus: we meet a woman helping undocumented immigrants in the US experiencing sexual harassment; we …

At Your Civil Service

October 21st, 2017


Dave Rank, a high ranking diplomat, resigned over Trump’s climate change policy.

Also: a former sheriff worries that new legislation in California to …

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

October 14th, 2017


Two journalists set off on a quest to hand deliver a letter to a grandmother in Puerto Rico from her family on the mainland of the United States.

Also: we learn why Che Guevara is being honoured on a postage stamp in …

The Mystery Edition

October 7th, 2017


“There is no statute of limitations on the truth.” Vince Pankoke, a former FBI agent, has launched a probe into who betrayed Anne Frank.

Also: we investigate why American diplomats in Cuba have mysteriously fallen ill; …

Unsung Heroes

September 30th, 2017


Tereza Lee, the woman sometimes referred to as the first “Dreamer,” has been fighting for immigrant rights for nearly two decades.

Also: the …

Coast to Coast

September 23rd, 2017


Marco Werman climbs aboard the largest passenger ship ever to sail through the Northwest Passage.

Also: we speak to residents of the Arctic with mixed feelings about cruise ships sailing past their towns; we meet …

From Russia with Love

September 16th, 2017


What impact did Russian internet “trolls’’ have on the 2016 US presidential election?

Also: we hear about wealthy Russians coming to America to give …

In Limbo

September 9th, 2017


President Trump is scrapping a programme that protects hundreds of thousands of young unauthorised immigrants. We hear two different perspectives on this decision.

Plus; we meet an immigrant from Northern Ireland whose …

Water, Water, Everywhere

September 2nd, 2017


M.J. Khan, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, who spent a sleepless night monitoring relief efforts, tells us what Houston’s residents are doing to help each other.

Also: experts weigh in on how …

Get It Off Your Chest

August 26th, 2017


Bashar al-Assad seems to have a fan base in the United States. White supremacists and neo-nazis have worn pro-Assad T-shirts at rallies, while others have shown their support for the Syrian president on social media.

The Eclipse Edition

August 19th, 2017


On Monday, a total solar eclipse will cross 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. We find out people all across the country are preparing.

Also: …

Under Construction

August 11th, 2017


Maytag built washing machines in Newton, Iowa, for more than a century. The company left in 2007, and the town collapsed. Now, it's rising again.


August 5th, 2017


Two teenage reporters, Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley, interview the US Secretary of Defence.

Also: an unauthorized immigrant dreams of white picket fences; a Mexican street cart vendor in Los Angeles becomes an …


July 29th, 2017


Until recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin was deeply suspicious of the world wide web. What changed his mind?

Also: the curious parallels between love and quantum physics; the Native American tribe that invented …

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

July 22nd, 2017


In 1878, scientists all over the US witnessed a total eclipse of the sun. After that, American science was never quite the same.

Also: Sona Hosseini learns that being an astronomist….can be depressing; photographer Joel …

Is It Safe?

July 15th, 2017


David Eubank, an American relief worker, decides to bring his whole family with him to Mosul.

Also: Choi Seong-guk, a North Korean refugee, draws a …

I’m on Your Team

July 9th, 2017


Russia, it turns out, accidentally helped the US win its independence.

Also: we meet two sisters who will go to the Olympics together but on competing teams; we remember when North and South Korea teamed up to beat …

A Crime to Hate

July 1st, 2017


Five months after Jewish graves were vandalised in St. Louis, questions remain.

Also: a resolution condemning racism causes chaos at the Southern …

‘Caught up in the Policy’

June 24th, 2017


“People are absolutely losing it. Some they go to their work. Some they pluck them right out of bed from their families."

Why Iraqis in the US are …

The Great Escape

June 17th, 2017


Sam Heller, an expert on Syria, thinks that the US should evacuate the country’s residents.

Also: a physicist who always dreamed of working in the …

Is There an App for That?

June 10th, 2017


Trump still uses his personal mobile phone. Security experts are baffled.

Also: A lack of immigrant labour in the US has some farmers planning for robots to pick produce; a Dutch teenager came up with a plan to clean …

Look Closer

June 3rd, 2017


Citizen journalists try to figure out what’s going on in those videos of the Turkish president’s bodyguards clashing with protesters in Washington, DC.

Also: female war veterans tell their stories through comics; Kathy …

The Backstory

May 27th, 2017


Trump supporter, Dave McNeer, thinks the President is making ‘America Great Again’.

Also: Why digital maps should not be used to resolve border …

It is all Words

May 20th, 2017


As Trump embarks on his first foreign trip, his administration tries to cast ‘America First’ in a different light.

Also, helpful definitions of the …

What Comes Next

November 12th, 2016


This week, some Americans woke up to a country they didn’t recognize. Donald Trump’s victory left half the nation cheering, and half the nation in tears. Now everyone has to figure out how to move on.

Also on the …

The Import Export Edition

August 20th, 2016


“My brother was killed. He died in atrocious conditions, alone, without us.” In France, the death of Adama Traore, a young black man, while he was in …

A Question of Time

August 17th, 2016


Conditions are so bad in refugee camps in Greece, some refugees are considering returning to the war torn countries they came from.

Also on the programme, residents of a disappearing island speak up; a former Pentagon …

Disunited States of America

July 16th, 2016


"I saw my brother in these boys. I saw my son in these boys.”

First, we talk to an activist speaking out against violence towards blacks in America. …

Fight or Flight

June 4th, 2016


We speak with Daniel Torres, a former US Marine who was deported to Mexico. Then, we look back at a deadly 1942 U-boat attack in the Gulf of Mexico. …

Do the Right Thing

May 21st, 2016


We speak with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who is advocating on behalf of Syrian refugees as other American politicians try to turn them away. …


May 14th, 2016


We hear how the Migration Project is giving hope to the families of Guatemalan migrants who have gone missing en route to the United States. Then, how young migrant students from all across Central America are getting …

Taking a Stand

May 7th, 2016


Trump or Clinton? That's the question du jour in the US, so we have two stories on the leading presidential candidates. First, we head to East Boston, where Latino immigrants are pushing back against Donald Trump …

On a Mission

April 30th, 2016


A former CIA agent discusses his days undercover in Afghanistan and Syria, and the demons those days left behind. Then, we visit the spectacle that is Laredo -- a members-only Wild West town tucked away in the English …

Outside Looking In

March 19th, 2016


Two expat voters – a Republican in London and a Democrat in Stockholm – share their thoughts about watching the US election from abroad. Then: …

Only in Texas

March 12th, 2016


We meet a Nicaraguan immigrant to the US whose choice of president might surprise you. Then, workers in Mexico’s border factories are seizing an opportunity to unionise. And, the Texas city of Houston has become a …

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