Before Wanda Sykes became a comic, she worked as a procurement officer for the National Security Agency and had top security clearance. But she always loved telling jokes, and when a local radio station sponsored a talent show that included a comedy category, she decided to audition.
Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new CD of Scott Wheeler's opera, based on a hymn to Boston by the New York poet Kenneth Koch. The disc captures a live performance by the Boston Cecilia choral society.
Author Stephen McCauley first made a splash with The Object of My Affection, the novel that was later made into a movie starring Jennifer Aniston. His new novel, Alternatives to Sex, concerns a a gay fortysomething realtor with an addiction to cruising the Internet in pursuit of casual sex.
Boston Probation officer William Stewart and Judge Sydney Hanlon (woman) talk about "Operation Night Light," a program that is credited with reducing juvenile crime in South Boston. Under the program, probation officers go out with police at night looking for probation violators. Last year, President Clinton touted Boston as a national role model for what cities can achieve in reducing juvenile crime. William Stewart serves as Assistant Chief Probation officer in the Dorchester District Court in Massachusetts.
Writer Jack Beatty has written a biography of four-time Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, called "The Rascal King." Curley, an Irish-Catholic, is a Massachusetts legend, having run in 32 elections, serving as governor, congressman, and mayor. While Curley could be dismissed as an old-fashioned machine politician, Beatty portrays him as a forerunner of the modern entrepreneurial politician.
Nat Hentoff writes about jazz and civil liberties, but describes his profession as "being a troublemaker." Hentoff began collecting jazz records and hanging out in jazz clubs as a young adult, and later hosted a jazz radio show and edited a magazine before co-founding the Jazz Review, a journal of criticism. Hentoff currently writes a column for the Village Voice and his subjects are often the First Amendment or civil liberties, and he is a staunch defender of free speech. His latest book, "Boston Boy," is a memoir about growing up in Chicago and Boston.