Skip to main content
UNDER THE RADAR with Host Frank Fear

UNDER THE RADAR with Host Frank Fear

By Frank Fear
Important issues and interesting people fly under the radar. Let's explore them together.
Listen on
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Breaker Logo


Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo


Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Currently playing episode

UNDER THE RADAR: 'Democracy Working as It Should' with guest Dr. Bill Rizzo, Part I

UNDER THE RADAR with Host Frank Fear

UNDER THE RADAR: 'Democracy Working as It Should' with guest Dr. Bill Rizzo, Part I

UNDER THE RADAR with Host Frank Fear

On Populism's Relevance
With the global rise in Populist activity, it's a good time to get a better handle on what Populism means, including who Populists are, what they believe, and what they do.
October 19, 2020
Another Look at Democratic Socialism
Stimulated by a new book authored by John. B. Judis, The Socialist Awakening.
October 11, 2020
In America, Just About Everything is an Industry, Including Politics
Review of a new book: Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter, The Politics Industry (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2020).
October 4, 2020
Book Review: "Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayals in Sexual Assaults"
Authored by Professor Amos N. Guiora and published by American Bar Association Publishing (2020).
September 29, 2020
"The Enablers," Institutional Actors in Sexual Assaults
For years, storylines about sexual assaults have focused on perpetrators and victims/survivors--and for very good reasons. There's a related storyline, too. It's about institutional affiliates who either observe or know about sexual assaults but do not take appropriate action on the victims' behalf. Omissions make it easier for perpetrators to get away with assaults, for assaults to continue, and for institutions to cover up what happened. Joining me today to discuss this important issue are Professor Amos Guiora (University of Utah), whose new book, Armies of Enablers, is a major contribution to the field, and Elizabeth Abdnour, Lansing, MI-area attorney, who is an advocate for survivors and outspoken on the issue of institutional enablement. (NOTE: This program is sponsored by FutureU, a network of colleagues concerned about the status and future of higher education.) 
September 24, 2020
Tom and Diane Emling: Happy 100th Birthday, John Duley. We Love You Dearly.
Tom and Diane have speaking roles on 'Duley Acknowledged,' but it only seemed right to offer them extended time so that they could express their admiration and thanks to John Duley, whom they've known for 50 years. Here are Tom and Diane Emling. 
September 21, 2020
'Duley Acknowledged,' Voices of Affirmation on John Duley's 100th Birthday
Welcome to a special recording,  ‘Duley Acknowledged,” acknowledging John Duley on his 100th birthday. You'll hear a variety of voices talking about John's life and work. You'll hear expressions of admiration and respect for what John has meant to them and how he has served the public good. Thank you, Ann Kammerer, Judy Gardi, Lynn Jondahl, David Hollister, Bob Green, Elaine Davis, Diane & Tom Emling, Kent Workman, Donna Kaplowitz, Steve Esquith, Mary Edens, and Dwight Giles. Well done! Know that ‘Duley Acknowledged” is part of a two-part recording. ‘Duley Noted’ is John talking about his life’s journey—his values, convictions, and various engagements over the years. 'Duley Noted' is available here. 
September 13, 2020
"Duley Noted," Celebrating John Duley's 100th Birthday
In the 2 hours that follow, John Duley shares thoughts about his lifelong commitment to serving the public good. John's work spans his formative years as an Ohio State student, seminary education in NYC, sabbatical at Cambridge University, campus ministry work in Kalamazoo, Columbus, State College, and East Lansing. student development work at MSU & nationally, and in a variety of efforts undertaken over nearly 40 years since retiring from full-time employment. Among other things, John fought for open housing, participated actively in the Civil Rights Movement, and lead national efforts in student field experiential education and service-learning. Today, John continues to have an impact. An example is The Edgewood Scholars Program, which John describes in this recording. Framed beautifully in an overview delivered by East Lansing's Ann Kammerer, 'Duley Noted' bears witness to the power of civic engagement. (cover photo courtesy of ELi, East Lansing Info)
September 10, 2020
A Cautionary Tale for 2020: The Election of 1876 & The Compromise of 1877
Nearly a century and a half ago, the major parties put partisan interests before country and, in the exchange, dealt African Americans a vicious blow.  Because hyperactive party politics and racial intolerance are as alive today as they were back then, could America revisit history later this year? Here's what happened nearly 150 years ago, what might happen this year, and what we can do in counter-response. 
September 1, 2020
The Importance of 'Democratic Professionalism,' Especially in Times of Crisis
It's rare to see public stakeholders/constituents involved in the decision-making process these days. Instead, executives announce decisions and then turn to public relations to ‘spin it’ in a positive direction. Engaging stakeholders has become a leadership exception rather than a leadership rule. Democratic Professionalism is a much-needed alternative.
August 25, 2020
Election 2020 in the Land of Oz
1939 and 2020 seem so far apart, but they aren't when it comes to living in the Land of Oz. "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!"
August 17, 2020
'Life is Worth Living' and 'Life is Worth Losing': The United States of Plutocacy
The literature has helped me better understand the political realities of living in 21st Century America. I've already discussed two books in this podcast series, Anand Giridharadas' 'Winners Take All' and Joseph Stiglitz's, 'People, Power, and Profits.' I'll discuss another book in this podcast, Isabel Wilkerson's recently released, 'Caste.' But as I read books like those I'm also struck by how similar messages have been in the public domain for years. I pick two for discussion in this podcast: Rev. Fulton Sheen's popular network TV program of the 1950s, "Life is Worth Living,' and George Carlin's 2006 comedy album/special, 'Life is Worth Losing.' What do Sheen and Carlin have to say? Why did they say it? And what does it mean for today? Listen on as I talk about 'The United States of Plutocracy.'  
August 11, 2020
Dr. Fauci Meet Dr. Wiley
Every time I think something is new, it isn’t. Sure, the characters change, and the plot twists aren’t the same, but there’s thematic similarity. Today’s back and forth is about public health in the face of a pandemic, but more than a century ago it was about government inaction to ensure food safety. Dr. Anthony Fauci meet Dr. Wiley—Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, that is—a government scientist who took on America’s food industry and its sundry political backers.
July 24, 2020
Lucy Burns and the 19th Amendment: How Activists Changed the Course of Democracy in America
Two of my favorite historical figures--Lucy Burns and Alice Paul--were protagonists in one of my favorite stories in politics--how women activists pushed and pushed to secure women's right to vote. 70+ years it took, from start to finish. Burns and Paul weren't involved at the beginning, but they sealed the deal at the end. Along the way, they took on a sitting president...and won. In today's podcast, we'll focus on Lucy Burns--an incredibly gifted citizen-activist who has flown under the radar far too long. (Recorded in honor of my spouse, Kathleen Lucille Burns Fear)
July 19, 2020
What MLK Might Say to DJT
2020 and 1963 aren't far apart. (Excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail,' April 1963)
July 7, 2020
On Independence Day 2020, America's Spirit Rings True in "Worth Fighting For"
You’ve heard it said hundreds of times, ‘It’s worth fighting for.’ It's a reference to something that's really important—deep and personal—and something from which you can’t turn away. A cause is also worth fighting for--like hunger, which you can see; intolerance which you can taste; and sexism, or homophobia, or racism which you can feel. Some causes require valor, including the possibility of giving your life for the greater good. And that's what happened in the two stories I share here.   
July 5, 2020
It's Time for a New 'TINA'
I prepared this podcast for three reasons. First, Neoliberal is a cumbersome/dense concept. So I look at Neoliberalism in a way that's easier to understand—Margaret Thatcher’s TINA (‘There is No Alternative’). Second, I describe an alternative to Neoliberalism/TINA/-Progressive Capitalism—an approach advanced by Columbia University professor and Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz. Using market and other reforms, PC makes Capitalism work for all people, not just for a few. Finally, PC is relevant in this year’s national election. Elizabeth Warren embraces its tenants (not all candidates do). For those familiar with her work, it’s easy to see why.
July 2, 2020
State of Sports in a State of Uncertainty with Guests Jason Feirman and Bill Rizzo
Jason Feirman (co-host of '3rd & 3' podcast) and Bill Rizzo (prof emeritus, U. of Wisconsin) join Frank to talk about the uncertain state of America's sports. From COVID-19 to systemic racism in sports/society to whether there should be sports this year, it's a conversation you won't want to miss.
June 30, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: America's Two Pandemics
Browsing through my library collection the other day, I came across Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book, The Tipping Point. Back then, Gladwell used an epidemiological model to describe and explain social change. It dawned on me that America is currently experiencing two pandemics--one is disease-related and the other is a people’s movement—and both are being spread by person-to-person contact. The natural and social worlds share characteristics. 
June 24, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR with Guest Kadin McElwain
"Positivity" is a word Kadin likes to use. "My purpose in life is to spread positivity in a negative world," he wrote recently. Kadin uses writing and music as tools to build that world. I Kadin through his writing. He writes just about every day, and he always has something important to say--about drug use, violence, responsibility, and doing the right thing. Today it's your turn to meet 16-year-old Kadin McElwain. 
June 20, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Change Across America is Opportunity and Challenge
America has awakened! But it's only the first step in the long road of change. Citizen protests--as important as they are--only go so far. Institutions need to change, too, and that’s no easy matter. And change is especially difficult when circumstances have become hardened--socio-culturally and institutionally--where longstanding demographics and institutional lethargy come into play. There's a way through the maze, of course. At issue is how to get through it. John Lewis has advice about how. 
June 15, 2020
Remembering Tom Edens
Tom Edens of Bellaire, Michigan died March 12 2020 at the age of 80 after a courageous battle with Lewy Body Dementia. Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University, Tom was a true north compass to his spouse, children, grandchildren, and lifelong friends. He was a brilliant collaborator, thoughtful listener, resourceful problem solver, and tinkerer. His subtle and dry sense of humor was everpresent, even in the most challenging of times. People gravitated to him.  Modest and understated, we celebrate Tom and the impact he had on us. This audio remembrance is an expression of our love--Mary Edens, Norm Sauer, Richard Bawden, Jim Bingen, Rich Merritt, David Wright, Russ Edens, and Chris Le Pottier with Frank Fear Sr. (producer) and Frank Fear Jr. (host). 
June 13, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR with Guests Roger Barbee & Seth Isenberg: Will the Winds of Change Bring Major Reforms in College Athletics?
Roger Barbee's recent article, "Systemic Racism in College Sports is Only Part of the Story," is the point of departure for a panel discussion with Seth Isenberg, owner/publisher of The Journal-Herald (White Haven, PA), Roger, and me on the status and future of big-time college sports--football and men's basketball, specifically. 
June 11, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR with Author and Screenwriter, Matthew Paris
Screenwriter and author Matthew Paris is also a film producer, director, and actor. His award-winning The Last Catch nabbed the Orsen Wells Award for Best Screenplay at the California Film Awards, and the Golden Reel Award for Best Short Film at the Canadian International Film Festival. As an author, Matthew's resume includes Eight Lanes to Glory, The Eyes on Me, and Two Hearts as One.  
June 8, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Anand Giridharadas Issues Wake-Up Call in “Winners Take All”
We're living a New Gilded Age, not unlike America of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when people like Carnegie, Morgan, and Rockefeller held sway. With public funding in distress today, we look increasingly to elites to support programs and initiatives. Anand Giridharadas argues for an alternative--for citizen-engaged democratic work undertaken in egalitarian public institutions that serve the public good. In this podcast, I summarize Giridharadas' critique and offer recommendations for achieving the vision he prefers.
June 3, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: As Eyes Are on Minneapolis, Tulsa’s Experience Is Instructive
America's indefensible storyline includes mass killings of African Americans—not by police, but by fellow Americans. One such event--in Tulsa, OK--took place 99 years ago this week. The story didn't end there; it continues, and very differently from how it started. What happened in Tulsa nearly a century ago was disgraceful. What’s happening today in Tulsa gives hope.
May 30, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: America Needs Its Own 'Miracle of Deliverance'
In times of crisis, leaders need to act truthfully, decisively, and rapidly. That happened 80 years ago Tuesday. Called 'The Miracle of Deliverance,' bold action saved thousands of lives. Today, America needs its own brand of 'deliverance.' Here's why and how'
May 25, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Conversation with 'Renaissance Man," Samuel H. Johnson
Sam Johnson has done so many meaningful things during this life--becoming an Emmy-winning local TV producer, engaging in public outreach work with the Federal government, appearing in Hollywood films, and writing historical and children's books, among many other things. You'll enjoy meeting Sam and learning more about his work and life.
May 16, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Review of David Daley's New Book, "Unrigged: How Americans are Battling Back to Save Democracy"
Unrigged is a timely and relevant book, one that electoral reformers and democracy activists/scholars will enjoy reading. David Daley documents the work of everyday Americans who were unwilling to accept the status quo--and then worked to change it.
May 11, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: 'The Learning Paradigm' with guest Dr. Robert Barr
In 1995, Robert Barr and John Tagg published an article that launched a sea change in undergraduate education. Bob Barr reflects on the experience in this edition of 'Under the Radar.'
May 2, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Do Conservatives Have a Political Blueprint? If So, When Was It Conceived? The Answers Are 'Yes' and 'Unbelievable!"
Written in 1971 by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, it's called The Powell Memo (sometimes referred to as The Powell Manifesto). Powell created a Conservative call to arms. Decades later, you can see Powell's influence in enterprises like Fox News, in the work of the Koch Brothers, in ideas like 'Citizen United,' and in political initiatives like gerrymandering. 
May 1, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: "Institutional Racism and Restorative Justice" with Author Dr. Diane Emling
In an important book for America, Institutional Racism and Restorative Justice (Routledge, 2020), Professor Emling helps us understand one of America's longstanding problems—institutional racism. She also recommends ways to achieve restorative justice.
April 27, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: America Loses When Performance Politics Trumps Fireside Chats
Performance politics gets plenty of media attention, and it is a form of entertainment, too. But it replaces serious political discourse with a politically-infused game. What matters—always matters—is substance. FDR knew that.   
April 24, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: What Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Telling Us about America? with guests Michael Fiorito, Monica Craven, and Steve Chupack
We're going through an extraordinary, collective experience--a national emergency caused by COVID-19. Thousands have fallen ill and died, and America has shut down. What is this shared experience telling us about America? Listen as three of my colleagues--Michael, Monica, and Steve--talk about this important question. 
April 15, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: 'Pre-existing Health Conditions'? America Has Those, Too
Medical authorities tell us that people with pre-existing health conditions are more likely than healthier persons to succumb to COVID-19.  But just as those conditions challenge physical viability, sociological and cultural pre-conditions affect a society's socio-cultural health. Frank identifies/describes five pre-conditions that affect America negatively.
April 10, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Nurturing Spirit, Interpersonal Connections, and Community with Special Guest Maureen Lally
I’ve worked over the years with many outstanding community development practitioners. Sister Maureen Lally is the 'best of the best.' She is what Professor Albert W. Dzur calls 'a democratic professional.' See what I mean as you listen to her talk about people and her work in County Mayo, Ireland. 
April 7, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Civic Activism with guest Susan McGuire
Civic activist Susan McGuire works for the public good. An excellent organizer, she has created and led numerous initiatives, and never shies away from doing the heavy lifting.  Susan talks about her civic experiences, shares her thoughts about America today, and expresses her hope for America's future.  
April 1, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Fiscal Crunch Looms in Major College Athletics
The NCAA's budget is connected inextricably to revenues it receives from March Madness. The Association then passes on a significant chunk of those revenues to Division 1 conferences and schools. Because March Madness was canceled this year, the NCAA will allocate fewer resources this spring, and the fiscal situation will get worse if college football is affected in the fall. While there are many ways to address an athletic budget crunch, one way--an approach that is already out of hand--shouldn't be the used. What is it? I explain.  
March 28, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: How Many College Presidents/Trustees View College Costs/Student Debt
Everybody knows how expensive it is to go to college these days. College debt is growing, too. It's no surprise, then, that national surveys show that a significant percentage of American adults endorse policies that reduce public tuition costs and relieve college debt. But the majority of public college/university public presidents and trustees aren't similarly inclined.   
March 26, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Citizen Journalism with guest Roger Barbee
The internet has opened up opportunities for citizens to write and share their thoughts with the broader public--beyond writing comments about pieces that others have written. Roger Barbee, my guest today, is what I call a 'citizen journalist.'  I'll share a few thoughts about citizen journalism and how it has evolved, and then we'll hear from Roger about why he writes, what he writes, and some of the issues he faces as a citizen journalist. 
March 24, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Joe Needs a Progressive VP
As Joe Biden was beating Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday I-III, Biden struggled with one swath of primary voters—Very Liberal, Progressive, and Independent voters, Those votes stuck largely with Sanders. To send a strong message to millions of voters who lean Left and who aren’t leaning his way currently--voters he needs to win in November-Joe Biden needs to name a Progressive VP.
March 20, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: ''From Leadership to 'Leader-ful,' Part III, with guest Buddy Campbell
Buddy Campbell retired recently as president and CEO of a large, regional, nonprofit organization, YMCA Buffalo/Niagara. The Buffalo News credited him with leading ‘a remarkable organizational resurgence’ at that Western New York-based organization. Here's why. 
March 20, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: ''From Leadership to 'Leader-ful,' Part II, with guest Terry Link
In his activist and professional roles, Terry Link values and enables broadly shared leadership. Today, Terry talks about the importance of 'spark' and its connection to enabling leaderful-environments. 
March 20, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: 'From Leadership to Leader-ful,' Part I
Let’s shift the word ‘leadership’ to the word ‘leader-ful.’ If we do that, then we can talk about places, spaces, and circumstances where leadership is shared widely and a group moves forward collaboratively. It's not about he/she, it’s about ‘we.’
March 20, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: 'Democracy Working as it Should'' with guest Dr. Bill Rizzo, Part II
Bill is back to give more examples of local residents who worked together to make democracy work as it should. He'll also share guidelines to you can use in your community.  (Contact Dr. Rizzo at
March 18, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: 'Democracy Working as It Should' with guest Dr. Bill Rizzo, Part I
There's so much talk these days about democracy in jeopardy and America's political divide. But there are also many examples of democracy working as it should. Guest Bill Rizzo will talk about that today, drawing on decades of experience working with citizens and government officials across the State of Wisconsin. Tune in! (Contact Dr. Rizzo at
March 17, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Democrat-Leaning Independents Aren't Sold on Joe Biden
Frank bases that assertion on Exit Interviews conducted March 3 and 10 in 16 primary states. Listen to what he found and what it means. 
March 12, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Being a Customs Officer with guest Pat Burns
Today’s Under the Radar topic is ‘the professions’—with a twist. It’s about professionals with whom we come in contact regularly, but professionals we really don’t know much about. I can’t think of a job that has been more in the spotlight since 9/11 than U.S. Customs. My guest, Pat Burns, demystifies what's involved in being a Customs Officer, including talking about the many challenges associated with the job.
March 10, 2020
UNDER THE RADAR: Closed Primaries
Did you know that millions of America's voters can't cast ballots in primaries this year? Frank talks about why and what one state is doing to change the way it conducts statewide primaries. 
March 9, 2020
Hi, everyone, and thanks for listening to this opening episode of UNDER THE RADAR. I’m your host, Frank Fear. UNDER THE RADAR isn’t about business as usual. It’s about issues that don’t get discussed enough, if at all; and it’s about people from whom we don’t hear enough, if at all. WeLcome to UNDER THE RADAR.
March 8, 2020
"Bailey at Twenty"
Welcome, everyone, to “Bailey at 20,” celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program at Michigan State University. In the mid-1990s, Dean Fred Poston asked faculty to design a program that would complement and supplement students' undergraduate majors. What emerged was the Bailey Scholars Program. In this podcast, you'll hear Bailey Scholars, and others, talk about the program and their experiences. Thank you Monica Glysson, Emma Albrecht, Marquita Chamblee, Howard Person, the Halsted family (Bailey Scholar Kristen Halsted Marks, mother Lois and father Lee Halsted, and grandfather George Greenleaf), Carl Schwartzkopf, Kent Workman, John Duley, Angelica Forde, Paty Jaimes, Glenn Sterner, Fred Poston, and Kelly Millenbah. I hope you enjoy listening to 'Bailey at 20' as much as I enjoyed producing it.   
January 5, 2020