WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Ari Shapiro

In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus Andromedon is a show-stealing character. Tituss Burgess plays the mostly out-of-work actor who's black, gay and an endearing friend to the very naive Kimmy Schmidt.

In the fall of 1974, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in the country of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the legendary boxing match known as "The Rumble in the Jungle." Although the Rumble had to be postponed until later that autumn, a related promotional event went on as scheduled and turned out to be similarly momentous: Zaire 74, a music festival where some of America's greatest black artists played alongside Africa's leading talent to an audience of tens of thousands.

alt-J has risen to music stardom while playfully disregarding many rules of popular music. Over its past two albums, An Awesome Wave and This is All Yours, the British trio has displayed a taste for the unpredictable and unconventional. And now, the forthcoming album Relaxer features two different songs that include counting in Japanese, a cover of a classic folk song with a veritable orchestra of classical guitarists and hardly any tracks under five minutes in length.

Mike and Amy Mills are a father-daughter team from southern Illinois.

Mike was trained as a dental technician. "I made false teeth — crowns, bridges, partials — this type of thing. It's what I did as a trade," he recalls. "Later on, I started barbecuing just for the fun of doing it."

And that's what made him famous.

A wooden puzzle in the silhouette of a human head might look fun if the stakes weren't so high.

Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn each spent time in bands that never made it big. But when the two of them joined up to create Sylvan Esso, everything changed. They started filling up high-profile music venues, became famous internationally and almost immediately started to feel pressure to make magic a second time. Now, three years after the band's debut, Sylvan Esso has a sophomore album, out Friday. The name of the record, What Now, offers some insight into how Meath and Sanborn felt making it.

Two years ago, life was good for Sheryl Sandberg. The Facebook senior executive and mother of two had a best-selling book (Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead) and she and her husband, Dave Goldberg, decided to take a vacation. But on that vacation, Goldberg collapsed at the gym from heart failure and died. He was 47 years old.

Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell met in college, and their friendship grew into a sisterhood. Today they share the stage together as the band Overcoats, singing in tight harmonies with voices that are nearly indistinguishable.

"I think we did feel a magic when we sang together," Mitchell says. "We could tell that our voices just sort of blended in this very crazy way, and kind of cradled one another.

Throughout the day, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff jots down ideas that strike him as funny: A door lies on a couch in a psychiatrist's office, and the psychiatrist says, "You're not crazy, you're just unhinged." Or, two guys crawling through a desert encounter one of those orange cones that says: "Caution Wet Floor."

For a man obsessed with humor, Mankoff found the perfect job — he's served for 20 years as the magazine's cartoon gatekeeper. He's stepping down from his post in May, but will continue to draw his own cartoons.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C, has many artifacts connected to slavery. For one woman, visiting the museum this week was a literal homecoming.

Isabell Meggett Lucas was born and raised in a wooden house in coastal South Carolina. Slaves lived in that house during the 1800s.

The Smithsonian bought the structure and moved it plank by plank to the new African-American museum where it is now on display.

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