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Sounds Good Explores the Workforce, Modern Shopping Market, and American Anthems for Labor Day

In honor of Labor Day, Sounds Good explores the age of online shopping, vacations and mental health days, women in the workplace, and the emergence of American anthems (no, not just Francis Scott Key's). 


The Pulse: Science at Work airs at 11 a.m. on Labor Day, September 2nd.

The Pulse: Science at Work explores a myriad of work-related issues and phenomena, including:

  • Thank a truck driver on Labor Day
    Think about the new ways we shop. From Amazon Prime to those direct-to-your-door meal kits, lots of the stuff we love comes on a truck. But tech companies are working to replace some human drivers with self-driving trucks, so now's the time to acknowledge your favorite long-haul trucker. Alan Yu takes a ride.
  • Mental health days are encouraged here
    When you get the flu, it's a no brainer to tell the boss and call out sick. But what do you do when your depression medicine has stopped working and you can't get out of bed? Managing a serious mental health illness -- and keeping up with your job -- can be tricky. Madalyn Parker found some unexpected support at work when she told a supervisor she was struggling. Elana Gordon brings us Madalyn's story...and the Twitter love that followed.
  • No job? No health insurance
    How did we end up with this system where millions of us get our health coverage from work? Tying insurance to employment has side effects for your pocketbook and the overall economy. Marketplace's Dan Gorenstein leads the history lesson.
  • I love my job
    While many spend Labor Day tending the grill or sunning poolside, in hospitals across the country, it's just another work day. WESA's Margaret J. Krauss brings us the story of a night-shift emergency doctor who handles lots of tough stuff and still loves his job.
  • Scientists say vacations make you a better worker
    Here in the United States, we suck at taking time off, at least compared to the rest of the developed world. That's bad for worker health and workforce productivity. Tell your boss that, the next time she gives you side eye for using all your vacation days. In California, Shuka Kalantari visits a company where everyone takes a mandatory vacation at the same time every year.
  • Women were thought of as "too fragile" for work*
    If ladies do intellectual work, they won't have enough energy left for reproduction. Women need to rest during menstruation...that was the thinking in the Victorian Era -- until Mary Putnam Jacobi came along. History professor Carla Bittel says Jacobi was the first physician to gather data about women's periods, offering proof that women are just as physically capable as men to be doctors and scientists.
  • Cubicles*
    On Labor Day, we celebrate all of the hard-working people who keep the engines of productivity humming...and a lot of American workers spend their days in cubicles, hidden behind drab, fabric-covered walls. How did this little box become the place to work? Maiken talks with Nikil Saval, a Philadelphia writer and author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. Then, she speaks with psychiatrist Jody Foster on how working together in tight spaces -- cubicle walls or not -- also creates a hotbed of tensions.
  • End of summer sadness*
    Our favorite psychologist, Dan Gottlieb, says "end of summer sadness" is a real thing. But there's good news: you can also find joy while wearing a fall sweater.

*Interviews with host, Maiken Scott


American Anthem: The Special airs immediately after The Pulse: Science at Work at 12 noon:

Hosted by Elizabeth Blair and Tom Cole from NPR Arts Desk, American Anthem: The Special will highlight standout stories from NPR's ongoing periodic American Anthem series. The hour will weave together the creation, popularization, and evolution of a selection of songs about our shared national identity as Americans. Songs like "Fight the Power," "This Land is Your Land," "Dixie," and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" were all written as a response to a moment or a movement and grew into an anthem. We put those songs and others meant to serve as a uniting rallying cry, or way to push back against politics and division in conversation with each other in this special. They all speak to the changing ways in which we think and rethink what it means to be an American and each has evolved into an anthem of its own. 

Playlists of all the Anthem songs so far can be found here.

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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