Culture

A crowd gathered at Gobbler's Knob early this morning, awaiting the emergence of the groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. After a tap of a cane on Phil's tree-trunk cage, his door was opened, and the animal emerged.

Kala Dunn, WKMS

As an ongoing series, we invite individuals who make up Murray State University's diverse body of international students to share some background into their native country, cultural traditions and experiences here at MSU. Matt Markgraf speaks with Bassel Alhashemi, an undergraduate student from Aleppo, Syria, studying biology. In a two-part conversation on Sounds Good, they discuss coming to Murray State, life growing up in Syria, how the media portrays the Syrian crisis, how his family is faring, hopes for the future and more.

With the historic nuclear deal finally taking effect, a sanctions-free Iran can now get back to doing what it has excelled at for centuries: trade.

Because of Iran's strategic position on the Silk Road, that ancient highway that snaked from China to Europe, the caravans of tea, spice and silk passing through it also carried a weightless but imperishable cargo to foreign shores: Persian culture.

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

The Calloway County Public Library is kicking off the new year with a series of community reads, a collaboration with the Murray State University Department of History and a visiting children's author. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with Mignon Pittman and Sandy Linn about these events and more.

Glenn Frey, 67, a founding member and guitarist of The Eagles, died on Monday in New York City of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, according to a statement on the band's official website:

"The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery. Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide."

The country remembers the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. More than four decades after his death, many people see the Black Lives Matter movement as the modern incarnation of the drive for human dignity and legal standing that Dr. King embodied.

But others, including members of an earlier generation of activists, find fault with the group, seeing it as an aimless, formless group that still lacks direction and follow-through. Meanwhile, younger activists sometimes see their seniors as too narrow in their focus and rigid in their methods.

British actor Alan Rickman, a veteran of dozens of films, has died at age 69. Recently, Rickman was most well-known for portraying the complicated villain Severus Snape in the films based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books.

"Rickman had been suffering from cancer," The Guardian reports.

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Anyone who sang "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve sang the words of Robert Burns. Suppers celebrating the Scottish poet have been a global tradition since his death in 1796, and the Western Kentucky Highland Society continues the tradition in Murray on January 23. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with proud Scotsman Robert Valentine about Burns, 'neeps and tatties' and a poem about haggis.

Many Americans know Dame Maggie Smith as the elegant and formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham. But at 81, Smith is now starring in a role that's a long way from Downton Abbey. In The Lady in the Van, Smith is Mary Shepherd — a homeless woman who lived in a derelict van parked in playwright Alan Bennett's driveway for 15 years.

"She was quite happy on the street," Smith tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "But I think Alan was so distressed watching her outside his window all the time that he thought he just had to help."

Tributes Pour In For Rock Legend David Bowie

Jan 11, 2016

Tributes to iconic rock musician David Bowie are pouring in, as fellow musicians, celebrities, world leaders and even astronauts reflect on what Bowie meant to them.

A statement on Bowie's Facebook page said that he died peacefully, "surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer."

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