Fiat Vox

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Fiat Vox is a podcast that gives you an inside look at the people, places and research at UC Berkeley. It’s produced and hosted by Anne Brice, a reporter for Berkeley News in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Questions, comments or pitches? Email

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Here are a few top episodes:

Berkeley Haas Chief of Staff Marco Lindsey lives like his 80-year-old self is watching: Every morning, Marco Lindsey wakes up in East Oakland, where he was born and raised. He puts on a suit and tie, packs his briefcase, chats with his neighbors and drives to work at Berkeley Haas. It’s a typical morning routine, but to Marco, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a way to show boys and young men in his community that they have possibilities. He didn’t have that growing up. But his drive — and mentors who helped steer him — propelled him forward, and now he’s helping others to succeed. His motto: Live your life as if your 80-year-old self is guiding you.


‘White voice’ and hearing whiteness as difference, not the standard: In the 1940s and 50s, actors in major American films, like Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart, spoke with a kind of faux British accent as a way to sound “upper class.” This pronunciation spread across the country as a kind of standard to imitate. The problem was, this way of talking left out nearly all actual American voices, says Tom McEnaney, a UC Berkeley professor who teaches a class called “Sounding American.”

While the class talks about the generational differences of sound — no one today really speaks like movie stars of the 40s — they also discuss how today’s filmmakers, like Boots Riley in “Sorry to Bother You,” are pushing back against the racial norms concealed in what we might say sounds American. McEnaney says the film, about a young black telemarketer who uses his “white voice” to be successful at sales, takes the sense that many people have — that whiteness is a kind of invisible standard against which all other cultures are judged in the U.S. — and makes the audience think about how whiteness is audible, and is another kind of difference.


Margaret Atwood: ‘Things can change a lot faster than you think:’ Canadian author Margaret Atwood doesn’t like being called a soothsayer. “Anyone who says they can predict the future is… not telling the truth,” she says.

But like it or not, it’s a label she’s been given since the revival of her 33-year-old dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” was made into a popular Hulu TV series that aired just months after the election of Donald Trump as president. The story is set in near-future New England in a totalitarian and theocratic state that has overthrown the U.S. government. Because of low reproduction rates, certain fertile women are forced to become Handmaids to bear children for elite couples.

As part of On the Same Page, a program of UC Berkeley’s College of Letter and Science, all 8,800 incoming students got a copy of the novel to read over the summer, so when they arrived on campus, they would have something in common to talk about — socially, in classes and at events designed to explore the book’s themes.

Berkeley News sat down with Margaret Atwood for a few minutes before her appearance on campus last week to talk about her book’s recent revival and how — in her view, and that of many of the book’s fans — the Trump presidency is bringing the U.S. a step closer to becoming her fictional Republic of Gilead.


Peregrine falcons, zipping through campus at top speeds, are here to stay: The peregrine falcons that first made a home on UC Berkeley’s Campanile last year get a lot of attention every spring when their babies hatch. But it’s also amazing to watch the adults in action. At speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, peregrines are the fastest animal in the world — three times faster than a cheetah. Mary Malec, a volunteer raptor nest monitor for the East Bay Regional Park District, describes a time when the mama peregrine chased a pigeon through unknowing crowds on campus.


A biology prof on growing up gay in rural Minnesota: Noah Whiteman, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, has always known how to survive. He moved to Sax-Zim, a rural area in Minnesota, when he was 11 and spent the next seven years learning to fish and hunt with his naturalist dad and hiding that he was gay. When a boy he’d been friends with started to bully him at every chance he got, Noah knew it was time to get out.