Originally created 12/30/98

National Geographic launching NPR series on great explorers



WASHINGTON -- Americans will get a chance to learn about -- and hear from -- great explorers next year, thanks to some rummaging in a National Geographic Society storage room.

The Society and National Public Radio are combining to produce 40 programs on famous explorers which will be broadcast Mondays starting Jan. 4.

"In the discovery of the North Pole is written the final chapter of the last of the great geographical stories of the western hemisphere," says explorer Robert E. Peary. "Here is the cap and the climax, the finish, the closing of the book on 400 years of history."

Researchers at the Geographic Society combed through recordings collected over the years, from a wax cylinder carrying the voice of arctic explorer Peary to tapes of modern lectures.

As a result, in many of the shows listeners will hear the voice of the actual explorer profiled, sometimes recordings made at different points in their careers.

Bob Ballard describes finding the wreck of the Titanic; primate researcher Jane Goodall will be heard in a current lecture and a 1964 talk; astronaut John Glenn's voice is heard from 1962; the late gorilla expert Dian Fossey was recorded in 1973, and Hiram Bingham, discoverer of Machu Picchu, an ancient city in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is represented by a nephew.