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Crossing East

Crossing East is an eight-hour radio documentary series on Asian Pacific American History.

Three years in the making, Crossing East was created for release in May 2006, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. To date, it has aired on more than 300 public radio stations andis being hailed as the first comprehensive Asian American history series on radio or TV. Crossing East features the work of dozens of producers, scholars, musicians, and actors.

To learn more, visit 


“Crossing East does for Asian American history what Ken Burns’ PBS series did for the Civil War.”
David Swatling, Radio Netherlands, Amsterdam April 1, 2006

“This is historical documentary radio at its best…”
John Biewen, May 1, 2006

program1Program One

First Contacts
$3.95 (download)

International trade brought early Asian travelers to the Americas. Crossing East brings you the untold stories of quests for gold and adventures as well as hardships in the new land.

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Excerpt: Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest

Program Two

Frontier Asians
$3.95 (download)

The legacy of the frontier is the towns, farms and ranches settled by Asian Americans. Crossing East features the early West with miners, buckaroos, farmers and doctors.

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The Story of Ing ‘Doc’ Hay

Program Three

Raising Cane
$3.95 (download)

Settlers and missionaries turned Hawaiians into workers and the islands into plantations. Crossing East weaves a cross-cultural tale through music, descendant histories and sounds of Hawaii.

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Pidgin English

Program Four

Exclusion and Resistance
$3.95 (download)

Keep Asians Out – that has been the consistent message toward Asian immigrants beginning with the Exclusion Act of 1882. Crossing East accounts immigration laws designed specifically to restrict Asian Americans.

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Cambodian Deportation

Program Five

Brides and Children
$3.95 (download)

Wars create poverty conditions and dispossessed women and children.  Many Asian women married American service men and many Asian children were adopted and sent to the U.S.

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Baby Pictures

Program Six

The Post ’65 Generation
$3.95 (download)

The Immigration Act of 1965, allowed Asian family members, entrepreneurs and skilled workers to immigrate to the U.S. Crossing East shows how each Asian group offered their expertise and skills to a burgeoning economy.

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The Paradox of the Fujianese

Program Seven

Refuge From War
$3.95 (download)

The U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War caused devastation throughout Southeast Asia and brought families who had no choice but to seek a new life in America. Crossing East highlights a time of war and resettlement and examines differences in backgrounds of Southeast Asian refugees.

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Daran Kravanh

Program Eight

New Waves, New Storms
$3.95 (download)

With economic downturns and tragic events comes violence and revision of immigration laws – particularly toward Asian Americans – who fight back with grassroots organization.  Crossing East sheds light on current discriminatory treatment against Asian Americans and what we can learn from past mistakes.

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Wen Ho Lee

Other Mediarites Programs

Coming Home:
The Return of the Alutiiq Masks
$3.95 – Download


Coming Home: Return of the Alutiiq Masks by Dmae Roberts and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, hosted by Shyanne Beatty. Coming Home is a one-hour radio documentary that interweaves oral history interviews, Alutiiq music and soundscapes.This full-length documentary originally aired in 2008 on about 188 public radio stations around the country.

Alutiiq Mask titled “Ashik” (“Protector” is on the left of page)
Coming Home: Return of the Alutiiq Masks takes us to Kodiak, Alaska where Alutiiq peoples work to save their language, cultural traditions and heritage by unlocking the secrets of the masks collected by French explorer Alphonse Pinnart in 1872.

When Pinnart died in 1911, he bequeathed the masks to the Chateau Musee, a small museum off the coast of Northern France. The collection survived two World Wars and were “rediscovered” by Alutiiq artists who began making pilgrimages to France in 2000 to see the artifacts of their culture. This led to an unprecedented sharing of history between the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak and the Chateau Musee.

Find out more about the documentary here:

The Journey of Lady Buddha
$3.95 – Download


The Journey of Lady Buddha is a an hour-long personal and historical exploration of cultural conflicts in spirituality and the search for the Asian goddess of compassion and mercy, Kuan Yin, by Amerasian Radio Producer Dmae Roberts, creator of the Peabody-award-winning “Mei Mei: A Daughter’s Song.” With readings by Actress Elaine Low, Giang Pham, Yuquin Wang and Ping Khaw-Sutherland and music by Composer Stephen Hoyt.


“It is exceptionally rare to hear a radio program of the quality, depth, and power of The Journey of Lady Buddha. After listening for a few minutes, I stopped what I was doing and simply sat and listened until the end of the program. What a rare jewel.”
Steve Roseman, San Francisco, California

Listen to a clip from The Journey of Lady Buddha


Secret Asian Woman
$3.95 – Download


Secret Asian Woman is a half-hour personal exploration of identity and Mixed Race by Independent Producer Dmae Roberts, who has to make a daily decision to reveal her ethnicity.

Through her personal story, Dmae charts four decades of a search by multiracial peoples for a name. The politics of calling out racism has changed through the years as has identification. In this half-hour radio documentary, Dmae talks with other Mixed Race Asian women with identities not easily recognized and addresses with humor the complexities involved in even discussing race.

MEI MEI has been broadcast on NPR, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Produced by Dmae Roberts.
Editorial consultations from Catherine Stifter and damali ayo.
Original music by Clark Salisbury. Additional music by Teresa Enrico and Portland Taiko. Interviews with Velina Hasu Houston, Rainjita Yang Geesler, Julie Thi Underhill and Patti Duncan.
Funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council Individual Artist program.

Listen to a clip from Secret Asian Woman:

The Story of Ing ‘Doc’ Hay
$3.95 – Download  


MediaRites Productions presents The Story of Ing “Doc” Hay by Dmae Roberts. This one-hour documentary about the famed frontier herbalist of the Kam Wah Chung in John Day initially aired in May through August on KOPB, KBOO, KLCC, and KUOW stations in the Northwest.

“The Story of Ing “Doc” Hay” documentary tells the unusual and significant story of Doc Hay and his business partner and friend Lung On who ran the Kam Wah Chung store and medical practice in a small Eastern Oregon town shortly after the Gold Rush and into the 1950’s. Unlike other parts of the country where lynchings and massacres of Chinese immigrants were the norm, these two men were respected members of the community and are still remembered by John Day residents. For more information on the Kam Wah Chung, visit the Oregon State Parks Trust.

Listen to a clip from The Story of Ing “Doc” Hay:


The Breast Cancer Monologues
$3.95 – Download


The Breast Cancer Monologues is a one-hour collage of women’s stories produced by Dmae Roberts and the Breast Cancer Radio Arts Project and intricately woven from interviews, readings and dramatizations about how breast cancer has affected the lives of women in America.

Program Description:
One in eight women in this country will develop breast cancer within a life expectancy of 85 years. Only 5-10 percent of breast cancers are linked to genetic history, yet there is little research as to the cause and the treatment can be as deadly as the disease. Breast cancer is still misunderstood and often a taboo subject even among women because of the fear and lack of researched information surrounding it.

Yet, most everyone in America knows someone who has struggled or is struggling with this disease. The Breast Cancer Monologues address the myths and misunderstandings while giving voice to the women who know first-hand the effects of breast cancer.

Listen to the promo from The Breast Cancer Monologues:


Listen to My Body, My Temple from
The Breast Cancer Monologues:

Mei Mei, A Daughter’s Song
$3.95 – Download  


Winner of the Peabody award, Mei Mei, A Daughter’s Song is the personal story of cross-cultural and cross-generational conflict produced by Dmae Roberts.

This documentary chronicles Dmae and her mother, Chu-Yin, as they travel to Taiwan together. Interviews and dramatizations weave in and out to tell the story of a conflicted daughter and a mother who suffered abuse, starvation and the horrors of World War Two.

MEI MEI has been broadcast on NPR, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Listen to a clip from Mei Mei, A Daughter’s Song:

Reviews of Crossing East:

“Crossing East does for Asian American history what Ken Burns’ PBS series did for the Civil War. The epic scale of the productions may be the same, but the big difference is that these fascinating stories have rarely been told outside their local settings, and I’m sure have never been brought together in this way in any medium before. They touch on every region of the United States, revealing ever more layers of the nation’s complex multi-cultural heritage (to quote one of the many fine experts who participated in the series.) Interviews and readings of texts from the past are mixed with subtle, evocative sounds and music which give the production a cinematic feeling. The imagination fills in the pictures. The script is extremely well written – and George Takei is an excellent host.”

David Swatling, Radio Netherlands and Public Radio Exchange, Amsterdam April 1, 2006

“This is historical documentary radio at its best, a program that adds considerable richness to our familiar picture of America’s frontier West. It offers intimate storytelling about important Asian immigrants, people who helped build the West and held prominent places in their communities, but whom we haven’t heard about before–at least I hadn’t.  Their stories are placed in the context of sweeping history: the waves of Asian immigration and the far eastern events that prompted folks to leave Asia for America. Dmae Roberts uses all the tools: original writings by her historical characters read by actors; interviews with experts and historians; music; recorded sound; and narration by herself and George Takei. Dmae is a treasure and she’s given us one here: an ambitious series of documentaries exploring and honoring the contributions of Asian-Americans. Stations everywhere should run the series. This hour in particular is a winner for any station from the high plains to the Pacific.”

John Biewen, American Radioworks and Public Radio Exchange, May 1, 2006 

“You hear about Driveway Moments, but do you ever hear about Naive Moments? That’s when, while listening to a radio program, you face up to the fact that you don’t know a whole lot about something all around you. For example, I know nothing very substantial about Hawaii as a place where people have forged a history. This program features so much dedicated scholarship, stories and colorful detail that it has required a multitude of voices, actors mixing gently in with interview material and other sound. And yes, this is one of those projects with lots of people to acknowledge at the end – but the beautiful variety of the names in the credits somehow themselves make up a kind of poem testifying to this important effort.

These moments – of a history hardly mentioned in school or few Hollywood movies – these are the moments that public broadcasting owes its audience, I feel.”

Marjorie Van Halteren, Public Radio Exchange, Morbecque March 31, 2006