Bob Kustra

About Bob Kustra

Bob Kustra is the host of Reader's Corner, a weekly radio show that features lively conversations with some of the nation’s leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.

Dr. Kustra stepped down as president of Boise State University in July 2018 after serving for 15 years at the helm of Boise State, the largest public university in Idaho. During his presidency, he led the university in a time of dynamic growth in student enrollment, graduate college and doctoral programs, new construction, fundraising and research. The creation of the College of Innovation and Design and ranking as a doctoral research university were notable achievements of his presidency.

With a long and distinguished career in public service in Illinois, Bob Kustra served two terms as Illinois lieutenant governor following 10 years in the legislature. He also chaired the Illinois Board of Higher Education, responsible for funding and oversight of the state’s nine public universities. Bob's background in radio includes four years as host of a talk show on WLS-AM in Chicago.

Dr. Kustra holds three degrees in Political Science, including a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, MA from Southern Illinois University and BA from Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas.

In addition to hosting Readers Corner, Bob also writes a weekly column for the Idaho Statesman and serves on its editorial board. 

About Boise State Public Radio

Boise State Public Radio is Idaho’s premiere connection to NPR news programming, classical music, and jazz. The station’s 18 transmitters and translators reach about one million listeners from Boise and Twin Falls to McCall and Sun Valley.

In the Treasure Valley, 91.5 FM is Boise State Public Radio News. Here, you’ll find NPR’s cornerstone programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered , plus fan favorites like Fresh Air and This American Life.  91.5 FM is also home to local and regionally-produced in-depth news features and interviews.

This radio network has served the community for more than 40 years.  With staff headquarters in Boise, the signals can be heard in parts of eastern Oregon, most of southern and central Idaho, and northern Nevada.

Ways to Connect

In her bestselling memoir, When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains, Ariana Neumann offers a moving story of personal discovery and a portrait of living, dying, and surviving in war-torn Berlin. Part detective story, part epic family memoir, Neumann’s book dives into the secrets of her father’s past – years spent hiding in plain sight in war-torn Berlin, the annihilation of dozens of family members in the Holocaust, and the courageous choice to build anew.

 

Lydia Millet’s newest novel, A Children’s Bible, was nominated for the National Book Award, and called a masterly allegory for the climate crisis. The book follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside.

 

 


This interview was originally broadcast in May, 2020.

 

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor. This introduction – the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas – has long been the symbol of Cortés’s bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.

But is that actually what happened?


In her latest novel, The Mountains Sing, author Nguyen Phan Que Mai tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.

 


This is an encore presentation.

In Erica Ferencik’s hypnotic, violent, and unsparing thriller -- named by the New York Times Book Review as one of the Summer 2019’s Best Thrillers -- a young woman leaves behind everything she knows to take on the Bolivian jungle, but her excursion abroad quickly turns into a fight for her life.


In his latest book, Tuesday Night Massacre: Four Senate Elections and the Radicalization of the Republican Party, Marc J. Johnson reexamines the defeat of four political incumbents in 1980. The turnover of these seats not only allowed Republicans to gain control of the Senate for the first time since 1954 but set the stage for the divisive partisanship that has become a constant feature of American politics. 

 


In an era of rising corporate profits and anemic wage gains, low-paid jobs and blighted blue-collar communities have become an all-too-common feature of our nation’s landscape. But what’s behind these trends?

 

In his new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, award-winning journalist and author Steven Greenhouse argues that the loss of worker power is largely responsible for this stagnation. 

  

This interview was originally broadcast in September, 2019.

On the home front, Russia is a nation in turmoil. A flagging economy, shrinking population, with some rural areas that still don’t have running water. Yet Russia has emerged from the ashes of post-Soviet Communism as an international broker of mediation and disruption, lead by President Vladimir Putin.

  

In "This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto," an NPR Best Book of the Year, renowned author Suketu Mehta draws on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny and explains that the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants.


This is an encore presentation.

Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel, American Spy, has been named one of the best of 2019 by Esquire, Time, Vogue, and a host of other outlets. Inspired by true events, the novel follows a US intelligence officer in the tail-end of the Cold War. A brilliant but often-overlooked young black woman in the boys’ club of the FBI, Marie Mitchell’s career seems to have stalled out. But when Marie is given a dangerous and shadowy assignment, it threatens to change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

 


When did America give up on fairness?  Kurt Andersen's Book Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America, A Recent History tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.  Why and how did America take such a wrong turn?


Few people have made decisions as momentous as Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike), from D-Day to Little Rock, from the Korean War to Cold War crises, Ike relied on a core set of principles.  In her warm and illuminating book, Susan Eisenhower reveals how Ike led as a strategic leader, relying on a rigorous pursuit of the facts for decision-making.  After making a decision, he made himself accountable for it, recognizing that personal responsibility is the bedrock of sound principles. 


Eat The Buddha is a gripping portrait of Tibet, spanning decades of Tibetan and Chinese modern history and told through the lives of its people. Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world, telling the story of a Tibetan town eleven thousand feet above sea level.


  This is an encore presentation.

In his newest collaboration with documentarian Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan’s Country Music is the story of the musicians: Hank Williams’s tragic honky tonk life, Dolly Parton rising to fame from a dirt-poor childhood, and Loretta Lynn turning her experiences into songs that spoke to women everywhere. Featuring interviews with the genre’s biggest stars, including the likes of Merle Haggard to Garth Brooks to Rosanne Cash, the book offers a fascinating insight into the music that lies at the very center of the American experience.


This is an encore presentation.

The history of country music begins where country music itself emerged: the American South, where people sang to themselves and to their families at home and in church, and where they danced to fiddle tunes on Saturday nights.


Tim Egan’s latest book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, is a thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history of Christianity and the world it created.  Moved by his mother’s death and his Irish Catholic family’s complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs, embarking on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity.

In Never Trump authors Robert Saldin and Steven Teles, took a deep-dive into the Never Trump movement, explaining the reasons for the widespread and unprecedented intra-party opposition to Trump, why it took the form it did, and its long-term consequences. Importantly, Never Trump anticipates the impact of the Never Trump network on the future of the Republican and Democratic parties, conservatism, and American politics.


This is an encore presentation.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland had deep roots.  Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned between the North and South.  While Southern Ireland became the Irish Free State, Northern Ireland's population was split: the majority were unionists and wanted to remain within the United Kingdom.  A significant minority, however, mostly Catholics, were nationalists who wanted a united Ireland independent of British rule.


This is an encore presentation.

There is much to fear in the dark corners of cyberspace. From well-covered stories like the Stuxnet attack which helped slow Iran’s nuclear program, to lesser-known tales like EternalBlue, the 2017 cyber battle that closed hospitals in Britain and froze shipping crates in Germany in midair, we have entered an age in which online threats carry real-world consequences.


This is an encore presentation.

It’s May 1943. The Battle of Attu between American and Japanese forces was raging on the Aleutian island, with an Arctic cold, impenetrable fog, and rocketing winds that combined to create some of the worst weather on Earth. In this unlikely place, a Silver Star-winning American sergeant discovers a Japanese surgeon’s war diary, and finds solace for his own tortured soul.


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