A Grain of Sand


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A Grain of Sand, hosted by Charles McGuigan: Tuesday at 12:30 PM

My show’s title comes from the William Blake line about how you can see the entire world in a grain of sand. I believe that. Always have. There’s something consubstantial about all things, human and otherwise. Some spark of the Other within all. And I know that ordinary sounds and vernacular speech hold the very truths of existence, you’ve just gotta be patient and plough through dung hills for those rare gems.

All stories of merit—not simple anecdotes—contain hints of the universal. And I’ll go anywhere for a story and listen to anyone, and I do believe these stories exist everywhere and with everyone. I’ve heard it said that not everyone has a story. I just don’t believe that.  Sometimes it’s hard to extract that story. Sometimes the teller has a hard time framing their own story. But the story’s there nonetheless. Even those who have lived the most solitary of existences.

There’s a great short story by Turgenev out of A Sportsman’s Notebook. I think it’s called The Relic. And here’s the gist of it: the narrator visiting a large estate in Russia where he will hunt and fish discovers an old, infirmed woman, who is of no longer useful in the household of the landowner and so she lives a solitary life in the barn. Other serfs bring her food and tend to her needs and so on. This woman can’t even walk. But when the narrator presupposes that this woman’s life is without joy or validity, she takes him to task. Each morning in spring and summer she feels the sun warm her face, in the winter the cold gnaw her feet. There are the birds and rodents and life awakening in the fecund soil and life withering back into it come fall. And that, in and of itself, is the story.

And for me it’s always the story. Most precisely the short story. It has a structure and finiteness that permits me the luxury of making it just so. I write short stories and employ many of the devices of that art to the creation of these grains of sand. Every day I learn more about these inventions and adapt that knowledge to the craft.

So A Grain of Sand, through the words of others and my own, along with ambient sound and original music by Charles Arthur, hopes to tell these stories in ways that reveal, illuminate and entertain. I thank everyone who listens.


  • Tuesday - 12:30 pm - 1:00 pm

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  • bobby joe says:

    does anyone have know about an archive of this show? there are so many incredible episodes that i wish i could listen to again!

  • Melanie says:

    I am horrified at the treatment of your son at school. If you need another supporter or representative at school board meetings let me know. We didn’t have problems with my son and his IEP in Henrico, but it shows the disparity between schools in the same county.

  • Paul Germain says:

    Charles, I loved your episode, “Lester Blackiston, The Pirate of Shockoe Bottom,” from 2012(?) I wish it could be revived and aired again!

  • ron skinner says:

    Charles, I loved your show with Senator Kaine and the previous one with a local activist.
    I’d love to rebroadcast it weekly on WRWK your “sister” station in Midlothian.
    If that works for you let me know
    1. how to get it weekly and
    2. if you have a version without the WRIR header, or a header like ” from WRWK LP FM, produced and recorded and also heard on WRIR, Richmond-Radio for the Rest of Us” .
    3. We could work out the day of the week and time. I’d love it in drive time, 4 to 6 PM.
    Thanks for your consideration, Ron/programming/wrwk lp fm 93.9 Midlothian, Virginia

  • Esther Ipson-Minter says:

    Hello my name is Esther Ipson-Minter Jay is my father. He asked me to tell you thank you for his story. I have listened to it and so has he. You did a wonderful job. He is no longer at the museum. He has his own at his house. Please give him a call 804-370-1111

  • Sara Goode says:

    Just joining a segment about race and prisons and would love to hear the full thing. Is this possible?

  • Sarah says:

    Hi, Request for you to find “a needle in a haystack!” Caught the end of an interview on Tuesday, Sept 5th about a man reading about his relationship with his abusive mother. I think it said the story was to be continued the next show. Do you know the writer/book from the interview? Is there a link to the recording available?

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