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Comment on piece: Reserved for Father

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Review of Reserved for Father

This essay is an ode not to one father but to the institution of Fatherhood. Elizabeth Dribben rhapsodizes about her father: their classic "Daddy's girl" dynamic, their similarities and differences, their pride in one another, etc... At first this piece is tfrustrating because Dribben's remembrances seem somewhat generic but all is forgiven when she reveals that her dad died before she turned one. In the end her essay leaves us contemplating the universal identity of the father and comparing it to our personal understanding of dear ole' dad--that is if we are lucky enough to make such a comparison. This is perfect for Father's Day. Since it's short you could play it once during Weekend Edition and once during ATC.

Comment on piece: God is Talking to Me

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Review of God is Talking to Me

In all of his pieces Hans Anderson creates a world that you love spending time in. And as much as you want to linger there when your time is up you leave not necessarily wanting more but relishing what you've had. In this piece you find yourself in a world that is both magical and mundane-- In fact in this piece one really can't exist without the other. Without giving too much away the protagonist finds himself asking God to help him track down his father and he ends up having an ongoing conversation with God. God sends him on a series of random missions--but of course they aren't random as God is orchestrating all this. Well, what you get is this wonderful mix of action, inner monologues, philosophical digressions, and analyses of human behavior. There is also a narrative arc that gives this piece its momentum. Broadcast this wherever you have a 10 minute block—this could also be used for pledge drives (see Jackson Braider’s Review of Hans Anderson’s “Book”) You should also seriously consider this for Father’s Day.

Comment on piece: Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut

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Review of Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut

Another tone: intimate, especially that. How many people are you going to get to tell you about their worst Christmas gift or sing for you if you bring in a camera? But, they do for radio. This piece definitely has a place on PR. I can hear it on Day to Day or ME somewhere around mid-December. I hope it gets tons of play, and that the idea is frequently repeated with different topics. As a series, this could be a lot of fun, and could be done in a mall, a park, on the bus, an airplane... If you are a PD, I recommend you put a note in your day planner for about Dec. 15th to come find this piece again.

Comment on piece: Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons

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Review of Knitting with Dog Hair sans Dog Day Afternoons

There are actually two stories in this edition of SoundPrint, and I would mightily encourage the program to break these stories back into two half-hours. I remember flipping Kniting with Dog Hair over at Transom several years ago and it remains absolutely wonderful stuff now. It's the fiendish melding of fact and fiction that makes this such a delight.

PDs, check this out. You might go so far as to trade beads for the entire hour just to get your hands on the first part.

Review of Dog Day Afternoons -- 3.5 dots This is one of those things that European broadcasters do very nicely -- 30 mins. about dogs in art, literature, and life. A big bonus is the big hug game at the top. Perfectly fine.

But it shouldn't be placed right next to Knitting. It's not a match. Break the clock -- do Knitting, throw in a quirky 8 min. piece, go to Dog Day Afternoons, and then trawl PRX for the remainder.

Comment on piece: The Book

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Review of The Book

I love this ! I like the way it creeps into what you know is WILDLY fictitious when what you began with seemed another innocuous meaningful first person story.

Hans I WILL AIR THIS. I think surprises on the radio are what keep radio breathing (that and prhases like: words beautifully spelled). This sort of piece should inspire programmers to garnish the day (although perhaps in this case, the night) with bits of gleaming stone like this.

Comment on piece: The Book

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Review of The Book

My first thought of this is a kind of shaggy-dog story, but this is straight from Mr. Poe. Well-written and compelling. Anderson has a good crisp voice for this kind of thing. And for 11:38, there is nothing but that voice: no efx, no music.

The issue in our timeblock world is the length. Anderson, in some dark-humor corner of his mind, suggests this as a possible fundraiser. He might be right. Knowing the waywardness of the pledge clock, the piece could, without too much damage, be broken into three or four segments.

But do pledge arteests have the courage to say "help me" in a hingey sort of way? It would be great if they tried.

Comment on piece: Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons

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Review of Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons

The environmental impact of doghair on landfills!

Oh man, this just puts other mockumentaries, mine to be precise, to complete shame. Timely, for April Fools. I love the explanation I found on Transom.org (when I realized this was a mockumentary, I went fishing for information).

I love this kind of stuff, but this is very well done. If the dog show is in town, or it's April 1st, this is your show. Also an entire lesson plan in quality radio production... a great mix of sound, and some likely invented words. Awesome.

The second part was also well done, but I think these could be separated so that PD's could choose either or both. They are about dogs, but differ enough that one may be more useful where the other isn't.

Comment on piece: After Graduation: Meeting Special Needs

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Review of After Graduation: Meeting Special Needs

This is news-magaziny, but too long for that format. Obviously it is better suited for a full half-hour, but perhaps slippets could be pulled from the piece to include among other material in shorter shows.

This piece was bright and informative, offering a close look at what can be an difficult task for many people to talk about. This piece works because of the built-in intimacy of audio/radio. PD's should look at this piece especially if there is any educational debate going on in the community.

Comment on piece: Mami Basketball

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Review of Mami Basketball

The reporter uses an ordinary situation to share a multi-layered story.
It's inspirational to hear of the Mexican women making new friends and establishing a social outlet through basketball. The sound of the ball bouncing and people playing on the court mixes well with the interviews.
The conflict with the boys over ownership of the court gives the story direction, but doesn't point to any resolution or leave the listener moved by either side.
The piece could have been more compelling if it focused solely on women, maybe highlighting the experience of one woman and how the community basketball changed her life, or asking the women and boys how they intended to share the court; if either party might involve the city in enforcing regulations or somehow come to an agreement to divide court time.
Overrall, it was a creative use of everyday life to tell the story of these different cultures sharing a common interest.

Comment on piece: Trivial Pursuit

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Review of Trivial Pursuit

A spirited glimpse at Trivial Pursuit, but not really about TP at all.

An interesting short piece that could spice up an hour, but it might take some explaining. Or, you could throw it in there during a fundraiser and let people try to figure out why it's playing. I think pieces like this, instead of announcers talking endlessly during a fundraiser, trying to raise money might make a stronger impression and lead people to go to their phone to give not from exasperation at having their favorite shows withheld or interrupted, but from being inspired by something unusual or offbeat.

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Review of Thurgood Marshall Before the Court (deleted)

This should be played in every history class in every middle school and high school in America. Brown vs. Topeka and Marshall are important events and public figures. Children nowadays may hear about the "Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund" or know that he was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but they (as I didn't) know much more about him. Documentaries like this take my breath away, and they belong wherever you can fit them, no matter if it's the 50th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education or Christmas Day. The power of this piece could be increased by springing it on your listeners at 3am.

Comment on piece: Internal Combustion

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Review of Internal Combustion

This piece made me smile. From the description, I expected a collection of interesting engine sounds but was surprised by a lot more. It's actually a celebration of the rhythm that's been introduced to our world by the engine; this piece comes off like "STOMP" for the farm show. The producer has actually collected sounds from various engines and carefully crafted them into something sounding like a rhythm section. The affect is delightful. I think it could be put to good use in several ways. The producer mentioned the nearing of Otto's birthday, the inventor of the internal combustion engine. I can imagine a cool historical piece about the development of the engine and how it's changed our lives. The way engines have changed the collection of sounds a human recognizes could be an interesting angle suggested by this piece, but even without a unique angle, the sounds represented here would make an interesting selection for radio.

Comment on piece: The Fair

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Review of The Fair

The mix of this is a lot different than most pieces, but even with my hard-of-hearing ears, I was able to pick out the main voice. I think it is this mix that makes this piece work very well. I drifted between hearing the V/O and the backgrounds, and the V/O became almost part of the background, as I got into the fair, substituting the essayist's fair for the ones I remember as a child. Fairs populate my memory with many pleasant thoughts, from my friends vomiting after too much cotton candy and too many twirls on the Round-Up, or my older cousin telling me how she'll probably be an alcoholic when gets older because she snuck a beer from the Beer Garden and really liked it. "The Fair" is perfect for the fair season, coming up in a couple of months. There are no shows that shouldn't run it, provided they have the time.

Comment on piece: Nightfall in Chester County

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Review of Nightfall in Chester County

NIGHTFALL

Another great piece from Helen Borten. I'm very impressed with her whole series this comes from her series - A Sense Of Place. This tale of the once oppressed now oppressing is universal and gives thought. Nightfall takes you to may sides of the clash of Quaker farmers and the migrant workforce that attempts to unionize. It's great to hear a documentary with so much sound material of events actually happening - a "you are there" rather than a "I'm telling you what happened" approach. My only question is does this piece need to be updated with an outro? I'm not sure how long ago this piece was made and it might help if the producer could put an outro that would let stations know if this is still an ongoing problem in Chester County or somehow give an update to the piece. Otherwise, stations would do well to look at running this piece with other A Sense of Place pieces to create a great one-hour special during the summer.

Comment on piece: What's Left is Not Who We Are

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Review of What's Left is Not Who We Are

This piece is low-key, thoughtful and quite affecting. A view of something I've not much thought of.

Comment on piece: Kitty Keeps On Singing

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

I have to admit I didn't finish listening to this piece. Maybe it's not fair of me to write a critique, but I have to say, I was 3 minutes in (I believe the piece is 6:30) and I had heard no tape. I believe that this is an adaptation of another piece I heard on PRX called "Kitty (somebody)'s War" where a family had bought a phonograph-record-making-machine and there's tape of people singing and talking. So I was expecting to hear some tape. When I hadn't heard any after 1/2 the piece had played, I gave up.

Perhaps the producer was saving this tape for the end. Perhaps she felt this added suspense. If so, for what it's worth, personally I didn't feel it.

I wonder whether the producer made an effort to find others to help her tell this story. I expected, for example, reminiscences from the people being spoken about. Or perhaps there would be reminiscences from those people's children or grandchildren. What I heard was one woman reading a litany of woes. That would have been fine if there had been an effort to universalize these woes. I did not hear that. What I heard was "Here's the tough time my relative had."

I should also say that the audio quality of the voice tracks was quite poor. It's particularly noticeable at one point where the voice track ends and the music sweeps in. There's some kind of hiss or crackle that suggests the voice tracks were recorded with inferior equipment.

Comment on piece: No Email from Oaxaca

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Review of No Email from Oaxaca

The Editorial Board review from Goldstein prompted me to listen to this piece. His praise is deserved. I'm just a normal average NPR listener, and I really enjoyed this piece. I think my favorite moment was when 'what's-his-name's' invisibility was compared to the phone lines strung above our heads. That line begins a well-metered, marching, thrust toward the end of the piece. It's very well done. I agree with others that this piece doesn't force any grand point, but it spawned a lot of reflection for me - which is kind of a big point in itself. Mostly, it knocked me down a few notches and made me feel a bit smaller. I appreciated the reminder.

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Review of Hans Blix on "Disarming Iraq" (deleted)

Those following events leading up to the Iraq War won't find anything new, but it's always valuable to hear Dr. Blix's rational, coherent opinions about the inspection process, “pre-emptive war,” and the crucial importance of accurate, or at least extremely convincing intelligence. This is a phone interview, but the quality is decent. The interviewer allows him to answer at length, and we get a little more than the ME, ATC allotted time for these kinds of interviews. Though listed at 14:02, the actual interview ends at 12:25.

Comment on piece: Summer Camp

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Review of Summer Camp

What a delightful piece and perfect for stations to air during the summer. The camp experience is something young and old can relate to and Borten brings together voices of all age ranges to describe and recreate the joys and challenges of summer camp. This is and sound collage at its best and would work well with another of Borten's half hour pieces to create a great summer special.

Comment on piece: No Email from Oaxaca

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Review of No Email from Oaxaca

I really related to this piece. I've always wanted to reach out to understand what it's like to be a non-English speaking immigrant in the US, but I know even less Spanish than the author. I can only smile and say hello. I thought about those encounters as I listened to this. Here the author learns a little about this man, just a little, as I would if I had the language skills.