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Comment on piece: My Name Is Iran

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Review of My Name Is Iran

A fine production with great use of sound. Well thought out and reported yet contains an added plus of personal disclosure by the producers so we know their perspective and background allowing for an insider's insight. Rarely do we hear this depth regarding the Middle East and particularly the women of Iran. American Radio Works is to be commended for taking on documentaries of substance. This program would make a worthy one-hour special for any station. There are many tie-ins to holidays such as Ramadan and Women's History Month. But really this can and should air anytime.

Comment on piece: Justin on the Inside

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Review of Justin on the Inside

This is actually a piece about an FTM, a female-to-male transsexual, not the "woman trapped in a man's body" the description lists it as. Justin is a really unique subject, a transgender individual living in rural America and negotiating gender. I would have liked to hear more about Justin's experience with the corrections system, because that seems like it would be a stressful place for gender variant people to live, yes, even more than everyone else. I was also disappointed that the producer didn't seem to do any research about FTMs and chose to focus on the idea of a "functining male organ" as the only determinant of gender rather than really thinking about Justin's day to day life. i.e. 99% of the time Justin's penis or lack therof is really not going to make a difference--what is really the issue with him living in rural Maine? That he can't pee standing up or that he can't walk around town without getting strange looks. The individuals to whom your story will really matter, to whom it isn't jsut some novel coffee table conversation, are going to be interested in hearing about what Justin thought about hormone therapy and top surgery and passing and his family. For those people, check out www.ftmi.org

Comment on piece: Johnny Comes Home

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Review of Johnny Comes Home

What a marvelous piece of radio. Its confessional quality is perfect for this medium. The music is used very effectively to amplify emotion. The hanging questions and contradictions provide so much to think about. This glimpse into a soldier's private horror is hopefully the kind of story that might help bring this conflict to a swifter end. Very good work.

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Review of Who Needs Math? (deleted)

This is a wonderful opportunity to get into the head of a child who, like many of us, didn't get what she wanted out of her public middle school experience. Zoe is intelligent and articulate but still very much in her own head--she doesn't try to wax poetic about the trials of youth, she is just happy to explain her own journey. It makes me wish my parents had the courage to do the same for me.

Comment on piece: Joshua Bell, violinist--biographical (2 tracks)

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Review of Joshua Bell, violinist--biographical (2 tracks)

Informational interview, interesting questions revealing interesting answers. For instance, Joshua is very competitive, but the competitiveness doesn't translate to music.

Also many typical questions about music tastes, early influences, etc. I honestly don't know much about classical music, so I am not the most erudite reviewer.

The strange thing about this interview is the interviewer sound like he's on the phone, while the interviewee, Josh, sounds like he's in-studio. The focus of the interview, Josh, is completely in focus and sounds good. Would be good on any classical music show.

Comment on piece: The Most German Day Ever

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Review of The Most German Day Ever

Cute and gentle conclusion about German national character - I was just thinking how absurd it all was when he points it out. He keeps track of time measuring the number of beers. I'm still a little curious--why lawnmowers? The dog's not important . . .

Comment on piece: The Rocks at Rock Bottom

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Review of The Rocks at Rock Bottom

Definitely TAL-ish -- I heard it on TAL a couple of weeks ago. So, obviously a piece with those credentials is pretty good. I will probably always remember this piece, too, because of what drove the guy from where he started skipping rocks, why he started, and specifically because he became so good at it. I thought to try to contact him because I have a secret rock-skipping place, now about 1500 miles away, with loads of flat, circular, smooth rocks and best of all, an up-river angle that serves as a cheat. You can skip rocks almost in place.

But I digress. I think PD's are safe with anything Hillary Frank feels comfortable putting out there, and especially if it's aired nationally on TAL. So you could go in blind here and be okay, but don't, it's an excellent piece that is fun to listen to.

Comment on piece: Japanese American World War II Draft Resisters

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Review of JA Draft Resisters

Imagine being relocated to an internment camp based on your race, and then drafted to fight for the country that incarcerated you behind the internment camp’s barbed wire fence. Then imagine saying no. This timely feature on Japanese American resisters gives us a surface feeling for the atmosphere of the time, and certainly draws one’s mind to our current preemptive anti-terrorist detention techniques. Clean production, good reporting.

Comment on piece: Kitty Keeps On Singing

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

The piece held my attention and I especially enjoyed the interwoven old home recordings. The narrator clearly demonstrates the unbreakable spirit of her grandmother, Kitty. Although the story has it's sad moments, I found myself uplifted by it, by Kitty's endurance and joy of life.

Comment on piece: The Times They Are A-Changin': A Radio Symposium on Bob Dylan & His Times

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Review of The Times They Are A-Changin': A Radio Symposium on Bob Dylan & His Times

The occasion for the discussion is the 40th anniversary of Dylan's Halloween concert at Philharmonic Hall in New York City and of the release of the live concert cd (Bootleg series, Volume 6). I listened over a long car ride and found it to be mostly interesting. I kept waiting for the conversation to take off in a kind of free for all and away from the controlled Q followed by A format. One of the panelists, the historian Dave Marsh I think, quotes the line "talking about songwriting is like doing card tricks on the radio." This is much livlier than that and it's also instructive for thinking about how to turn a live event -- a lecture or discussion, say -- into an hour or two of radio. This program had the music going for it and the conversational thread about the impact of music in the turbulent period of the 1960's as compared to the times that are a changin' in America right now. The radio hour could have been improved with more post production -- more songs, more music intervals, funkier opens, breaks and closes and voice overs that let us keep track of who the speakers were -- but that's probably not what the producer had in mind; more likely it was to simply let us listen to an event we couldn't attend. So for that I was grateful and I think lots of other listeners would be too.

Comment on piece: David Byrne Does PowerPoint

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Review of David Byrne Does PowerPoint

A sound rich piece about a strange interesting technological topic. This piece is also surprisingly visual and informational. This piece might fit best on a techy show, but could be just about anywhere. It is very offhand and liberated, willfully crossing some lines that you won't hear crossed on public radio (which, to this reviewer, is a major feature).

Comment on piece: The Zildjian Cymbal Tester

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Review of The Zildjian Cymbal Tester

I love pieces like this. Cymbal Tester?!? It's like hearing an interview from someone who works at a shoelace factory in Ohio. I mean, they have to have something interesting to say, right?

And, there are a lot more to cymbals than you'd think. It was hard to hear the guy sometimes, for the variety of cymbals. I look forward to hearing it on D2D.

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Review of Iraq and the Fog of War (deleted)

A very insightful piece on the potential danger to America from it's choice to go to war and how the best of intentions can go bad. Points out how America needs watch itself carefully now that it's got itself into a potentially corrosive situation, like Vietnam.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: Iraq - A Hostage Nation

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Review of RN Documentary: Iraq - A Hostage Nation

Perspectives of three individual Iraqis venting frustrations that are probably common to millions. Valuable because they communicate well at an emotional level. Perhaps also helpful in promoting a level of understanding of recent history from the Iraqi perspective.

Their comments will surely be dismissed by many, may resonate as honest opinions by more sympathetic listeners. Not "news" nor containing any surprising revelations, just unfiltered views from seemingly moderate, educated Iraqis.

Good production values, effective use of music.

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Review of 75 State Street Salon (deleted)

Very nice, a well put together piece. Would be a good color sketch for any show dealing with seniors or aging. Seems a slam dunk for AARP's Prime Time Radio.

Good pace, I liked the "snip snip" of the scissors and the little bits of wisdom from the hair stylist. I wanted more from other people, more interactions to balance out the running commentary

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

Helen Webb is a sea captain in Santa Barbara who takes people out on the sea to scatter the ashes of their loved ones. She tells the story of her first day on the job, and it’s totally charming in a morbid sort of way. She also ruminates on her mother’s death and how she sees her own funeral happening one day. For such a dark subject, Mauro keeps things pretty buoyant. It’s a side of life that isn’t discussed all that much, and it makes for nice radio. This could go with other stories about the death trade, or just profiles of people who do unusual jobs.

Comment on piece: Learning to Hear

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Review of Learning to Hear

A good, solid report. A variety of voices and thoughts laden with important information. Often stories from the deaf community aren't done because of the difficulty to report the stories. We hear from a deaf woman who can talk to us about the issues facing her. What's missing for me is the political and practical controversy in the deaf community about the cochlear implants for children and in general for adults. The implants don't often work. And when they do, the sound can be similiar to being underwater at best. Many in the deaf community question why one would need them and how this operation might remove them from the deaf community. Otherwise, this is good work from a new producer and a plus to any station's news magazine.

Comment on piece: Hard to Say

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Review of Hard to Say

I defy anyone to listen to this piece without getting at least a small lump in their throat. It’s so crammed with beautiful images and poetic insight there’s hardly a second of flaccid tape. It invokes a whole sentimental, “old-fashioned” world where a kiss on the cheek still put you “on cloud nine” and people dance to big band in the kitchen. There is plenty of sentiment here, but there is wisdom, too. This could play in the context of love stories, old age, Alzheimer’s and loss.

Comment on piece: Cathy, 16, Mom

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Review of Cathy, 16, Mom

This is hardcore radio. It just lays everything out it the open for the listener to take and digest (even if they may not want to).

Cathy is very open and up front about her situation, she does not hide from the mic. Thanks to Sarahs skillfull production we are able to litterally "hear" the conflict of a young immature teenager trying to be a good mom....and it made me uncomfortable.

The only question that I wanted to hear that wasn't addressed on tape was, "what about birth control?" "Condoms?" "How did she even get pregnant, let alone twice?". I mean if it was an accident isn't that an important part of the story.

Comment on piece: Yo-Yo Ma: In his own words

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Review of Yo-Yo Ma: In his own words

I could listen to pieces with and about Yo-Yo Ma all day. Not only is he a brilliant musician but he's a skilled and expressive communicator. Artists often have a difficult time explaining and their art. Not so with Ma. This is an excellent arts piece with intricately woven music and interview segments. Would work in any magazine show. Highly recommended...