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Comment on piece: Pain & Anxiety Management

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Review of Pain & Anxiety Management

A good solid report. Useful update on the benefits of self-hypnosis. Part of a longer series so stations could air this one by itself or as a three part series for news magazines, health shows or as a starter for an interview program about hypnosis. Kinda long though as features so wouldn't work on all magazine shows.

Comment on piece: The Story of the Peat Bog Soldiers

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Review of The Story of the Peat Bog Soldiers

Great production values and creative use of music, archival sound and actualities. Difficult subject to pull off - the story of one song written in the concentration camp era and its impact on the world. But several obstacles here to getting airplay in America. The narrator has a strong accent that I found difficult to follow while listening in the car. Not so hard to follow on the internet but a good majority of people listen in their cars or kitchen radios and that has to be considered. The piece is at an odd length - 38 minutes - and might be a challenge to program. But the material is just not that accessible for American audiences. The significance of this song is just that clear here. I doubt if most people have heard of it. That would be difficult to program and to promote.

Comment on piece: Lili Day at the Farm

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Review of Lili Day at the Farm

Lili Day at the farm features such great lines as “Goodbye pigs,” “he’s got a curly tail,” “look at the mama cows,” and the excellent “baby cows don’t wear diapers. ”You take a walk around a farm with two year-old Lili as your tour guide, and you really feel like you’re there. It also sort of makes you feel like a kid, in much the way playing with a little kid will always do. It’s very good-natured and joyful and it would be really interesting to hear this alongside some other more conventional children’s programming, which isn’t to say this one isn’t for adults, too.

Comment on piece: Turnstyles 002 Hour 2

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Review of Turnstyles 002 Hour 2

Sam Fuqua spins the tunes and it’s a lot of music that your average Joe will not have heard of, but Fuqua gives a pretty nice and easy intro into the stuff. There are songs with titles like “Snoopy with a Haircut,” but the music never gets so crazy that if your dad was listening he’d say the world was going down the toilet. Turn Styles isn’t like one of those college radio shows where they throw anything in just to be different. By the end of the hour, I felt like I trusted Fuqua’s taste implicitly and would want to hear more broadcasts. I felt guided by a sure hand and that there was an underlying aesthetic governing the hour’s journey. All the music flows seamlessly—in terms of the mix and the mood-- one song into the other, and Fuqua is a nice host. He’s funny, and he doesn’t inundate you with too much trivia and stuff sometimes better left to album liner notes. I came away learning about a lot of great new music. I now love Beth Orton. This would be a lovely addition to any late night line up.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: Six Ways to Vermeer

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Review of RN Documentary: Six Ways to Vermeer

I'm a fan of Radio Netherland's documentary work and I really looked forward to this piece after reading The Girl With The Pearl Earring. But here's the deal...you have to KNOW the paintings to appreciate this doc. There are three featured paintings and the producer moves through a discussion of the works with beautiful music and articulate historians. So I liked the The Girl segment because I could picture the painting in my mind. The other two segments discussing paintings I didn't know left me a bit...well...clueless. I don't know that most public radio listeners would have more of a reference point so it's difficult to recommend to stations unless programmers are certain that their listeners would know all three paintings. If this were TV, no problem. If this piece was audio for a web stream with the paintings posted on the site, great. But as a radio documentary for an American audience, I think it would be difficult to program.

Comment on piece: Hidden Children of the Holocaust

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Review of Hidden Children of the Holocaust

One of my favorite things about these interviews is the way the interviewer occasionally swings the mic over to a fourteen year old to have him comment and react to the tragic stories he's hearing. There’s a concern about bringing it all back to the present day, to make it feel less remote to younger generations. I guess it’s an odd but real concern. The fourteen year-old’s responses are not always that illuminating or unusual—and you get the feeling that the gulf between the childhoods of the story-tellers and the childhoods of the story-listeners is great-- but there’s something that feels right about placing them alongside one another in the same forum. I would have liked the juxtapositioning of the young and the old to have been more sustained but all the same, the stories from the survivors are very tragic and moving and need to be heard. This could run on appropriate anniversaries, memorial days, or around Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Comment on piece: At Home with Ani DiFranco

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Review of At Home with Ani DiFranco

Great interview with an artist and musician. I was not familiar with Ani's work but the interview made me want to learn more. Inspiring.

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Review of Ethics and Opinion (es59) (deleted)

Business school and medical school curricula tell us, ethics have arrived. The real ethical question is this: do all dilemma fit in the same 120 second box? The Pro/Con structure is an exhausting one for the listener, particularly when the clock is so fixed (he said this, then she said that -- even the he/she dichotomy is grindingly wearing).
My point here is this: people really do need ethical education. But the rigorous adherence to the 2 min code fails to capture the contribution of choice to the ethical problem. Why the pro/con structure? Ethics often involve gray. Lose all the assertions; give some play to doubt.

Comment on piece: Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

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Review of Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

Booty-licious!

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Review of Pop Vultures #9: Pink & Most Memorable Concerts (deleted)

Disclaimer: I am an avowed Pop Vultures Fan. I continue to marvel at Kate Sullivan's prodigious knowledge of pop music and I wonder who else could get away with talking about Lesbian musicians on the radio or saying this:
"That's the biggest shock about seeing a Rolling Stones concert live --is that they're actually the Stones and Mick is actually Mick and he actually does all the things that Mick Jagger does."
After having listened randomly to several programs I'm confused at times about whether Kate is talking to us in a kind of monologue or whether her co-Vultures are with her in the studio. I prefer when the show starts seemingly in the middle of a conversation with Garth Belkin. Kate is the band leader but it's the back and forth with her bandmates that gives the show a kickin' tempo.

Question: Kate often refers to interviews she's done (in this program she mentions Joan Jet). Are they recorded? Does she write for any music publications? This is obviously good material for the web site. There's lots of possibilities here too for local stations that run the show to use the web to develop a community around this program.

Comment on piece: 10 minutes telling you all you need to know about caveats, intel reports and finding the truth!

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Review of 10 minutes telling you all you need to know about caveats, intel reports and finding the truth!

This piece reminds me of short wave radio broadcasts: freeform, personal, loose, unpredictable, and a little intense and preachy.

This is a straight opinion piece, no context. Often directly addressing his absent subjects (Mr. Cheney, President Bush, Richard Clarke, and so on), this is one person's rolling political commentary. There is not a clear idea how a general audience might benefit from listening.

It's difficult to tell how this piece would be useful to stations. There are some production and technical issues (there are mic plosives about every ten or fifteen seconds). Further, it is packaged as a ten-minute program (though the length is actually 11:40), which is a difficult length for many stations to accommodate. The host tends to rush his delivery, so it is sometimes difficult to understand what he is saying (the web site he mentions three times is almost impossible to pick up).

If the producer is interested in distributing their work, a better format might be to take their thoughts and restructure them as a 3-4 minute political commentary rather than an independent program.

Comment on piece: Crossing the River Lethe

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Review of Crossing the River Lethe

At first, the voicing of this commentary felt a little wooden and staid. However, as the story unfolds, the listener finds himself or herself pulled in to the story. The voice discretely reveals a loving, emotional tone and the listener is hooked. The piece is sweet, sentimental, and poignant without even a trickle of melodrama or sappiness. The piece offers a touching portrait of a woman coming to terms with her mother's illness and her own journey into the keeper of her mother’s memories.

Some of the sound effects and music are especially effective, but a few could be cut down and/or eliminated all together (the counting dance steps audio could be kept at bed level, brought up for just a second or two, then brought back down--without diminishing the piece).

Our station used this piece on Mother's Day, but it would be appropriate for just about any time. This is an example of what sets public radio commentary apart: smart writing, effective delivery, and a catalyst for lingering thoughts and emotions.

Comment on piece: Willard

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Review of Willard

Good stuff, an intriguing mini documentary about a New York mental hospital. Opens with an unusual discovery of inmates' belongings in a forgotten room. Listeners primarily hear the voices of staff who worked at Willard: what it was like, the way the institution and the town complemented one another. Any sort of "company town" audience will take an interest.

Comment on piece: Mystery Train

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Review of Mystery Train

The excellent music mix supports, even elevates this finely-observed remembrance -- an emotionally painful exchange between three young people. The producer wonderfully captures the complexities of love and sex, self-respect, and a whole bunch of other stuff in a very short time. Her imagined endings to the train ride successfully round off what comes before. Excellent pick for youth-geared programming, but parents of teens might want to listen up as well.

Comment on piece: Willard

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Review of Willard

Very good oral history-esque portrait of a unique company town. Interviews with townsfolk, former staff members, and even a patient provide great details and make the place come alive. One of the staff, cleaning up after the psychiatric center closed down, offers a compelling description of finding an attic room filled with 400 suitcases – the personal belongings of former patients, containing everything from sweaters to FDR campaign posters. We hear about the gravedigger patient, the long-time staff member who kept only one memento from his time in this “haven for incurables,” and conditions good and bad. The producer writes well, the piece flows along. This is a valuable snapshot of a certain place in time, and a particular method for treating the mentally ill. The talk ends at about 12:00 – there’s a long music trailer that can easily be faded as needed. At this length, hard to program into NPR slots, but if you’ve got a mix-slot, or special programming on mental health issues, include this.

Comment on piece: WAMM Pot Giveaway at City Hall

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Review of WAMM Pot Giveaway at City Hall

Hard news feature with a bit of a slant. Exhaustive coverage of a subject that holds it's strongest relevance for one particular community or at the most, for the state of California and it's laws regarding use of medicinal marijuana.
I suppose usual for these times, there was no explanation from the feds as to WHY they were overriding a state law. California won't take it lying down and while that's interesting, ...to be a genuine hard news story, there should be a little more equal representation in the reporting.

Comment on piece: The Fair

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Review of The Fair

The only reason this probably is better for the Internet than the radio is because the Flash presentation adds so much to it! The piece is very impressionistic, visually and aurally, but it really makes clear the double nature of the fair - the day-time fair and the night-time fair. This is accentuated by slightly different visual styles in the day and night Flash sections. What I really like about this piece is the ambiguity in the narrator's tone, which is something that I've always felt towards the fair. You just don't know what to make of it sometimes and all you can do is watch and observe. In that way, I felt like I could empathize with this piece very much. There are also some great moments where the "actualities" sync up with the narration to underscore important parts.

Comment on piece: Crayola

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Review of Crayola

A laid back speaker gives the history of Crayolas while young crayon users chime in favorite colors and reviews of each others' art. Allington's impeccable timing and creative mix will spice up any broadcast about creativity, arts education, or design.

Comment on piece: Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

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Review of Davy Rothbart, Found Magazine

Fresh, funny, spontaneous. All this and a flawless mix. Any community that will soon host Davy Rothbart and a Found Event will love to hear this on the airwaves. This piece is alive!

Comment on piece: 2003 National Audio Theatre Festivals' Live Performance

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Review of 2003 National Audio Theatre Festivals' Live Performance

A rare opportunity to hear an in-the-moment production that successfully combines a theatre audience, stage band, sound effects teams and live actors. It's not old time radio theatre --it's new time audio theatre using time-tested techniques and components to bring listeners fresh entertainment.