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Comment on piece: The Zildjian Cymbal Tester

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Review of The Zildjian Cymbal Tester

Who knew that a recording of someone performing quality control would be this much fun to listen to? This story deserves airtime.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: The Music House

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Review of RN Documentary: The Music House

Lovely, respectful documentary, filled with great sound, interesting information, and vivid details. The producer does an excellent job of weaving the elements into an almost hypnotic portrait of the music house-building project. The Baka live in the dense rain forest and learn to navigate by sound, which makes them a perfect radio subject. Interviews with various Baka, the musicians who are funding the project, and the builder give a strong sense of place and culture. Great range of tape -- everything from the trip ferrying tin into the forest, to Baka voices merging with the birds – engages the ear in a variety of ways. About art, life, honoring ancient ways, and creating community across cultures. An excellent way to spend half an hour. Can be broadcast any season, but feels timely this spring moment as our ears brighten at the sounds of birdsong.

Comment on piece: File Sharing Vox Pop

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Review of File Sharing Vox Pop

A solid , if unexceptional bit of work. A bit more probing questions might have been nice. The interviewer could have played devils advocate, getting into some more of the ethical issues involved. One student justifies his file sharing with the old "everybodys' doing it" excuse. Do they condone looting? How do the students feel about some of the pay-to-download services?

Comment on piece: Confused About Tax Cuts

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Review of Confused About Tax Cuts

Though we’ve just passed tax-paying day, this will remain timely all the way up to president electing-day. It’s a fairly simplistic look at the pros and cons of tax cuts, but by gum, there are lots of folks who just don’t think about what we lose as a society when taxes are cut. Clear statements pro and con from people who spend their lives thinking about economic matters are bracketed by a plain old citizen’s point of view. At 3:38, a good drop-in for an ATC break, or ME.

Comment on piece: Profile of Cpl. Chris Kotch

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Review of Profile of Cpl. Chris Kotch

A brief, intense audio portrait of a moment in young Kotch's life that is almost cinematic in its precise imagery. While we don't know exactly what happened to him, or what the injury was, the sound of his voice tells you something bad happened. It is not a normal sound, this voice he has. To hear him describe his "million dollar wound," (a wound that sends you home) followed by his yearning to return to the war is haunting. His descriptions of his erratic behavior and of his mother's reactions, are powerful and succinct. Very well edited. Already been on ATC, but would work as drop-in on ME, or around any programming about the war, the soldiers, the losses incurred.

Comment on piece: Autumn's Story

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Review of Autumn's Story

Not much production, some background rumble and voices, kinda short and simple. But gosh darn it, this piece stays with you. There's something about a lone person talking intimately into a recorder telling the most personal and difficult story of their lives. Draws you in like no other high tech production can do. This is a successful first person story and I hope that Amy continues producing. It's not easy to be this emotionally engaging and she did a good job....Where to air it? A magazine show that deals in first person diary stuff definitely. Certainly a good piece for stations to air for young people and the parents who love them....Dmae

Comment on piece: The "Laggy" Awards

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Review of The "Laggy" Awards

I laugh just about every time Sharon Glassman opens her mouth. She knows how to write a conversational radio essay and does an even better job performing it. She's not trying to be funny. She just is. Also, she's not on a soapbox. Sharon knows how to give a perspective that resonates well with public radio listeners. In this case, indie and freelance workers (especially those who don't yet know about prx.org) will identify with her dilemma -- chasing down payments. WFUV didn't produce this essay as we did others, but we will air it!

Comment on piece: Letter from Chicago

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Review of Letter from Chicago

This piece reflects a nice "letter to my mom" feeling. To assuage his mother's concerns "I worry, are you happy?" the producer literally takes his mother on an audio trip of his neighborhood and the people he meets there. Good idea, and great affection. The stories the people tell are more compelling than the connecting narrative. The voices make the piece compelling, but the idea is not quite resolved. Still a nice addition to a Mother's day programming. At 10:41 a bit long for most stations to use.

Comment on piece: Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the world of collectors

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Review of Naked Barbies and Deflated Basketballs: A look inside the wo

Well produced man-on-the-street montage piece with many different collectors. You never hear Overton in the piece itself; it's focused solely on the collectors, their collections, and their interactions and thoughts about the hobby. Snippets of jazz give the piece a nice ambiance and break the piece up very well. The pacing is also very well done: first sub-part introduces the collectors in quick succession, second part revists each for a little bit. Fast moving without being too fast, keeps your attention very easily.

There are more than a couple small yet poignant comments by the collectors interviewed which speak to the question of "why collect these things?", as well as the American culture of disposability, of objects as sentimental anchors of memory, and the like.

Quirky yet fascinating slice of life piece with real people. Top notch human interest segment. Deserves to be aired.

Comment on piece: Unexpected Visitors

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Review of Unexpected Visitors

Extremely intimate and engaging piece told mostly in flashback. I get a very strong TAL-style vibe off this piece, which I think is wonderful (indeed, I think this would be spectacular as part of a TAL episode). Length is good too, at just under seven and a half minutes. Would go great with other pieces on communities or groups that, despite their efforts, people cannot join or become a part of. Religious separation is the topic of this particular piece, so it could work as part of a larger montage of similar parts, but it's self-contained and has good core structure that would make it go well with pieces describing other types of group separation and longing for acceptance.

Audio production is well done, my only complaints are on pacing; sometimes Thorsen's words are run together and somewhat indistinct, and on breaking up the three distinct parts of the story (the girls' arrival, Thorsen's flashback of his family and Mormon groups he interacted with, returning to the girls at the door), with slightly longer interludes and possibly additional interstitial music to break these parts up a bit.

This should be aired far and wide. Fantastic story and a fantastic telling.

Comment on piece: Fog of War review

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Review of Fog of War review

A good piece which gives a very personal take on Morris's documentary film. Standout points include the small segue into a specific role McNamara played in South Vietnamese military affairs, and Lam's reflection and interpretation of both McNamara's apology, argument, and Morris's take. Although this could serve as a review of the documentary itself, it seems like it would be better suited in amongst other material on Vietnam, perhaps in the context of reevaluating Vietnam, especially vis a vis the invasion of Iraq. Would go well with other material from Daniel Ellsberg's memoir "Secrets" as a counterpart, perhaps read by a voice actor. Also, it's worth noting "Fog of War" is based on interviews with McNamara, but much is also covered in McNamara's earlier book "In Retrospect".

From an audio standpoint, Lam's voice may be hard for some listeners to parse, but shouldn't pose too much of a problem as his pacing is done very well. Another reviewer mentioned that Lam's status as the son of a South Vietnamese general added some authority; Lam himself does not mention this in the piece, so this would need to be addressed in introduction or closing commentary if that angle is to be a component of the piece.

Very well engineered and very personal. Well done all around.

Comment on piece: Unexpected Visitors

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Review of Unexpected Visitors

Adam's peice, slowly paced & deliberate, depicts the vantage point of an outsider desiring to be accepted within a majority, and the barriers that make this goal difficult. Recalling his own childhood growing up in Idaho, an athiest among Morman peers, he describes his own attempts to fit in; and ultimately, how he discovered that he could not, without becoming Morman himself.

This story resonated strongly with me: I too grew up in Idaho, and just as in this story, recieved a suprise visit from a couple of young Morman missionaries several years after I had moved away from Idaho. As an agnostic, I found the story accurately described what I saw in my own childhood.

Comment on piece: Unexpected Visitors

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Review of Unexpected Visitors

This piece is both factually and emotionally accurate. The simultaneous isolation and attraction this man describes rings true to me though a generation and gender separate us. Having grown up in rural Idaho in the 50's and early 60's I could see my own experience reflected in this story.

Comment on piece: JAZZ RHYTHM DEMO

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The format is a simple and satisfying one: Music plays and stories are told. Dave Radlauer has put together a sampling of different programs to give you an idea of what the series is like, and it is sound rich and entertaining. You get to hear jazz biographies of performers who are household names and others, depending on your level of jazz fluency, that you may have never heard of. Some of these jazz greats were hugely popular in their day but are now a little lost to us. The show rediscovers them and, in some cases, sheds new light on their musical contributions as well as their tragedies. The bios are composed of readings and interviews that create snapshots of the time, which are equally about the music as they are about race and inequality. The bios are also peppered with fascinating details, images and fun facts-- like Fats Waller earned his nickname by being able to eat fifteen hotdogs in one sitting. I did not know that. Sometimes, the music playing underneath the stories is in ironic counter-point to the stories being told… the individual tales of hard times are often playing out to the sweet music these men and women produced during those very times and it pays homage to their dedication and endurance. It also serves to show how the world of music can be an autonomous, pristine realm unto itself. If the demos are an example of the shows quality, this series is a real gift to jazz aficionados and casual listeners alike, and the beauty of it is it could slip right in with either music programming or talk programming.

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: A Man's Choice - A Look at Male Contraceptives

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Review of RN Documentary: A Man's Choice - a look at male contraceptiv

What a concept...contraception from a male perspective. Why hasn't this been done before? Kudos to Radio Netherlands for this insightful and frank documentary - I can't ever remember hearing the phrase 'trusty old rubbers" or "men who've had the snip" on public radio before. It's also interesting to hear the cultural differences of contraception in the Netherlands compared to the U.S. A woman who carries condoms in her purse is considered "intelligent" and "proud of herself" and not a slut. This doc also deals with the fears of vasetecomy - fear that Dutch men have overcome as the Netherlands has the highest rate of male sterilization in the world - and an update on the progress of the male pill. "Man's Choice" has a good mix of interviews, music and solid reporting. Certainly this is a piece that needs to be heard by young straight men for the information and reassurance that they do have options for contraception. Stations could air this half hour anytime and as often as possible...Dmae

Comment on piece: RN Documentary: Song of the Corridistas

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Great production, great story. Didn't know much about the Corridos, Mexican American ganster ballads with a long history since Poncho Villa days. Besides the colorful stories of gunfighters and gangsters, this piece interweaves beautifully upbeat ballads that have now become popular with young people in young, hip L.A. and other parts of the U.S. What a great special this would make for Cinco de Mayo or anytime really. Not just about outlaws, this piece gives insight to the rebels and heroes living out the outskirts of society and the music that keeps their stories and memories alive through song. Give a listen....Dmae

Comment on piece: Homosexuality in Uganda

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Review of Homosexuality in Uganda

Gay, bisexual, and transgender rights are becoming the modern day equivalent of the civil rights struggles for blacks during the 1960s. Like the civil rights struggles decades ago, the division and conflict surround gay rights are not a uniquely American concerns. This short program (an odd length at 17:41) overviews the struggles faced by homosexuals (almost exclusively male homosexuals) in Uganda (where homosexuality is both illegal and a strong taboo).

The program feels incomplete and leaves the listener with a lot of questions. Listeners are left to wonder, specifically, why the producers decided to highlight homophobia in Uganda (as compared to--well--any other nation in the word)? Sure, terrible things have happened there, but (unfortunately) persecution of homosexuals is hardly unique to Uganda--or even Africa.

Secondly, the listening experience is somewhat flat--the listener isn't left with much of an idea what they are supposed to do with this information. Not that the program should contain a call advocacy, but the program bludgeons you with details about these terrible stories, leaving the listener a bit numbed but strangely unmoved.

An answer to this might have been to spend more time with the victims of discrimination and persecution. They appear in the program just long enough to share the basic details of their oppression and then are gone. Such treatment diminishes their humanity and relatability to listeners. Their stories would be significantly more powerful if we understood they entire dynamic of their lives.

Comment on piece: Johnny Comes Home

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Review of Johnny Comes Home

this piece is a quiet,emotionally charged and intimate interlude into the mind and subtle suffering a soldier takes home with him from the war. it inspires me to motivate and speak out against war and it's human costs...both the brutal bloodshed and it's quiet human damage to a person's life.

Comment on piece: Kitty Keeps On Singing

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

I've re-listened and am re-reviewing because the producer recently made some production changes. So subjective, the review business. Today the piece seems stronger, or maybe my mood is different. In any event, I continue to applaud the honoring of this grandmother's strong spirit, and it's still great to hear the home-recordings of Kitty belting out a song. The writing is good throughout, there's a nice blend of text and music of the period, and Kitty is brought to life. She lived through tough times, and the piece feels timely at this particular moment. This is a fine personal offering for Mother's or Memorial Day programming.

Comment on piece: Spring Clean/The "Junk Shrink"

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Review of Spring Clean/The "Junk Shrink"

I'm not really a big fan of the typical "public radio essay"...they usually don't pass my "So what?" test. But this one worked so well the "so what" question seemed moot. It's fun, it's easy to get "hooked", the writing is clever,the delivery is fresh and real, it was personal without being self-centered...it's a nice light touch that will make listeners chuckle.