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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

I really enjoyed listening to this on WFUV (New York, NY). The members of the panel were all insightful and provacative, as well as lively and entertaining.

Comment on piece: Mock Funding Credits

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Review of Mock Funding Credits

Thank you. Thank you for this clever bit of writing poking fun at underwriting credits. Public Radio takes itself a bit too seriously -- just listen to the fund drives. This short piece, however, offers a great way for listeners and staff to giggle at our own expense. Thank you.

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Review of Confusionism (deleted)

Short piece of Bushisms. I'm not sure where this would fit, maybe in a montage of funny things Bush has said or done?

Comment on piece: The Anniversary Party

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Review of The Anniversary Party

I'd like to hear pieces like this in between some not-too-serious fare so as to liven up the airwaves a bit. This is pretty dark and might get the phones going if that is what you are looking for. Any show or station looking for a little more attitude that most PR stations have might look to air pieces like "The Anniversary Party."

Comment on piece: Little Odessa in Brooklyn

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Review of Little Odessa in Brooklyn

This might be the best mini-documentary I've ever heard. Well produced with a lot of found sound and appropriate interviews. Very good variety of sound. This piece would fit on any PR station in an area with a large recent immigrant population, especially Russian; someplace like Spokane, WA, might have an interest in this piece.

Comment on piece: 50 States in 5 Minutes

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Review of 50 States in 5 Minutes

Hey, this isn't the kind of thing you hear every day. I sort of wished you knew which state *every* song was linked to, but most of them were self-evident and it was a really satisfying listen. If the piece were nested in the right context, it would be the kind of thing you'd tell people you heard and be grateful to the eccentric person who took the trouble to make it, and to public radio for putting it on.

I should mention that this piece is the tip of the iceberg. The producer has put up ALL 50 STATE SONGS IN THEIR ENTIRETY here on the PRX, enough for a weekly series for a year!

Comment on piece: Johnny Comes Home

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Review of Johnny Comes Home

Rupa Marya’s documentary “Johnny Come Home” tells the story of Marine Veteran John Marchelleta’s recent experience in Iraq. Told retrospectively, Marchelleta’s narration captures how the uncertainty of death breeds contradiction. A lone violin sets a fitting ambiance as the marine remembers one night in the desert that changed his life forever. Following a strict mandate and using the extensive skills and recourses provided by the military, Marchelleta remembers the night his battalion was ambushed by Bath loyalists. The following morning’s discovery of the dismembered bodies of two young girls forced Marchelleta to question the purpose of the U.S. led invasion and sketched an image in his memory that still haunts him months after returning home.

Marya’s documentary captures the horrific realities of war and through its narrative provides a very personal feel. Marchelleta comments that the, “war is about getting Saddam out, not sacrificing people”. The documentary succeeds in demonstrating this contradiction and the dire affects it holds both for the victims of war and those caught under the wheels of the war machine they once believed in.

Comment on piece: Kohler Factory

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Review of Kohler Factory

Solid arts feature. The kids voices at the top are full of life and the sonic arrangement flows well, although it bogs down a bit in the middle. If you were doing a series on artists or residencies, this would be a good addition. I think the visual environment might have been better drawn. I didn't get enough mental pictures and I know there must have been plenty available. You'll need to cut off Kurt Anderson's Studio 360 intro and outro, and you need to be careful of an ambience cut at the end. It would be better to upload pieces like this without the program hosts.

Comment on piece: Elviscop

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Review of Elviscop

Profiles are not usually my thing but this is a delightful and beautifully produced piece. A graceful and entertaining blend of many sounds and voices--the Elviscop, those who work with him, his fans and, of course, the King himself -- that are woven together in a way that is surprising, funny and touching all at once. A tribute to Elvis and the inherent value of following your dreams...whatever they may be.

Comment on piece: An Insider's View of Freak Radio

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Review of An Insider's View of Freak Radio

A solid straightforward news-type piece on the state of things at Freak Radio. Given it's a "pirate station", I was hoping for something a little more edgy, some more examples of what IS on the air. I was curious about the station's "personality" - (though everyone's on-air names are intriguing....Reckless, Skidmark, Uncle Dennis). Since there wasn't an actual news item then I think this might have been more engaging as a portrait piece - not just talking heads. In fact this piece is good background but this listener wants to hear/know more. notes to producer.

Comment on piece: Christmas in the Trenches

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Review of Christmas in the Trenches

Nice mixing of music and actualities. Mood fits an evening show, perhaps "cross-themed" with peace and war issues. Would be a excellent series part on music related to war.

Comment on piece: NYC Taxi Medallions

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Review of NYC Taxi Medallions

A very informative piece. Professional sounding - rich mix of narration, interview clips and sound effects. Awesome voice. This producer is certainly talented.

Comment on piece: This American Cheese

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Review of This American Cheese

I'm with Kyle. This guy's nailed the TAL way. It's no stirring indictment - there's no bite like you might expect from a top notch Gouda or Gorgonzola - but hey, for 2:35 minutes, it deserves a chance to shine on air and garners its share of chuckles. Well-produced, coherent.

Comment on piece: Katie Becomes a Mom

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Review of Katie Becomes a Mom

This story itself is very powerful and very moving. But Katie tells it in one fell swoop. I was waiting for a break, even just a pause in her story so the sad, poignant parts would stand out and I could process them. The story is told very clearly, one thing happened after the other. I just wanted some pauses so it could sink in.

Comment on piece: Spam-o-Rama!

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Review of Spam -o-Rama!

That’s right folks SPAM is no longer the plain Ham in a can your mother knew. With inventively named dishes and spokespersons like Spamish Rice and Spamela Anderson respectively, this mostly pork dish is reaching new heights of culinary enlightenment.

In this piece producer John Basile takes a humorous look at a local Maine tradition by the name of SPAM-O-Rama. The piece is fun, light not at all to serious and just a plain good time to listen to. The audio quality is good as is the narrative writing, I certainty got a good laugh in and found myself craving of all things… Well you know.

Comment on piece: Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder

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Review of Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder

Some truly lovely tape here. Kelly is totally sweet -- I love his opening scene, and there's another bit of wonderful tape from him towards the end. What we have here is a bicycle encased in vaseline, and a teenager who talks about the seat of a fast bike as being his favorite place to pray. Beautiful.

The mom, though, feels superfluous. I'd rather have spent the time getting deeper into Kelly's world. He's such a sweetie, and he somehow doesn't seem to know how appealing and unusual he is, but there's that loneliness -- he can't find a soul to shoot baskets with. What's going on with this kid?

Alternatively, you might go the less-is-more route, use the existing tape of Kelly, and tighten this into a 2-minute piece. Give us something that whirrs past headed down the mountain, and leaves us wanting more.

True confessions: I was lured to this piece by seeing that Gillian Welch is in the mix. So maybe I'm too close to the music to have a valid perspective, but my main quibble with this piece does have to do with the use of music. I often felt distracted from the main story by trying to track the correspondences, and the non-correspondences, between the song and the two characters. (The music levels are also a bit hot.) It may be that the only thing standing in the way of this being an utterly delightful piece is the urge to match the story to the music. Dare to lose it. Try to find the shape of the story that comes from Kelly. You might do better by having the narrative carried along by wild sound, instead of by the song -- you could figure out a way to tape Kelly actually cruising on his bike, then use that as your "traveling music." There's a lot of promise here, and I'd love to hear it fulfilled -- then, maybe, we could hear some Gillian Welch.

Comment on piece: Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder

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Review of Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder

A nice little slice of life in eastern Kentucky, by way of interviews with a mom and her son, deftly mixed with a Gillian Welch song. He rides a bicycle, which is kind of a big deal around there, she started raising her family when she was 17, which is not such a big deal. The final mix is a visit with some friendly, thoughtful, charming folks, who will give your listeners some insight into how folks around Appalachia think and live. It's a kind of gentle telling, not forced too much, which is kind of how it's done in those parts...

Comment on piece: For the Blood Is the Life

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Review of For the Blood Is the Life

Here's an unusual mix that's sure to turn a few heads: religion, children, and goat-killing. This story provides a fascinating glimpse into Appalachian family life and tradition as it weaves together the laughter of children, the the sweet but final bleats of a yearling goat, some heartfelt biblical testimony, and practical advice on raising and killing goats...
a story with a strong sense of place, tradition and culture.

Comment on piece: City Lights

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Review of City Lights

China is the story of our time and what happens there in the next decade or so will surely shape the world we live in.
I think all journalism about China is incredibly important and this story adds quite a lot to what little I know about the people and the country. This piece could run cut down or perhaps as a series during Morning Edition or ATC; news pegs abound. It could use some smoothing out -- the naration and ambient levels were off in places.

Comment on piece: Dyslexia: Identifying, coping and learning to read.

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Review of Dyslexia: Identifying, coping and learning to read.

When shopping for content to air on their stations, one important criterion many programmers use is whether pieces/programs offer something that a station could not do themselves. When listening to this program, it's hard to feel that this program meets that mark.

The program features a 29-minute telephone interview with a book author about the subject of her book-dyslexia. The content of the interview is pretty boilerplate, offering little surprise or engagement. The interview begins with the first question and rolls forward without much of a sense of purpose or direction.

The audio quality of the guest is an issue as well. Many stations avoid telephone-quality interviews with their own local material (let alone acquired material) unless it the information is too urgent or better facilities aren't available. Since the content of this interview is neither time-sensitive or is the doctor calling from a remote location, the quality standard should be higher.

The host is not as warm and dynamic as one would hope, sounding very restrained and stoic--especially when reading copy. The program does a good job of putting the content first, but perhaps too good a job. The host offers short, quick questions and let's the guests go, and go, and go. The host does ask for occasional clarification, but is hesitant to draw out, challenge, or question the ideas put forth by his guest.