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Comments for Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

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Produced by Scott Gurian (sgurian@earthlink.net)

Other pieces by Scott Gurian

Summary: An introduction to the tradition of noodling, the sport of catching giant catfish with your bare hands
 

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

This is something to aspire towards. I must say pieces like this are special to me. Growing up around hunters and woodsmen like dudes. I can't help but feel connected to Thomas. Like he's a lost uncle.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

"If you know what yer doin you kin git by pretty well okay. But you kin git drownded -- git on up in a hole, git hit by a fish, knocked out, and drown. There's several different ways."
-- Thomas Riggs, 38-year Noodling veteran.

It's hard to have this much fun in six minutes, but that's the trick of Scott Gurian's fish tale, "Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma". If Saveur magazine delivers "authentic" cuisine, Gurian serves up "authentic audio" here – plenty of splashing, panting, and shooting the breeze. Really, this story makes you proud to be American – you can add Thomas and his fish to your list with Mom and apple pie.

Okay, I'll admit it. Like Thomas Riggs, I "learnt myself" catfish noodling when I was a boy. (In the Yankee version you lay on your belly on the bank of a brook with hands numbingly submerged until the catfish swims into the slow eddy where you're camouflaged. Then, straight-armed and two-handed, you catapult him onto the grass, a flying, swimming, arching cat headed for dinner.) I was not, like Riggs, "hungry... and left standing by a set of railroad tracks in Jerome, Idaho, when I was 7". Rather, it was summertime, I didn't have a fishing pole, and, well, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Which should be said about airing Scott Gurian's "Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma". It puts the "nation" back in NPR.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

This is the sort of thing that makes you proud to be a part of the human race. The Annual Oakie Noodling Tournament ????
The amusing thing about this piece is that the narrator is SUCH a contrast to the protagonist voice. The stable guiding voiceup next to a force that is teeming with gusto. You want to know more of the noodler, but the narrator somehow pulls you back to the subject at hand. Irresistible.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

Location, location, location. In what part of the world are your listeners sitting when they hear a piece on public radio? I'm sitting in southwestern Oklahoma. While I've never personally met a catfish noodler, I'm familiar with the sport; and while it does take a daredevil spirit, (perhaps aided by some alcohol), to thrust one's hand into the mouth of a catfish, I have never viewed the people who participated in the sport as part of an "oddball subculture" as alluded to by another reviewer. Granted noodling is not golf or tennis, but it's certainly a colorful sport. Scott Gurion's report takes the brilliantly colored radio spectrum and blasts it all over the air waves like a many hued paint gun. Audio is very clear. I felt like I was there with Thomas and Scott, bending over into the reddish brown waters of the North Canadian River, grubbing my fingers down into the sides of the riverbank, holding my breath, waiting for that first brush of a catfish's whiskers. Great piece for the summertime. Well done.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

It's essential for anyone covering a largely unknown, odd-ball subculture to find an eccentric character that will carry the story. Scott Gurian has no trouble in that department with Thomas Riggs, the protagonist in this charming piece. Riggs' descriptions of noodling as he trudges through the water and the sound of his grunts as he struggles with his prey are some of the most delightfully surprising on-location audio I've heard in a while. The straightforward, almost-bland style of reporting only serves to make the piece even more hilarious; Scott acts somewhat like a straight-man in a comedy routine.