Playlist: News Station Picks for December
Compiled By: PRX Curators
Here are the December picks for news stations from PRX News Format Curator Naomi Starobin.
This month, a range of pieces in terms of format and time, but with a theme: compelling pieces about cultural stereotypes. Each of them gives listeners lots to think about, because each digs honestly into the origin of stereotypes and the impact they have on individuals and society. All of these stand alone, but would also pair nicely with more newsy pieces about the same cultural group. The subject is good for any season...take a listen!
From Karen Brown | 05:02
A nicely produced, sound-rich piece about cheerleaders at Smith College. Lots of stereotypes challenged here, as the squad is anything but traditional. One feminist alumna says "I can't believe there are cheerleaders at Smith!"
Karen Brown is a reporter/producer at WFCR Public Radio in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Smith College "Spirit Squad" set off a controversy this fall when 70s and 80s-era alumnae learned that their historically feminist, academically-rigorous school would be taking part in the most stereotypically "unfeminist" type of activity. But the cheerleaders on the squad insist that they're simply refusing to obey traditional boundaries of what is feminist. What's more feminist than cheering for women athletes?
From Voices of Youth - Moab | 03:31
In this piece, we hear directly from skaters (that would be skateboarders), voicing their concerns about how they're perceived: "We're just a bunch of kids having fun...it isn't a cult or a group of troublemakers always breaking the law."
There's a music bed under the whole piece that keeps the energy up and makes it feel a bit like one of those skateboarding highlights DVDs.
The reporter, from Voices of Youth (Moab, Utah) did a nice job getting the skaters' voices and conveying sincerity.
This comes from independent reporter/producer Keliang Jiang, who is also program controller at London Chinese Radio.
We hear lots of voices, both Chinese and western, carefully unfolding the cultural stereotypes attached to Chinese people, culture and government. It looks thoughtfully at the stereotypes westerners have of China, ranging from a romanticized version of ancient wisdom to "big bad China." This is very timely, as China's role on the world stage and depiction in the media evolves.
Is the “Rising Oriental Giant” China really as scary as some people predicted? Is what we see in current media coverage really the way it should be interpreted? This 10 Minute Radio Feature challenges the stereotype of China may be interpreted differently by everyone including you. Ryan Jiang brings you Isabel Hilton, presenter of "Night Wave" in BBC Radio 3 who is also the editor in Chief of "China Dialogue" Website, Ruhua Xianyu, Presenter from BBC World Service Chinese Service and Andrea Snavely who resigned after Ryan had interviewed her from "China Dialogue". All together they will discuss about the "Real China" that may exist or not. The content may appear to be a little bit offensive to some people.
Whatever stereotypes your listeners may have about secretaries, this essay by Yolanda O'Bannon gets in there and wrestles them. Like the other essays in the This I Believe series, it's personal and direct. One of the more poignant points she makes is that she's glad she picked a job she loves, as opposed to one that may be easier to tell people about at a cocktail party.
HOST: Yolanda O'Bannon lives in Richmond, California, but she's traveled the world--Spain, Japan, Northern India -- usually alone. It was closer to home, however, that she discovered her belief. Here is Yolanda O'Bannon with her essay for This I Believe. O'BANNON: I believe in being what I am instead of what sounds good to the rest of the world. Last year, I left a job I hated as a programmer for a job I love as an executive assistant, which is just a fancy word for secretary. I still feel a little embarrassed when people ask me about my new job. Not because of what I do, but because of what some people, including myself, have thought of secretaries. I had always thought that secretaries were nice and maybe competent but not smart or strong or original. I have a Master's degree in English Literature, have interviewed the Dalai Lama, and co-founded a nonprofit organization. People who know me wondered why I would go for what seemed to be such a dull and low status job. Even my new boss asked if I would be bored. Why would I want to be a secretary? Because it fits me like a glove. I get to do what I love best all day, which is, organize things. I like the challenge of holding the focus on the top priorities in my boss's wildly busy schedule. I can function with a high degree of chaos. Untangling finances feels like playing detective to me. I find filing restful. The only hard part is dealing with my own and other people's stereotypes, and learning to focus on internal rewards rather than humble appearances. I admit that I feel vaguely embarrassed bringing the faculty lunch or serving coffee to my boss' visitors. But deep down I don?t believe that serving food is humiliating. Really, I think of it as a practice in humility. My husband is Tibetan. In Tibetan communities, you serve each other tea as a form of respect. When I?m serving coffee at work, I imagine that I?m serving a monk. Whenever I get down or defensive about being a secretary, I think of those sharp, fast-talking assistants on "The West Wing," and how they speak in paragraphs and remember everything, and I feel pretty cool. Sometimes I just look around at my fellow secretaries?savvy and articulate women who are masters at multi-tasking. I know I?m in good company. I?ve done a lot of solo travel in my life?in New Zealand, Japan, Africa and India. Taking this job was harder than any of that. When I said I was going to spend a year in northern India, I'd get points. When I said I was going to be a secretary, people wondered what happened to me. It would be easier if I were someone whose skills were more respected and better compensated?a doctor, an architect, a scientist. I would feel cool when I meet someone at a party. But a friend reminded me that you only have to talk about what you do for five minutes at parties, but you have to live what you do every day of your life, so better to do what you love, and forget about how it looks. And this, I believe.
Great access in this piece to some American soldiers' attitudes toward Iraqis. Some of this is not pretty, but like the other pieces in this month's picks, uncomfortable subjects are hit head-on and dissected a bit. We hear not only from the soldiers, but a war correspondent, an Iraqi and a professor.
Phillip Martin is the reporter. He's the executive producer for Lifted Veils Productions, a non-profit public radio journalism company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to exploring issues that divide society.
According to some of the men and women who fought there, as well as reporters, Iraqis in general are viewed by many U.S combatants as "towel heads", camel jockies and worse. Recent testimony at the so-called Winter Soldier hearings near Washington DC revealed that the use of pejorative descriptions for Iraqis is common-place. How does it affect the way Iraqis regard American soldiers. Phillip Martin explains.
From SpiritHouse Inc/Youth Noise Network | 10:46
Each month I like to include at least one piece from a youth radio program. Who better to talk about teen drivers — and the assumptions made about them — than teens?
This piece moves along nicely with a rhythmic music bed, and lots of teen voices, many of which address dealing with the attitudes and the reality...one teen says "everybody expects you to crash in the first six months." We also hear from parents and cops.
It ends with a rather long "shout-out" by reporter Emmanuel Watson of Youth Noise Network, out of Durham, North Carolina.
In Durham, North Carolina, like elsewhere around the country, teens get into accidents which often result in fatalities. Roll on a journey with Riverside High School junior Emmanuel Watson as he talks to brand new drivers. They tell him what they learned in drivers' ed, how their parents feel about them driving, stereotypes of teen drivers, and what are the main problems with teens driving. Everybody has something to say about this, including a member of law enforcement, a drivers' ed teacher, and parents of teen drivers, including his own mother, who tells Emmanuel, "I'm going to have faith that you can drive."