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Playlist: News Station Picks for August '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39046851@N08/4581150872/">Mutasim Billah</a>
Image by: Mutasim Billah 
Curated Playlist

Here are August picks for news stations from PRX News Format Curator Naomi Starobin.

What Naomi listens for in news programming.

Maybe these slow news days of August have you thinking about something fresh, new and lively. Well, you can’t give each of your listeners a yappy puppy, but how about a new series? Great stuff out there. I had a look around on PRX and it was hard to pick just a few. This list displays a range from series with short interstitial pieces that you can plug in to a news magazine or show, to longer ones that would make great choices for weekend hours that right now just aren’t quite dazzling your audience. Have a listen!

Volunteers and Design

From Smart City Radio | 59:00

This is one in the series from Smart City Radio. All of the pieces are about cities...sometimes specific cities and how people are dealing with particular problems (Detroit, Syracuse), and other segments, like this one, are issue-oriented. These are heady and intellectual, and well-suited for an audience that is concerned or curious about urban life and its future.

It's hosted by Carol Coletta.

Default-piece-image-2 Ten years ago, two undergrads from Yale noticed the fundamental gap between their university and the community surrounds it.  To bridge this divide they formed the volunteer training organization that's now known as LIFT.  We'll speak with Ben Reuler, the executive director of LIFT, about harnessing the energy of students to engage them in the community and help combat poverty.


Good design can do many things, but can it change the world?  My guest Warren Berger has written a book on how design is doing just that.  The book, titled Glimmer,  shows how design in action addressing business, social, and personal challenges, and improving the way we think, work, and live.

Unconventional Archaeology -- Groks Science Show 2010-07-28

From Charles Lee | Part of the Groks Science Radio Show series | 29:42

For that half-hour time slot, go science! Lots of lively interviews in these segments, along with commentaries and a question-of-the-week. This series is produced in Chicago and Tokyo by Dr. Charles Lee and Dr. Frank Ling, who also host the show. They are natural and curious, and lean toward short questions and long answers.

There are pieces on cancer-sniffing dogs, outsmarting your genes, number theory, ant adventures, and lots more, displaying great breadth.

It's geared to listeners who are interested in science...no college level inorganic chem required.

Grokscience_small Archaeology is often portrayed as a romantic adventure to the remote corners of the globe. But, what is the life of an archaeologist really like? On this program, Dr. Donald Ryan discussed unconventional archaeology.  For more information, visit the website: www.groks.net.

Are Freckles Just Cute or Something More?

From Dueling Docs | Part of the Dueling Docs series | 02:02

Dueling Docs is a great idea, well executed. Each two-minute piece answers a simple medical or health question. The host, Dr. Janice Horowitz, lays out a question (Should you get cosmetic surgery? Is dying your hair bad for you? Can stretching make you more prone to injury?), presents opposing views, and concludes with advice.

This would fit in nicely during a weekend or weekday news show. A good two minutes.

Duelingdocs_prx_logo_medium_small While the rest of the media doesn't bother to challenge the latest news flash, Dueling Docs always presents the other side of a medical issue, the side that most everyone ignores.  Janice gets doctors to talk frankly about controversial health matters - then she sorts things out, leaving the listener with a no-nonsense take-home message

Reading Russian Fortunes

From Rachel Louise Snyder | Part of the Global Guru Radio series | 03:03

This series, Global Guru, claims to "ask one simple question -- just one -- about somewhere in the world." Those questions have included: "How do the Hopi bring rain to the desert?" "How and why do Thai people categorize their food?" "Why are there so many barbershops in Tanzania?" This is a great series of three-minute pieces you can squeeze into just about any hour. Rachel Louise Snyder out of Washington, DC is the producer. She says "each week, our mandate is to surprise listeners." Your listeners would say she succeeds.


The Global Guru is a weekly public radio show that seeks to celebrate global culture, particularly in countries where Americans have either single narrative story lines, like Afghanistan (war), Thailand (sex tourism), Rwanda, (genocide), or perhaps no story lines at all, like East Timor, Moldova, Malta, Lesotho, etc. Engaging and rich in sound, the 3:00 interstitial seeks to enrich our collective understanding of the vastness of human experience. Presenting station is WAMU in Washington, DC and sponsored by American University in DC. Some of our favorite past shows include: How do Cambodians predict the harvest each year? How did Tanzania become the capitol of barbershops? How and why does Thailand categorize food? What is Iceland’s most feared culinary delight? How do you track a Tasmanian devil? What are the hidden messages in Zulu beadwork?

A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Public radio listeners, as you know, are curious and intelligent. And they are, as you know, sticklers for language. Satisfy their curiosity with this hour-long series. It's hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, who talk about word usage and origin, and take questions from callers. Often those questions center around a word or expression that the caller recalls from childhood and is curious about. The mood is informal and the hosts joust a bit in a friendly way with their answers.

Most recent piece in this series:

Little Pitchers (#1359)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

Pitcher_small Can reading poetry make you a better writer? The way poetry pushes up against the rules of grammar makes it a great teacher even for the writing of standard prose. And while plenty of poems are best comprehended by the wise and mature, hip-hop is a form that's more emotional and less subtle, and over at rapgenius.com, avid followers of hip-hop have annotated lyrics to tell the stories and meanings behind them. Is there a type of poetry that really moves you?

Veronica, who grew up in Liverpool, England, has noticed that kerfuffle is a favorite term among American journalists talking about our political situation, though it's much more common across the pond. This word for a disturbance or a bother comes from Scotland, but it's been picked up in the United States, where it's often pronounced as kerfluffle.

How do you get rid of the hiccups? Have someone scare you? Hold your breath? We hear thinking of six bald men may just do the trick!

When it comes to trail mix, the peanuts may just as well be packing peanuts—all we really want is the chocolate! But if you're one of those people who dig for the M&Ms and leave the rest, you might be accused of high-grading. This term comes from the mining industry in the early 1900s, when gold miners would sneak the good pieces into their lunch pails. What stuff would you admit to high-grading?

A while back, our Quiz Guy John Chaneski gave us a game of aptronyms, and your answers are still pouring in. Like, what do you call two guys over a window? How about Kurt n' Rod?

For this week's game, Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a word puzzle for license plate readers. Might those first three letters stand for a longer word? For example, MMT might be short for mathematics, while MMX could be flummox. The object of this game is to think of the shortest answers possible. Can you think of any with fewer letters?

What's the difference between champing at the bit and faunching at the bit? Champing, or chomping, means you're pumped up and ready to go, while faunching—more common in the Southwest—implies more anger and frustration. Which do you use?

When adults are talking sex, money, or other adult topics in the presence of children, one might say "little pitchers have big ears," meaning that they don't want the little ones to hear. The expression has to do with beverage pitchers with handles curved like ears. What do you say when you wish you could cover the kids' ears or make them leave the room?

High-grading, or stealing choice bits of something, is mentioned a book by David G. Rasmussen called The Man Who Moiled For Gold. Moil itself is an interesting term, meaning "to become wet and muddy from work." It comes from the Latin word mollis, meaning "soft," which is also the source of our word mollify.

It's hard to hold a baby when he's rutching around. Rutching, or rutsching, which means slipping, sliding and squirming around comes from German, and is used in areas influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch. What do you call it when infants start wriggling and shimmying all over the place?

You might use the phrase pear-shaped to describe someone who's wide in the hips, but to say everything went pear-shaped can also mean that things went wrong. This slang term was among the members of Britain's Royal Air Force during the Falkland Islands War, referring to the fact that when planes would crash, they'd crunch into the shape of a pear.

Martha's enthusiastic about the book Poetry 180: A Turning Back To Poetry, edited by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins. One gem in there by Robley Wilson called "I Wish in the City of Your Heart" provides a lovely image of that moment when the rain stops and the rutching kids can run outside.

Despite the reach of television and pop culture, American English is growing ever more diverse in terms of dialect. Grant shows how it's possible to pinpoint your region of origin--or at least come close--based on the way you pronounce the word bag. Of course, whether you call a carbonated beverage soda, pop or Coke also depends on what part of the country you're from. Same with sofa, couch or davenport. Although we still tend to pick up faddish words from other regions, local dialects continue to thrive, and there are plenty of quizzes out there to prove it. Linguist Bert Vaux's American Dialect Survey includes helpful maps based on the answers that speakers in the United States give to 122 questions about regional words and phrases.

Nowadays we think of the gridiron as the football field, but in the 14th century, a gridiron was a cooking instrument with horizontal bars placed over an open flame. Since then, gridiron has lent its name to a Medieval torture device, the American flag, and it's even the source of the terms grid and gridlock.

Why do people up and quit? Can't they just…quit? In the 1300s, the phrase up and followed by an action literally meant you got up and did something. Today, it's taken the figurative meaning of doing something with vigor and enthusiasm, and it's often used with speaking verbs. When's the last time you up and did something?

When you hear that little pitchers have big ears, do you think of a lemonade pitcher or a baseball pitcher? In The Wisdom of Many: Essays On The Proverb, Wolfgang Mieder points out that a lot of people think it refers to a Little League pitcher with big ears sticking out of their baseball cap, though it's really about a drink pitcher. Still, that's no excuse for yelling nasty things at Little League games!

Has ain't gone out of fashion? Teachers have succeeded in stigmatizing the word, and it's also not such a common pet peeve any more. But the biggest reason you don't hear it as much is because it's no longer used in fiction and movies. Nowadays, it's more common to hear ain't used in certain idioms, like say it ain't so. Let us know if you're still hearing it, or if you've taken it upon yourself to preserve the word.

This episode was hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett.