Playlist: News Station Picks for August '10
Compiled By: PRX Curators
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., parts of the ancient city of Pompeii remained intact, including the graffiti written on its walls. Much of what was written, not unlike today's bathroom etchings, is naughty and boastful, with people like Celadus the Thracian claiming to be the one who "makes the girls moan."
A Tallahassee, Florida, mother who texted her daughter in a hurry accidentally asked about the "baby woes," meaning "baby wipes," and came to the conclusion that we need a new phrase: read between the autocorrect.
If you watch British police procedurals, you'll likely come across the term to grass someone, meaning "to inform on someone" or "to rat someone out." It’s a bit of British rhyming slang that originated with the 19th-century phrase to shop on someone. That gave us the noun shopper, which became grasshopper, and then got shortened to grass.
A Japanese version of the idiom the grass is always greener translates to "the neighbor's flowers are red."
The word hornswoggle, meaning "to embarrass" or "to swindle," is of unclear origin, but definitely seems of a piece with U.S. frontier slang from the 1830s and 1840s.
Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a game called Dictum wherein he gives us a word, like contrary or emasculate, and we have to guess the closest bold-faced word that comes after it in the dictionary. Tougher than you might think!
A listener whose first language is Farsi wonders if the name of the grandma in the classic film An Affair to Remember, gave us the endearment nanu, for grandmother. In Mediterranean countries, words like nanu, nana, nene and nona are all common terms for "granny."
Here's a truism that often appeared scribbled in ancient wall graffiti: I wonder, oh wall, that you have not yet collapsed. So many writers' cliches do you bear.
The term spitting game, meaning "to flirt," comes from African-American slang going back to at least the 1960's, when game referred to someone's hustle. It's well covered in Randy Kearse's Street Talk: Da Official Guide to Hip-Hop and Urban Slanguage.
Martha recalls that as an English major, she nearly memorized William Zinsser's On Writing Well. He died this month at age 92, and she'll remember this quote, among others: "Ultimately, the product any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is...I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest me — some scientific quest, perhaps. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field."
A listener from northern New Jersey says that in his part of the state, a sloppy joe was not the mashed-up ground beef sandwich many of us also know as a loose meat sandwich, spoonburger, or tavern. For him, a sloppy joe was a deli meat sandwich that consisted of things like pastrami, turkey, coleslaw, Russian dressing and rye bread.
Here's a lovely bit of ancient graffiti found on the wall of an inn: "We have wet the bed. I admit, we were wrong, my host. If you ask why, there was no chamberpot."
Pro wrestling, a fake sport with a very real following, has a trove of lingo all its own that can be found in the newsletter and website PW Torch. One saying, red means green, refers to the fact that a wrestler who winds up bloody will get a prettier payout for his or her performance. And kayfabe is a wrestler's character persona, which he or she often keeps up for any public appearance, even outside the ring.
A fan of Bruce Springsteen's song "Dancing in the Dark" called to say that she's noticed the lyrics are awfully sad for such a peppy tune, and wonders if there’s a word for this phenomenon. Lyrical dissonance would do the job, but there’s also the term agathokakological, a Greek-influenced word meaning "both good and evil."
One listener followed up our discussion of classic literary passages turned into limerick form by writing one of his own, a baseball-themed poem that begins, "There once was a batter named Casey."
Vermont is one place—but not the only one—where non-natives are referred to as flatlanders, and people who've been around generations proudly call themselves woodchucks. It’s written about on Shawn Kerivan's blog, Innkeeping Insights in Stowe.
The Climbing Dictionary by Matt Samet includes a fantastic term that can be used by non-climbers as well: high gravity day, a day when all routes, even easy ones, seem impossible due to a seeming increase in gravity.
The expression to a T comes from a shortening of tittle, a word meaning a little of something. The word tittle even shows up in the bible. There's also an idiom to the teeth, as in dressed to the teeth, or fully armored-up.
This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.