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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-1 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.

And...

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.

Guru_logo1_small

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:

Flop Sweat (#1477)

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

Gerrymanderimage_small Someone who's anxious about performing may break out in a flop sweat, meaning excessive perspiration. The term flop sweat comes from theater slang, and the idea of sweating profusely due to nervousness that a production will flop. In the film Broadcast News, Albert Brooks's character breaks into a flop sweat when he finally gets a shot at hosting the newscast, only to be so rattled that he starts sweating heavily, to the point where it soaks right through his shirt.

The term Re: in a message header, means "regarding" or "with reference to," but it's not an abbreviation for either one of those things. It comes from a form of the Latin word res meaning "matter" or "thing." The hosts discuss strategies for making an email subject line more efficient.

A listener in New York City wonders about how to pronounce gerrymander, which means "to redraw the lines of an electoral district so as to favor a particular political party." The term comes a joking reference to Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 presided over such a redistricting. Gerry pronounced his name with a hard g, and for a while, the term gerrymandering also retained that pronunciation. In the absence of audible mass media, the name spread, but the pronunciation varied. By 1850, for example, an Indiana politician alluded to this variation, declaring, "You are constantly gerrymandering the State, or jerrymandering, as I maintain the word should be pronounced, the g being soft."

The World Tae Kwan Do Federation has dropped  the word Federation from its name, and will no longer be known as the WTF. As the organization's president explained: "In the digital age, the acronym of our federation has developed negative connotations unrelated to our organization and so it was important that we rebranded to better engage with our fans."

Quiz Guy John Chaneski's musical puzzle is based on the solfege system of the syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti. Each answer is composed of combinations or repetitions of those notes. For example, if the musical question is about a bird that's now extinct, what's the musical answer?

The word vintage, from the Latin word vinum, or "wine," originally applied to the yield of vineyard during a specific season or a particular place. Over time, vintage came to be applied to automobiles, and eventually to clothing. The term vintage clothing suggests more than simply "old clothes" or "hand-me-downs"; it carries an additional connotation of taste and style and flair.

Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner has written about the popular fish dish called poke, which takes its name from a Hawaiian word that means "to cut crosswise." Many other foods take their names for the way they're sliced, including mozzarella, feta, scrod, schnitzel, and even the pea dish called dahl, which goes back ultimately to a Sanskrit word meaning "to split." The way poke traveled between Hawaii and the mainland mirrors the migration of many other words.

A New York City man wonders if there's any truth to the story that New Yorkers say they stand on line, as opposed to in line, because of lines painted on the floor at Ellis Island. Although such lines are useful for managing large queues, the origin of this usage is uncertain. What we do know is that New Yorkers have been using on line in this way for at least 100 years.

Mark Twain and Helen Keller enjoyed a close, enduring friendship. When he learned that she was mortified to have once been accused of plagiarism, he sent her a fond letter as touching as it was reassuring.    

A San Diego, California, man recalls working on a cruise ship with a Canadian who insisted the proper phrase is not Let me buy you a beer, but Let me pay you a beer. Is that construction ever correct?

We've talked before about surprising local pronunciations, like the name of a particular town or street.  A term or pronunciation that distinguishes locals from outsiders is called a shibboleth. The word derives from the biblical story of the warring Gileadites and Ephraimites. Gileadites would demand that fleeing Ephraimites pronounce the word shibboleth, and if they could not, because their own language lacked an sh sound, they were exposed as the enemy and executed on the spot.  

To groak is an obscure verb that means "to look longingly at something, as a dog begging for food. In the Scots language, it's more commonly spelled growk.

A woman in Monkton, Vermont, says that when she and her 91-year-old mother return from a leisurely drive, her mother will proclaim That was a nice ride around the gool. The phrase going around the gool appears in the Dictionary of American Regional English in a 1990 citation from Vermont. It appears to come from an older Scots word that could mean "a hollow between hills" or some sort of "anatomical cleft."

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.