Playlist: John Barth's Favorites
Compiled By: John Barth
I listen to a lot. Some stuff I like.
This program won an honorable mention from Third Coast 2012. The opening gives me chills. PRX helped make this happen, but I think this is one of the best, hmm..memorials to the losses on 911 I have heard. It gets the right emotional tone without being mawkish or false. Hard to do.
Ten years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, as part of WNYC's "Decade: 9/11" coverage, this special explores New Yorkers' most visceral and immediate emotional reactions to the attack on the World Trade Center and how they are - and are not -- still with us today.
Fear and shock, grief and guilt, anger, gratitude and solidarity -- these emotions overwhelmed many New Yorkers along with the billowing cloud of smoke and debris after the Towers collapsed.
WNYC's award-winning news team spent days, months, and then years reporting on the attacks and their aftermath. Through a mix of their recordings at the time and interviews with people ten years later, WNYC reporter Marianne McCune guides us through the stories of people who were directly impacted by what happened and have been struggling for a decade to make sense of it.
For more on WNYC's "Decade Nine Eleven" project, please visit our website:
99% Invisible (Standard Length) (Series)
Produced by Roman Mars
I work with Roman so color me biased. But 99% Invisible is brilliant in its originality: pacing, range of topics and ideas and the power of audio to tell a story. Roman is one of THE best.
Most recent piece in this series:
Here’s a trick: if you want to design a kickass flag, start by drawing a one-by-one-and-a half inch rectangle on a piece of paper.
A design at these dimensions held 15 inches from your eye looks about the same as a three-by-five foot flag on a flagpole a hundred feet away.
Your design has to work within that tiny rectangle, because unlike other designed objects, a flag is usually seen at a distance. It is also often in motion and partially obscured.
Given those limitations, it’s surprising how simple and compelling.
Vexillologists—those who study flags—tend to fall into one of two schools of thought. The first is one that focuses on history, category, and usage, and maintains that vexillologists should be scholars and historians of all flags, regardless of their designs.
The other school of vexillology, however, maintains that not all flags are created equal, and that flags can and should be redesigned, and improved.
Ted Kaye of the Portland Flag Association—the largest subnational flag organization in the country—is one such vexillologist. Kaye has a word for these activist vexillologists of his ilk who go out into the world and lobby for more beautiful flags: “vexillonaires.”
You’ll remember from episode #6 that the principles of flag design, according to the North American Vexillological Association, are:
1. Keep it simple
2. Use meaningful symbolism
3. Use two to three basic colors
4. No lettering or seals of any kind.
5. Be distinctive
For some reason, cities of the United States seem to have a lot of trouble with principle #4.
The city of Portland, Oregon, didn’t have an official flag until 1969, when a group proposed a flag to the commercial club of portland. Portland’s mayor at the time brought in the Portland Arts Commission, which brought in local graphic designer Doug Lynch to work on the flag. Lynch asked the stakeholders what was important to them in a flag, and also did his own search for powerful visual imagery for the city.
Lynch came up with an abstract flag design, with blue lines representing the Columbia and Williamette rivers, bordered by stripes of gold representing commerce or grain growing along the rivers, all flowing into a white four-pointed star representing the city. The background color, green, represents the forests.
The city council took Lynch’s flag design and plopped a city seal on it. The flag was rarely flown.
[Portland’s first city flag. Courtesy of Ted Kaye.]
Nearly thirty years later, Doug Lynch, then in his mid-eighties, went to a meeting of the Portland Flag Association. Lynch explained the story of his botched flag to the gathering of vexillologists. At the end of the presentation, Lynch talked all about the changes he wanted to make to the flag (including taking the seal off), and regretted that there was nothing he could do about it.
The vexillologists—nay, vexillonaires—sprang into action. This elite team of historians, manufacturers, and designers agreed to come together on behalf of fixing Portland’s flag. They went to Portland city council and testified on the flag’s behalf. The new/old flag was adopted a week later, and it’s been representing Portland ever since.
Roman Mars spoke with vexillologist and vexillonaire Ted Kaye at his home in Portland. When Roman arrived, he found that Ted had flown the San Francisco flag in Roman’s honor, because that’s what kind of guy Ted Kaye is.
From Latitude News | 10:50
American cod fishermen are broke. Norwegian cod fishermen make $100,000/year. What's up with that?
What’s for dinner? Probably not cod. Cod was once so common in American homes it was simply called “fish.” Now you’ll find cod featured on menus in fancy restaurants. When the cod fishery collapsed in the 1990s, it devastated fishing communities around the world. The American towns still have not recovered; meanwhile, Norway is catching record amounts of cod. What’s so special about Norway? Latitude investigates.
From WKSU | 08:32
Barack Obama needs all of Ohio, but campaigning in rural areas presents special challenges
Ohio Democrats have warned Obama he needs to stump the entire state if he hopes to win it over in November. But campaigning in rural areas presents special problems and challenges, including questions of race and understanding of the economics that mean to most to rural areas.
From Claire Schoen | 29:00
This is a chilling and powerful documentary with a strong point of view. Americans so easily say 'throw 'em in jail and toss away the key.' Well, this piece and this powerful New Yorker article by Atul Gawande explain the consequences of solitary confinement. A timely topic because of the debate about what to do with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Claire Schoen's program goes beyond the New Yorker article--the powerful sensations of sound bring the issue to life. And so do the painful voices of men and women who have survived this form of detention.
Tens of thousands of inmates live in total isolation in America's jails and prisons today. And the number is rapidly growing. Often prisoners spend years – even decades – by themselves in a cell the size of a small bathroom. They don't see anyone. They don't talk to anyone. They don't touch anyone. They are completely alone.
In this half-hour radio documentary, "survivors" of solitary paint a picture of what solitary confinement looks, sounds and feels like. These are the voices of both men and women; Black, White and Latino; old and young.
The effects of sensory deprivation experienced in solitary confinement have been well documented. They include depression, panic attacks, insomnia, paranoia, hypersensitivity, hallucination and psychosis. These psychological effects can be permanent. And often prisoners are released directly from solitary back into society.
U.N. conventions and treaties define this sort of treatment as torture. If we, as a people, continue to brutalize others in this fashion, what does that do to us all as a society?
From Peter Bochan | 12:13
Wow---this brought back so many memories of an amazing summer. What a fantastic montage.
This segment of "A Shortcut Back to 1969" -The Lunar Module, is a mix of the sounds, voices and music of the summer of 1969 featuring original NASA recordings of the launch of Apollo 11, Richard M. Nixon, Neil Armstrong, John F. Kennedy, The 5th Dimension, David Bowie,The Who, The Beach Boys, Burgess Meredith, General Westmoreland, various soldiers and reporters in Vietnam, astronauts, mission control specialists and much more...
Part of a 45th Anniversary look back at 1969
From John Biewen | 03:00
This is one my favorite pieces because it always causes me to tear up. And I don't even HAVE kids. It is beautiful and evocative; it captures what parental love must be like. This piece also demonstrates a real commitment to capture sound -- it covers YEARS in Harper's life. Jon did this for Third Coast and won a deserved award. I can listen to this every week and not get tired of it.
This essay/montage was produced for the Third Coast Audio Festival's 2008 Audio Challenge, Radio Ephemera. The challenge was to produce a piece of no more than three minutes based on any two of five books selected from the Prelinger Library of San Francisco -- and to include the voice of a stranger. "Scared" is based on the books, "Control of Mind and Body," and "The Stork Didn't Bring You!: The Facts of Life for Teenagers." The stranger is the voicemail lady.
Barack Obama-The Campaign for President
Barack Obama - The journey to the White House, reMixed in words & music-introduced by Robert F. Kennedy and featuring Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, John McCain, Chris Rock, Colin Powell, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Steve Harvey, Will. i. am, Hillary Clinton, The Pointer Sisters, The Drifters, John Legend, Homer Simpson, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, Ted Kennedy, FDR, The Little Rascals, Kevin So, Branford Marsalis, M.C. Yogi, Martin Luther King Jr, Sam Cooke, John Lewis, Quiet Village, David Letterman, Tim Russert. Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Matt Damon, Roy Budd, Iron & Wine, Dephazz, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, various politicians, excited voters...and Barack Obama.
Yes We Can!
First, the audio is incredible--sounds we likely will never hear in person; but the layers of sound from a South American jungle are so foreign. Contrast this with the sound of your daily life.
And here is the first world meeting...the ancient world. The ruining of the old, in the name of good intentions. A horror. "The plane was a winged spirit...it was the dead flying..."
A sound-rich profile of Ataiba, chief of one of the last bands of nomads in the Americas, as he leaves the Bolivian jungle to live with evangelical missionaries. The story is told by Ataiba and the missionaries from starkly different points of view. Part of the Vanishing Homelands series, chronicling the dramatic changes to land and culture across the Americas.
From Ryan Scammell | 14:01
Everything's stuck in the past when Liza Minnelli plays a concert in Coney Island.
Why can't we let go of the past? What is our obsession with keeping things going even after their time is gone? To figure this out, we look at the histories of Liza Minnelli and Coney Island, their rises to the top, and how, when they got there, they never came down. Huge fires! Andy Warhol! Lions! Lawsuits! Incubated Babies! It all comes together one night when Liza Minnelli plays a concert at Coney Island, and we finally figure out why we can't let go.
From Diana Epstein | 02:53
Commentary on growing up with a French mother. Very funny
This piece is a commentary on what it was like growing up half french and how I resisted learning the language like saying "Mercy Buckets" instead of "Merci beaucoup." My mother called child specialists asking them why I refused to speak French. It explores how I eventually came around to love French and accept the culture and language.
The wildly imaginative, exuberant and always unpredictable Bjork in concert. A co-production from NPR Music and WNYC.
Wildly imaginative, exuberant and always unpredictable, Bjork performs for 3,000 fans at the United Palace Theater in New York City. The concert took place on May 5, 2007 at the beginning of a tour featuring music Bjork created for her latest CD, Volta--a high-energy, tribal romp across cultures, with rhythms from Africa, horns from Iceland and strings from China. The concert is a co-production from NPR Music and WNYC. See "For stations" area for set list and break times. Available for free to NPR member stations. If you're not an NPR member station, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
And you don't think teens can produce compelling radio? Listen to this and re-evaluate.
My parents have been divorced for 11 years and it's been an ongoing struggle for me. I wanted to know what it was like for other kids, so I walked around Montpelier, Vermont and talked with kids about divorce. Here's what they said....
From 2 below zero | 04:55
One of my all time favorite holiday pieces. I can feel the cold. Love the raw sound of this....a StoryCorps story without a studio.
Arthur Jackson, 57, is a Salvation Army bellringer at the Mall of America in Minneapolis who loves to sing while he rings. In this audio postcard, Jackson sings a portion of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" while he opens doors for shoppers and encourages kids to ring his bell. He's a former crack addict.
From Aaron Henkin | 10:55
a VERY sweet holiday story...
This is a fun, light-hearted, silly, heart-warming story about one of Baltimore's best-kept holiday secrets. Here's an intro for a host... "The coming holiday season brings with it different traditions for different people... And for a lot of longtime Baltimore families, it's synonymous with one thing: Rheb's candies. This year, the local family-owned chocolate business marks its 90th year in operation. Rheb's is a true hidden jewel of old Baltimore, and producer Aaron Henkin recently ventured out with a friend to discover what the Rheb's experience is all about...
From Zak Rosen | 06:37
A comic-book version of the comic-book artist, Marty Hirchak takes the reader/listener on a tour of the "Comic Con" circuit.
I've teamed up with a local (Detroit) comic book writer and morphed one of his comics into an audio play/comic of sorts. This particular story works especially well with radio, because it's basically a documentary comic story. I'll try to explain?A comic-book version of the comic-book artist, Marty Hirchak takes the reader/listener on a tour of the "Comic Con" circuit. Comic Cons, better known as comic conventions are a haven for comic collectors of all sorts. The con is where enthusiasts gather to debate, sell, buy, and trade comics. The scene as you might imagine is mostly made up of men, with a smattering of "pin-up queens, and b-list celebrities." Hirchak explains the in's and out's of a con, with help from several characters he himself has met at past conventions.
From Megan Martin | 11:59
Indigenous radio in Mexico
In fulfillment of a year-long Fulbright Fellowship, this bilingual piece is a taste of the sound I've been recording in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. It's a collection of interviews with villagers from around the region, sound I've collected from the indigenous station in the region (XETLA) as well as snippets from blog entries over the last several months. This piece was made for presentation at a mid-term reunion of Fulbright Fellows.
From Kenan Davis | 04:38
The story what happens to the belongings of someone who dies
When someone dies, the family members go through the belongings and pick out what to keep. Then they can call a rubbish removal company to take the rest to the dump. That's Nick Dimola's job. But he often finds things to keep for himself. Kenan Davis reports.
From Jon Kalish | 58:40
A fictional weekly music show celebrating Industrial Musicals on a fictional public radio network
A celebration of one of the most astonishing yet obscure musical genres of the 20th Century. Industrial musicals were written for company sales meetings or annual conventions, with a golden age spanning the 1950s into the '80s. They were lavish productions that incorporated original music and lyrics, full orchestras and expensive staging, Most were never recorded, though sometimes a record was made and a few hundred copies were distributed as souvenirs. Steve Young, a writer for David Letterman, is the self-appointed archivist and obsessive collector of these recordings, and he's the host each week of a show that shares these recordings with an audience they were never intended for. This is a one-time special. It is not really a weekly show. The special includes an original comedy piece featuring the great Moe Moscowitz, a veteran of NPR's Morning Edition.
An affliction that disproportionately affects public radio listeners.
VO: It affects scores of people everyday... Vox: I never thought it would happen to me... VO: People all over the country are succumbing at alarming rates... Vox: But then I found myself sitting in my car after I'd put it into park...just sitting there... Vox: I haven't even told my husband about it. Vox: I keep going back... Vox: I keep wanting more... Vox: I think my friends are starting to notice... Vox: But I can?t stop, I need to keep listening... VO: Have you been taking an inordinate interest in the platforms of the presidential candidates? Have you found yourself wondering about whether Ivory Billed Woodpecker sightings are hoaxes? If you recognize these symptoms then you might have Fabu-philitis an affliction marked by increased curiosity in the world around you, sympathy or even appreciation for terrible puns, and slackened interest in Britney Spears. Public Radio listeners are especially susceptible to Fabu-philitis. If you or someone you know has developed Fabu-philitis stay tuned for the number to call. We can't help, but we can ease the guilt a little. Vox: I always thought it was something that happened to other people.
From Julie Shapiro | 10:44
Ghana sounds like everything you might imagine, and some things you never could.
While I traveled around Ghana in January, 2008, certain sounds jumped into my recorder, like: kiddo handclaps, the pounding of fufu in Circle Market, Empress Olivia and her kpash kposh, screaming insects, screaming birds, screaming bats, one very hungry goat, fishermen singing while hauling in an enormous net from the Gulf of Guinea, the unmistakable cacophony of a tro-tro station, an unexpected pop song blaring from streetside speakers, the deep rhythms of a wedding celebration and glorious live music from a front porch.
From With Good Reason | 29:44
Explores the messages to teens that to be popular you must buy the best in brand-names and outshine your peers in all ways, including destructive behaviors.
"Losers shop at Target." That's one of the messages coming through in 'Gossip Girls,' a popular teen book and TV series. Naomi Johnson (Longwood University) says these books are filled with product placements that try to convince young girls that the most important thing in life is to get a boy through buying and wearing high status couture. Also: We all want our children to be well-liked, but new study shows there are risks that come with being popular. University of Virginia psychologist Joseph Allen says popular kids are more likely to drink, smoke and vandalize. They seem like leaders, but in reality they may only be tracking peer opinion, as politicians do with polls.
From Emma Jacobs | 04:12
A report on daily village life from Northern Senegal.
Recorded during a visit to the Fouta Toro region of Senegal in April of 2008 with a Peace Corps volunteer from Indiana, this piece offers a glimpse into life in rural, northern Senegal. In a region where temperatures regularly top 120 degrees and many of the men have left for the exterior to support their families, we visit a village 8 km off of the nearest paved road. We visit households, a baby weighing, and a goodbye party for a departing husband. Emma Jacobs and Peace Corps volunteer Ashley Goodson narrate this story.
From Benjamin Winter | 01:41
Poetry..remixed. "That's life!" and, yes, that is good poetry.
From Jacob Fenston | 05:56
This is a segment of a longer piece about T-shirts.
From Amy Conger | 09:04
An abstract sound collage dealing with identity and mental states
This is the sound piece that accompanied an installation piece, which can be viewed at the link above. It also stands alone as an audio composition. The large theme is one of questioning identity and the changing sense of fullness and time in the mind. There are several movements that vary in density volume and texture. It is mostly built of recorded ambient noises, and is peppered with voices and other sounds.
From Dan Epstein | 06:04
An interrogator's inside view on the debate over interrogation and torture
The mission to ensure America's safety has led authorities to seek new tools and expanded powers in the war on terror. Interrogation practices have been among the most controversial issues of national security. The prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and stories of harsh interrogations conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have sparked a debate on when interrogation becomes torture. And this debate seems far from over as Congress conducts hearings into interrogation practices. I myself am a former Army interrogator and when this debate began to unfold I found myself asking troubling questions. In this story I speak with Staff Sergeant Terry Karney, a US Army interrogator who served as an interrogation team leader in Iraq in 2003. His position is clear: torture is illegal, ineffective and counter-productive. And he's opposed to the policy of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."
From Sarah Yahm | 28:41
a piece about the symbolic meaning of fat in our culture
A fresh and different perspective on the obesity epidemic. Why are we so terrified of fat? what does it symbolize? How are we projecting other anxieties onto fat people and the fat body? In order to answer this question this piece follows Christian dieters, Northern California foodies, and fat activists.
From Western Folklife Center Media | 13:54
Music bridges the language barrier as a group of cowboy musicians trek across the Mongolian steppe on horseback, making friends & singing songs with the nomadic herdsmen of this vast country.
In September 2005 a group of American cowboys traveled to Mongolia for a horse trek across the steppe. This was a grassroots visit to local herdsmen and it also completed a cultural exchange that started a few years back when Mongolian herders came to the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada to sing songs and play music. Hal Cannon went along with the singing cowboys to document just how the music of these two horseback cultures would jibe.
From Alix Blair | 08:04
Curtis Ring sells off all his goats: this story presents an intimate look at what is happening to farmers across the country
In Gibsonville, North Carolina, Curtis Ring had a "total herd dispersal" auction on May 17th to sell his Boer goats. His age (seventy-seven) has played a part in his decision to retire from goat-farming, but the reality of increasing fuel and feed prices makes the raising of meat goats a difficult job. The selling of Ring's goats presents a personal story of the larger struggles facing farmers across the United States today.
From Mark Saldaña | 04:26
In Portland, OR, and across the United States, Ghost Bikes mark the sites of fatal bicycle-autombile collisions.
This short documentary explores the phenomenon of ghost bikes, makeshift monuments that artists install at the sites of fatal bicycle-automobile collisions, and how family members and community members alike make sense of the symbols. It centers on Susan Kabota, the aunt of the victim of such a collision. The documentary also explores bike culture in Portland, Oregon, and how policymakers are dealing with accidents.
From The Kitchen Sisters | 54:00
From The Kitchen Sisters and PRX, a Black History Month Special: "Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers, and Entrepreneurs," with host, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress, Alfre Woodard. These stories come from The Kitchen Sisters collection -- stories of black pioneers, self-made men and self-taught women, neighborhood heros and visionaries. People who said "yes we can" and then did.
From Lu Olkowski | 07:17
People often depict scientists as coldly rational. Physicist Michael Salamon takes issue with that. He explains how Walt Whitman misunderstood the beauty of the universe. And how Maxwell's Equations gave him his first "cerebral orgasm"
People often depict scientists as eggheads who don't appreciate beauty. Physicist Michael Salamon, who works at NASA's Universe Division, takes issue with that. He references Walt Whitman's "When I heard the learn'd astronomer" from Leaves of Grass and argues that the poem perpetuates a myth of the scientist as a bookworm who doesn't appreciate beauty. He asserts that exactly the opposite is true: aesthetics have driven Michael's career as a scientist. And the careers of many scientists who he knows. In this piece, Michael helps the lay listener appreciate the absolute gorgeousness of complex equations and discoveries. First broadcast on PRI's Studio 360 on September 14, 2006.
From Jackson Braider | 05:40
I am a Jackson Braider fan and this piece has what makes his work distinctive: musicality, gorgeous tones and recording, his authoritative but engaging narration and his wit.
Handbell ringers have an unusual approach to musicmaking -- as one choir director put it, "It's like synchronized swimming." In anticipation of the third annual Boston Handbell Festival, which takes place on May 19 at Old South Church on Copley Square in Boston, independent producer Jackson Braider delves in how these people make those incredible sounds.
in which Guglielmo Marconi, the Father of Radio, dreams of a super radio that would allow him to hear every sound ever made. Melancholy ensues.
I am a huge McCullough fan. I am a huge Virginia Prescott fan. This evening with a great writer, recorded live, is sublime. Smart, smart, SMART.
Historian and author David McCullough spoke about his new book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.” The book follows famous artists, writers, scholars, and some figures lost to history, who defied the American movement west, by heading east, to Paris. It’s a fascinating, informative and enlightening conversation.
From WNYC | 57:00
This year women will enter the Olympic boxing ring for the first time. Hosted by actor Rosie Perez and producer Marianne McCune, "Go for It" explores why women fight and why we expect them not to. A compelling hour of radio that is perfect for airing before or during the Olympic Games. The opening ceremony is July 27 and the women's boxing competition begins on August 5th and runs through August 9th. This is sound rich and provocative sports reporting that you won't want public radio listeners to miss.
If you box, by definition, you’re a risk-taker. If you’re a girl and you box, you’re a risk-taker and a rule-breaker. If you’re a girl and you box and your aim is to be the first to win an Olympic gold medal - that’s going for it. Who does that and why?
Go For It: Life Lessons from Girl Boxers , is a one hour special that tells the story of women for whom boxing is an expression of ambition, drive, strength and – yes – aggression, qualities often admired in men and sometimes discouraged in women.
The special is the next logical step for Women Box, our series with photojournalist Sue Jaye Johnson (and in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine and Radio Diaries) chronicling the lives of a group of fighters who’ve spent the year competing to become the first women to box in the Olympic Games.
Go For It will take listeners inside the hearts and minds of girls and women who are not afraid to defy expectations, take chances and fight to become ‘the greatest.’ When Tyrieshia Douglas says, “It’s against the rules to have as many muscles as I have,” she’s daring the rules to stop her. And when Claressa Shields, at 16, asks members of a church in Flint, Michigan for a few hundred dollars so she can get to the next boxing tournament, her dream of an Olympic gold medal seems both impossible and inevitable.
We follow the ever-confident Claressa, now 17, to Qinhuangdao, China where she fights to qualify for the Olympics.
Finally, there’s the sobering backdrop: brain scientists are finding increasingly stark evidence that repeated blows to the head cause a long list of problems later on, from death to memory loss and depression. Most boxers, men or women, will tell you, ‘it’s not going to happen to me.’ Go For It will look at the risks to women who are embracing a sport increasingly criticized for exposing participants to serious injury.
Whether you love or hate boxing, Go For It aims to draw you into a deeply compelling conversation about what it means to be a girl and what it takes to be a champion.
Co-Produced by the award-winning reporter/producer of Living Nine Eleven , Marianne McCune has developed an intimate and powerful style of story telling you won't want to miss.
Promo available now. Embeddable slideshows on website.
Check out these websites for more details:
Alec sits down with Billy Joel at a piano as Joel details the decisions – musical and personal – that helped shape his music and his career.
In his new radio series, Here’s The Thing, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin gives the listener unique entrée into the lives of some of today’s most exciting performers.
For information, please contact Deb Blakeley, Blakeley & Company, LLC, 612-377-1207 or email@example.com