Comments by John Dankosky

Comment for "Short of Breath"

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Thank you for this

This is a beautifully-produced portrait of a problem and the people going through it. Well-chosen voices, expertly-paced storytelling. I've purchased this to use on NEXT, the new regional news program from the New England News Collaborative.

Comment for "I Don't Know"

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Andy has just the right touch with music and sound. This is a lovely story, which provides a perfect end to our "Black Friday" edition of Where We Live.

Comment for "The Sounds of Lunch"

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Review of The Sounds of Lunch

Ken's work is funny. Not "hit-you-over-the-head-funny" but that's why I like it. A lot.

A dry read plus a dry sense of humor plus briskly paced editing plus some pitch-challenged singing equals three minutes I think most listeners would like just about anytime. A midday news magazine needs "The Sounds of Lunch."

Please listen to this, and use it as "gateway listening" to discover his excellent magazine show "The Lumberyard."

Comment for "The Kids Who Got Out - My Graduation Day"

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Review of The Kids Who Got Out - My Graduation Day

Sometimes you find exactly the story you're looking for.

We just produced an hour-long talk show about how to improve high schools around the country. There's about a thousand plans out there...from college-level courses in high school, to year-round classes, to more testing...and, as in this case, versions of the California exit exam.

This student's well-written personal essay clearly filled the bill for a follow up segment we want to do...but it's more than just timely.

This story is compelling, and moves quickly, stopping to ruminate only where warranted.

As I think we often set the bar too low for high school grads, we also set the bar too low for much youth-produced journalism.

This story smoothly pole-vaults over the high expectations of professional radio.

Airing on WNPR's Where We Live on June 21.

Comment for "The Lumberyard: A Radio Magazine of Poetry, Prose, & Music 1:11"

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Review of The Lumberyard: A Radio Magazine of Poetry, Prose, & Music 1:11

It's like a poetry DJ show - Ken & Aaron simply spinning some thoughtful and compelling spoken-word pieces.

What makes it work is the pacing, and the readers themselves. Polished performers presenting short pieces in a straightforward manner. Each one grabs you in its own way.

The music pieces have the same energy, and really work in context. I urge you to give it a listen.

WNPR will be broadcasting this episode of The Lumberyard on April 2, as part of our program Essential Radio - we're pairing it with Wordshakers, the Hearing Voices Special.

Comment for "With a Bullet"

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Review of Love & Radio: With a Bullet

Okay, I'm offically on the bandwagon. Nick and Adrianne clearly know what they're doing with this series, as they did with their previous, "This One Time". It's quickly-paced storytelling, well mixed with what they aptly describe as "wonky" music.

It passes the critical, "Does this piece make me care?" question that us editors are taught to ask. I end up caring about the storytellers and their stories. I suppose if I didn't care, I wouldn't listen...

The end piece, with them shooting guns at a range goes on a bit too 29 minutes, instead of 34, this show would be even better.

This will air on WNPR's Essential Radio on 1/15/05 (Right after Radio Lab, Show 103)

Comment for "I Would Love You Even if You had a Colostomy Bag" (deleted)

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Review of I Would Love You Even if You had a Colostomy Bag (deleted)

Okay, I decided to review this piece for three main reasons:

1. Sally's debut piece, Growth is strange and very beautiful.

2. Her website, is full of clever and cool cut & paste cartoons. Go there. This is clearly a very creative producer.

3. The title of this piece, "I Would Love You Even if You had a Colostomy Bag" is just too good to pass up.

Here's the deal, though. I don't agree with the production choices here. This could be an interesting piece, and deal with the issues of STDs, stigma, and fairy tale dreams as it promises to...but it would need some work.

First of all, perhaps through choice or technique, the music enters the story entirely too loud. In fact, I find it a bit upsetting to listen to (perhaps that's the intent).

My quibble is more with the focus of the piece, though. The interview feels as though it is basically about a young woman's experience with STD and stigma - and the "fairy tale" concept is tacked on by including "The Sound of Music." I didn't get the sense that the woman interviewed would have bought into the whole concept at all.

I urge people to listen to this piece, and tell me that I'm wrong. This particular health topic is never reported on in the media, and so I commend the producer for the effort. I think a remix and edit might produce another interesting story.

Comment for "PHISH: The Final Curtain" (deleted)

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Review of PHISH: The Final Curtain (deleted)

Well, I'm not a huge fan of Phish. Nothing against them, mind you. They're just more the band that I'm glad was there, than the one I actually listened to...if you know what I mean.
But when the piece first came out from VPR, I aired it almost immediately on WNPR. Just a great documentary of an interesting band and their more-than-interesting fans. It's a nice snapshot of a culture that listeners might not know about...or might be part of themselves.
Very smart of PRI to pick it up.
It also really broke up a long stretch of "serious" docs I was running on war, death, and foreign affairs. If you're looking to do the same at your station...highly recommended.

Comment for "Last Goodbye"

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Review of Last Goodbye

What did long-form radio sound like before This American Life? I forget.

I mean, clearly it's not the only influence on this interesting and well-produced half hour...but it's right there all the time. I'm a bit skeptical. Is everyone's personal story ready for exposure on the airwaves as long as there's music in the background? I dunno. These I find interesting.

The stories roll along for a bit until I'm able to grab hold of the characters and their stories...but I don't think that's a bad thing in narrative radio.

Good work here...I hope to use it on WNPR.

Comment for "A Short History of Music as a Weapon"

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Review of A Short History of Music as a Weapon

A very nice piece by one of my favorite PRX producers. Well produced, written and voiced.
As a news guy, I'm always looking for a "peg" - so we're airing this story this week to coincide with the report in Time that detainees were awakened by the music of Christina Aguilera.
Better than Jessica Simpson, I suppose....

Comment for "Hip-hop in hunting boots"

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Review of Hip-hop in hunting boots

I was pretty scared by the description and host lead of this piece - I thought the it was going to be about the culture clash of backwoods guys doing hip-hop. Ugh. But not only is the piece not about that, it addresses that question directly in the story - and cleverly blows up the assumption. This piece works because we get to (if only briefly) go inside the group's music-making process, which I usually find infinitely more interesting than "personal" stories about artists any day. Plus, I always love to be surprised by something, and my big surprise here was the "craft" displayed by both the producer and the band itself. Nice stuff.

Comment for "The Creative Remix"

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Review of The Creative Remix

This is one of those perfect public radio programs that succeeds on different levels. First, of course, is the important concept of keeping creativity and art out of the hands of the lawyers. But while listening, I also started thinking about how the idea of the "remix" could be applied to just about anything, including one of my favorite topics (cooking) and one of my least favorite (politics). To me, this is one of the hallmarks of a great "concept" show - you can envision it extended it beyond the boundries it's placed on itself (58 minutes). It will air on WNPR's Essential Radio on 12/12/04 at 4:00 p.m.

Comment for "'LaOtra' Female Vocal Quartet, Uruguay (4min)"

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Review of 'LaOtra' Female Vocal Quartet, Uruguay (4min)

We used this piece on WNPR's Morning Edition a few weeks ago. We loved it for it's unusual approach to music reporting (at least in the context of what we usually hear on M.E.). With pieces like this, and the "Musicians in Their Own Words" series, it seems like the non-narrated music documentary has become a standard production technique. Which is, I think a good thing (as long as it doesn't supplant other ways to present music on a news show). Of course, we also love the producer's taste, which provides lovely balance to this and other pieces we've heard. Knowing nothing about this group going in, I was surprised when the second half of the piece has them singing more popular-sounding english-language music. It's (at first) a bit disappointing to hear - then grows on you by the end.

One big suggestion, though: This piece was uploaded with very little additional information about the group, about the music, about context for the piece. If it included a brief suggested host intro/outro, and some links to find out more about this music, it would be much easier for stations to air.

Comment for "Amanda's Diary: Girlfriend"

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Review of Amanda from New York: Girlfriend

First off, I'm so glad these Radio Diaries are available again.

There's a segment in here with Amanda talking to her parents about her sexuality. It is so real, and completely captures the essence of what children face when they confront their parents' traditional values. Something I love about this is that there's no resolution to the story. It ends in the middle, where Amanda is.

I'm planning to use this, along with other Teen Diaries, and stories from Blunt Youth to do a special program on teens.

Comment for "Joey Interviews a Cutter"

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Review of Joey Interviews a Cutter

I was out yesterday doing some reporting on a pretty standard-issue news story. I did a bunch of five-minute interviews with people, and I was frustrated and surprised that I just couldn't get anyone to open know, really tell me anything. "Joey" just made me believe in the power of the five-minute interview again.

It is raw, and not for everyone's air...but I gotta say, honesty makes such good radio. And "Joey" brought that out in his subject. Kudos.

Comment for "Christmas in New York, 2001, Ground Zero"

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Review of Christmas in New York

This is Beautiful Radio.