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Comments by John Hingsbergen

Comment for "We Knew JFK: Unheard Stories from the Kennedy Archives"

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Request to post on website

Hi. I'm wondering if we may have permission to post at least the five companion pieces to our website at WEKU.FM. I'd love to also make the entire program available for online listening but understand if you would not allow that.

If you prefer that we not post the pieces ourselves, is there a site that I could link to so visitors to our site could access them?

Thanks for great work. We're airing the show at 7:00 this Sunday evening and the pieces each day Mon-Fri at 1:33 pm during Here and Now. I'm thinking of at least one other spot, perhaps in ATC but not sure yet.

John H.

Comment for "A Shortcut Through 2008"

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An undiscovered gem

I was looking for a "filler" for Sunday evening and discovered this. Sorry I hadn't seen it earlier so I could promote it a bit longer. we'll also be using the Obama Re-mix, either next week or the Sunday before the Inauguration.

Check it out. This is fun, groundbreaking radio.

Comment for ""The Christmas I Saved Macy's""

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Review of "The Christmas I Saved Macy's"

An unusual little piece that celebrates the memories of childhood in the context of the holiday season. Joe's writing his clever. His delivery is earnest and poignant. I enjoyed the sound effects and music as a nice way of dramatizing the story.

This could be used in a locally-produced magazine show, focusing on the topic of children and the holidays.

Comment for "Billy Taylor - Jelly Roll and Lester Young" (deleted)

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Review of Billy Taylor - Jelly Roll and Lester Young (deleted)

This is a fun piece for listening, giving a behind-the-scenes peek into a long-gone world of jazz in Washington, D.C. It's a relaxed and comfortable conversation between two jazz legends who've known each other for many years. It's mixed with appropriate music including Jelly Roll Morton, Earl Hines, Lester Young and others.

This, and the other segments in Billy Taylor's "Where I Came From" series, could be a nice drop-in for local jazz shows. I enjoyed the fact that it comes across as un-narrated, allowing the subjects to tell their stories without obvious interruption or intervention. It's certainly edited but "feels" like we're eavesdropping on a one-on-one chat.

The piece is DC-centered but I think listeners who have an interest in jazz history will enjoy hearing Billy Taylor and Frank Wess tell their stories about literally growing up with jazz in our nation's capitol.

Comment for "After Oil"

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Review of After Oil

This is a slick, entertaining and informative production about one of our nation's and the world's greatest challenges. I personally learned a lot about the history, the issues and the options regarding our dependence on fossil fuels. Although the piece lays out the not-so-easy-to-hear facts, it provides cause for hope in the numerous options available.

This program is well-researched, written and produced in an engaging, sometimes entertaining style, that helps to clarify the issues and keep the content from becoming too dry and technical.

Barbara Bogaev, known to many as a fill-in host on "Fresh Air" and as one of the original hosts of American Public Media's "Weekend America," does an excellent job of delivering the script in a comfortable and personable style. The production is nicely mixed and edited using a variety of techniques to keep up the pace and maintain listener interest, including: original interview clips, archival film clip audio and appropriate music.

As a one-hour program, this show is "Program Director friendly," offering a newscast cutaway and two :60 station breaks following a standard NPR-style clock. Easy to work into a news/talk format as a weekend special or a holiday replacement.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR PROGRAM DIRECTORS: This is a production of Purdue University's Engineering Department and it includes Purdue experts. This Purdue involvement is clearly stated throughout the show, solving my own personal concerns about "disclosure" issues. In addition, the producers did a good job of including other experts from MIT, Harvard and from the oil and energy industries. The "Purdue connection" is obvious to me as a listener and I hope also to most of our public radio listeners. PDs will have to judge for yourselves whether this is a problem.

Comment for "Running On Fumes Part 1: Opportunity"

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Review of Running On Fumes Part 1: Opportunity

Producers Marc Casale and Elliot Ward obviously had fun collecting sound and asembling this documentary. It's an example of youthful enthusiasm and idealism at work. It's fun to listen to, despite some technical weaknesses.

The piece is assembled from audio collected while the guys made a cross-country roadtrip. The production is done as a two-parter but could easily air as a one-hour program, with plenty of time for a top-of-the-hour newscast.

The script and delivery are thoughtful and informative although I have a problem with the clearly revealed bias against the Bush Administration and "the government." Despite the producers' personal opinions, there is a way to do a piece like this while letting the interview subjects mouth the politically-charged comments. I also didn't hear any effort at including "the other side." This flaw is a result of youthful inexperience..something Marc and Elliot need to learn before their work goes "mainstream." Having said that, I believe these fellows clearly have the ability to go farther with their audio documentary work.

Technical issues in this production include: rough edits; uneven levels and use of a poor quality microphone for narration. I assume that all the narration was done on the same portable gear that was used in sound collection. I would strongly recommend taking the script to a studio to create consistent voiceover tracks. While I am a big fan of appropriate use of stereo audio, there are left-right shifts between "acts and tracks" that I suspect are unintenional. I liked the use of recorded music in transitions but again the mixing is inexperienced with late up-fades and the music running much louder than the preceding audio.

I would like to hear tighter editing of interview bites, especially at the beginning of segments and more "natual sound" from the many interesting sites the producers visited.

These guys have the right idea and a good start on possible careers as documentarians. I'll look forward to hearing more of their work as they continue to hone their skills.

Comment for "A Day at the Beach" (deleted)

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Review of A Day at the Beach (deleted)

An informative and enlightening piece that exposes a social problem affecting a popular vacation spot. This nicely done, and appropriate-lengthed story cites an example of businesses taking advantage of apparently weak law enforcement to restrict usage of a so-called "public" resource.

Fox is obviously a seaoned reporter with the ability to collect information and share it with his listeners. With the exception of a brief opening clip, the story features no sound "bites," apparently since the speakers would be in Spanish. Not a problem since Fox's writing and delivery tell the story in a very complete manner, punctuated with "sound" from the beachfront in question.

This is a good example of "less is more" in terms of production values. At its heart, this story is basically good writing and delivery. The "sound" is there to support the story and add authenticity. I guess I would describe it as "seasoning, " but not too heavy on the cayenne.

Comment for "The Emergence of Paul Simon" (deleted)

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Review of The Emergence of Paul Simon (deleted)

It's hard for me to be objective here, since I love Paul Simon's music so much. Paul is one of the muses of my generation. His music has been a major part of the soundtrack of my life. Disclaimers aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Paul Ingles' two-hour production. Since I was already considering it for air on my station, it made sense to give it a thorough audition. (Just doing my job. And loving it!) I put the audition files into my MP3 player and listened to the whole thing in about two and a half hours total, with a few stops and starts for life to intervene.

I'm thinking that, as stations air this special, we'll have radio listeners spending the better part of this show glued to their radios. Talk about your driveway moment!

Regarding the content and production: This program is chocked full of all our favorites. From the earliest days of "Toma and Jerry" in the 1950's through their Simon & Garfunkel years, to Paul Simon's most recent recordings, there's plenty of music as well as commentary. The show includes "Simon experts" and interview clips from Paul himself plus an informational narrative by Paul Ingles. I am impressed by the sheer magnitude of this project that holds together very nicely from start to finish. My biggest complaint is that I feel it ended abruptly. Maybe Ingles can put together a third hour with more about Simon's post-911 efforts. I get the impression that the sexagenarian is not likely to start collecting Social Security anytime soon.

This show is well-timed to coincide with the bestowing of the Gershwin Award by the Library of Congress and the PBS special but it will be appropriate public radio programming for some months to come. Just make sure you promote it enough to give your listeners a chance to clear their schedules for a two-hour listening block!

Comment for "GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? THE GYUTO MONKS!"

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Review of Guess who's coming to dinner? The Gyuto Monks!

I enjoyed listening to this and learned a lot as well. This is a nicely-written and delivered piece that takes the listener someplace we've probably never been, into the world of a group of Tibetan monks.

Reporter Julie Adler displays a wide-eyed and seemingly youthful curiosity in her reporting and interviewing that is quite endearing. Her style allows the listener to feel comfortable wondering about these people who've chosen a very different path than that of mainstream Americans.

At 12:04 the piece is an odd length for a lot of public radio stations. I suggest that it might be best used in a locally-produced magazine show or as a discussion-starting "set-up" for a talk show on spirituality or world religions.

The interviews and the "sound " of chanting contribute greatly to the piece. I would like to have heard some more chanting, perhaps more toward the beginning of the piece. I would also like to have heard some interviews with the host family.

Comment for "Media Minutes: May 25, 2007"

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Review of Media Minutes: May 25, 2007

A great idea with a lot of potential. This episode of a weekly feature included four useful stories about media issues and activities, although one of them was not, in my opinion, a "media story." The story about conference calling services is more of a "communications technology" or "telecom" story.

Co-hosts John Anderson and Kimberly Kranich are pleasant enough with good solid voices and overall delivery. I think Anderson is working too hard to sound like "public radio" with an over-articulated style that I would like to hear softened. (You'll sound a lot more natural, John, if you'll just talk to us and not worry about pronouncing every consonant crisply!)

Another bugaboo of mine is the pronunciation of the word "a" as if it were the letter "A." The word is pronounced "uh" but more and more broadcasters are choosing to go with the long A sound. I'm on a crusade to correct his omni-present mispronunciation so please don't take personal offense.

Maybe they say it different in Illinois but the closing credits say this feature was done at the "University of Ellenois." (Another bugaboo, mispronounced vowels)

On the editorial side, like any good newscast, this piece needs some "sound." A bite or two would help a lot to overcome the sense that we're hearing re-written stories from newspapers or trade publications.

While on the topic of editing, I heard a couple of grammatical errors with mis-matched subjects and verbs or modifiers. E.g. reference to "cutting jobs in a shrinking news room." My guess is that you meant "cutting jobs in shrinking news rooms" unless you were reporting about one newsroom. Another example in the "telecom" story said "in case they have to make a call." Will "they" all be making one call together? Perhaps you meant to say "in case they have to make calls."

Sorry for being picky but "everyone needs an edit."

Editing of the piece was rough with some "jump cuts" in the middle of stories read by Kranich. Edits need to be transparent and unnoticeable. Otherwise, please do a re-take. I could live without the in and out music beds. I'm sure you want this to sound like a newscast. Not many of our public radio stations are using beds in and out of 'casts these days. It'll blend better within NPR formats without the music.

This feature is a really good idea but it's not quite ready for prime time. It's not up to the standards I expect when I air something on my station but I'll keep listening to see how it's coming along.

Comment for "HEAT -- The End of the Beginning"

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Review of HEAT -- The End of the Beginning

Despite being a 17-year-old production, this is an engaging and informative program. Using a variety of techniques, John Hockenberry helps us understand the radical shift in South Africa as the system of Apartheid gave way.

In addition to traditional narration and interviews, this program is made more engaging through the use of a variety of clever techniques such as the recitation of a poem in Washington accompanied by a musical group in New York. Other elements include interviews with Harlem school children and South-African music recorded in the 1930's An extended interview with playwright Athol Fugard and the reading by his actress daughter are both very moving, providing an insight into the perspective of white South Africans.

The program is well written and edited. John Hockenberry's delivery is both entertaining and informative.

At the end of the show, John Hockenberry says, "That was a fine hour." I couldn't agree more.

Comment for "My Dad's Records"

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Review of My Dad's Records

This is a great segment for Father's Day. It's a piece that involves a dad and his young son together going through the grandfather's phonograph records.

It's cleverly produced using the cute and curious voice of the son as he queries his dad and comments about "Grandpa Arnold's" quite curious collection. Listeners are not likely to hear this music anywhere else.

As a dad with my own not-so-little-anymore son, this piece was inspiring to me. I think it will touch the hearts of the dads in the audience as well as anyone who's ever had one!

Use as "filler" during Father's Day weekend programming, as a feature during a magazine show or as a set-up for a discussion about fathers and sons.

Comment for "VOICES FROM IRAQ"

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Review of VOICES FROM IRAQ

This is a valuable contribution to ongoing media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is especially well done for a student production. This program is well-written and edited. The interviews are conducted well. Subject matter appears to be well researched.

I am thrilled to see that college students are doing this kind of serious journalism that demonstrates an interest beyond their dorms, their campus and their comfortable lives in the U.S. This is clearly a program with a mission and its producers seem to be in tune with that mission.

Host Wren Elhai does an excellent job of hosting. He has a good voice and a smooth and professional delivery. All of the student producer/reporters in this show are better-than-average in my experience of college-age radio journalists.

I offer two suggestions for improvement:

1) Try to improve the quality of the telephone interviews. It's relatively easy to talk to guests most anywhere on the planet today but crappy cell phones (or satellite phones) sound like crappy cell phones no matter where they are. Some of these long segments can be very tedious with poor audio quality. Sorry that's the case but, as broadcasters, we really don't want to "settle" unless we have to. (Have you considered tape syncs, Skype or some other methods of getting better quality audio?)

2) Related to the above, some of the segments seem to go on longer than necessary. Especially with the poor audio quality of phone connections, I would recommend cutting the interviews to their essentials or doing even more host cut-ins and paraphrasing.

Again, this is an excellent example of serious student work. I expect to hear more from these young radio journalists!

Comment for "The Prison Cure"

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Review of The Prison Cure

This is a nicely done documentary about a system that treats troubled and mentally ill children and teenagers like criminals. Helen Borten's writing, narration and interviewing make this a revealing piece about a genuine problem in our society.

While very alarming and disturbing, this presentation offers some glimpses of hope in the form of parents who are trying to change the system and organizing support groups and professionals who are willing to at least acknowledge the problem.

The interviews with kids and experts are very revealing. The editing and packaging give us an easy-to-follow presentation of the issues and a glimpse into the lives of Hannah, Damian, Joel and other troubled young people.

Contributing to this excellent presentation are the use of appropriate music and natural sound.

This piece could easily be the starting-point for a local call-in or forum discussing issues of "broken" mental health care systems.

Comment for "Songwriter's Summit With Lyle Lovett"

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Review of Songwriter's Summit With Lyle Lovett

This is a delightful hour for use on a Triple-A station or in a weekend "special" slot. It's one of 10 shows produced from concerts recorded at L.A.'s Disney Concert Hall.

This "Songwriter's Summit" brings together some of our era's best-known singer-songwriters namely, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, John Hiatt, and Lyle Lovett. The entertaining hour features individual on-stage performances of some new songs and old standards by the four artists and ends with a rousing finale with all four joining in Woody Guthrie's "Old Dusty Road."

I don't claim to be a music critic, but my experience of this show was of one performance better than another for the entire hour. Although I've never been among them, some so-called "purists" have a problem with "live" recordings due to the inherent flaws in performance, recording and mixing. This is a very well mixed, balanced and satisfying production. The recordings are a bit heavy on ambience but, heck that adds to the "you are there" feel of the production.

This is a more hard-edged production than you might expect from a Disney production. PDs may want to know about a potentially offensive word in the lyrics of John Hiatt's "I Ain't Ever Goin' Back No More." At 28:45 into the show, Hiatt refer's to a "shitty bar."

Those familiar with Renee Montagne as the co-host of NPR's Morning Edition will be impressed with her hosting skills in this venue. Her contributions were informative, friendly and appropriately informal. There are a couple of very brief artist interview clips in this production. It could stand a few more.

Regarding the formatics, I am grateful that it includes a mid-point station "break." It also includes mandatory NPR funding credits. I would appreciate a newscast option.

I listened to this program on a recent trip and it made for great in-flight entertainment. My experience with this one will cause me to listen to the rest of the series to see how many of these shows I might consider for air on my station.

Comment for "Ghana turns 50" (deleted)

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Review of Ghana turns 50 (deleted)

This is a very sincere piece about an observance of historical significance. Producer Ryan White delivers a pleasant yet serious narration. I am impressed that this is one of his first pieces and that he is a volunteer with a "day job."

This 10:38 segment would be more useful to stations if it were shorter and included an anchor "lead." Anchors and local hosts of magazine programs will need to supply their own since the piece gets right down to business and needs a set-up. The piece would also be more useful to others if it didn't include a couple of very specific Portland references. Again, users can get around this if they want to use it by making sure they identify the piece as "produced in Portland." Regarding the length, most stations will prefer a piece between 3:30 and 5:00 for local insertion into Morning Edition or All Things Considered. This segment could also be used as a set-up for a local talk show about Ghanaian independence or other African issues.

White has included some good clips including archival audio of the leader of the movement for independence and Ghana's first Prime Minister. Regrettably, this audio sounds better than the phone clip of the "local" representative of the Portland Ghanaian community. My advice would be to get out and speak to the gentleman in person rather than doing a "phoner" with him. That may not have been realistic given the time constraints of a volunteer producer but it would make the piece sound a lot better. My general principle is to save the phone audio for people we can't get to, not someone just across town.

The piece is very informative but it could benefit from some additional audio beyond the narration and interview clips. For example, some sound from a local celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence or even some recorded Ghanaian music. Such would make the piece more creative and more celebratory of an event that deserves celebration.

Again, this is a good early piece for Ryan. I can tell that he has the talent to do excellent work in the future.

Comment for "RN Documentary: The International Criminal Court – in its own words"

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Review of RN Documentary: The International Criminal Court ? in its own words

This is an excellent production concerning a topic of great potential global interest. This program is an example of the kind of work I expect from an esteemed international broadcaster such as Radio Netherlands. Although the location of the International Criminal Court at The Hague is "close to home" for Radio Netherlands, this topic should be of interest to thoughtful and informed citizens anywhere on our planet.

The script, narration, interviews and other "sound" in this half-hour production did a great job of grabbing and keeping my interest in a topic that could have been much more "dry" or boring. I especially liked the use of "stand-ups" and the "tour" of the Court facility.

This production made me want to know more about this still-developing tool for international law enforcement. I would like to know when proceedings begin before the court as well as information about cases being brought forward and defendants.

One of the few weaknesses in this program is the fact that it left me wondering about the relationship of the ICC to proceedings against accused defendants such as Saddam Hussein and (if ever captured) Osama bin Laden. Perhaps it's more than we can expect in one half hour but I wondered why certain cases would end up at the ICC rather than in other settings such as the Baghdad court that tried Hussein. An acknowledgement of such cases would perhaps make the subject matter a bit more appealing to American mass audiences.

This is a program that will serve to feed the interest of our public radio listeners who consider themselves "world citizens." We Americans need more exposure to information of this type. This production will be a valuable addition to the schedule of any station that airs it.

If we need a "hook" for using it, perhaps it can air on or near an "International Human Rights Day," "Law Day' (isn't that May 1?) or some such similar observance.

Comment for "Training for Change"

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Review of Training for Change

This is a different presentation of the words of Martin Luther King. Very appropriate for the MLK Day holiday or Black History Month. I hate to admit that I can't I don't have any brilliant ideas about how to get Dr. King's message into programming during the rest of the year. Maybe during a talk show on race relations or in the context of a documentary on local racial tensions. Lord knows we need to hear from Dr. King throughout the year....every day even.

I enjoyed the weaving of the comments with the drop-ins of the MLK speech clips. I am a bit confused about who the speakers are in this piece. I know that they are "Four members of Training for Change" but my journalistic sense tells me we need to hear their full names, not just first names, for journalistic credibility. Why not just have each of the speakers say their names at some point...either before their comments or at the very end.

I was confused by the placement of the silence in early part of the clip, until I read the not-very-clear instructions. From what I can tell, the piece is intended to air with a two-part lede, one before the first clip and the other before the "body." A bit unconventional but not a bad concept, with perhaps more clear guidance about how the producers want it to air.

The piece is edited and mixed nicely...although there are some level issues. The King clips are loud. The commenters are much softer. If this is intended for impact, most stations will "fix" that through processing.

I feel that the original idea of the "fixup issue" was merely dropped on the listeners and then left to hang. Kind of a clever comment that was never developed. As a result, we get some nice thoughts but not a lot of genuine substance.

This is an artfully done piece that may be just a bit too artful for it's own good. Add it to something else with more substance and it will work nicely.

Comment for "Lockdown on Life: Stories from Women Behind Bars"

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Review of Lockdown on Life: Stories from Women Behind Bars

This is a well-produced yet difficult to listen to glimpse behind the walls of prison life. This show features the stories and voices of women, mothers, mothers-to-be and transgendered women. While all of the stories are disturbing, the most moving are the stories of women separated from their newborn children. Heartbreakingly sad.

While many of us will have a hard time identifying the transgendered women, we need to know about them and their circumstances despite much of our society's efforts to ignore them.

The writing, narration and editing are well done. Most of the sound is well recorded with the exception of the poor quality from the prison tape recorder but there was nothing the producers could do about that.

I would like to have heard more "sound" than the voices alone but I assume that this was a result of prison limitations on recording. The sound of prison doors being opened and closed, prisoners in the dining area or in recreation would certainly be useful and help move the stories along if available.

This is the type of work that only non-commercial radio chooses to put on the air in a non-sensational yet moving way.

Thanks to the National Radio Project for doing this kind of work. These are stories that need to be heard.

Comment for "A New Kind of Boxing"

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Review of A New Kind of Boxing

This is a fun piece for use as a drop-in during a magazine show or as a discussion starter for a locally-produced talk show. The topic for such a show? How about "Alternative Ways of Getting or Staying in Shape"? Perhaps it could be used in the context of a local or state discussion of boxing rules. Also possibly useful in a show geared toward senior audiences.

Producer/host Charles Lane has a friendly and natural style. His delivery is a good example of how a host can relate to listeners comfortably rather than "announcing" at them.

I really like the "sound," in this piece. Given the topic, it's a natural bt it's fun to hear the slap of the punching bag, the ringing of the bells and the other gym sounds.

I am especially grateful for the journalistic "balance" of this piece including not only boxers and a gym owner but also a rep of the boxing association. I love the "realness" of the voices, especially of the USA Boxing guy and the trainer.

This piece is well enough done to cause a boxing skeptic like myself to consider "the other side" and recognize the potential value of boxing as a form of exercise or hobby.

Comment for "Movements"

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Review of Movements

This is a good example of advocacy journalism with a clear and well defined point of view. Although this show is well done and creatively produced, it is not the "investigative journal" it claims to be. Emily Howard is a competent host and a decent interviewer but this is a program for those who already know what they think, not those who are rationally considering the issues.

Delivering on the promise to be a show about social movements, this episode features two interviews with advocates of the pro-choice movement. To the extent that the host and guests explore this topic together from one side of this issue, I suppose we can call this an "investigation." If this were a journalistically balanced program we'd hear at least something from the other side of the issue. This show preaches to the choir and leaves little room for differing opinions.

I am sure Emily is totally convinced of the "mission" to which she is committed. I personally admire and respect her idealism. I suggest that she could have more impact as a journalist in a more traditional sense, by helping listeners weigh the issues in a balanced fashion.

Having said all this, I must congratulate Ms. Howard for creating an upbeat presentation. This show is more cleverly packaged than many advocacy programs of its type.

Programmers should know that this show is dated by the news update at the beginning of the show and the references to the 2006 election and a promotion of an event scheduled to happen in December.

Comment for "Morning Stories, From the Street"

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Review of Morning Stories, Episode I

This series, along with StoryCorps and This I Believe is an example of Public Radio's version of reality TV....only we were doing reality long before TV discovered it!

This is a half hour promo for a series that originally aired on WGBH, Boston. I'm sure these stories worked well as drop-in segments during Morning Edition and I don't doubt that the podcasts have been popular yet I have a hard time imaging this half-hour program on the air of a radio station other than WGBH. From what I could tell, there is no real theme linking the stories.

While some of the stories are quite charming, perhaps engaging, I found listening to a half hour of them to be quite tedious. I think they must work best in their original context. A good example of the bromide, "Less is more." This presentation would work very well as a demo to be played for prospective underwriters or as an awards competition entry.

Another issue for me is the fact that, despite the mention that this program has grown to a point where "our neighborhood is the world" all this material sounds like Boston or the East Coast to me. Even in the original form of individual short stories, these would sound out of place in Peoria, Omaha or Santa Fe.

Host Tony Kahn has a charming Kasey Kasem style and the narration accomplishes its mission well. The stories are artfully linked with music. The technical aspects of this piece are executed very well.

I recommend that programmers listen to as many of these stories as you can handle and use them as food for thought about how we could do something similar in our local communities.

Comment for "Public Radio Fun'raisers - set #1"

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Review of Public Radio Fun'raisers - set #1

Not your average "do your part" fundraising spots. Joe Bev's sense of humor is just a bit wacky and unconventional.

These are worth checking out if for no other reason than to stimulate your own creativity.

Most useable during contemporary music shows or during weekend entertainment.

Comment for "Tejidos Culturales 12-Japanese-American Community in the Valley"

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Review of Tejidos Culturales 12-Japanese-American Community in the Valley

Interesting information about a troubling time in our history. This piece is part 12 in a 13-part series, apparently focusing on the origins of various ethnic communities in the Alamosa, Colorado community. I would have appreciated more information about the series, either in a written description or in the "intro" of the show.

I assume that the producer/host Sarah Parker is a volunteer. That being the case, this is an impressive effort, especially in the context of a series of 13 shows.

Sarah is a soft-spoken yet earnest and expressive host, obviously interested and engaged in the subject matter. So much so that, at the end of the program she offers a statement of opinion and exhortation that in light of today's climate of terrorism, "we must be sure that this never happens again." Stations that use the piece should be aware of this variation of seeming journalistic objectivity

As with many programs posted to PRX, this piece has a very local or regional focus. It will be difficult for stations outside Alamosa or the Southwest region to find a use for it.

As can be expected in volunteer community radio, the program suffers from some technical problems such as issues with audio levels and the quality of telephone interview segments. I enjoyed the use of music under the voice tracks but it is sometimes very soft and nearly inaudible.

For those willing to overlook it's weaknesses, this is a program that has much valuable information and food for thought resulting from the personal stories of the people who were interviewed here.

Comment for "Religion: A New Union Between the Church and Labor" (deleted)

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Review of Religion: A New Union Between the Church and Labor (deleted)

A sound-rich informative piece about an important issue. I would suggest that local stations find ways to "balance" the progressive viewpoint from which this piece was produced. It's nicely done but It comes off as an "advocacy piece" that presents essentially one side of the issue.

The focus of the piece is very California-centric, posing a challenge for local programmers to find a "hook." I suggest that this piece would work nicely in a local talk show needing a set-up, maybe for Labor Day programming. Your guests and/or callers will then help address the balance issue I raise above. It could also be useful as a feature during local segments of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day or entirely local magazine shows. At nearly 7:00 in length, most stations will have a hard time squeezing this in to regular programming avails.

From a technical point of view, the piece gets off to a slow start...with :32 of "nat sound" before we hear the reporter. That's a little long for my taste, especially given the overall length of the piece and the "ambient quality" of the "sound."

Thanks to produer/host Rose Qguilar for the generic out cue. ("In San Francisco, I'm rose Aguilar.") This is the kind of detail that helps make a piece fit in, whether it's being used in San Francisco, Peoria or Oxford, Ohio.

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Review of Peace Talks Radio: Hour Long Specials (deleted)

Who would think there were so many ways to approach the subject of peace? From the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and former Nobel Peace Prize winners, to those working with prisoners or promoting non-violent conflict resolution for children, this program addresses many areas of the core topic of peace.

Admittedly this is a compilation from an apparent year's worth of programs but it's obviously a good example of what can be done with a compelling central theme and access to competent and well-spoken sources.

In the midst of our current "War on Terror" many of us have forgotten that there are other ongoing "battles" that threaten peace on earth. Each of these situattions deserves the attention of "idealistic" people who care about the earth and its people. It's good to know that there is a series giving attention to these issues.

This program is professionally produced and well-paced. It's hosts are personable and engaging. The guests are informative. It's a good "public radio style" show with a lot of solid content. I like the "peaceful" music and the gentle "feel" as well.

I am grateful that this show is offered in a "newscast-friendly" version for those of use who like to insert hourly updates. In true peacemaking fashion, a full 59:00 version is also available. We've gotta keep peace within the "family" of our public radio colleagues before we step out to change the world!

On many of our stations, with our packed schedules of regular daily shows, this special (and the series from which it derives) will end up airing late at night or early in the morning. While it deserves better placement than that, those who tune it in will find a gem of information and inspiration.

Comment for "Ed Bell's Sweetgum Bottom Blues"

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Review of Ed Bell's Sweetgum Bottom Blues

This is a music-rich studio piece offering something a little different for Black History Month. Tanya Ott is a good interviewer who keeps the piece moving between conversation and performance.

Tanya and her guests, Ansel Strickland and musician Sam Pointer, have a friendly and informative conversation as the listeners get a chance to sample the music of Alabama bluesman Ed Bell.

Well recorded and nicely edited. There were apparently some risque lyrics in one of the musical pieces (can you imagine that in a blues piece?) but they seem to have been edited out.

This would work nicely in a locally-produced magazine show or even as a drop-in during a AAA or eclectic music show. It's a good alternative to the historical profiles and informational pieces that crop up at this time of the year.

Comment for "Street kids in Cape Town"

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Review of Street kids in Cape Town

This is a factual, apparently well-researched piece giving the listener a glimpse of an often-overlooked problem. Although it focuses on the streets of Cape Town, the story could be produced on the streets of many American cities.

Producer/narrator Mikko Kapanen has a dry matter-of-fact delivery that serves the piece well by avoiding the impression of a bias that could be communicated through a more emotional presentation. The speakers tell their own story without need for more elaborate narration.

Our public radio listeners consider themselves "world citizens" but this piece might be most effective when used with a locally-produced companion piece or as a setup for a talk show about the plight of youth in our cities.

From a technical point of view, I applaud the use of a stereo mic in the sound gathering. There is however a notable perceived difference in levels between the narrator and the interview subjects.

Some listeners may have difficulty understanding the content of the interview clips due to the heavy accent of the speakers. I got used to it after a couple of minutes and assume other listeners will have the same experience.

Comment for "RN Documentary: Swimming, Sinking or Simply Paddling"

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Review of RN Documentary: Swimming, Sinking or Simply Paddling

This is pretty heavy stuff but it certainly helps answer the question, "What is a failed state?" This is a professionally-produced, technically solid and informational program but it's a real challenge to the attention span of the average listener.

There's certainly a place for detailed academic work of this type but I wish it had included more of the "production values" that have become the "norm" for public radio produced in the U.S. It's the audio equivalent of a "talking head" piece, produced with the assumption that the listener will be enthralled by the subject matter.

I listened to segments of this piece in both the peaceful quiet setting of my home, as well as in my car. Although I was able to follow the discussion in the domestic setting, I was able to give it about 5 minutes during the "car test."

One thing missing in this piece is any kind of explanation of why I might be interested in the topic of failed states. Public radio listeners are "smart listeners" but I argue that it's more often than not a good idea to tell us why we should care.

It's a well-produced piece in the same sense that a bowl of non-seasond organic vegetables may be a well-produced and healthy meal.

Comment for "Tending the Barter's Island Bridge"

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Review of Tending the Barter's Island Bridge

This is a sound-rich piece documenting the duties of twin brothers who operate this unique bridge in Maine. The piece is a good example of first-person narrative by the story's subjects. At no time do we hear the voice of producer Amanda Davis. Aside from being a clever way of producing the piece, I get the feeling Davis is demonstrating her respect for the subject matter. Talk about letting people tell their own story!

It's kind of quirky and fun. I hope that was the intention of the producer, althrough the brothers seem to be quite serious about the importance of the job they do and the need for the bridge to continue operating in its current and historic manner.

I'm having a hard time imaging why anyone would air this beyond the region in the Northeast where it was produced. It might be a good companion piece if your station is near a similar bridge operation and you've produced a more local segment. Another idea, why not use it on Labor Day in the context of a discussion of not-so-common or nearly-extinct jobs?