Comments by Martin Burch

Comment for "Gentrification in East Harlem"

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Review of Gentrification in East Harlem

In "Gentrification in East Harlem" youth producer Evan talks to residents of his neighborhood about a personal, difficult subject that is affecting his community.

Evan's technique and questions are very professional. The lack of leading questions means the word "gentrification" doesn't even enter the conversation in many of his interviews.

As with any vox pop, however, the quality of the piece depends on the quality of the interview subjects. In this case, two say nearly the same thing, and one seems decidedly bored. While Evan does the best with what he has, this piece would be stronger with a wider range of opinions and experiences. In this case, it seems opinions from politicians, community leaders, real estate investors, and the gentry who are moving in should be easy to come by.

This piece doesn't show the whole story, but it is does a good job of revealing what some residents are thinking.

Comment for "We Have Stories to Tell!"

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Review of Amina Gossip

From field recordings to an expert interview, Radio Rookie Amina takes full advantage of all radio storytelling has to offer. And it sounds really good.

Amina's friends and schoolmates gossip all the time. They talk about people who aren't there, often casting them in a negative light. Amina sees similarities between her gossiping and the movie "Mean Girls." Who better to see if she's right than Rosalind Wiseman, author of a book that inspired the movie? She not only gets an interview with Wiseman, she plays back some gossip she's recorded as well.

Even Amina's parents are big gossips, and she's got them on tape to prove it. Speaking like an anthropologist, Amina argues that gossip is culturally significant and enforces social mores. She has an interesting prospective on this, as gossip keeps her behavior in line with her family's South Asian Islamic expectations.

Congratulations to Amina, producers Marianne McCune and Karen Michel and engineer Wayne Shulmister on a job well done. This eight-minute look at gossip should have a place in many youth radio shows. Stations may also appreciate the full transcript that is available.

Comment for "If There Is One Thing You Could Change..."

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Review of If There Is One Thing You Could Change...

The hopes and dreams of Montpelier High School in Vermont are here, woven tightly into this short piece. Some interviewed want to see the world, some wish to help their family, the environment, or themselves. Some want to see change, some are happy with their lives.

Choosing to blend and wrap the interviews makes this a very fast two minute piece. I was left wondering who producers Robyn Moody and Rebecca Starr interviewed and what their stories were as Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman blared loudly at the end.

"If There Is One Thing You Could Change..." is like a artistically blurred photograph. That I'm left wanting more detail shouldn't discount the technical or artistic quality of the interviews and editing.

Comment for "The Migration Project: A Youth Radio Special from KUOW and Generation PRX"

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Review of The Migration Project: A Youth Radio Special from KUOW and Generation PRX

Some of the best youth-produced pieces on PRX are here, compiled into a hour-long special that's easy for stations to use. The Migration Project tackles a broad cross-section of issues raised by immigrants (and emigrants) with a vibrant host and production team that have managed to create a coherent piece out of diverse segments.

The eight segments, ranging from a year old to newly posted, are bookended with background information on the producers and interesting follow-up material. Host Dinorah Flores-Perez is not a dispassionate narrator, either. She weaves her story of migration throughout the show.

This show includes a wide variety of stories from youth who have come to the United States of America from around the world: Mexico, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, the Philippines, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, and Columbia. Perhaps the most powerful message that migration is not just about crossing into new countries, but also about crossing into new cultures comes from Machlyn Blair, a native of the hills of Kentucky.

By not distracting listeners with an immigration policy debate, this show will go a long way towards helping the audience understand how youth who have migrated by choice and by family feel, and what issues they face. This is an hour of audio worthy of prime airtime.

Comment for "To My Aunt, Who Crossed the Border"

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Review of To My Aunt, Who Crossed the Border

Often lost in the abstract immigration debates of politicians are the personal stories of recent immigrants. Elizabeth Pliego speaks softly but delivers powerful words as she talks about her aunt Ofelia's journey to America, exhausting meat packing job, and the cousins her aunt left behind. This breathtaking piece is not about politics or protests, but about family and the borders keeping them apart.

Comment for "What's the deal with Adults and Coffee?"

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Review of What's the deal with Adults and Coffee?

Ten year old Sylvia Hitchcock-Jones gives a whole new meaning to youth-produced radio with this impressive exploration of the adult world of coffee. Of course, it helps that Sylvia's mother is not only an avid drinker of Americano but also Alaska Public Radio producer Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.

Great sound, interviews and narration make this a top notch piece.

Comment for "Drug and Alcohol Vox Pop"

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Review of Drug and Alcohol Vox Pop

More than a half-dozen students start rattling off slang names for drugs, an excellent hook for this six minute interview mashup. This discussion gives a firsthand look at peer pressure and the physical and mental effects of drugs.

While Adomako Amankwah's commentary is adequate, the people he (and co-producer Michelle Suarez) interviewed make this well-edited piece shine.

Comment for "Melvin is Dead"

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Review of Melvin is Dead

In this debut piece, Sally uses the death of her dog Melvin to reflect on her life. This first-person narrative is peppered with witty metaphors and has an excellent flow, anchored by memories of Melvin.

Although the bookend actuals are hard to hear at normal volume levels, Sally's delivery is clear and warm. She talks to the audience like she is talking to a good friend, rather than simply reading the script into a microphone.

There's a twist ending, but I won't spoil it.

Comment for "Who Needs 2?"

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Review of Who Needs 2?

Ian Epstein has delivered an engaging and well-written insider look at the fast-paced world of ticket brokers: those guys who can get you a ticket to any event, but for a steep markup over the original price.

Despite the indignant protests of the ticket brokers interviewed for this story, I was still left wondering if is it morally and ethically right to charge an arm and a leg for tickets, and this topic isn't fully explored. But ticket brokering isn't a moral dilemma for Ian, he's focused on how much money he's making and can shrug off the reactions of his schoolmates.

Interwoven music, including the obligatory Pink Floyd classic "Money" works well and slows down the pace of this piece. That's a good thing, because Ian's got a lot to say, and has also collected a lot of interviews (some of which have distractingly poor sound quality). A long music tail after 16:33 extends this piece to almost 20 minutes.

I would recommend this engaging piece more highly, but Ian's delivery suffers from a lack of annunciation that leaves his words slurred.

Comment for "Live Deliberate: An Interview With Christopher Gutierrez, Straight Edge Writer and Spoken Word Artist"

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Review of Live Deliberate: An Interview With Christopher Gutierrez, Straight Edge Writer and Spoken Word Artist

By asking Chris Gutierrez five simple questions, Zoe Cordes Selbin continues to explores the philosophy that is Straight Edge as part of Youth Spin's "Straight Edge; Who, What and Why?" series.

Chris is passionate, well-spoken, and full of energy. Zoe has a lot of experience interviewing band members, and while her questions prove she knows Edge, she steps back to let Chris do the talking.

Comment for "Teen Vox Pop: Why Teens Are Still Driving Drunk"

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Review of Teen Vox Pop: Why Teens Are Still Driving Drunk

Like a song with sad lyrics but an upbeat tune, "Why Teens Are Still Driving Drunk" delivers a shocking message from teenagers that you could almost miss if you weren't listening to the words.

The teens interviewed for this vox pop say crazy things so normally, it sounds perfectly understandable that they have been driven home by drunken drivers or even driven themselves because they weren't really drunk, "just a little buzzed."

At the beginning of the piece, the interviewer seems to put words in the mouth of one guy, who says he can do a better job of driving when drunk. The interviewer suggests that is because he's more aware, while the interviewee seems to think it's because he's "loose." But frankly, I am amazed that any interviewer could find people that would talk this openly about driving while drunk.

The teens in this piece have their own reasons for drunk driving or getting in a car with a drunk driver, but from the way they tell it, they had no other good options. Especially because they are underage, they didn't want anyone else to know.

This short piece is definitely a provocative start for any discussion on drunk driving.

Comment for "Young Drivers"

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Review of Young Drivers

As "Drive Slow" plays in the background, Emmanuel "Manny" Watson leaves no stone unturned in investigating young drivers in Durham, North Carolina.

Manny wants to know why young drivers are getting into more accidents and why they are treated differently on the road.

Manny begins by talking to his driver's ed. instructor, then to a police officer, students who took the driver's ed. class, the parents of young drivers, and teachers at his school. He even rides to school with two young drivers. One mentions how a friend ran a stop sign and killed someone, the other says he didn't even have a license when he started driving.

The piece ends up becoming personal, as Manny talks to his own mother. "Young Drivers" should end when Manny speaks from his heart to the audience and asks them to be responsible drivers, but it seems he needs to give a few shoutouts. While no doubt appropriate for the original audience, it would be a more powerful piece if these afterthoughts were cut.

Manny's spontaneous, easygoing, and confident narrative style is easy to listen to, and this evergreen piece provides a look at young drivers that is relevant across the country.

Comment for "Aderall and Low Expectations"

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Review of Aderall and Low Expectations

Back in the good old days, high schoolers of average intelligence weren't listed as "most likely to succeed in college" by their yearbooks.

But little pills called Adderall are improving the formerly low expectations of what lazy or less-than-brilliant students can accomplish, and smart-guy Marshall Dungan doesn't like it one bit.

Adderall, a stimulant, works to keep students awake and focused on otherwise boring material.

No Adderall will be necessary to enjoy this short (1:49) personal essay by a jaded Dungan who hoped to see his slacker classmates fail in college while he became the successful graduate celebrated at high school reunions.

Fantastic vocal quality and punchy delivery keep the piece interesting, but Dungan fails to elaborate on exactly what Adderall is or how it works.

Also, Dungan nearly glosses over the routine torture he endured at the hands of his classmates that made him dream of their failure. The words are there: he says he was given countless wet willies, shoved into lockers, berated, and exiled by the social elite, but his punchy, upbeat delivery and lack of description fails to give these words an emotional impact.

While this piece is not a comprehensive look at college drug use, it is a unique, well-produced personal story about the effects of focus-enhancing drug use on one teen's life. "Aderall and Low Expectations" would be an excellent way to hook listeners for a show about drugs that enhance academic performance.