Piece Comment

Review of 11 Central Ave #55 - Rick Moody's "The Birthday Present"

As a station that plays 11 Central Ave, I have the unique privilege of listening to the program before its broadcast.

However, this year, I decided not to listen to the program until it airs so that I could better understand the impact of just hearing it on the air as a listener would.

In recent months, the house has been abuzz with events and ideas that are torn from the pages of our current lives as they plumb the zeitgeist for both comedy and social commentary.

However, today, I was left speechless after this broadcast. We air this program after our largest newscast of the day at Noon Friday. After reading about the realities of a student who was so alienated by his classmates he built an arsenal and planned a horrible attack against them, I was struck by how hard it is to report these events day after day because we often see only a face or hear a name that will elicit
reactions and repercussions for a long time.

"The Birthday Present" is a brilliant story that brings out all of the levels of the reaction to any teenage tragedy.
And, it packs a serious wallop. Even as I type now, I am having to hold back tears as the concise and powerful story's repercussions continue to dominate my thoughts...and I still have to read that same story again.

If you have not given this program a chance because you think it is some silly character-driven comedy that no one will appreciate-you are robbing your audience of an opportunity to actually feel something for characters on public radio. I use that word 'feel' because, the program's cast of characters, multiple story threads are designed to elicit a variety of reactions from a broad swath of your audience.

I also use that word, because it is not often that public radio leaves you touched, shaken and struggling with actually knowing what to "feel."