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Playlist: News Station Picks for August '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39046851@N08/4581150872/">Mutasim Billah</a>
Image by: Mutasim Billah 
Curated Playlist

Here are August picks for news stations from PRX News Format Curator Naomi Starobin.

What Naomi listens for in news programming.

Maybe these slow news days of August have you thinking about something fresh, new and lively. Well, you can’t give each of your listeners a yappy puppy, but how about a new series? Great stuff out there. I had a look around on PRX and it was hard to pick just a few. This list displays a range from series with short interstitial pieces that you can plug in to a news magazine or show, to longer ones that would make great choices for weekend hours that right now just aren’t quite dazzling your audience. Have a listen!

Volunteers and Design

From Smart City Radio | 59:00

This is one in the series from Smart City Radio. All of the pieces are about cities...sometimes specific cities and how people are dealing with particular problems (Detroit, Syracuse), and other segments, like this one, are issue-oriented. These are heady and intellectual, and well-suited for an audience that is concerned or curious about urban life and its future.

It's hosted by Carol Coletta.

Default-piece-image-1 Ten years ago, two undergrads from Yale noticed the fundamental gap between their university and the community surrounds it.  To bridge this divide they formed the volunteer training organization that's now known as LIFT.  We'll speak with Ben Reuler, the executive director of LIFT, about harnessing the energy of students to engage them in the community and help combat poverty.


Good design can do many things, but can it change the world?  My guest Warren Berger has written a book on how design is doing just that.  The book, titled Glimmer,  shows how design in action addressing business, social, and personal challenges, and improving the way we think, work, and live.

Unconventional Archaeology -- Groks Science Show 2010-07-28

From Charles Lee | Part of the Groks Science Radio Show series | 29:42

For that half-hour time slot, go science! Lots of lively interviews in these segments, along with commentaries and a question-of-the-week. This series is produced in Chicago and Tokyo by Dr. Charles Lee and Dr. Frank Ling, who also host the show. They are natural and curious, and lean toward short questions and long answers.

There are pieces on cancer-sniffing dogs, outsmarting your genes, number theory, ant adventures, and lots more, displaying great breadth.

It's geared to listeners who are interested in science...no college level inorganic chem required.

Grokscience_small Archaeology is often portrayed as a romantic adventure to the remote corners of the globe. But, what is the life of an archaeologist really like? On this program, Dr. Donald Ryan discussed unconventional archaeology.  For more information, visit the website: www.groks.net.

Are Freckles Just Cute or Something More?

From Dueling Docs | Part of the Dueling Docs series | 02:02

Dueling Docs is a great idea, well executed. Each two-minute piece answers a simple medical or health question. The host, Dr. Janice Horowitz, lays out a question (Should you get cosmetic surgery? Is dying your hair bad for you? Can stretching make you more prone to injury?), presents opposing views, and concludes with advice.

This would fit in nicely during a weekend or weekday news show. A good two minutes.

Duelingdocs_prx_logo_medium_small While the rest of the media doesn't bother to challenge the latest news flash, Dueling Docs always presents the other side of a medical issue, the side that most everyone ignores.  Janice gets doctors to talk frankly about controversial health matters - then she sorts things out, leaving the listener with a no-nonsense take-home message

Reading Russian Fortunes

From Rachel Louise Snyder | Part of the Global Guru Radio series | 03:03

This series, Global Guru, claims to "ask one simple question -- just one -- about somewhere in the world." Those questions have included: "How do the Hopi bring rain to the desert?" "How and why do Thai people categorize their food?" "Why are there so many barbershops in Tanzania?" This is a great series of three-minute pieces you can squeeze into just about any hour. Rachel Louise Snyder out of Washington, DC is the producer. She says "each week, our mandate is to surprise listeners." Your listeners would say she succeeds.


The Global Guru is a weekly public radio show that seeks to celebrate global culture, particularly in countries where Americans have either single narrative story lines, like Afghanistan (war), Thailand (sex tourism), Rwanda, (genocide), or perhaps no story lines at all, like East Timor, Moldova, Malta, Lesotho, etc. Engaging and rich in sound, the 3:00 interstitial seeks to enrich our collective understanding of the vastness of human experience. Presenting station is WAMU in Washington, DC and sponsored by American University in DC. Some of our favorite past shows include: How do Cambodians predict the harvest each year? How did Tanzania become the capitol of barbershops? How and why does Thailand categorize food? What is Iceland’s most feared culinary delight? How do you track a Tasmanian devil? What are the hidden messages in Zulu beadwork?

A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Public radio listeners, as you know, are curious and intelligent. And they are, as you know, sticklers for language. Satisfy their curiosity with this hour-long series. It's hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, who talk about word usage and origin, and take questions from callers. Often those questions center around a word or expression that the caller recalls from childhood and is curious about. The mood is informal and the hosts joust a bit in a friendly way with their answers.

Most recent piece in this series:

When Pigs Fly (#1571)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

Awww_logo_color_square In English, if we want to say that something will never occur, we say it'll happen when pigs fly or when hell freezes over. In Spanish, you can express this idea by saying it will happen "when cows fly," or el día que las vacas vuelen. In Italian, the same idea is reflected in a phrase that translates as "when donkeys fly." In Malay, that event will occur "when cats grow horns," in French "when chickens have teeth," and in Bulgarian "when the pig in yellow slippers climbs the pear tree." This rhetorical device is called an adynaton, from a Greek word that means "impossible." 

Kamela works as a nurse in Anchorage, Alaska. When she asked a patient how how he was doing post-surgery, the man responded with Well, I haven't grown gills yet. It's a jocular way of acknowledging that although he hadn't recovered completely, things could definitely be worse.

Two examples of adynaton, the rhetorical term for playful exaggeration suggesting that something will never happen, involve animals' tails. One German expression translates as "It'll happen when the hounds start barking with their tail," and a Latvian one translates as "It'll happen when an owl's tail blooms."

Alyssa from Dallas, Texas, is puzzled by some jargon she hears in her workplace. As a management consultant, she's often warned by her bosses to make sure that employees don't think that management is moving their cheese. The phrase references Spencer Johnson's 1998 bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese? (Bookshop|Amazon) This motivational fable is the story of two mice and two tiny humans caught in a maze, and how they adapt -- or don't -- when their usual food source is moved to another location.

How do you make the number one disappear? Hint: add a letter.

All the answers to this puzzle from Quiz Guy John Chaneski are two-word phrases, and the only vowel they contain is the letter A. For example, suppose John is lounging in a shaded spot where only one variety of fruit is allowed. Where is he?

Justin in Dallas, Texas, is curious about the origin of the name William, and why the Spanish version is Guillermo. Its popularity goes back to the days of William the Conqueror. Modern languages have several versions of this name, such as German Wilhelm and Dutch Willem. For a good explanation of the phonetic changes that led to these different versions, check out Trask's Historical Linguistics by R. L. Trask, revised and edited by Robert McColl Miller. (Bookshop|Amazon)

W. H. Auden's poem "As I Walked Out One Evening" contains some lovely examples of the rhetorical device called adynaton, including: I'll love you, dear, I'll love you / Till China and Africa meet, / And the river jumps over the mountain / And the salmon sing in the street.

The phrase do it up brown can have two very different meanings: to "do something to perfection," as in something that is perfectly cooked, and "to swindle" someone or beat them at their own game -- metaphorically leaving them "cooked."

The phrase salt of the earth describes someone who is essential and pure of heart, a reference to the biblical Sermon on the Mount. To salt the earth usually means to render the ground useless, whether metaphorically or literally.

Following up on our discussion about the many meanings of the word regret, we share David Ray's poem "Thanks, Robert Frost," which addresses hope for the past as well as hope for the future. This poem was read with permission of the author.

Kit calls from Pulaski, Tennessee, recalls that when he played hide-and-seek as a youngster in Miami, Florida, the call he and his friends used at the end of the game to draw everyone out of hiding was All y'all come in free!. However, he's aware of other versions and wonders if they're all variations of one original phrase. There's no written record of an original version, and since this phrase tends to get passed along more often by word of mouth more than in written form, it can be highly variable. The Dictionary of American Regional English lists dozens of versions, including Ole Ole Olson all in free and all-ee all-ee ump free and all home free.

The word adynaton, which refers to a jocular phrase that emphasizes the idea of  impossibility, was adopted into English from Greek, where adynaton means "impossible," a combination of a- meaning "not" and dynatos, which means "possible." This Greek word derives from a root that means "to have power," the source also of the English word dynamic. One Hungarian adynaton translates as "when it's snowing red." A Russian version translates as "when a crayfish whistles on top of a mountain." In Serbian and Croatian, the same idea is expressed by a phrase rendered in English as "when grapes grow on willow." The Roman poet Virgil expressed the idea of something doubly improbable with the idea of "when golden apples grow on oak trees."

Tabitha from Palmer, Alaska, remembers her mother used to exclaim Stop wooling me!, a phrase used in parts of Appalachia, the Southeast, and the Ozarks to mean "Stop roughhousing!" or "Stop tussling!"

Quinn from Excelsior, Minnesota, is five years old -- well, five-and-three-quarters, as she makes sure to point out. She wonders why the letter Q is so often followed by U. In Old English, the alphabet didn't include the letter Q. The word quick, for example, was spelled cwic. The QU combination was introduced as a result of the Norman invasion, reflecting the influence of Latin. Latin, in turn, had been influenced by the Etruscans, whose alphabet included the letter qoppa. Two wonderful books about the evolution of the letters we use today are Letter Perfect by David Sacks (Bookshop|Amazon) and Michael Rosen's Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Bookshop|Amazon).

This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.