%s1 / %s2

Playlist: John Barth's Favorites

Compiled By: John Barth


I listen to a lot. Some stuff I like.

Living Nine Eleven

From WNYC | Part of the WNYC 9/11 Anniversary Programming series | 59:00

This program won an honorable mention from Third Coast 2012. The opening gives me chills. PRX helped make this happen, but I think this is one of the best, hmm..memorials to the losses on 911 I have heard. It gets the right emotional tone without being mawkish or false. Hard to do.

Living Nine Eleven

Wtc_jurfon_small Ten years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th,  as part of WNYC's "Decade: 9/11" coverage, this special explores New Yorkers' most visceral and immediate emotional reactions to the attack on the World Trade Center and how they are - and are not -- still with us today.

Fear and shock, grief and guilt, anger, gratitude and solidarity -- these emotions overwhelmed many New Yorkers along with the billowing cloud of smoke and debris after the Towers collapsed.

WNYC's award-winning news team spent days, months, and then years reporting on the attacks and their aftermath. Through a mix of their recordings at the time and interviews with people ten years later, WNYC reporter Marianne McCune guides us through the stories of people who were directly impacted by what happened and have been struggling for a decade to make sense of it.

For more on WNYC's "Decade Nine Eleven" project, please visit our website:

99% Invisible (Standard Length) (Series)

Produced by Roman Mars

I work with Roman so color me biased. But 99% Invisible is brilliant in its originality: pacing, range of topics and ideas and the power of audio to tell a story. Roman is one of THE best.

Most recent piece in this series:

99% Invisible #170- Children of the Magenta (Standard 4:30 version)

From Roman Mars | Part of the 99% Invisible (Standard Length) series | 04:30


On the evening of May 31, 2009, 216 passengers, three pilots, and nine flight attendants boarded an Airbus 330 in Rio de Janeiro. This flight, Air France 447, was headed across the Atlantic to Paris. The take-off was unremarkable. The plane reached a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. The passengers read and watched movies and slept. Everything proceeded normally for several hours. Then, with no communication to the ground or air traffic control, flight 447 suddenly disappeared.


Days later, several bodies and some pieces of the plane were found floating in the Atlantic Ocean. But it would be two more years before most of the wreckage was recovered from the ocean’s depths. All 228 people on board had died. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorders, however, were intact, and these recordings told a story about how Flight 447 ended up in the bottom of the Atlantic.

The story they told was was about what happened when the automated system flying the plane suddenly shut off, and the pilots were left surprised, confused, and ultimately unable to fly their own plane.

earlyautopilot2[Early Autopilot. Credit: Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution]

The first so called “auto-pilot” was invented by the Sperry Corporation in 1912. It allowed the plane to fly straight and level without the pilot’s intervention. In the 1950s the autopilots improved, and could be programed to follow a route.

By the 1970s, even complex electrical systems and hydraulic systems were automated, and studies were showing that most accidents were caused not by mechanical error, but by human error. These findings prompted the French company Airbus to develop safer planes that used even more advanced automation.

Airbus set out to design what they hoped would be the safest plane yet—a plane that even the worst pilots could fly with ease. Bernard Ziegler, senior vice president for engineering at Airbus, famously said that he was building an airplane that even his concierge would be able to fly.

Airbus_A300_B2_Zero-G[One of the first Airbus planes for commercial use. Credit: Stahlkocher.]

Not only did Ziegler’s plane have auto-pilot, it also had what’s called a “fly-by-wire” system. Whereas autopilot just does what a pilot tells it to do, fly-by-wire is a computer-based control system that can interpret what the pilot wants to do, and then execute the command smoothly and safely. For example, if the pilot pulls back on his or her control stick, the fly-by-wire system will understand that the pilot wants to pitch the plane up, and then will do it at the just the right angle and rate.

Importantly, the fly-by-wire system will also protect the plane from getting into an “aerodynamic stall.” In a plane, stalling can happen when the nose of the plane is pitched up at too steep an angle. This can cause the plane to lose “lift” and start to descend.

stall[From top: a plane in normal flight; a plane in a stall. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.]

Stalling in a plane can be dangerous, but fly-by-wire automation makes it impossible to do. As long as it’s on.

Unlike autopilot, the “fly-by-wire” system cannot be turned on and off by the pilot. However, it can turn itself off. And that’s exactly what it did on May 31, 2009, as Air France Flight 447 made its transatlantic flight.

planned route[The dotted line begins where Flight 447’s last contact with the control tower was made. Credit: Mysid]

When a pressure probe on the outside of the plane iced over, the automation could no longer tell how fast the plane was going, and the autopilot disengaged. The “fly-by-wire” system also switched into a mode in which it was no longer offering protections against aerodynamic stall. When the autopilot disengaged, the co-pilot in the right seat put his hand on the control stick—a little joy stick like thing to his right—and pulled it back, pitching the nose of the plane up.

This action caused the plane to go into a stall, and yet, even as the stall warning sounded, none of the pilots could figure out what was happening to them. If they’d realized they were in a stall, the fix would have been clear. “The recovery would have required them to put the nose down, get it below the horizon, regain a flying speed and then pull out of the ensuing dive,” says William Langewiesche, a journalist and former pilot who wrote about the crash of Flight 447 for Vanity Fair. 

The pilots, however, never tried to recover, because they never seemed to realize they were in a stall.  Four minutes and twenty seconds after the incident began, the plane pancaked into the Atlantic, instantly killing all 228 people on board.


There are various factors that contributed to the crash of flight 447. Some people point to the fact that the airbus control sticks do not move in unison, so the pilot in the left seat would not have felt the pilot in the right seat pull back on his stick, the maneuver that ultimately pitched the plane into a dangerous angle. But even if you concede this potential design flaw, it still begs the question, how could the pilots have a computer yelling ‘stall’ at them, and not realize they were in a stall?

It’s clear that automation played a role in this accident, though there is some disagreement about what kind of role it played. Maybe it was a badly designed system that confused the pilots, or maybe years of depending on automation had left the pilots unprepared to take over the controls.

“For however much automation has helped the airline passenger by increasing safety it has had some negative consequences,” says Langewiesche. “In this case it’s quite clear that these pilots had had experience stripped away from them for years.” The Captain of the Air France flight had logged 346 hours of flying over the past six months. But within those six months, there were only about four hours in which he was actually in control of an airplane—just the take-offs and landings. The rest of the time, auto-pilot was flying the plane. Langewiesche believes this lack experience left the pilots unprepared to do their jobs.

Voo_Air_France_447-2006-06-14[Pieces of the wreckage of Flight 447. Credit: Roberto Maltchik]

Complex and confusing automated systems may also have contributed to the crash. When one of the co-pilots hauled back on his stick, he pitched the plane into an angle that eventually caused the stall. But it’s possible that he didn’t understand that he was now flying in a different mode, one which would not regulate and smooth out his movements. This confusion about what how the fly-by-wire system responds in different modes is referred to, aptly, as “mode confusion,”  and it has come up in other accidents.

“A lot of what’s happening is hidden from view from the pilots,” says Langewiesche. “It’s buried. When the airplane starts doing something that is unexpected and the pilot says ‘hey, what’s it doing now?’ — that’s a very very standard comment in cockpits today.'”

Langewiesche isn’t the only person to point out that ‘What’s it doing now?’ is a commonly heard question in the cockpit.

In 1997,  American Airlines captain Warren Van Der Burgh said that the industry has turned pilots into “Children of the Magenta” who are too dependent on the guiding magenta-colored lines on their screens.

William Langewiesche agrees:

“We appear to be locked into a cycle in which automation begets the erosion of skills or the lack of skills in the first place and this then begets more automation.”

However potentially dangerous it may be to rely too heavily on automation, no one is advocating getting rid of it entirely. It’s agreed upon across the board that automation has made airline travel safer. The accident rate for air travel is very low: about 2.8 accidents for every one million departures. (Airbus planes, by the way, are no more or less safe than their main rival, Boeing.)

Langewiesche thinks that we are ultimately heading toward pilotless planes. And by the time that happens, the automation will be so good and so reliable that humans, with all of their fallibility, will really just be in the way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 11.54.13 AM[The magenta guiding lines of automation, from a 1997 presentation by pilot Warren Van Der Burgh.]

Producer Katie Mingle spoke with William Langewiesche, a former pilot who wrote an article in Vanity Fair about this flight, as well as Nadine Sarter, a systems engineer at the University of Michigan. This episode also features the voice of Captain Warren Van Der Burgh.

Latitude News Podcast #2 - Two Nations, Under Cod

From Latitude News | 10:50

American cod fishermen are broke. Norwegian cod fishermen make $100,000/year. What's up with that?

Atlantic_cod_small What’s for dinner? Probably not cod. Cod was once so common in American homes it was simply called “fish.” Now you’ll find cod featured on menus in fancy restaurants. When the cod fishery collapsed in the 1990s, it devastated fishing communities around the world. The American towns still have not recovered; meanwhile, Norway is catching record amounts of cod. What’s so special about Norway? Latitude investigates.

SURVIVORS: Solitary Confinement in America's Prisons

From Claire Schoen | 29:00

This is a chilling and powerful documentary with a strong point of view. Americans so easily say 'throw 'em in jail and toss away the key.' Well, this piece and this powerful New Yorker article by Atul Gawande explain the consequences of solitary confinement. A timely topic because of the debate about what to do with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

Claire Schoen's program goes beyond the New Yorker article--the powerful sensations of sound bring the issue to life. And so do the painful voices of men and women who have survived this form of detention.

Dsf_0308_1_small Tens of thousands of inmates live in total isolation in America's jails and prisons today. And the number is rapidly growing. Often prisoners spend years – even decades – by themselves in a cell the size of a small bathroom. They don't see anyone. They don't talk to anyone. They don't touch anyone. They are completely alone.

In this half-hour radio documentary, "survivors" of solitary paint a picture of what solitary confinement looks, sounds and feels like. These are the voices of both men and women; Black, White and Latino; old and young.
The effects of sensory deprivation experienced in solitary confinement have been well documented. They include depression, panic attacks, insomnia, paranoia, hypersensitivity, hallucination and psychosis. These psychological effects can be permanent. And often prisoners are released directly from solitary back into society.
U.N. conventions and treaties define this sort of treatment as torture. If we, as a people, continue to brutalize others in this fashion, what does that do to us all as a society?

A Shortcut Back To 1969 -"The Lunar Module"

From Peter Bochan | 12:13

Wow---this brought back so many memories of an amazing summer. What a fantastic montage.

275px-aldrin_apollo_11_small This segment of "A Shortcut Back to 1969" -The Lunar Module,  is a mix of the sounds, voices and music of the summer of 1969 featuring original NASA recordings of the launch of Apollo 11, Richard M. Nixon, Neil Armstrong, John F. Kennedy, The 5th Dimension, David Bowie,The Who, The Beach Boys, Burgess Meredith, General Westmoreland, various soldiers and reporters in Vietnam, astronauts, mission control specialists and much more...

Part of a 45th Anniversary look back at 1969


From John Biewen | 03:00

This is one my favorite pieces because it always causes me to tear up. And I don't even HAVE kids. It is beautiful and evocative; it captures what parental love must be like. This piece also demonstrates a real commitment to capture sound -- it covers YEARS in Harper's life. Jon did this for Third Coast and won a deserved award. I can listen to this every week and not get tired of it.

John Biewen

Harper-john-small_small This essay/montage was produced for the Third Coast Audio Festival's 2008 Audio Challenge, Radio Ephemera.  The challenge was to produce a piece of no more than three minutes based on any two of five books selected from the Prelinger Library of San Francisco -- and to include the voice of a stranger.  "Scared" is based on the books, "Control of Mind and Body," and "The Stork Didn't Bring You!: The Facts of Life for Teenagers."  The stranger is the voicemail lady.  

Barack Obama-The Remix

From Peter Bochan | Part of the Shortcuts series | 54:17

Barack Obama-The Campaign for President

Obamacookie_small Barack Obama - The journey to the White House, reMixed in words & music-introduced by Robert F. Kennedy and featuring Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, John McCain, Chris Rock, Colin Powell, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Steve Harvey, Will. i. am, Hillary Clinton, The Pointer Sisters, The Drifters, John Legend, Homer Simpson, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, Ted Kennedy, FDR, The Little Rascals, Kevin So, Branford Marsalis, M.C. Yogi, Martin Luther King Jr, Sam Cooke, John Lewis, Quiet Village, David Letterman, Tim Russert. Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Matt Damon, Roy Budd, Iron & Wine, Dephazz, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, various politicians, excited voters...and Barack Obama.

Yes We Can!

Saving Jungle Souls

From Homelands Productions | Part of the Vanishing Homelands series | 21:14

First, the audio is incredible--sounds we likely will never hear in person; but the layers of sound from a South American jungle are so foreign. Contrast this with the sound of your daily life.

And here is the first world meeting...the ancient world. The ruining of the old, in the name of good intentions. A horror. "The plane was a winged spirit...it was the dead flying..."

Chief_small A sound-rich profile of Ataiba, chief of one of the last bands of nomads in the Americas, as he leaves the Bolivian jungle to live with evangelical missionaries. The story is told by Ataiba and the missionaries from starkly different points of view. Part of the Vanishing Homelands series, chronicling the dramatic changes to land and culture across the Americas.

It's Just A Matter of Time

From Ryan Scammell | 14:01

Everything's stuck in the past when Liza Minnelli plays a concert in Coney Island.

Default-piece-image-2 Why can't we let go of the past? What is our obsession with keeping things going even after their time is gone? To figure this out, we look at the histories of Liza Minnelli and Coney Island, their rises to the top, and how, when they got there, they never came down. Huge fires! Andy Warhol! Lions! Lawsuits! Incubated Babies! It all comes together one night when Liza Minnelli plays a concert at Coney Island, and we finally figure out why we can't let go.

Bastille Day Commentary: "Mercy Buckets"

From Diana Epstein | 02:53

Commentary on growing up with a French mother. Very funny

Images_small This piece is a commentary on what it was like growing up half french and how I resisted learning the language like saying "Mercy Buckets" instead of "Merci beaucoup." My mother called child specialists asking them why I refused to speak French. It explores how I eventually came around to love French and accept the culture and language.

What's Divorce Like for You?

From Vermont Folklife Center Media | Part of the Youth Radio Vermont series | 02:55

And you don't think teens can produce compelling radio? Listen to this and re-evaluate.

Jerry1 My parents have been divorced for 11 years and it's been an ongoing struggle for me. I wanted to know what it was like for other kids, so I walked around Montpelier, Vermont and talked with kids about divorce. Here's what they said....

Singing Salvation Army Bellringer

From Todd Melby | 04:55

One of my all time favorite holiday pieces. I can feel the cold. Love the raw sound of this....a StoryCorps story without a studio.

Default-piece-image-1 Arthur Jackson, 57, is a Salvation Army bellringer at the Mall of America in Minneapolis who loves to sing while he rings. In this audio postcard, Jackson sings a portion of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" while he opens doors for shoppers and encourages kids to ring his bell. He's a former crack addict.

Rheb's Candies: A Charm City Holiday Tradition

From Aaron Henkin | 10:55

a VERY sweet holiday story...

Rhebs1_small This is a fun, light-hearted, silly, heart-warming story about one of Baltimore's best-kept holiday secrets. Here's an intro for a host... "The coming holiday season brings with it different traditions for different people... And for a lot of longtime Baltimore families, it's synonymous with one thing: Rheb's candies. This year, the local family-owned chocolate business marks its 90th year in operation. Rheb's is a true hidden jewel of old Baltimore, and producer Aaron Henkin recently ventured out with a friend to discover what the Rheb's experience is all about...

There's Always Big Fun and Laughs at the Comic Con

From Zak Rosen | 06:37

A comic-book version of the comic-book artist, Marty Hirchak takes the reader/listener on a tour of the "Comic Con" circuit.

Popartfunnie6_small I've teamed up with a local (Detroit) comic book writer and morphed one of his comics into an audio play/comic of sorts. This particular story works especially well with radio, because it's basically a documentary comic story. I'll try to explain?A comic-book version of the comic-book artist, Marty Hirchak takes the reader/listener on a tour of the "Comic Con" circuit. Comic Cons, better known as comic conventions are a haven for comic collectors of all sorts. The con is where enthusiasts gather to debate, sell, buy, and trade comics. The scene as you might imagine is mostly made up of men, with a smattering of "pin-up queens, and b-list celebrities." Hirchak explains the in's and out's of a con, with help from several characters he himself has met at past conventions.

Story in Sound: Indigenous Radio in Oaxaca, Mexico, a presentation for the Fulbright Fellowship

From Megan Martin | 11:59

Indigenous radio in Mexico

0_small In fulfillment of a year-long Fulbright Fellowship, this bilingual piece is a taste of the sound I've been recording in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. It's a collection of interviews with villagers from around the region, sound I've collected from the indigenous station in the region (XETLA) as well as snippets from blog entries over the last several months. This piece was made for presentation at a mid-term reunion of Fulbright Fellows.

Garbage Finds New Life in Queens Office

From Kenan Davis | 04:38

The story what happens to the belongings of someone who dies

Img1285_small When someone dies, the family members go through the belongings and pick out what to keep. Then they can call a rubbish removal company to take the rest to the dump. That's Nick Dimola's job. But he often finds things to keep for himself. Kenan Davis reports.

The Industrial Musicals Hour

From Jon Kalish | 58:40

A fictional weekly music show celebrating Industrial Musicals on a fictional public radio network

Default-piece-image-2 A celebration of one of the most astonishing yet obscure musical genres of the 20th Century. Industrial musicals were written for company sales meetings or annual conventions, with a golden age spanning the 1950s into the '80s. They were lavish productions that incorporated original music and lyrics, full orchestras and expensive staging, Most were never recorded, though sometimes a record was made and a few hundred copies were distributed as souvenirs. Steve Young, a writer for David Letterman, is the self-appointed archivist and obsessive collector of these recordings, and he's the host each week of a show that shares these recordings with an audience they were never intended for. This is a one-time special. It is not really a weekly show. The special includes an original comedy piece featuring the great Moe Moscowitz, a veteran of NPR's Morning Edition.

May Your Days

From Julie Shapiro | 10:44

Ghana sounds like everything you might imagine, and some things you never could.

Temacoast While I traveled around Ghana in January, 2008, certain sounds jumped into my recorder, like: kiddo handclaps, the pounding of fufu in Circle Market, Empress Olivia and her kpash kposh, screaming insects, screaming birds, screaming bats, one very hungry goat, fishermen singing while hauling in an enormous net from the Gulf of Guinea, the unmistakable cacophony of a tro-tro station, an unexpected pop song blaring from streetside speakers, the deep rhythms of a wedding celebration and glorious live music from a front porch.

Dark Side of Teenage Popularity

From With Good Reason | 29:44

Explores the messages to teens that to be popular you must buy the best in brand-names and outshine your peers in all ways, including destructive behaviors.

Serenageorgina_small "Losers shop at Target." That's one of the messages coming through in 'Gossip Girls,' a popular teen book and TV series. Naomi Johnson (Longwood University) says these books are filled with product placements that try to convince young girls that the most important thing in life is to get a boy through buying and wearing high status couture. Also: We all want our children to be well-liked, but new study shows there are risks that come with being popular. University of Virginia psychologist Joseph Allen says popular kids are more likely to drink, smoke and vandalize. They seem like leaders, but in reality they may only be tracking peer opinion, as politicians do with polls.

Fouta-Toro, Senegal: An Audio Postcard

From Emma Jacobs | 04:12

A report on daily village life from Northern Senegal.

Travea348_small Recorded during a visit to the Fouta Toro region of Senegal in April of 2008 with a Peace Corps volunteer from Indiana, this piece offers a glimpse into life in rural, northern Senegal. In a region where temperatures regularly top 120 degrees and many of the men have left for the exterior to support their families, we visit a village 8 km off of the nearest paved road. We visit households, a baby weighing, and a goodbye party for a departing husband. Emma Jacobs and Peace Corps volunteer Ashley Goodson narrate this story.

A Mind of Winter

From Benjamin Winter | 01:41

Poetry..remixed. "That's life!" and, yes, that is good poetry.

Default-piece-image-1 In Wallace Stevens' poem, "The Snowman," winter is miserable or beautiful or both--depending on how you look at it. In this piece I ask some cold people at the bus stop if this poem affects the way they look at winter in Michigan.

RIP T-shirt Segment

From Jacob Fenston | 05:56

This is a segment of a longer piece about T-shirts.

Default-piece-image-2 This is a segment of a longer piece about T-shirts.

Cogito Ergo Sum

From Amy Conger | 09:04

An abstract sound collage dealing with identity and mental states

Dscf2148_small This is the sound piece that accompanied an installation piece, which can be viewed at the link above. It also stands alone as an audio composition. The large theme is one of questioning identity and the changing sense of fullness and time in the mind. There are several movements that vary in density volume and texture. It is mostly built of recorded ambient noises, and is peppered with voices and other sounds.

Standing on the Line Between Interrogation and Torture

From Dan Epstein | 06:04

An interrogator's inside view on the debate over interrogation and torture

Mi2_small The mission to ensure America's safety has led authorities to seek new tools and expanded powers in the war on terror. Interrogation practices have been among the most controversial issues of national security. The prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and stories of harsh interrogations conducted by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have sparked a debate on when interrogation becomes torture. And this debate seems far from over as Congress conducts hearings into interrogation practices. I myself am a former Army interrogator and when this debate began to unfold I found myself asking troubling questions. In this story I speak with Staff Sergeant Terry Karney, a US Army interrogator who served as an interrogation team leader in Iraq in 2003. His position is clear: torture is illegal, ineffective and counter-productive. And he's opposed to the policy of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Thinness and Salvation

From Sarah Yahm | 28:41

a piece about the symbolic meaning of fat in our culture

Default-piece-image-2 A fresh and different perspective on the obesity epidemic. Why are we so terrified of fat? what does it symbolize? How are we projecting other anxieties onto fat people and the fat body? In order to answer this question this piece follows Christian dieters, Northern California foodies, and fat activists.

Sagebrush to Steppe(short)

From Western Folklife Center Media | 13:54

Music bridges the language barrier as a group of cowboy musicians trek across the Mongolian steppe on horseback, making friends & singing songs with the nomadic herdsmen of this vast country.

Default-piece-image-2 In September 2005 a group of American cowboys traveled to Mongolia for a horse trek across the steppe. This was a grassroots visit to local herdsmen and it also completed a cultural exchange that started a few years back when Mongolian herders came to the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada to sing songs and play music. Hal Cannon went along with the singing cowboys to document just how the music of these two horseback cultures would jibe.

Goat Auction in North Carolina

From Alix Blair | 08:04

Curtis Ring sells off all his goats: this story presents an intimate look at what is happening to farmers across the country

Img3795_small In Gibsonville, North Carolina, Curtis Ring had a "total herd dispersal" auction on May 17th to sell his Boer goats. His age (seventy-seven) has played a part in his decision to retire from goat-farming, but the reality of increasing fuel and feed prices makes the raising of meat goats a difficult job. The selling of Ring's goats presents a personal story of the larger struggles facing farmers across the United States today.

Ghost Bikes

From Mark Saldaña | 04:26

In Portland, OR, and across the United States, Ghost Bikes mark the sites of fatal bicycle-autombile collisions.

Ghost Bikes
Mark Saldaña

Gbsw14_small This short documentary explores the phenomenon of ghost bikes, makeshift monuments that artists install at the sites of fatal bicycle-automobile collisions, and how family members and community members alike make sense of the symbols. It centers on Susan Kabota, the aunt of the victim of such a collision. The documentary also explores bike culture in Portland, Oregon, and how policymakers are dealing with accidents.

Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers, and Entrepreneurs

From The Kitchen Sisters | 54:00

From The Kitchen Sisters and PRX, a Black History Month Special: "Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers, and Entrepreneurs," with host, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress, Alfre Woodard. These stories come from The Kitchen Sisters collection -- stories of black pioneers, self-made men and self-taught women, neighborhood heros and visionaries. People who said "yes we can" and then did.


A man tapes the history of his town with a scavenged cassette recorder, a woman fights for social justice with a pie, a DJ ignites his community with a sound. Join us for this richly produced and deeply layered hour long special that resonates for Black History Month, or any month.  Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson) and Roman Mars.
"Can Do" is supported in part by the Reversioning Project of the Public Radio Exchange at PRX.org and The CPB, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Physics for Poets

From Lu Olkowski | 07:17

People often depict scientists as coldly rational. Physicist Michael Salamon takes issue with that. He explains how Walt Whitman misunderstood the beauty of the universe. And how Maxwell's Equations gave him his first "cerebral orgasm"

Andromeda_small People often depict scientists as eggheads who don't appreciate beauty. Physicist Michael Salamon, who works at NASA's Universe Division, takes issue with that. He references Walt Whitman's "When I heard the learn'd astronomer" from Leaves of Grass and argues that the poem perpetuates a myth of the scientist as a bookworm who doesn't appreciate beauty. He asserts that exactly the opposite is true: aesthetics have driven Michael's career as a scientist. And the careers of many scientists who he knows. In this piece, Michael helps the lay listener appreciate the absolute gorgeousness of complex equations and discoveries. First broadcast on PRI's Studio 360 on September 14, 2006.

The 2009 Boston Handbell Festival

From Jackson Braider | 05:40

I am a Jackson Braider fan and this piece has what makes his work distinctive: musicality, gorgeous tones and recording, his authoritative but engaging narration and his wit.

Festival_small Handbell ringers have an unusual approach to musicmaking -- as one choir director put it, "It's like synchronized swimming." In anticipation of the third annual Boston Handbell Festival, which takes place on May 19 at Old South Church on Copley Square in Boston, independent producer Jackson Braider delves in how these people make those incredible sounds.

Writers on a New England Stage - David McCullough

From New Hampshire Public Radio | Part of the Writers on a New England Stage series | 59:00

I am a huge McCullough fan. I am a huge Virginia Prescott fan. This evening with a great writer, recorded live, is sublime. Smart, smart, SMART.


Historian and author David McCullough spoke about his new book, “The Greater Journey:  Americans in Paris.” The book follows famous artists, writers, scholars, and some figures lost to history, who defied the American movement west, by heading east, to Paris.  It’s a fascinating, informative and enlightening conversation.

Go For It: Life Lessons From Girl Boxers

From WNYC | 57:00

This year women will enter the Olympic boxing ring for the first time. Hosted by actor Rosie Perez and producer Marianne McCune, "Go for It" explores why women fight and why we expect them not to. A compelling hour of radio that is perfect for airing before or during the Olympic Games. The opening ceremony is July 27 and the women's boxing competition begins on August 5th and runs through August 9th. This is sound rich and provocative sports reporting that you won't want public radio listeners to miss.


If you box, by definition, you’re a risk-taker. If you’re a girl and you box, you’re a risk-taker and a rule-breaker. If you’re a girl and you box and your aim is to be the first to win an Olympic gold medal - that’s going for it. Who does that and why?

 Go For It: Life Lessons from Girl Boxers , is a one hour special that tells  the story of women for whom boxing is an expression of ambition, drive, strength and – yes – aggression, qualities often admired in men and sometimes discouraged in women. 

The special is the next logical step for Women Box, our series with photojournalist Sue Jaye Johnson (and in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine and Radio Diaries) chronicling the lives of a group of fighters who’ve spent the year competing to become the first women to box in the Olympic Games.

Go For It will take listeners inside the hearts and minds of girls and women who are not afraid to defy expectations, take chances and fight to become ‘the greatest.’ When Tyrieshia Douglas says, “It’s against the rules to have as many muscles as I have,” she’s daring the rules to stop her. And when Claressa Shields, at 16, asks members of a church in Flint, Michigan for a few hundred dollars so she can get to the next boxing tournament, her dream of an Olympic gold medal seems both impossible and inevitable.

We  follow the ever-confident Claressa, now 17, to Qinhuangdao, China where she fights to qualify for the Olympics.

Finally, there’s the sobering backdrop: brain scientists are finding increasingly stark evidence that repeated blows to the head cause a long list of problems later on, from death to memory loss and depression. Most boxers, men or women, will tell you, ‘it’s not going to happen to me.’ Go For It will look at the risks to women who are embracing a sport increasingly criticized for exposing participants to serious injury.

Whether you love or hate boxing, Go For It aims to draw you into a deeply compelling conversation about what it means to be a girl and what it takes to be a champion. 

Co-Produced by the award-winning reporter/producer of Living Nine Eleven , Marianne McCune has developed an intimate and powerful style of story telling you won't want to miss. 

Promo available now.  Embeddable slideshows on website.

Check out these websites for more details: 


Here's The Thing: Billy Joel (101)

From WNYC | Part of the Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin series | 59:00

Alec sits down with Billy Joel at a piano as Joel details the decisions – musical and personal – that helped shape his music and his career.

Htt_200x200_small In his new radio series, Here’s The Thing, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin gives the listener unique entrée into the lives of some of today’s most exciting performers.

For information, please contact Deb Blakeley, Blakeley & Company, LLC, 612-377-1207 or blakeley.deb@gmail.com