Comments by Anthea Raymond

Comment for "Max Roach--Drums Unlimited"

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Review of Max Roach--Drums Unlimited

Producer Ben Shapiro is a drummer. Host Kenny Washington is too.
And you can hear it in "Drums Unlimited," a new documentary about master drummer Max Roach created by Shapiro for PRX.

This 54-minute program takes us from Roach?s childhood in the south, through his
?Around the clock jazz workshop? in New York City and the death of band member Clifford Brown, to his final years as a master teacher and icon.

And, perhaps most importantly, it takes us inside Roach's method and his contributions from a technical perspective. But it?s in language we can all understand.

Roach stopped using his drum to keep time in a steady four-four. He created a musical commentary between the snare and bass drum, accenting what the others in the ensemble were doing. He also pioneered the idea of the drum solo.

Producer Shapiro interviewed Roach several times during his final years in New York City. He produced several other shows about him.

THIS one is built on the best of the tape, from Roach and from folks who played and grew up in the New York City jazz clubs with him.

We also get some spectacular music and mixing. The show drives, the same way Roach?s pioneering counterpoint on the drums pushed jazz in to hardbop.

A seasoned, well-known host, great stories, and well-chosen tape make this a fun one.

Program in time for Roach?s birthday -- he would have been 84 on January 10 -- especially if you missed a chance to obit him this year.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
January 2, 2008

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

What?s it like to come to a new country? To learn a new language and have your parents depend on YOU to translate? How does it change you?

This 54-minute special covers these questions through the eyes of teens. They?re from Hong Kong, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador, the Bahamas, Columbia, and Jeremiah, Kentucky. Now, they?re all in America ? which, as we hear, doesn?t necessarily make them Americans.

This show pulls together work from youth radio groups around the country. Producer Jenny Asarnow has found a slew of it ? all of it skilled, none of it redundant. It testifies to the strength of youth radio and the value of Generation PRX, the show's coproducer.

Asarnow has built a nice structure for the material. Short interstitials mix tape, music, and copy to underscore themes like borders, language, and home.

We also get longer pieces, several noteworthy:

From KRCB, a young man tries three times to cross the US-Mexico border. His young translator reads the story in English, with evocative overdubs and techno underbeats. It?s long but it works.

From Radio Rookies, a teen born in Sierra Leone doesn?t have her green card ? even though her dad does. We hear her outraged uncle as she threatens to go on radio about it. And from WAMU?s Youth Voices, we get what?s almost a reporter?s piece about parents who depend on their kids to translate.

Almost all of the pieces were made by teams, something you can't help noticing. And eighteen-year-old host Dinorah Flores-Perez is a find. A poet and activist, she adds several bridges that keep the narrative going.

So there?s lots here ? including some new spins on the immigrant experience.

Despite the vote in Congress, the issue isn?t going away. This special can help advance the discussion. Consider it for Labor Day.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
July 13, 2007
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "Active Voice Radio 6-15-07: Gerald Horne- The Deepest South: The US, Brazil and the African Slave Trade"

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Review of Active Voice Radio 6-15-07: Gerald Horne- The Deepest South: The US, Brazil and the African Slave Trade

Active Voice Radio brings back some of the force and view gone missing in public radio these days. The show takes on topics at the edge. We need that now when content on local and national shows so often overlaps.

I listened to the show's June 15, 2007 broadcast. Houston University's Gerald Horne talked about the US slave trade and its ties to Brazil and the South Pacific, especially AFTER the Civil War. It's underdiscussed material.

Horne had lots to say on the subject and a clear, largely economic analysis based on his two books. But I wanted a bit more from the host -- not facts, but perhaps an attempt to pull an opposing argument or point of view from the guest.

Producer and Host Chris Goldstein has a nice sound and asks good questions. Now he needs to take charge.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
July 11, 2007
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "Saying Good Bye To Food"

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Review of Saying Good Bye To Food

Imagine you are a teen and grossly overweight ?by over 300 pounds. You go on TV to tell your story.

Radio Rookie Rocky Tayeh doesn?t have to imagine anything. In real life he gained and gained and finally lost. How is the the subject of this ten-minute segment from WNYC?s Radio Rookies. (It's apparently the second by Rocky on the subject.)

Rocky is a good narrator, present without being overbearing. He?s a good writer too, and he patiently builds his narrative.

The first part of the segment bumps diary, clips, and ambiance against Rocky?s voice. Though we don?t know WHY he?s eating, we do feel the fast-track anxiety and embarrassment that fuels it.

There?s tension in Rocky?s family too. Dad says diet and exercise will cure Rocky?s problem. Mom doesn?t think so. She and Rocky head to the hospital for a surgery that puts a ?lapband? on her son?s stomach. Afterwards, Rocky can't eat much or he gets sick. And he does, over and over. Finally, he changes his eating habits forever ? drinking Starbuck?s Pumpkin Lattes down 200 pounds. Rocky has recorded himself getting sick, and getting clear. It?s great stuff, well recorded, as is all the material here.

Rocky?s story ends with a predictable interlude ? one of his ?girlfriends? tells him he?s still the same guy with or without his poundage. But here's a twist: Rocky doesn?t agree. He hopes kids who hear his story will realize that being lighter improves self-esteem and energy.

Rocky admits he still wants to know WHY he ate so much. But even absentt this insight, the piece is a keen look at how one kid fought the fat and won.

Some may object to HOW Rocky did so. But that could make for a great discussion. (The New York Times recently reported young MEN now get breast reduction therapy.)

This might also be a good backgrounder link on a web buildout.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
July 11, 2007
LA, CA

Comment for "Five Days in July Special"

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Review of Five Days in July Special

On July 12, 1967, Newark, New Jersey exploded into the nation's consciousness.

26 people -- most of them black -- died in five days of violence quelled by a rain storm. But Newark was just one of almost 160 cities torn by violence that summer.

Charles Schultz and Ester Podemski use drama and indepth discussion to return to Newark. It's an engaging and nationally relevant redux.

The producers call first on playwright Tracey Scott Wilson. Her original 28-minute radio drama follows the arc of the violence and the misunderstandings around it -- from the first reports of cabdriver John Smith's beating and possible death to his conviction for resisting arrest (later reversed).

Scott's vignettes are short, solid, and, for the most part, well-modulated. We see the riots play out in the projects, at the precinct, among activists and politicians. We hear how no one might agree about what happened.

Historic drama isn't easy, but this is well done -- and important for anther reason: very little newsreel footage of the Newark events exists. Radio -- albeit recreated -- stitches everything together.

At the play's end the governor and mayor assure us: the riots are over.

But then Part Two, a panel of experts chaired by host Nancy Giles reminds us, "No, they're not."

Giles and her panel ask about the riot's cause, its lessons, and its legacy.

This discussion translates Newark's very specific history to other cities. Princeton's Eddie S. Glaude is particularly strong. But all agree that the growth in the African-American middle class -- sparked in part by urban unrest like Newarks' -- probably makes the summer of 1967 a one-time thing.

Stations that like radio drama might run the first half hour alone. But the one-two of the full package is worthwhile. And since unrest rippled across the country in 1967, the program has legs through the summer.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
July 8, 2007
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: FAMILY AFFAIR"

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Review of SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: FAMILY AFFAIR

FOUR STARS

Sly and the Family Stone influenced pop music for all time. Band members were black and white. The women not only sang ? they played instruments. The group?s bass player is said to have invented the slap-bass sound. Its tight rhythm section has been widely sampled AND imitated.

The group had some big hits, some still heard on the radio today. But not everyone remembers or knows Sly and the Family Stone.

This one-hour program is a great (re)introduction. Critic Ben Fong Torres is an affable host. And the program comes at a good time: the band?s first seven albums were recently released as COLLECTION, a boxed set.

The name of the program is FAMILY AFFAIR, one of the group's hits. So the program, fittingly, begins with some early family history. The five Steward kids grew up in Vallejo, California, outside the orbit of San Francisco and the post-World War Two black immigration. They honed their musical chops as the Steward Four, a gospel outgrowth of the family?s Pentecostalism.

Then, Sister Rose and original drummer Greg Errico take us through the formation of the later, hit-making group. The story of how three of the five Stewards joined back together builds well. We also hear about the group?s later, troubled times. So, at some level, the group?s decline makes sense.

The band?s original bass player Larry Graham adds memory and insight too. His story about the song ?Dance to the Music? and Sly?s subversiveness around that is a lot of fun. Chuck D, Issac Hayes, and Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle add context. Nonetheless, I finished my listen feeling I wanted to hear a little bit MORE about why the band left such a mark and how it influenced what we hear today.

This is great holiday or weekend programming. The rise of neo-soul -- and the boxed set -- make it all the more timely.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
June 26, 2007
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "The Appeal of the Mega-Church"

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Review of The Appeal of the Mega-Church

The appeal of the so-called "mega-church" gets only more topical as time goes by. Next Generation Radio producer Akilah Amapindi made this piece almost two years ago, on the eve of Reverend T.D. Jakes' 2005 Christian Megafest. The fests, which began in 2004, feature events for the entire family.The 2007 fest has been bumped back to 2008. But that doesn't make Amapindi's work any less interesting.

The segment begins as Amapindi interviews Alton Pollard of Emory University's Black Church Studies Program. They cover what the megachurch will mean for traditional black churches. It's a great conversation that shows how our mobile society makes the megachurch attractive.

Pollard's point about the way the megachurch makes it easier for folks to sit back and be less active is interesting. So is his later point about how technology makes folks feel connected despite scale.

What isn't explored is how user-generated content and social networking might play out. Will they bring megachurchers together or make it far easier for them to hide? how about a follow up?

The segment ends in vox of megachurch-goers on how they overcome the issues of scale. The voices are interesting and provide balance, but feel a little cobbled together.

The piece also lacks for an ender as the voices trail off into a backannounce. The ender might be as simple as a few questions that still need answering, or some detail about the Megafests.

Overall, a solid three-and-a-half minute conversation from a producer I hope I hope is still out there doing good work. I'd recommend Pollard too as a voice for local talk shows on this subject or related ones.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
June 4, 2007
Los Angeles

Comment for "Bad Teeth at King Drew Dental Clinic" (deleted)

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Review of Bad Teeth at King Drew Dental Clinic (deleted)

Los Angeles's King Drew Medical Center is known nationally for embarassing and deadly lapses in care. But dental disturbances have been left out of the mix.

This hooky dramatization brings dental treatment at the troubled urban hospital to life -- and, perhaps, to the forefront.

The six-minute plus piece is narrator-less. A swirl of patients? voices at the top defines the issue: our teeth hurt and it?s hard to get them fixed. The collage bounces nicely off the guiding ?official voice? of the piece ? that of, Joseph McWhorter, head of Dental services at the hospital. He's got his own source of pain -- watching how the patients suffer. Within 40 seconds, the back and forth between expert and patient shaping the piece gets established.

The dense mix of urban voices and ambiance never lets up. The producers do an excellent job of interviewing. Patients and McWhorter are impressively specific about dental illness and how it affects nutrition, work, family,and mental health.jobs,

Healthcare is an issue that won?t go away. Dental care ? and lack of it ? are consistently undercovered. This piece is worth adding to any discussion of urban healthcare -- whether on the web or airwaves.

Anthea Raymond
Former PRX Editorial Board Member
Los Angeles
May 24, 2007

Comment for "In the Spirit"

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Review of In the Spirit

IN THE SPIRIT captured MY SPIRIT. This is a well-produced, smart one-hour that gives voice to the history of gospel music.

It?s built on an impressive mix of recordings. Here?s just one example, a 1913 recording of The Fiske Jubilees doing ?Roll Jordan Roll.? How?d the producers dig that one up?

The program also excels when it pairs these historic recordings -- sometimes with contemporary ones -- to illustrate aspects of gospel?s history. Following the Fiske Jubilees? song mentioned above is a contemporary ?If We Ever Needed The Lord Before? by Take 6. No need for narration to comment on the vitality and continuity of the spiritual;we hear it.

Host Jerry Zolten worked in the studios with many of gospel?s most important performers. I?m assuming some of the fabulous music we hear is due to his guidance and archives. Regardless, Zolten?s a great choice to host. He lends an authoritative air to this community history without being overbearing. The narration is perfectly underwritten --- giving just enough context to move our understanding of gospel music along.

Finally, the show includes a number of interviews, the majority in the second half of the show, when the music has us hooked. A modern clip from bass Issac Freeman of the Fairfield Four punctuates the memories of Toby Young , a gospel DJ also interviewed for the piece. We hear from Thomas A. Dorsey, said to have coined the word ?gospel,? on his how he went from blues to religious singer. Critic Horace Boyer builds out the story and we see how modern gospel came to be. Kudos to the producers for giving these voices and others a forum.

Lots more to say ? but the bottom line is this: program the show for Fourth of July, Labor Day, or another American holiday. IN THE SPIRIT is accessible and engaging. Its mood is perfect and its lode of American history is ideal.

Anthea Raymond
Former PRX Editorial Board Member
Los Angeles
May 23, 2007

Comment for "Story Time"

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Review of Story Time

TWO AND A HALF STARS

THE VOICES OF AFRICAN KIDS crossfade to bring us an improvised tale of a crocodile done in by a lion. Lightly drummed rhythms are the backdrop that stitches it all together.

The piece combines music and audio recordings made at a children's poetry, dance, and drum class in Ghana.

Unfortunately, low audio levels and unfamiliar accents combine to make the first, even second listen a little confusing. We can't make out the story very well. Which doesn't make the segment very broadcast friendly.

And that's unfortunate: it's clear the producer has done a careful job of listening to the children's story hour and sequencing what she gathered. Plus the mood she creates by mixing the young voices against the drumming is soothing and rhythmic in its own right.

Someone with the ability and leisure to give the piece multiple listens is the best audience. Perhaps this could be made available as a podcast or part of one? Certainly, I'd encourage PRX members -- who can play this several times -- should give this some attention.

Anthea Raymond
Former Editorial Board Member, PRX
May 22, 2007
Los Angeles

Comment for "David Berman Goes on Tour"

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Review of David Berman Goes on Tour

Three Stars

This unnarrated profile of singer and bandleader David Berman includes some interesting bites and performances bits.

But, perhaps because of the length, the story line jumps, rather than builds. Not all listeners may stay with this. But the payoff is there for those who can endure.

Here's an example. The first half of the segment is about David, his band, and his attempts to avoid "the real world" of work. Addiction isn't really emphasized.

Then, about three minutes into the five, we learn David goes into rehab. Sure, we know David's life isn't going great. But the dive into rehab comes as a bit of surprise. And David's back out as quickly as he goes in. Again, for some, the payoff will be this interesting angle: how does he deal with the $50,000 in debt accumulated during his addiction?

So it's twists like these that make David a worthwhile subject. He's also an engaging performer. In the piece's second half we get to hear David return to the stage after rehab. It's the piece's true payoff moment to hear him fumbling for lyrics and asking the audience to bear with.

At a little over five minutes, the segment might work as a topper to a talk segment about creativity and mental illness -- or about mental illness survivors.

Alternatively, I could see this being uploaded as a web extra on those subjects, especially if David's story were somehow worked into the hosts' conversation.

Anthea Raymond
Former PRX Editorial Board Member
Los Angeles -- May 20, 2007

Comment for "Out of Chaos"

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Review of Out of Chaos

Three and a half Stars

Producer Shannon Hefferman has suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder all her life. She begins taking Ritalin for the first time at 23 and shares the experience with us in this feature length segment.

Excellent production, good presentation, and nice tight writing make this a quality
Piece on an important subject.

We also get a interesting mix of voices: Shannon?s dad, a college friend, and another friend who rescues Shannon from jail. Shannon ends up there after inadvertently shoplifting.

She forgets to take her Ritalin and, perhaps as a result, walks out of a store without paying for her groceries. The security guard turns her in. It's a disturbing incident, but something I could imagine myself and others doing too.

Which leads me to my one big beef about the piece: I don't hear in it what's truly different about suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.
The examples Shannon shares could certainly apply to many of us, our attentions shattered by our multi-tasking lives. Her concerns about what she'll lose if she does take Ritalin sound like what some say about taking Lithium for bipolar disorder.

I like that Shannon consciously builds a bond with her audiences, generalizing away from her malady, making the listener see the challenges we all face when we try to change.
But I do find that transition coming a bit quickly, with little foreshadowing. Perhaps this could come from the other characters in the piece and how they think or talk abotu Shannon.

The high quality of the production make this an excellent cutaway for one of the NPR Newsmagazines, perhaps in a week or month devoted to persons with disabilities.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
November 26, 2006
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "Kasper Hauser: Spicy Pony Head"

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Review of Kasper Hauser: Spicy Pony Head

FOUR STARS

A haughty French waiter gives Kasper Hauser a few too many chances to order Spicy Pony Head.

As Kasper says, "I try not to eat things I ride at the fair." But at this restaurant, the spicy equine offering is a steak, a plate, and a garnish. Kasper's attemps to evade the culinary inevitable -- as his waiter insists -- drive the narrative in this comedic short.

We hear just two voices -- Kasper's and his waiter's. Ambiance stays at a diskware-clicking-in-the-background hum.

The writing and the timing keep our interest. Only once, about two minutes out, does Spicy Pony Head get a little old.

This would be fun little piece to find anywhere on the radio dial. But how about at the end of an ATC or other magazine show hour where you'd usually find a restaurant or food review?

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
October 26, 2006
Los Angeles

Comment for "Human Laughter" (deleted)

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Review of Human Laughter (deleted)

FIVE STARS

"You can fake a smile, you can't fake a laugh." This is one sweet conversation about the best and worst in laughing.

Natural Selection's Martha Foley and Dr. Kurt Stager of Paul Smith's College "get analytical" about something entirely emotional.

The chat's based on a Scientific American article. Men and women were observed laughing in different social settings. Men laughed most with their male friends. Women laughed most with men they didn't know.

The subjects also heard different laughs. They picked the one they liked the most. The winner? A high-pitched, melodic laugh, by a female.

The material here is, of course, inherently engaging. But so are our two conversationalists. Martha Foley's repartee with her guest is light but never non-inquiring. Stager does a good job of breaking the study down.

There's just one stumble: when Foley pushes for a bit of irony or criticism Stager doesn't have it. Foley's clearly irked about the high, melodic laugh's winning. She wants it to say something about society. Stager can't take it there saying only, "If it?s to your advantage, maybe it?s to your advantage to let one out.."

Foley's question about why teen girls laugh so darn much is also is left dangling.

But with luck, we'll hear her follow up in another great segment some day.

This would make a nice cutaway or cover. It could also set up a longer conversation about laughter or humor.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
October 26, 2006
Los Angeles

Comment for "Mothers in Uniform"

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Review of Mothers in Uniform

MOTHERS IN UNIFORM
3 Stars

Military moms in harm?s way is the subject of this feature-length segment from Eric Whitney.
Of KRCC. When the segment was made,over 500 moms were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe now there are more. This important, still underdiscussed subject deserves our attention.

Obstacles to the telling include distance and access. The two main voices are both in Iraq ? one comes to us by a very cranky satellite phone. That?s mentioned twice in the short piece. But it doesn?t make up for the distance the poor transmission puts between Sergeant Amy he audience.

A vigilant listener will hear two interesting and probably representative stories. One?s about Lisa King. Lisa enlisted while pregnant ? she has a one-year-old and a husband back at home. The other is about a 30-year-old single-mom sergeant who loves being a soldier. She?s left her twins with her mom.

Both talk about the guilt, both talk about the excitement and the risk: in these latest wars, females pull guard duty and other tasks that put them in harm?s way. The poor tape quality keeps what we hear brief ? unfortunate, given the subject.

This segment could kick off a longer talk show on the issue of ?War and the Homefront? or ?Women and War.? It might also be a nice segment to plug into one of the network?s daily news magazines on or near Veteran?s day. Finally, it has valuable background for someone developing a similar show or segment.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
October 22, 2006

Comment for "FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES: THE BUDDY GUY STORY" (deleted)

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Review of FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES: THE BUDDY GUY STORY (deleted)

Four Stars

Now 70, Chicago blues guitarist Buddy Guy crossed all kinds of boundaries. This one-hour program -- celebrating his birthday and hosted by Dan Aykroyd -- testifies to that.

In it, we hear a range of Guy's music -- from his first hit in Chicago to cuts from his most recent album. And we get great stories about Guy?s first time on stage in Chicago, his tour with the Rolling Stones, and his collaboration with harmonica player Junior Wells.

We also hear testimonials and memories from Jimmy Page, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and other white artists influenced by Guy. Mick Fleetwood talks about his band's 1968 session at Chess Records in a segment that seems a bit gratuitous. But the range and caliber of voices that speak about Guy is impressive and largely necessary.

It?s a very listenable, approachable hour with value for blues aficionados too. Plus it?s great fun hearing full cuts performed by the man whose driving blues guitar is arguably the signature of the Chicago Blues sound. The production is topnotch and lively too.

Great for holiday programming, also late-night out of a blues or jazz block. This program has wide appeal, especially for the core public radio audience.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
September 10, 2006
Los Angeles, CA

Comment for "I'll Quit Cutting When You Quit Smoking"

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Review of I'll Quit Cutting When You Quit Smoking

Three Stars

?We cut to feel alive,? says April Winburn, the young producer -- and presumable narrator -- of this three minute plus segment. From April we hear how she came to cut and her view that it?s no worse than drinking or the smoking she wants to see her mother quit.

The piece compresses of a larger audio diary: it floats narrative bits on top of an electronic hiphop bed. This music?s just as cool in tone as April?s detached and compressed narration. The effect is chilling and disturbing, even if we don?t get a really good sense of WHY cutting is such a release. It simply is, even when it lands April in the hospital. In fact, it?s in the hospital she meets others like her who too see life affirmation in the practice.

Even without the ?why,? this is a chilling little module, enhanced by crisp narration and a good, appropriate, believable read. It would work well in a program about teen issues or perhaps in one on addictions.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
September 6, 2006
Los Angeles

Comment for "Young Women's Leadership School In East Harlem, NY: Part 1" (deleted)

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Review of Young Women's Leadership School In East Harlem, NY: Part 1 (deleted)

3 Stars

This is a detailed and patient look at how one public school in NYC sends inner city girls to college to study math and science. It is Part One of a two-part program originally produced by Blue Chevigny for Wisconsin Public Radio?s ?To the Best of Our Knowledge? -- a program about new ideas.

So, as you?d expect, the piece does a good job explaining the rationale for the Women?s Leadership School and how it works. Chevigny does some excellent reporting as she breaks down how teaching math and science to girls is different. When the girls talk at tables made to respect their need to ?converse? in class, it?s very vivid and engaging.

But I wish I?d met a student, some students, sooner. We don?t hear from Kayla until 5 minutes or so into the piece. Seventh Grade Teacher Terry Colliton (sp?) is an amiable voice. But an opening scene showing us who benefits from this learning technology might have been another way to go. Certainly, the round of voices introduced just before 9:00 on the subject of college prep achieves this too.

There?s some good data in the piece about who attends and graduates college in African-American and Latino communitiites. But It gets a little dense. Unless you?re taking notes, it might be hard to follow. Could the producer have spaced things out a bit -- highlighting one or two numbers?

Overall, this is very solid work on an important subject. It would add texture to any look at women?s education/knowledge creation or inner city schools.

I look forward to hearing Part Two.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
September 1, 2006

Comment for "Teen Turntablists"

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Review of Teen Turntablists

Three Stars

"It's always going to stay with me. I don't think that's something my parents can take away."

Young Filipino DJ Ronski is talking about his passion for two turntables and a mixer, something this piece shows him and his parents trying to understand.

I enjoyed the segment. It moved and sounded good, but I have some questions.

Youth Radio producer Alice Dugan is able. Her voice is bright, her writing is spare and precise. She's on it and we go with her.

That's a good thing, since
the focus of the piece is less certain: is this Ron's story or the story of other young Filipino-Americans? And is it the story of artists breaking away from the pack? Or of young people re-negotiating their dreams?

There's a bit of all of this here, which you'd expect. But as a listener you're also expecting' some resolution, which we DON'T get. We're left with one stream showing parents delight in their son's hobby.
We know less about how the son feels about his DJ career as he hits his twenties. We know he's still passionate but how? And how much? And what does Ronski's story tell us about other young Filipino-American DJ?

The clips from from celebrated Filipino DJ Hubert are ambiguous too. Recorded by phone -- for reasons not explained in the text -- Hubert leaves us dangling too.

This might be a fun web extra or part of a program on Filipino or Southeast Asian issues.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
August 29, 2006

Comment for "Aboriginal Australians"

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Review of Aboriginal Australians

FOUR STARS

Snatched from their mother's breast
Said it was for the best.

These lyrics come from the anthemic ?Took the Children Away,? by aboriginal singer-songwriter Archie Roach. He and his partner Ruby Hunter are profiled in the second half hour of this excellent package from Radio Netherlands on the ?stolen? generation of Aboriginal Australians. Young black Australians were taken from their parents in the 1950s and 1960s and raised in institutions or foster families.

The first half hour focuses on the Collard family ? and two Collard daughters who were ?stolen?. One, Glynnis, grew up ?black? and ended up, first, in foster institutions and then on the streets. Her sister, Ellen, with lighter skin, was raised white. Producer Dheera Sujan makes the wise decision to ?drop out? of the program here, letting the characters speak in their own words.

Glynnis's words are shocking and exceptional, especially when she speaks about being ?presented? to white men at age 12. They become still more powerful when they bump up against sister Ellen?s story about meeting her real ?black? family, after living for years with her white one.

One quibble: This block of material begins about ten minutes into the program -- after a section establishing the Collard?s family history, material that lost me as a listener and may not be necessary. I wonder if it will also lose others, especially those not used to Australian accents. Maybe stations can tell listeners: it's worth the wait.

The profile of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter in Part Two, ironically, benefits from the presence of producer Sujan. She shares her experiences as a white Australian growing up in the 1970s. Archie Roach?s reflections on racism and the untranslatable experience of being black are valuable and fresh.

The two programs are packaged together in Radio Netherland?s series ?Worlds Apart?. The series looks at indigenous peoples bridging modern and traditional ways. Either could stand as a half hour speaking to some of the questions about race engaging American audiences today.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
Los Angeles
August 12, 2006

Comment for "Andrew's Mix"

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Review of Andrew's Mix

Three Stars

Esther (an alias) is the personable proprietor of Esther?s Mix Tape Collective. Members put together party tapes and send them to Esther. She posts them off to others in the collective likely to be appreciative.

Simon and Garfunkel, interestingly, are the artists most ?mixed? by the collective. There?s lots of music in the 6 minute plus piece too: some Carpenters, the Strokes, and Hakan Helstrom too.

The segment?s lots of fun ? as is the idea of a mix collective. It?s extremely well-produced and lively. Nonetheless, I wanted to hear how Esther got the idea for the collective, and about the challenges of running it. I would also have liked to hear what members get that the radio, iTunes, and other music sources don?t provide.
This material would have added some balance and resonance.

Esther?s Mix Tape Collective might be a hip cutaway to jazz up one of the national newsmagazines. Localize by back announcing a local tape swap or other music sharing event, now happening frequently.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
July 30, 2006
Los Angeles

Comment for "Standing Outside An Execution"

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Review of Standing Outside An Execution

Four Stars
From KRCB Voice of Youth Radio.

?As we get to the exit I?m feeling weird ?cause someone will die tonight,? writes 19-year old Greg Shimada on the night of Stan ?Tookie William's? death last year. He and his friends are driving to San Quentin, to join the crowd outside protesting Tookie Williams death by lethal injection. This piece gives the sounds of the night and the thoughts in Shimada?s head as the execution goes down.

Much has been written about Tookie Williams? and his death and death penalty.
I was interested in seeing how this would stand up. But Shimada is disarming and vibrant as storyteller and channeler of this unusual event, where vendors sell cocoa and socialist newsletters to the crowd. He and his young friends are the ideal interpreters of this Deathapalooza.

Shimada does a great job gathering interesting and well-recorded sound. The tight mix and his casual read bring the carnival atmosphere outside San Quentin to life. The anticlimactic offset of Williams? death is also done well.

This would make a great one-year anniversary piece on Williams? death ? December 13, 2005. It could be used as a cutaway or as a topper in a magazine format.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
Los Angeles
July 30, 2006

Comment for "Education: Dancing Off the Streets" (deleted)

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Review of Education: Dancing Off the Streets (deleted)

Two Stars

KALW's Katherine Girardeau's explores Destiny Arts, a program for at-risk teens in Oakland, California. Destiny Arts uses dance and movement training to empower inner city young people.

Despite the odds, this piece hangs together well. We hear some ambiance of the program itself. But we hear mostly from its participants and advocates.

So, the piece is a little talky. But it's saved by some nice "bank shots" -- where actualities intertwine in a way that resonate and move the narrative along.

I found some of the tape itself a little echoey and off mike. Perhaps that was a result of the church space where Destiny Arts is based.

Programmers nationally could use this as a set up piece for a program on at-risk youth and solutions.

NOTE: Reporter's SOC references KALW.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
Los Angeles
July 24, 2006

Comment for "Homeless Haircuts"

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Review of Homeless Haircuts

Three Stars

This professionally presented story of hope among the homeless would be a good cutaway or topper.

Former phlebotomist Kim Green cuts hair every Friday at New Saint Paul's church in Oakland. Her clients are the homeless who live in the park across the street

We come quickly to care about Kim and the work she does. It helps that her own story dovetails with those she helps. We see them through her.

Kim's a good talker too and likeable. Plus there's lots of nice nat sound in the traditional public radio style to build interest.

That said, I found I wanted to learn more about the park residents. Did being cleaned by Green help someone change his or her life dramatically? Maybe the answer's already there, but as a listener I kept looking for it, hoping for something dramatic.

KALW reporter Hana Baba is a solid narrator; her writing is lean, broadcast ready. Her interview with Kim Green and the resulting actualities are also good.

This piece feels slightly windy at times. Some clips could be shorter. But that's a minor and personal quibble.

Note: Reporter's tag must be redone before using.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
July 16, 2006

Comment for "RN Documentary: Used and Abused: Child Trafficking in Southeast Asia"

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Review of RN Documentary: Used and Abused: Child Trafficking in Southeast Asia

Three and and a half stars

Eric Beauchemin?s half hour documentary includes some deep research about child trafficking in Southeast Asia. It makes you glad you listened to it twice ? which you need to do to get the most from it.

Beauchemin?s dug up a lot of contrarian stuff about child workers we don?t always hear in the sensational storytelling endemic to this subject. I particularly enjoyed learning about the range of work girl and boy workers do. It isn?t just sex work. Economic pressure means keeping your options open, and that?s compelling.

Now the flipside: good reporting can, unfortunately, make for challenging radio, especially over a half hour. Beauchemin?s keen to make the most of the tape he has. So we have long interviews with experts, and with one Vietnamese worker, Vong, herself. That?s given the piece a slightly talky feel, with little ambient sound and scenario to break it up.

Perhaps this material wasn?t available. If so, some other device to break up the info flow ? musical or media interludes ? would have been welcome.

The piece opens strongly, with a good variety of textures and voices. Perhaps the open too can provide clues about how these interludes might work.

Finally, US listeners, who are not used to hearing translation, may tune out over the many foreign language clips and conversations here.

Programmers should consider scheduling this in the mid-day, when listeners are likely to be freshest and open to this deep exploration that asks a little more of the audience.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
Los Angeles
July 16, 2006

Comment for "Bashing Back!"

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Review of Bashing Back!

Three and a Half Stars

?No one can insult you without your permission,? Eleanor Roosevelt once said. And this one-hour episode of KUSP?s OUTRIGHT RADIO shows four queers who gave themselves permission to fight without pulling a punch.

Host David Gilmore is a good interviewer. And, the two best segments are built on conversation.

Especially valuable is Gilmore?s time with Kevin Barker. Barker used anti-gay demonstrations at his high-school graduation to raise money to start other gay student groups. (Listen to get the details.)

Their talk is specific and valuable for would-be activists. It?s also disturbing, perhaps unintentionally. Closing out the segment, Barker reads the email he got from a member of God Hates Fags, the group at his graduation.

And, sure it?s funny to hear the emailer call him ?Mr. Faggybody,? and to hear Barker and Gilmore laught off. But their laughter doesn?t dissipate the force of the emailer?s conviction ? and that?s a warning in its own way.

Also strong is Gilmore?s interview with Terry Gilbert. The transgendered woman got a $360,000 settlement from a so-called Christian software company that schemed to remove her. Gilbert?s not as immediately engaging as Barker, but Gilmore?s skill brings Gilbert out and the story to life.

Two short stories about two gay men ?bashing back? bookend the interviews. Tom Truss explores the emotional stuff that blocks those who would bash back, and is a good set up.

Weakest was the show?s open. It was too long (5:00) and didn?t use music. The billboard was confusing and the clips arcane.
Gilmore also comes across as a bit timid when he?s talking about himself. Maybe he should interview himself instead.

Bashing Back is a must for Gay Pride Month. I also hope stations will consider running the OUTRIGHT RADIO series in their weekday mix. The show is a much needed space for LGBT people and their fans.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
Los Angeles
June 7, 2006

Comment for "Blues & Beyond 001" (deleted)

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Review of Blues & Beyond 001 (deleted)

Four Stars

WXPN's "The Blues and Beyond" is always worth a listen. The format, like WORLD CAFE, is fast-paced and lets the programming, rather than the continuity, do the work. That's a good choice in a music show. This episode is no exception, and includes some real surprises.

Take the The "Back to Africa" material -- more-or-less the second half of the show. It's well-researched and inventively sequenced. Recordings are paired instructively: for example, we're reminded of periodic efforts by American blacks' to record in Africa with 1972's "Soul To Soul" (Ike and Tina Turner) going into Johnny Copeland's "Bringing It All Back Home" (1987).

The program also showcases new material, including three songs from "Skunkmellow," a new album by Guy Davis (son of actor Ozzy). Here's where I wish the host told me more. I kept wanting a backannounce or two to enhance my understanding of the song or Guy as an artist.

But context felt less necessary in the sequences where Mississippi Fred's "Baby, Please Don't Go" segues into Don Treener's remix/redo/update "Mississippi Fred's Dream." Two great songs here that simply need to rip to get their message across.

I could see this program on a weekend afternoon or evening. It's hour length should work well for programmers, and give local DJs a break.

Thanks WXPN.

Anthea Raymond
Editorial Board
Los Angeles
May 23, 2006

Comment for "Voices of Iraqi Americans on War and Peace"

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Review of Voices of Iraqi Americans on War and Peace

Four Stars

"If you came to help, why would you destroy..?" asks one of the Iraqi-American voices in Miae Kim's very solid documentary/ conversation.

Her question speaks for all the Iraqi-Americans interviewed for the program. These voices in turn aim to speak for the many living out a war in the homeland.

The voices talk about relatives in Bagdad and lives without water, power, and employment. They tell us about Saddam Hussein and a war that wasn't necessary. They speak -- with hope -- about a vote and democracy. And, they speak of the need to educate in America about outrages at home.

The voices stand on their own, without interruption from narration or ambiance. They may talk for several minutes. This brings the listener in and gives the subjects the respect they deserve. It's a good choice by the producer.

There's only one male voice in the mix (used sparingly). And female voices are butt cut at times. We don't always know which character is talking, which is frustrating at first. But then the real character -- an Iraq in torment -- emerges and it's less of an issue.

The material feels contemporary and fresh, and doesn't dwell on the politics. So programmers can feel safely using this as an evergreen, perhaps during a holiday weekend.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
May 21, 2006

Comment for "Let's Talk About Sex"

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Review of Let's Talk About Sex

Two Stars

Teens talk -- and talk-- about sex. And that's what's a little offputting about this segment from Sara Perman.

The 9:20 module meanders. It's a well-spoken journey -- these media-savvy teens are good talkers. But actualities seem to bank off one another without speaking to the 3-5 centering, and sequenced, points a piece of this length needs.

Granted, we can identify two larger themes -- how teens learn about sex from the media and how that affects the sex ed they need from schools and parents. But smaller ideas in logical, linked steps are needed.

Sara is a good mediator into the world of teen sexuality. Could we ask her to make a firmer decision about how much she wants to insert herself and her experiences?

As it stands now,
the first-person anecdotes that bookend the piece are too brief for establishing a real relationship with Sara. Perhaps that would change if Sarah used2 or 3 lines of anecdote or reflection to frame each idea she develops.

Programmers may find the segment's unusual length a bit difficult. But something like this could work for introducing, say, an hour call-in special on teen sexuality -- or as background listening to prepare.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
May 19, 2006

Comment for "The MySpace Phenomenon"

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Review of The MySpace Phenomenon

Three Stars

KUT's Asra Syed uses the story of one band to show how the website MySpace has forever changed the music industry. It's a good story, ably told.

A few things:
It's nice to hear from MySpace founder Tom Anderson about his surprise at MySpace's success and allure for folks like Rupert Murdoch. I would have liked to hear him speculate about where the "phenomenon" will go next.

At the outset, the piece is very conscientious in introducing The Octopus Project to listeners. But the music bed running underneath doesn't vary for over 2 minutes. I would have liked to hear a few clips from the band right up front. The mix also begs for a break in narration where a glockenspiel or theremin can be heard on its own.

Finally, the producer sometimes rushes her narration, particularly at the beginning of the piece. She should slow down or, perhaps, retrack her opening paragraphs after laying down the remainder.

The 7:30 segment fits naturally into Morning Edition, perhaps to cover another arts segment in the rollover. It could also help anchor a local business or technology show on similar issues.

NOTE:
The piece has a dated reference to April 2006's Coachella Valley Music Festival. It's near the end, and stations, may, perhaps consider editing it out.
The producer may also want to remix last :30 so other stations can program.

Anthea Raymond
PRX Editorial Board
May 19, 2006