Comments by Eric Nuzum

Comment for "Autograph Policy"

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Review of Autograph Policy

A great little feature that can run in any market during this glorious, miraculous, gift from God--the beginning of the baseball season.

The piece focuses on an unusual policy instituted by the Arizona Diamondbacks that requires players to attend a fan autograph session before every game. While this seems like a home run for fans, some players are skeptical—for good reason. A nice dose of context that examines this interesting twist between a major league team, its players, and its fans.

A nice piece, well reported, that can fit into many applications at stations. Celebrate the season—air a baseball piece.

Comment for "Dyslexia: Identifying, coping and learning to read."

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Review of Dyslexia: Identifying, coping and learning to read.

When shopping for content to air on their stations, one important criterion many programmers use is whether pieces/programs offer something that a station could not do themselves. When listening to this program, it's hard to feel that this program meets that mark.

The program features a 29-minute telephone interview with a book author about the subject of her book-dyslexia. The content of the interview is pretty boilerplate, offering little surprise or engagement. The interview begins with the first question and rolls forward without much of a sense of purpose or direction.

The audio quality of the guest is an issue as well. Many stations avoid telephone-quality interviews with their own local material (let alone acquired material) unless it the information is too urgent or better facilities aren't available. Since the content of this interview is neither time-sensitive or is the doctor calling from a remote location, the quality standard should be higher.

The host is not as warm and dynamic as one would hope, sounding very restrained and stoic--especially when reading copy. The program does a good job of putting the content first, but perhaps too good a job. The host offers short, quick questions and let's the guests go, and go, and go. The host does ask for occasional clarification, but is hesitant to draw out, challenge, or question the ideas put forth by his guest.

Comment for "Going Home: Cristel's Diary"

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Review of Going Home: Cristel's Diary

This piece is an amazing document of a young woman, named Cristel, as she is released from prison after serving three years for an incredibly violent crime she committed when she was a troubled (and pregnant) 15-year-old.

Like all great documentaries, the piece offers a subject that is relatable, but doesn't fit into predictable patterns or clean outcomes. When you first hear this piece, there is a nagging feeling that you are about to experience a cliche: showing how "the system" really does work. However, the more time you spend with Cristel, you realize the change she has experienced has nothing to do with the penal system and everything to do with the emergence of her own character. She is the source of her success.

When the piece ends, we see Cristel happy and excited to have a chance at life with her daughter, but everything isn't rosey and resolved. We're left with Cristel commenting on seeing her first sun rise, commenting, "It was so made me think this is what normal life is like. I remember that."

Strangely, it would be a mistake to try to "peg" this piece to a topic or program "theme"--that effort won't serve the piece or the program well--it's too universal for that. Stations should just drop this in as it fits. It is engaging, inspiring, and tremendously human.

Comment for "The Ring and I: The Passion, The Myth, The Mania"

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Review of The Ring and I: The Passion, The Myth, The Mania

Jad is one of the best young producers in public radio and this program demonstrates his talent handily.

Most attempts by producers to cover the arts have all the excitement of watching water boil. Those pieces often contain too much polite reverence to offer anything unique or interesting; others come off as didactic or exclusive. In this piece, the producer takes one of classical music's warhorses back to the egg. The results are fresh, engaging, insightful, funny, and fantastic radio. The piece makes one of the most well known works of opera seem new and exciting--which is an off-the-scale accomplishment.

While some classical blue bloods will grimace at the less-than-pious treatment of Wagner's masterwork, others will appreciate its unusual (yet credible) take on a (heretofore) stale and tired subject.

This is one of those pieces that you have to ask why a station (news or classical) wouldn't air this, rather than why it would.

WNYC also deserves accolades for not only supporting this great piece of work, but for providing two (not one, but two!!) promos for stations to get the word out to listeners about this fantastic program.

Comment for "Confessions of Teen Stripper"

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Review of Confessions of Teen Stripper

This piece doesn't serve its subject well. The experience of the narrator is intense and engaging. However, the story doesn;t have an arc or an emerging theme. It is an incredibly honest and fragile story, it deserves the highest caliber treatment.

Outside of structure, the writing is interesting and somewhat insightful. It brings you close to understanding her experience, but not close enough to feel complete or satisfying. There are several points (such as taking drugs to deal with the difficulties of making through an evening or the debt system--resembling indentured servitude--in place at many clubs) that beg for deeper treatment, but the narrator/writer is too interested in moving on.

The unpolished, unprofessional delivery should be a positive attribute of the piece, but it isn't. Properly coached and produced, the freshness of the narration should add to its authenticity. However, here the woman sounds unnatural and uncomfortable telling her story--as if she is trying to sound like something she's not.

This story could benefit from a retooling. Add some natural sound and music to break up the narration (so it doesn't seemed so rushed), slow down the pace, and edit the script to focus it better.

When producers and stations move out to engage deeper segments of the public, they deserve commendation. However, when handling the stories of others, there is an inherent responsibility to make sure those stories "translate" well to radio.

Comment for "The Most German Day Ever"

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Review of The Most German Day Ever

What a masterfully understated piece! This is one of my favorite Transom finds and its good to see it offered here. From the first sentence, the listener is aware that they are in for some keen humor. The piece mixes a subtle narrative with occasional pauses to savor a scene, or point out something human, yet unexpected. The piece moves along well, returning every minute or two to an ongoing count of the number of (alcoholic) beverages consumed during the visit to Krautsand. Its comedy isn't obvious, which works for and against the piece (it's easy to lose some of the jokes because the production is so smooth--it would be nice to change up the pacing every once in a while to give the listener a chance to laugh without missing something). This piece would make a nice unexpected surprise for a magazine program.

Greeley daftly highlights the absurd humor in the people of Krautsand without making fun of them, which is an achievement in itself.

Buried in here is a great lesson, that democracy and freedom are not things you can take for granted. They require nurturing and care. If you truly value them, you need to sometimes do some apparently ridiculous things--simply because you can.

Comment for "The Day My Mother's Head Exploded (Short Version)"

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Review of The Day My Mother's Head Exploded (Short Version)

Producing a piece about brain aneurysms and dying mothers can make for some pretty bummer radio. Thankfully, this piece avoids all those pitfalls without getting sappy.

This is an unusual story with lots of unexpected little twists, often producing a lot of unanticipated (yet very human) moments of humor. Listen, and you to may believe that heaven is being a vegetable farmer in Vietnam (you have to listen to get that joke).

The piece is a bit too long, but some fantastic interview clips with her mother (who did survive) keep things moving. The only distractions are some occasional sounds effects (ambulance noise, hospital monitor beeps). These are so unnecessary. Since these are not authentic sounds recorded at the time of the events, they are superfluous. The story is so strong that they aren’t needed.

For stations, the piece would make a nice drop-in for a variety of magazine-style programs. A possible connection would be Mother's Day. The piece has an intro and outro that are better read by the local host.

Comment for "Lang Lang: In his own words"

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Review of Lang Lang: In his own words

Lang Lang This, like the others in the series, is very well-articulated and interesting. These quick-paced pieces offer color and insight into the featured artists without fawning or allowing the artist to engage in billowing self-indulgence. The producer also offers a nice mixture of musical genres.

Even though these are good pieces, we'd never come up with a good idea for how to use them until the producer amde a great suggestion. One of the artists (this featured artist), Lang Lang, is coming to town. Airing it is a great way to offer an interesting piece, demonstrate your connection to the arts, and not have to devote your own staff time to doing so! Another great way to let PRX make your station sound better with a minimal resource investment (sorry if that sounds like a commercial, but it’s true).

The producer might actually try to focus on touring performers, thus providing a solid local connection to stations.

Comment for "Pop Vultures #8: Guilty Pleasures" (deleted)

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Review of Pop Vultures #8: Guilty Pleasures (deleted)

I have listened to several of these programs, and I must admit that I rarely get gaga over a pilot program. However, this show is so fresh and interesting and smart and engaging that if I wrote out all the reasons why, it would read like endless hyperbole. Hearing a show like this gives you faith in public radio's future. All the elements for success are here: great host, powerful content, interesting conversation, and smart production. Pop culture really is the dividing line between different demographic and cultural subgroups in society. This program helps break down some of those barriers.

There are some elements that need improved. Some of the content (and jokes) are a little too inside (though surprisingly few, the content is so naturally exclusionary that the staff obviously works hard to keep it engaging and approachable). Time and some more experience producing the show will correct these.

I have concerns about this program being placed on the right stations, and at the right times. I can practically guarantee that this show will draw a younger, fringe audience. Similar to This American Life, stations may be tempted to add this show in times, or adjacent to other programs, that don’t make sense. Bad scheduling does not serve listeners, stations, or the program itself.

This show deserves a chance and some exposure while it continues to grow.

Comment for "Birthday Protocol"

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Review of Birthday Protocol

This is a pretty straight-ahead, public radio style commentary. Therefore, it would fit in well with a magazine program or collection of stories. While it isn’t a very adventurous piece, the piece tells its story well and delivers.

The piece is autobiographical, but doesn’t feel narcissistic. The writer does a good job of letting the listener inside of his jokes without making them too obvious.

The piece is themed around birthdays, but is undated and can be used at just about any time of year.

Comment for "The Well-Rounded Radio Interview with Burnside Project"

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Review of The Well-Rounded Radio Interview with Burnside Project

Last year, the music industry released more than 3,800 CDs--and that was a down year. This fact drives home the point that there is a constant flow of new albums and artists. This makes the premise of most music criticism and reporting very simple, regardless of media: demonstrate why this artist and their music is above the fray. In other words, why should a listener care? Most music "journalism" (term used loosely) acts as a filtering system, helping listeners/readers/viewers figure out what's interesting to them and what isn't. That's the long and short of it.

Radio is in a unique position compared to print media because radio can mix its reporting, interviewing, and criticism with the actual music.

This piece focuses on a New York group called the Burnside Project, combining interview segments with musical excerpts. While the group does have some interesting musical moments, this 25-minute piece forces the listener to do too much of the work. The producer lays out all the points, yet the listener is left to connect them on their own.

After a 1:27 spoken introduction, the interview begins. Music is woven in on occasion, then the piece ends with a previously unreleased recording. Unfortunately, the piece does not have much of an internal structure, the interview seems loose and goes on and on without much of an idea what or why this discussion is important. For example, about midway through the show there is an extended discussion about the band’s writing process. The singer summarizes his efforts by saying "Sometimes I write pages and pages of lyrics." Never is it really explained why this is significant or important. No context is given to the discussion. This happens over and over again during the piece.

At 25 minutes, the piece is too long and needs some editorial guidance to bring out it’s best points. Cutting it down by half, ideally by three-quarters, would better serve the artist and the best segments of the interview material. Further, there are some minor issues with host diction and production (the interview segments have some occasional light distortion). However, the producer’s enthusiasm and passion for music journalism is palatable. With time and more experience, he should grow into an impressive talent with much to offer.

This piece, at this length, would be difficult to place on most public stations. An edited, much shorter version, may be more useful to AAA stations and college stations which focus on contemporary music and approach it with a broad palate and wide musical view.

Comment for "Queer Youth Valentine"

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Review of Queer Youth Valentine

A vox pop piece featuring "on the street" Q&A with GLBT teens about Valentine's Day. If matched with other features and/or interview segments, it can provide a unique perspective from a group of articulate youth.

Comment for "Alimentary, Watson. . . Offramp" (deleted)

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Review of Alimentary, Watson (deleted)

An important consideration when doing comedy: it needs to be funny.

Comment for "Aucosisco Radio: From Trap to Plate" (deleted)

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Review of Aucosisco Radio: From Trap to Plate (deleted)

This is a tasty, sound-intensive, and interesting little piece that could find a lot of potential use at stations.

The piece delivers on a very simple premise: how does food get to your plate? The producers go out with some lobster fishermen and trace the crustaceans through the process. In addition to an interesting premise, lobster fishing is a great topic to follow. The whole mechanics and culture of the lobster industry is a fascinating subject, which the producers illuminate well. The length is good, but the piece could lose a minute or so without diminishing its potential.

This light, fresh piece could be used at almost any time and could easily be dropped into a larger program. It is a great example of how a quick, unexpected piece of smart radio production doesn't have to carry the negative connotation of "filler."

Comment for "Festivals of Light/Families of Dysfunction"

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Review of Festivals of Light/Families of Dysfunction

This hour long program contains a collection of stories, audio pieces, and songs. Many of the pieces are quite good, but as a whole, they diminish each other--too many sound the same, are produced in similar styles, and spend too much time with a small number of voices. These pieces would be much more useful for stations if offered individually, rather than as a complete package.

The technical and production quality of these programs is impressive. The first story, "Streets Beneath My Feet," includes some impressive record ambience of anti-war demonstrations. However, many of the pieces are augmented include sound effects and recreated sound, which lessens the piece's authenticity.

On several of the early stories, the writing is impressive. The producer writes for the ear and frames scenes within her stories in a way that lends well to listening. Several of the later stories, especially "Thanksgiving 2001," are a bit more leaden—sounding more like literary work or poetry read on the radio and thus, hard to follow.

Universally, these pieces tell interesting stories, but lack accompanying theme or contextual elements. While the producers describe autobiographical events, there is precious little reflection or understanding. The pieces tell stories, but don't share with the listener why he or she should care. This makes the stories feel somewhat incomplete; the issues and action they describe seem unresolved. That is why it may be best to separate these pieces out and offer them individually. On their own, the burden of offering a complete narrative and contextual structure is lifted. If well matched with other pieces, they can become vignettes or examples of the larger programs central theme.

Comment for "Radio Fights Jim Crow"

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Review of Radio Fights Jim Crow

This documentary is impeccable: evocative story, detailed research, exemplary writing, and seamless production. It would make an excellent special on most any station that provides news programming and, thanks to the provided promo, stations can use this type of programming to enhance their image with all their listeners.

The program follows the evolution of several pioneering radio programs in the 1930s and 40s. These programs (developed, oddly enough, by the federal government) were meant to address concerns about racial prejudice and tension in America during the rise of European fascism and WWII. These programs presented African Americans as patriotic, hard-working citizens that contributed to America's successes and, therefore, deserved a rightful share of its benefits. Despite reinforcing some unfortunate stereotypes, the programs were truly groundbreaking in their views towards black equality. Many featured--or were produced with the help of--black artists, educators, writers, and activists.

The story itself is so simple yet so laden with context and historical relevance that it can be enjoyed on multiple levels. Listening to this program has a similar effect as eating a fine meal: something that offers far more than simple satisfaction, offering enjoyment long after the experience ends.

The program's faultless production allows the storytelling to smoothly segue between narration, interviews, archival recordings, and even a reenactment of an old program. Even by the high standards usually offered by American Radio Works pieces, this is an exemplary effort.

Another great element of this program's writing and production is that it is segmented well, so listeners who join in part way through are able to get up to speed quickly and get a lot out of their encounter with the program, whether they hear five minutes or the entire program.

A fascinating story, well told.

Comment for "Democracy, American-Style: "Athens to Now: Why Democracy Matters""

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Review of Democracy, American-Style: "Athens to Now: Why Democracy Matters"

I listened to a few of the installments in this series and think the idea has a lot of potential: setting up a cider stand and interviewing the people who visit about democracy. It's a creative spin on the old "Interviews 50 cents" concept.
These pieces would make for an interesting drop-in during most types of news/info/call-in/discussion programs to stimulate conversation, reaction, or to provide a perspective that’s honest and markedly different from punditry.
The only problem is the open and close of these pieces, which all identify the two producers (twice—and often more often than the interview subject is introduced). There is a lot of information in those opens and closes, most of it completely unnecessary. They cause verbal overload—in the first few seconds!
This piece in particular also illustrates another occasional concern with this series—often the sound clip lacks sufficient punch or drags on too long. Several (this one especially) go on too long, really diluting the impact of what he says. If this piece was half as long, it would have twice the power.
Also, I think these segments would sound great if several were mixed together. As soon as you hear one, you want to hear the reaction of others.It isn't fair to an interested listener to expect them to catch them elsewhere. If you have their interest--deliver! Don't make them wait.

Comment for "Kyoto a Go Go" (deleted)

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Review of Kyoto a Go Go (deleted)

Even though Ian Shoales's commentaries have always been noted as rather rapid fire--wow.

S-l-o-w. d-o-w-n.

Even if this 2 minute commentary were slowed down to 3 minutes, it would still sound fast. At times it seems that the need to maintain the character gets in the way of the message, or at least the listeners ability to hear the message. Further, the rapid fire delivery causes ocassional odd breaths and pauses, which should've been recut or edited out.

These are extraordinarily well-written commentaries. However, the relience on style makes them impossible for a listener to follow.

A note to stations: most of these commentaries are extremely date sensitive, with topical discussions about very current events. If you use them, you need to serve them fresh. No preservatives are used here.

Comment for "Life Stories - Memory"

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Review of Life Stories - Memory

This program (along with the entire series) features "the best of" Jay Allison's feature-length work, each program defined loosely by a theme. In this case, it's "Memory." The program's host is Alex Chadwick.

The program flows incredibly well, seamlessly moving from piece to piece with musical breaks in between (which leads to my one criticism of the program: the music bridges are too long--it feels like the are filling time). Every element of this program illustrates why Jay has achieved his stature and reputation. The nat sound, writing, production, and editorial touch are generous, flawless, and evocative.

A favorite is a Lost and Found Sound piece by Jay with David Greenberger (author of the Duplex Planet 'zine and books) featuring "Jack," an elderly nursing home resident who claimed to have "more songs than Sinatra." Greenberger challenged him to sing for 45 minutes straight--the length of a cassette side. The piece's only audio (beside the narration) is Jack singing--and does throughout. It is odd, attention-grabbing, and somewhat humorous. Greenberger's narration provides all the back story and context over top of Jack's crooning. It feels natural, and his respectful and thoughtful comments weave nicely with the audio of Jack, pointing out the humor and quirks of Jack's worldview without passing judgment or making fun of him.

Another favorite is a Allison family trip to Florida that illustrates the beauty in unexpected experiences.

Impeccable production, highly listenable, and the most quietly engaging stories you'll find anywhere. Programs like this don't make the world bigger--it makes them smaller, and that feels good.

Folks, this is as close to perfection as it gets. Schedule the whole damn series.

One other thing: when offering an hour long series, it's always nice to offer a 30 second promo and some support materials to help stations promote your special/documentary.

Comment for "Brooklyn According to Kalish"

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Review of Brooklyn According to Kalish

This program is a great listen. Intriguing, fascinating stuff. This documentary offers a deep view into Orthodox and Chasidic Jewish life that few outsiders have a chance to observe. The intimacy of the piece is almost palatable--leaving you to feel like you should whisper while listening, so not to revel yourself.

The only thing not to like about the program is its title and first minute. Most listeners would immediately ask themselves "Who's Kalish?" and what this program is about? Brooklyn? A guy named Kalish? In truth, the title doesn't serve the program or its subject well at all. The program starts off with the producer describing the program and how it came together. It includes a lot of "I" and "me" references that give the impression that the host is the central presence in this documentary (which isn't the case). However, once the billboard is over and the program's content gets moving along, everything falls into place beautifully and stays that way throughout. The host does offer some occasional personal observations and thoughts, but is very generous and agile with how he weaves in and out of the program.

This would make a great special around the high holy days, Chanukah, or almost anytime. It would be nice if the producer could include a promo or additional support material to help stations promote the program on-air and online.

Comment for "Who Needs Registered Voters?"

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Review of Who Needs Registered Voters?

The PRPD Local Core Values project indicated that listeners enjoyed hearing news reports from other areas that provide context to local issues and concerns. With that in mind, this evergreen piece would make a great follow-up to almost any story at any time of year (or as part of a program) regarding your local/regional/state voter turnout or registration efforts. It would also make a great lead-in to a panel discussion or talk program on these issues.

The report answers a very simple question: North Dakota has an unusually large voter turnout...why?

The report is light on frill, well paced, and quick (and by the way, it is 4 minutes long, not 5 as the description indicates). However, the piece would be even stronger with more dynamics. The reporter focuses on a small number of interviews with politicians and election officials--if you are producing a piece on voter participation, wouldn't it make sense to include some actual voters in the piece? Also, the report gives the impression that the heavy participation is due to one fact: that there's no voter registration in North Dakota. That feels too simple. Are there other contributing factors (both measurable and intangible), does anyone (including voters) offer an alternative assessment or rationale, or does anyone disagree and think that the lack of registration has no impact?

Still, it's an interesting and thought-provoking piece. Worth a listen.

Comment for "From Moonshine to Armadillos: The Birth of the Live Austin Music Scene" (deleted)

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Review of From Moonshine to Armadillos: The Birth of the Live Austin Music Scene (deleted)

This program offers a soup to nuts history of Austin's growth into the live music Mecca that it's become today. The show is more than just contemporary talking heads and music--it features an amazing collection of archival interviews and recordings (including tape of some never-before-heard early Janis Joplin performances, which should qualify as an authentic archival treasure). The writing is acceptable (but a bit leaden), yet the production is well put-together, flowing smoothly between many different elements.

The program's only shortcoming (and it's a significant one) is that it doesn't deal well with its size and length. Productions of this size should treat themselves like what they literally are--programs: they should feature breaks, periodic reintroductions to ideas (and the program itself) as well as regularly IDing voices. This program sounds like it makes the assumption that all its listeners tune in at the beginning and remain engaged throughout. Unfortunately, this type of listener interaction rarely happens. It would be smart to give latecomers a chance to figure out what's going on or provide listeners (and stations) a break once in a while.

The producer should consider re-editing to make it more listener and station friendly, as well as providing a promo or some other support material to help stations promote its airing as an special or stand-alone program. They should also provide a mild language advisory for some mild, yet present, profanity and content.

Comment for "Howard Dean: The Vermont Years"

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Review of Howard Dean: The Vermont Years

Hour-long hard news documentaries are often like cauliflower: good for you, but not very tasty. This is a noteworthy exception.

The program takes an in-depth look at Howard Dean’s eleven years as Governor of Vermont, done by those who should know best, Vermont Public Radio. The depth and background offered in this documentary are both impressively detailed, yet exceptionally engaging. The mixture of interviews, archival tape and reporting, as well as contemporary perspective and analysis is great radio. Further, the program offers an exceptional degree of balance and objectivity regarding Dean's background and record on important issues. From election/political junkies to citizens interested in learning more about this candidate, this special has a lot to offer.

Given Dean's prominence in the Democratic primaries, this program offers a powerful service to listeners. It would be an exceptional choice for a stand-alone hour special.

The producers have thoughtfully provided an audio promo and complete (!) transcript make it very promotable and station-friendly.

This is an exemplary effort on every mark.

Comment for "Big Fire Healthy Forest"

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Review of Big Fire Healthy Forest

This is a straight-ahead report on this recent legislation and an impressively complete overview of the issues and context of the story. The arc and structure of the piece are excellent and it keeps the listener engaged throughout its length.
The production style is pretty cut and dry reporting—there isn't much flash to the piece. It might benefit from a more-engaging and/or creative opening touch, but this is a minor concern.
The piece would make in an excellent lead-in for a talk program on forest policy, forest fires, or this specific legislation. It would also work well as part of a general magazine program.
Another note: The reporter periodically lapses into an unusual vocal rhythm that is distracting, extending and underemphasizing the last word in a sentence (DA-DA-DA-daaa, DA-DA-DA-daaa).

Comment for "Teen Retail Psychology: Playing the Popularity Game at Work"

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Review of Teen Retail Psychology: Playing the Popularity Game at Work

I love Youth Radio's material, and this piece has a lot to offer, but it has a bit of personality disorder: it needs to decide if it wants to be a reported piece or a commentary.
The premise of the piece is interesting: the reporter/commentator offers that retailers have caught on to the power of a shopping companion who tells you that you look good in the merchandise you are trying on. Thus, the retailers encourage/require their employees to have those type of dressing room bonding moments, even if it is not a sincere or genuine interaction. The not only offers a window into the experiences of youth as retail consumers, but into the "emotional labor" required of retail employees.
The split between reported piece and commentary is a light one, but should be noted. At points during the enterprise reporting (and especially at the very end of the piece), the reporter/commentation slides in her own opinion about the subject--which is confusing.
This would make an interesting segment on a general magazine show with some possible uses in programming about marketing, the teen economy, and young people in general.

Comment for "Thanksgiving story"

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Review of Thanksgiving story

This commentary approaches perfection: well-written, well-produced, an interesting voice, original ideas.
The story itself shows what Thanksgiving can mean to modern immigrants and exiles. Sentimental and poignant without being sappy. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love hearing this piece. A very useful piece for Thanksgiving, plus some potential in a longer program about immigration or multi-culturalism.

Comment for "Life in a Brothel"

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Review of Life in a Brothel

If you are going to do a piece on "life in a brothel"--it might be a good idea to go to an actual brothel. Instead, this piece is an extended phoner with an author who had spent time in a brothel and wrote a book about it. This places the listener three layers removed from people who work/live/patronize brothels. It's too "hands off" to ring as real and authentic. This extreme disconnection zaps the substance from the subject. This might make for an interesting three-minute piece on the book and its subject, but it doesn't work in this extended format.

Comment for "Thinking Outside the box in Catholic School"

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Review of Thinking Outside the box in Catholic School

This is a straight-ahead news report that could be used as a component of a general magazine-style show or special on changes in education or religion. The piece has the makings of a very interesting story, but hits some marks and fall short of others.
The story is interesting: a Philadelphia pastor notices that Catholic families were moving out of his neighborhood and thus reducing the number of people his church serves. As a result, St. Thomas Aquinas opened its church and school up to the community--to any student or family in need of their services. Instead of primarily Italian-American, African-American, and Latino students, the school now has a more diverse student body--including Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Filipino. The parish offers Mass in four different languages.
The piece itself is well-produced and well written. The producer obviously knows how to put together a solid piece of work. However, the content of the piece itself only offers us the "what" of the story, but devotes to time to exploring the "why." The situation at the church lends to some contextual questions that the piece doesn't answer, such as: What is the impact of their action? Is this the first Catholic church to try this? Will other inner-city parishes be forced to make similar moves? And so on. Further, the piece lacked a solid premise or purpose. It told the story of the parishes change, but it was hard to see what the point was. It is a rich story, it should have more of a point or punch to it than what I heard.
This piece is a solid piece of reporting, but I wish there were less detail and more depth.

Comment for "call to canada"

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Review of call to canada

This is a great piece. Ultra-clever concept. This piece would make a great segment on a larger program or magazine show.
The piece follows the course of a phone call to inquire about emigration to Canada from the US. It criss-crosses the boundaries between the real and the surreal, and bounces back and forth between sincerity and aloofness. Kind of like a smart, earnest prank phone call. It's both a graceful protest and humorous narcissism. The piece shows that being creative and clever doesn't require a lot of technical whiz-bang and that political commentary doesn't need heavy-handed preaching or factual recitation to make a strong point.
My only criticism is that it's about twice as long as it should be. There is a phenomenal, award-winning, 8-minute segment here with about 7 minutes of material that could fall away without diminishing the piece.

Comment for "ZUD2K3"

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Review of ZUD2K3

This is very interesting stuff with a fascinating story behind it. I've listened to three of the posted pieces, both contemporary and archival, and thought they were all kinda weird and fun (especially the "Dial-A-Trip" stuff from the early 70s). I think there are several potential uses here as part of a larger program. The modern recordings can serve as a folky commentary--definitely not mainstream thinking, but still engaging. The archival stuff could be a lot of fun as part of something bigger--I'm not entirely sure what that "bigger" is, but the potential seems obvious.
One thing that is missing--this stuff is so interesting and the back story is so good--why isn't there a feature about Zudfunck? A fully-produced feature/interview would probably find a lot more use by stations than the individual pieces.
A warning--the audio level on all these Zudfunck pieces is really, really, really low. Too low, in fact. As a result, they are pretty noisy. Both these may prove problematic in their use in radio broadcasts. I wish the audio quality were better.