Comments by Eric Nuzum

Comment for "Singing in St. Andrews"

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Review of Singing in St. Andrews

This is a cute (but not sappy) vignette about simple and universal expressions of love. The couple are instantly likeable and this short interview creates a vivid portrait. This would make for a nice drop-in almost anytime, especially around Valentine's Day, Sweetest Day, etc.
I'd like to see the narration stripped out of the interview itself. Once the narration describes the kissing and blushing, I realized a didn't need a narration anymore--I just want to hear them. Everything the internal narration says after the basic introduction (ending about :35 into piece) is either covered elsewhere or redundant to the interviewees' comments. I listened to it a few times, mentally edited out the voice over, and I think it would make the portrait even stronger. Further, I must admit that I agree--the bookends of "Amazing Grace" feel a little cliche here. Bagpipe music isn't mentioned in the piece--so why is it there?

Comment for ""More Civil Liberties, Less Fear""

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Review of "More Civil Liberties, Less Fear"

This module/segment is a clever idea: set up a cider stand and interview the people who visit. It's a creative spin on the old "Interviews 50 cents" concept. This particular segment features an interesting voice and perspective.
Some notes:
* Some of the edits are pretty obvious and should be tightened up a bit.
* The producer's voice appears at the beginning and end of the piece voicing a one-sentence overview and some credits. This is distracting and unnecessary. The interviewee is the content here and the presence of host (and all the extra information) forces the focus of the piece to blur. Is it essential to credit the producers twice within a 90-second piece (which, incidentally is more often than the interviewee himself is identified)? Save credits and introduction for the local hosts at stations that license this piece. This will have the added benefit of making the piece more useful to stations.
* Consider mixing several of these together. As soon as I heard this guy, I wondered what the other cider stand visitors had to say. It isn't a fair pay-off to expect me to tune tomorrow or whenever the next segment airs. The interviewee's response is really interesting and got my attention--why not roll with it and feature a few more? If time is a concern, gang several shorter responses together.

Comment for "UK Bootlegs and Mashups"

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Review of UK Bootlegs and Mashups

Though far from cutting edge (ATC did a similar story on mashups in June of 2002) this story is an interesting and comprehensive overview of this phenomenon. It was a really smart decision to integrate the interview with "The Freelance Hellraiser" so heavily in the piece. The interview highlights the deejay's charisma and personality, as well as his expertise at this practice.
A few editorial notes:
* The piece would be stronger if the reporter would walk through the clear definition of mashups up front. This definition doesn't come until two minutes into the piece. Even then, to someone unfamiliar with mashups, it may not fully explain the concept.
* The piece assumes a knowledge of the source music--which may be a dangerous assumption. How many people know Destiny Child's or Eminem's repertoire well enough to know that what we're hearing is an alteration? Some listeners will get this immediately. Most won't.
* The order of some of the interview cuts could flow a bit better. For example, about 2:30 into the piece, the interviewer asks about any reaction to mashups from record labels. A logical follow-up, about the reaction from artists, doesn't come until several questions later, at 8:15 into the piece. These two questions should have been placed together for a more logical flow.

Comment for "Oakland Scenes: Snapshots of a Community"

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Review of Oakland Scenes: Snapshots of a Community

The next time I hear someone say that public radio can't innovate while maintaining its Core Values, I'm going to make them listen to this piece.
I've heard this piece before (on Weekend Edition?). Every time I hear it--it has the same effect: I am sucked in, teleported to the streets of Oakland, and the rest of the world seems suddenly unimportant and small.
When I hear a story like this, I want to drop down on my knees and thank God that I get to work in the same industry as these kids and have an opportunity to offer their efforts to my listeners.
Innovative, provocative, inspirational. This is an amazing piece of work; an accolade-laden review can never do it justice. Listen.

Comment for "A Cook's Notebook: Peach Pit Jesus"

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Review of A Cook's Notebook: Peach Pit Jesus

This piece isn't innovative or cutting edge--it doesn't need to be. It doesn't need any additional sound or music. It is a simple piece of good storytelling, plainly told. In describing a recipe for canning peaches, she describes the method for removing the fruit's skin as "like peeling skin off a sunburn." With language like that, any production aesthetic added to this piece would just get in the way of it's powerful words.
While this piece is a dead-ringer for the style of commentary you'd hear in an NPR magazine, it is refreshing to see a piece like this produced with the restraint necessary to highlight the natural beauty of the story.
A few other notes:
Seasonal: The producer indicates this would be good for August. I'd expand this to fall use as well. Even though it deals with a summer peach stand and canning--listening to it now (in October), it still feels topical. I'd see this as being a useful piece from mid-July though October.
Music: The description mentions theme music, but the piece is unscored.

Comment for "NPR Geeks"

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Review of NPR Geeks

Jake's piece is rich and flavorful. It moves well and offers us a collection of instantly relatable and understandable characters without getting bogged down in tangents or details. Plus, it's a really funny piece.
This piece works where most other montages fail: it doesn't sacrifice vivid images and a common thematic thread by trying to offer too much variety. Great balance here.
Some other random thoughts:
Respect: It's easy to make fun of people in a piece like this. Jake manages the humor well--he highlights what's funny without making the subjects look like idiots. Excellent editorial judgment.
Music: When I first heard some music underneath this piece, I thought I'd regret its presence. However, Jake uses it lightly and only to help the piece's pacing. It works.
Fund drives: It was mentioned that this piece could be useful in fund drives. I thought the same thing myself while listening, but I think it would have to be reedited to be truly useful in that context. While Jake presents us with perfect characters from which we can build fundraising messages--we would need for them to reveal a bit more about their motivations in order for this to become a fundraising pitch. A little more about "why" they do what they do. Even though their behavior seems odd, their motivations are probably no different than most core listeners'--which makes the connection for a fundraising appeal.
Uses: This piece would be a good drop-in during a larger program and offers lots of possibilities for thematic connections (public radio, fans, embarrassing admissions, etc).