Comments by Nicholas van der Kolk

Comment for "Julie the Amtrak God"

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Review of Julie the Amtrak God

Like most of the other 8 million young people into public radio, I was inspired in large part by This American Life. Everyone has their own reasons for liking it, but mine has to do with a very specific moment that TAL is supremely good at creating. It's that moment of sedate humor-tinged sadness--not the sounds and stories of deep emotion, but those an ironic smile.

"Julie" is that moment in spades, and it's one of the first pieces I genuinely became obsessed with on PRX. I could listen to it hundreds of times and never get sick of it. On one level, the dichotomy between Jenny's lonliness and Julie's digitized voice is hysterical. The pregnant pause before each of Julie's responses is especially weird and entertaining. But the whole time you're struck by the ridiculousness of it all, it never takes away from relating to the intimation of pain in Jenny's voice.

There's something so familiar about the tone of this piece, even though I've never heard anything like it.

Comment for "Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma"

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

It's essential for anyone covering a largely unknown, odd-ball subculture to find an eccentric character that will carry the story. Scott Gurian has no trouble in that department with Thomas Riggs, the protagonist in this charming piece. Riggs' descriptions of noodling as he trudges through the water and the sound of his grunts as he struggles with his prey are some of the most delightfully surprising on-location audio I've heard in a while. The straightforward, almost-bland style of reporting only serves to make the piece even more hilarious; Scott acts somewhat like a straight-man in a comedy routine.

Comment for "With This Ring-Pledging Abstinence: Inside Out" (deleted)

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Review of With This Ring-Pledging Abstinence: Inside Out (deleted)

Sean Cole embodies the kind of honest, open-minded curiousity that has been a hallmark of WBUR's best programming. His laid-back skepticism allows his interview subjects to open up, and it's clear they're extremely comfortable speaking with him. That allows for a piece which touches deeply on both the informational and personal. Yet at the same time, without any sort of agenda, his thoroughness encourages anyone looking at abstinence-only education to remain highly suspicious.

Superb production. One of my favorite Inside Out programs.

Comment for "TOE/Connections"

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Review of TOE/Connections

This was the first episode to really draw me into TOE. There's a surreal atmosphere which epitomizes the series, and the end of the program feels like waking from a dream.

Joe Davis' story is a fasinating exploration of the relationship between art and science, and a quirky rebellion against sexual censorship. However, the most compelling segment for me was Kara. Listening to her felt like eavesdropping on a private conversation; there's so much openess and clarity in her voice. Later in the story, as her emotional instability became more apparent, listening to her felt more like an invasion of privacy. But I couldn't turn it off.

It's nice to know public radio can still push boundaries like this.