Real Nonnas, Not-so-real Ambient.

Great characters? Check. Competent script that sets up said great characters and moves the listener through the story? Check. Quality ambient? Ahem… quality ambient?

Two outa three ain’t bad.

“Italian ‘Nonnas’ Bring Taste of Home to Staten Island” could have been a grand slam. The anchor lede and the opening line (great use of Italian) introduced a concept I’d never heard of before: an Italian restaurant with a kitchen run by grandmas. But then that music kicks in. I’m not sure whether this was truly ambi, or a soundtrack the producer dropped in, but either way, it made a special place feel generic and maudlin. If indeed the music was captured as ambient sound, I have no idea why the reporter would have relied on it so heavily throughout. Give me more of Grandma Gambino. Her sound bites are great, but I want to hear her mixing it up with the other nonnas in the kitchen. She talks about these plump arancini pregnant with cheese — so why don’t I hear them frying up in a sizzling bath of oil? It could have well been that the reporter wasn’t granted the access he needed, or the interactions weren’t compelling (hard to believe from that photo), but nevertheless, the piece left me feeling a bit cheated — like he’d gone in, got the interviews, and got out.

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/21/149001050/italian-nonnas-bring-taste-of-home-to-staten-island

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