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“Spirit World Radio” Listening Assignment #2...

In the midst of talk radio shows about current events and politics, I came across something a bit unusual and unexpected on iTunes: Spirit World Radio with psychic Rachel Norway. What I found to be most compelling was the topic of the radio station itself: paranormal and psychic phenomenon. While every station seemed to be discussing Obamacare or Governor Chris Christie, Spirit World Radio was talking about something completely out of left field. Rachel Norway came across in a personal way, being soft spoken and casual. She mispronounced three things within ten minutes, so it was definitely more like talking to a friend than a journalist. Though a bit more unprofessional than something like 1010 Wins, the topic is interesting because it is one that you would expect to find on TV; however, the radio medium makes it seem as though you and family members and friends are swapping ghost stories. Aside from an unusual subject, there were other aspects that drew me into the site.There was soft but spooky music that grew louder with each dramatic story. Before Rachel did advertising, the piano was somewhat quiet, but it grew louder and a cello chimed in before she discussed psychic experiences from her childhood, like when she smelt a fire two hours before her neighbor’s house burned down (supposedly). The music definitely made listeners feel that a big story was coming up. Regarding soundbites, I was a bit disappointed because she supposedly filmed a psychic reading, but did not include clips of it on the radio show, but online. A small clip would have made the show a bit more compelling. I waited a good twenty minutes for someone to call in, but unfortunately I was not lucky enough to hear Rachel speak to someone. That would have made things a bit more interesting as well. It was interesting to listen to Spirit World and see what comprises the...
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Radio Moment that Grabbed Me

This evening, I listened to the August 27 broadcast of NPR’s All Things Considered a news program broadcast around the world.  The piece that I found especially interesting was a 5 minute piece titled “Afghan Women Fear Backsliding on Key Gains.”  The piece is about the abuses that Afghan women suffer.  Women have made a lot of gains recently, but face increasing resentment from men when they try to assert those rights.  They fear that when foreign influence leaves Afghanistan, they will lose all they have gained. There was initially some background music, but after that I didn’t notice any.  At first I was surprised, but then I thought that it was fitting.  Silence can speak just as loudly as anything else.  During the piece, the journalist Sean Carberry tells the story of a 16-year-old girl named Peri.  There are a couple of clips of Peri telling her story in her native language.  This particularly struck me because it made her ordeal seem so much more real.  Rather than translating literally, the journalist would follow these clips by relating Peri’s story in third person.  He is telling us what she says, but he is letting her say it, which gives her a voice, even if it isn’t one that we can understand.  This is important because we can hear the detachment and the emotion in her voice.  We can also hear her age, which is especially disturbing.  Hearing a 16 year old girl talk in her own voice about being given away at age 3, raped and forcibly married at 10, divorced a few years later, abused by a second husband, and attempting suicide adds something to the story that an adult male journalist cannot convey.  Later on, when an adult Afghan woman is speaking, there is an interpreter talking over her.  The effect is very different.  ...
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Radio Listening Assignment: Originality and Depth...

I was listening to WNYC on Sunday night and was about to change the station when NPR’s “This American Life” came on and grabbed my attention. The one-hour feature show started with two presenters telling a story about a woman in 18th century Austria who was about to go into an arranged marriage and wanted a way out of it. This woman, a catholic, wanted to kill herself to avoid marrying an unknown man but her faith wouldn’t let her do that: if she did, she would go to hell. Instead, she found a loophole in the catholic system where she would commit a capital crime, immediately confess it, demand her own execution and confess to a priest thus obtaining God’s forgiveness and a ticket to Heaven. At first, I wasn’t sure whether what I was listening to was an actual broadcast or if it was a joke or some sort of advertisement but the story was so fascinating and I was so curious to know what it was all about, that I stayed tuned until the actual reporting came on. Pro Publica reporter Jake Bernstein and Planet Money’s Alex Blumberg produced a thoroughly researched feature story on Joseph Caramadre, a Rhode Island lawyer and financial investor obsessed with finding loopholes and pushing them to their limits, and who is now facing charges for financially exploiting a loophole in variable annuities for over a decade. The story in itself is amazing but what struck me the most (besides several compelling reflections on the ethical and everyday implications of putting a price tag on death) was the way it was introduced. Using the historical anecdote of women trying to avoid arranged marriages in the 1700s in Austria was very clever and original. Not only did it make me feel intrigued and bemused for the first 10 minutes of the broadcast but it also gave the story a whole new dimension and allowed it to be told from a particular point of...