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First Week of School

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Fresh Air: Terry Gross interviews Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia...

Among the niche audience that is regular NPR listeners, I’ve found that not liking Terry Gross is a surprisingly unpopular position, and yet, there’s something about her that rubs me the wrong way.  Maybe it’s how soft-spoken she is.  Maybe it’s the way she laughs at people’s jokes.  Maybe it’s that she spoils big moments in film and television without any warning.  In any case, I still listen to her when she has a good guest.  In that spirit, I listened an episode of Fresh Air from August 20th as Terri Gross interviewed Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia, a reading off of names that very likely sent some NPR listeners into hysterical fits as they wondered if such a thing were even possible.   It was a fine interview.  It’s not hard to see why Terry Gross gets such respected names as she manages to be actively engaged during interviews, generally polite if sometimes oblivious*, and willing to be silent for long stretches.  It really does seem to fulfill what was said in class the other day in that she lets the experts fill the air.  The most interesting part of this interview was when Ira Glass left a long beat after a question and then explained that he had done it because he expected his answer to be bad and wanted the editor to have a chance to cut it.  The moment spoke both to Glass’s professionalism and his megalomania.  Maybe I should point out that I like Ira Glass so that I’m not such a Negative Nelly.  I do.  Mike Birbiglia too.  And I hope one day to be interviewed by Terry Gross.  What a mess, right?   *I once heard her ask Joan Didion something along the lines of, “Is it hard to outlive a daughter?”...
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Haircut.

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Hurricanes & The Republican Party – Together Again...

WWNO in New Orleans Special Coverage of Hurricane Isaac.  Listened from 8-9 a.m. on 8/29/12. I must admit: I’m not sure this one counts, (1) because I listened online, and (2) because I actually ended up listening to a television channel.  I don’t remember this happening before, but the coverage was a shared broadcast among the local NBC television affiliate, the local NPR affiliate, and the local reading for the blind station, 88.3. The coverage itself was what might expect from coverage of a local emergency writ large, made up of heavy postulating, long-winded interviews that didn’t reveal much, and a need to fill airtime with whatever pieces of information were readily available and mostly verifiable.  What made it most interesting from a radio perspective was that the reporters occasionally would make clear allusions to maps and images that were available to anyone who might be watching, which, given power outages, was likely a small contingent indeed.  The reporter would then take a moment to apologize to the radio audience before describing the image to anyone who might be listening.  The reporter would then apologize to anyone who might be watching for having to sit through the description. It was hardly the most efficient means of communication, but it did speak both to the necessity of radio in an emergency and the toll that budget cuts must have taken on the local NPR station in that it had no reporters of its own to send out into storm.   Bonus thoughts on radio (in case the above really doesn’t count): WNYC: Special Coverage of night two of the Republican National Convention.  Listened from 8-9 p.m. on 8/29/12. This report on the Republican National Convention was mostly unremarkable, as one would expect from something so micromanaged. The most interesting aspects of the coverage involved listening to members of NPR and the Republican party twist themselves into knots in order to be accommodating to one another. In the case of the NPR reporters, this meant  trying to be evenhanded when dealing with the well-documented shortcomings of the nominee (e.g., his lack of popularity within his own party).  In the case of members of the Republican party, the twisting stemmed from finding ways to turn facts into a more favorable reading for a candidate that anyone being interviewed on NPR already knows full well will not be receiving the vote of anyone listening to NPR. A good example here might be a reference to national security.  The NPR reporter suggested that it’s surprising that the campaign has stressed national security so little, given that national security has been the bread and butter (my words) of the party for the last several election cycles.  While it could hardly be clearer that the reporter was lofting a softball of an allusion to President Obama’s strengths in the area (Osama bin Laden, drone attacks), the interview subject moved deftly around the subject, suggesting that the Republican party isn’t talking about that this time only because the minds of the American people are on the economy.  Oh, and also, the best national security is a strong...
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Foriegn Tourists Confront Threat of American Violence...

Tourists in New York are still absorbing the news of Friday’s early morning shooting at the Empire State building. 11 people were shot and 2 died, including the gunman. Many in the city for extended holidays say the problem is uniquely American. The Lands, a family of four visiting from England, say that it’s not a situation with which they’re familiar. Mr. Land worries about explaining the violence to his daughter.     [specifically, 1:42-1:49] Most in the city say that the shooting will not affect their travel...