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Back To School 2012

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Dave Davies Interviews Biologist Thor Hanson...

First of all, I have to say it took me a while to find a program that had an interview. All the live shows I listened to for about half an hour were either talk shows or just newscasts so I ended up listening to a September 4th episode of Fresh Air on NPR. The show was about Thor Hanson’s, a conservation biologist, new book on feathers and the evolution of feathered animals. The interviewee, the story and the science behind feathers were fascinating, and I think that overall Dave Davies, the host, offered a really good interview. He opened the show with an open-ended, “take me back to that moment” kind of question that, to me, was the perfect start for this kind of topic: “In the book, you describe an experience you had observing vultures, which kind of inspired you to look more into feathers. You want to tell us that story”? As soon as I heard that question I knew I was in for a treat. All -or almost all- the questions Davies asked not only managed to showcase Hanson’s passion for the subject matter but also lead the story step by step. Davies started by asking general questions and then moved to more complicated ones that, in a way, followed the chronology of Hanson’s research. The questions showed that Davies had read Hanson’s book and that he had a clear idea of how he wanted to conduct the interview so that the listeners understood the science behind feathers and, at the same time, felt like they were listening to a...
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Study Time

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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...
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Tourists Reflect on Americans and Guns after Empire State Shooting...

11 people were shot outside the Empire State building around 9 a.m. this morning. The gunman, 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, shot and killed Steve Ercolino, a former co-worker. The police later killed Mr. Johnson during a shootout in which 9 other people were injured. The Empire State building not only is located at one of New York’s busiest areas but is also one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. Ena Vogelman, a 20-year-old German tourist visiting Times Square (another New York City attraction) shares her thoughts about gun policy in America: Shootings like the one that happened today at the Empire State building affect Americans but are also starting to affect tourists and immigrants from all over the...