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School and Bloomberg

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Amy Goodman and Pussy Riot

For my listening exercise, I tuned into an Aug. 20 interview with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Goodman was covering the sentencing of the controversial punk band Pussy Riot. Over the phone, she interviewed a member of the band’s defense team and the spouse of one of the convicted members. The interview featured several clips, which hindered its flow, but what I like about Amy Goodman is her ability to ask very open-ended questions. Her questions are often short and loaded with just enough information that the listener knows what’s going on. The other thing I like about Goodman is her voice. It’s quiet and unassuming, but strong enough to get the point across. I think it helps put the interviewees at ease. It’s also well practiced. Her cadence is well paced, she doesn’t interrupt her guests and she does a good job of working around tricky words. Goodman rarely uses who, what, when, where, why and how. Instead, she often will state a fact and then ask the interviewee to “talk about it.” Sometimes she is probing for some specific answer, but there is also plenty of room for people to answer in unexpected ways. Once such example is when she asks the attorney’s assistant about the significance of Putin saying he hopes the girls aren’t treated harshly. Very quickly, the legal team member responds by saying it doesn’t mean much and giving the women two years instead of seven was the judge’s idea of leniency. Goodman established a solid arc in this interview. She played a clip of what the band’s name means and asked the husband elaborated on the art collective’s mission. She wrapped up the interview by asking about the band’s future, which the attorney’s assistant answered by saying to they’re going to a labor camp whose many residents are religious. This final question gives the end of the interview an ominous tone....
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Steak Tartare and Fries

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Radio Listening Assignment: Good Radio and What Works...

The story I listened to was on WNYC’s AM Channel. The 15 or so minute-long piece examined the role of the social media in Libya’s revolution. The report starts with the speaker saying one of the main ways media helped the Libyan resistance was through Twitter. The protesters would create throwaway accounts where they could post audio and video clips that the rest of the world could find under a specific hashtag. While the reporter explained this, these protests clips were played over one another, which turned into many distorted voices calling out at once. The reporter then went from a broad to narrow scope and made herself part of the story. She related how an anonymous source who protested, fought and documented the uprising turned out to be “practically an uncle.” The story takes a dramatic turn when she recounts the first time they met face-to-face and the man showed her a picture of him holding her as an infant. Much of his story was told by the source himself. When she gets to the picture,  the reporter uses actual clips from the encounter. The dialogue between the two and the reporter’s shock when she sees the picture makes for a warm moment. There was no music in this segment, which I think added to the severity of his story. The reporter also uses effective music and clips in the next piece. This bit starts with energetic – I assume Libyan – rap music, which fits well for a narrative about a young man who lives in Kentucky and the Libyan woman he courted as she released information to the world during the revolution. Instead of just having the man and woman talk about a time she called him while riot police were moving in on protestors, they play the clip and you can hear her panting, her voice full of fear as she shouts over commotion in the background. When the reporter gets around to saying that the two inevitably married, celebration is heard in the background. The sound changes from what is presumably a wedding party to gunshots, honking and cheering on the first voting day in post-revolutionary Libya. It’s an effective switch. The reporter also changes the piece’s theme when she says the story is no longer about social media, but about her family. She captures the responses of three generations in her family as they come out of the booth; some are chipper like her grandmother or full of emotion like her mother. The audio works well too because you can almost feel the energy of the place through the ambient sound. She closes the piece by quoting her father. It’s a seemingly odd way to end the segment, but I assume she did so to suggest that this is what the payoff was for the endeavor’s of the couple and her “uncle.” Link to story P.S. – I think that’s a Marantz she’s using in the photo on the...
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Foreign traveler weighs in on America’s gun debate...

A gunman opened fire near the Empire State Building this morning, leaving two dead and nine injured. The incident is the third highly publicized shooting this summer. Vacationing from his native Iceland, 18 year-old Kuri Inloifur Johannsson has been in New York City for more than a week. He perceives Americans as having gun lust. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated the New York City police were also responsible for...