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Back to School – Charter Schools

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George Takei’s interview with Scott Simon...

I listened to several interviews on NPR before I found one I thought was really good. I had never really paid attention to the structure of the interviews before, but several I listened to seemed monotone and boring. Although I often find George Takei’s voice a bit soporific, Takei’s interview with NPR’s Scott Simon is a great example of good interview technique. George Takei is interviewed about his new play, Allegiance. First of all, Simon asks who/what/when/where/why/how questions. He also asks deep questions that both explain the context in order to inform the listener and elicit thoughtful responses from George Takei. Several questions are prefaced with explanations of Simon’s own experience, so we get context of why the interviewer is asking a particular question. This makes it seem more conversational and puts the listeners at ease because they feel drawn in. I kept thinking, “That’s a great question that I never would have thought to ask.” Simon’s questions don’t feel pre-scripted. I’m sure they are to a certain extent, but the questions seem to match the flow of the interview. Simon is obviously listening to Takei and curious about what he has to say. The way the questions are structured allow George Takei to tell his story. The result is that in just a ten-minute interview, we get the story of George Takei’s family living in internment camps during World War II, Takei’s thoughts on issues of national loyalty, information about how he became an actor and how he came to write the play, as well as information about the elements of the play. I think it’s also important that most of what we hear is George Takei rather than the interviewer. Once, I think I heard the interviewer sigh or make an “I’m following what you’re saying noise,” but the interviewer was mostly silent while Takei was speaking. http://www.npr.org/2012/09/01/160264485/george-takei-takes-story-of-internment-to-the-stage...
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A Visit to the Salon

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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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Empire State Building Shooting

August 24, 2012 Shooting at Empire State Building   A man opened fire in front of the Empire State Building around 9 o’clock this morning. Police say the suspect, 58 year old Jeffrey Johnson, Johnson shot and killed a former co-worker before being killed by police. Johnson had lost his job at a nearby store last year. Nine people were injured when police exchanged fire with the gunman. This incident occurs at a time when the debate over guns in America is at a high point. Lisa Pearson from Canyon City, CO says that any effort to ban guns is unlikely to deter these kinds of crimes. [Name: 2012 08 24_TimesSq_Guns_Version1] [Length::09] In: Even if we said Out: at this point It isn’t clear how Johnson came into possession of the...