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Playlist: News Station Picks for August '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39046851@N08/4581150872/">Mutasim Billah</a>
Image by: Mutasim Billah 
Curated Playlist

Here are August picks for news stations from PRX News Format Curator Naomi Starobin.

What Naomi listens for in news programming.

Maybe these slow news days of August have you thinking about something fresh, new and lively. Well, you can’t give each of your listeners a yappy puppy, but how about a new series? Great stuff out there. I had a look around on PRX and it was hard to pick just a few. This list displays a range from series with short interstitial pieces that you can plug in to a news magazine or show, to longer ones that would make great choices for weekend hours that right now just aren’t quite dazzling your audience. Have a listen!

Volunteers and Design

From Smart City Radio | 59:00

This is one in the series from Smart City Radio. All of the pieces are about cities...sometimes specific cities and how people are dealing with particular problems (Detroit, Syracuse), and other segments, like this one, are issue-oriented. These are heady and intellectual, and well-suited for an audience that is concerned or curious about urban life and its future.

It's hosted by Carol Coletta.

Default-piece-image-0 Ten years ago, two undergrads from Yale noticed the fundamental gap between their university and the community surrounds it.  To bridge this divide they formed the volunteer training organization that's now known as LIFT.  We'll speak with Ben Reuler, the executive director of LIFT, about harnessing the energy of students to engage them in the community and help combat poverty.

And...

Good design can do many things, but can it change the world?  My guest Warren Berger has written a book on how design is doing just that.  The book, titled Glimmer,  shows how design in action addressing business, social, and personal challenges, and improving the way we think, work, and live.

Unconventional Archaeology -- Groks Science Show 2010-07-28

From Charles Lee | Part of the Groks Science Radio Show series | 29:42

For that half-hour time slot, go science! Lots of lively interviews in these segments, along with commentaries and a question-of-the-week. This series is produced in Chicago and Tokyo by Dr. Charles Lee and Dr. Frank Ling, who also host the show. They are natural and curious, and lean toward short questions and long answers.

There are pieces on cancer-sniffing dogs, outsmarting your genes, number theory, ant adventures, and lots more, displaying great breadth.

It's geared to listeners who are interested in science...no college level inorganic chem required.

Grokscience_small Archaeology is often portrayed as a romantic adventure to the remote corners of the globe. But, what is the life of an archaeologist really like? On this program, Dr. Donald Ryan discussed unconventional archaeology.  For more information, visit the website: www.groks.net.

Are Freckles Just Cute or Something More?

From Dueling Docs | Part of the Dueling Docs series | 02:02

Dueling Docs is a great idea, well executed. Each two-minute piece answers a simple medical or health question. The host, Dr. Janice Horowitz, lays out a question (Should you get cosmetic surgery? Is dying your hair bad for you? Can stretching make you more prone to injury?), presents opposing views, and concludes with advice.

This would fit in nicely during a weekend or weekday news show. A good two minutes.

Duelingdocs_prx_logo_medium_small While the rest of the media doesn't bother to challenge the latest news flash, Dueling Docs always presents the other side of a medical issue, the side that most everyone ignores.  Janice gets doctors to talk frankly about controversial health matters - then she sorts things out, leaving the listener with a no-nonsense take-home message

Reading Russian Fortunes

From Rachel Louise Snyder | Part of the Global Guru Radio series | 03:03

This series, Global Guru, claims to "ask one simple question -- just one -- about somewhere in the world." Those questions have included: "How do the Hopi bring rain to the desert?" "How and why do Thai people categorize their food?" "Why are there so many barbershops in Tanzania?" This is a great series of three-minute pieces you can squeeze into just about any hour. Rachel Louise Snyder out of Washington, DC is the producer. She says "each week, our mandate is to surprise listeners." Your listeners would say she succeeds.

Guru_logo1_small

The Global Guru is a weekly public radio show that seeks to celebrate global culture, particularly in countries where Americans have either single narrative story lines, like Afghanistan (war), Thailand (sex tourism), Rwanda, (genocide), or perhaps no story lines at all, like East Timor, Moldova, Malta, Lesotho, etc. Engaging and rich in sound, the 3:00 interstitial seeks to enrich our collective understanding of the vastness of human experience. Presenting station is WAMU in Washington, DC and sponsored by American University in DC. Some of our favorite past shows include: How do Cambodians predict the harvest each year? How did Tanzania become the capitol of barbershops? How and why does Thailand categorize food? What is Iceland’s most feared culinary delight? How do you track a Tasmanian devil? What are the hidden messages in Zulu beadwork?

A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Public radio listeners, as you know, are curious and intelligent. And they are, as you know, sticklers for language. Satisfy their curiosity with this hour-long series. It's hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, who talk about word usage and origin, and take questions from callers. Often those questions center around a word or expression that the caller recalls from childhood and is curious about. The mood is informal and the hosts joust a bit in a friendly way with their answers.

Most recent piece in this series:

Bug in Your Ear (#1537)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

13667734833_dd294857b6_w_small After our conversation about first names that are also verbs, such as Grant, Bob, and Sue, a university freshman in Laramie, Wyoming, wrote to share a funny story about his dad's name, Rob.


Jamie from Calais, Vermont, says an unfortunate experience with an insect made her wonder about the expression to put a bug in your ear or put a bug in one's ear, meaning "to make a strong, insistent suggestion to someone." An older expression, to put a flea in one's ear, is a translation of a French phrase that also means "to insert an irresistible notion," particularly an erotic one.


The English word slob, denoting "an untidy, sloppy, or lazy person," derives from the Irish Gaelic word slab, which means "mud." 


Bill, a substitute teacher in Fishers, Indiana, says that while visiting South Africa, he was surprised to hear an acquaintance use scheme to mean simply "a plan," without no negative connotation whatsoever. In the UK and Commonwealth countries, scheme as a noun is simply neutral, although scheming implies something nefarious.


A discussion on the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange about things that can still be useful even if they longer function properly, such as escalators and moving sidewalks, included several intriguing expressions involving partial failure. Graceful degradation refers to the ability of a computer or network to maintain limited functionality even if part of the system fails to work properly. Similarly, fail-safe is not the same as failproof; the latter describes something "incapable of failure," while the former describes something that won't cause damage even if it does fail.


Quiz Guy John Chaneski's puzzle is cruciverbalist's delight: a collection of his favorite crossword clues! For example, what's the four-letter answer to the clue "First Place"?


John in Williamsburg, Virginia, ponders whether English is the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming all languages its path. There's nothing inherent in Englishthat makes it superior to or more likely to win out over other languages. English is itself an agglomeration of the languages of several conquering forces.


Marcie from Fort Worth, Texas, grew up in Chile speaking Spanish, but her 10-year-old daughter has trouble rolling her Rs. This difficulty or inability to trill one's Rs is called rhotacism, and it's not uncommon in Spanish-speaking countries.


The adjective stentorian, meaning "extremely loud," comes from the name of brazen-voiced Stentor, a Greek herald in The Iliad, whose voice was said to be as powerful as that of 50 men. The noun and verb mentor come from The Odyssey. In that Greek poem, Athena assumes the guise of a man named Mentor, who advises the son of Odysseus.


Max from Sacramento, California, is curious about why the long, frosted doughnut with no filling that he grew up calling a long john goes by so many other names, including longie, bar doughnut, chocolate bar, maple bar, and maple stick. Food names like these often vary widely from region to region. In some parts of the United States, those filled pastries called eclairs are also called long johns.


One old sense of the word stranger means "a lone tea leaf floating in a cup of tea." A longtime superstition holds that such a lone leaf means a stranger will soon show up at the door. In Britain, a host may offer to pour a cup of tea with the question Shall I be mother?, recalling the way children having a tea party may offer to serve. Meryl Streep delivers this line while playing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.


Katie in East Thetford, Vermont, shares medical slang and jargon from her work in the neonatal intensive care room at a hospital, including doorbell for "an alarm"; giraffe, "a special bed with controls for heat and humidity"; and PANDA Room, an acronym for  "Preterm and Newborn Diagnostic Area," formerly known as the Resuscitation Room, until a parent pointed out how ominous that name sounds. 


Rhonda in San Diego, California, and her husband have a dispute over the proper nomenclature for flies that occasionally wing their way into their home. He wants to call a large fly a horsefly, but she has a biology and animal-husbandry background and knows that this particular red-eyed insect is actually called a flesh fly rather than a horsefly. Is it worth insisting that her spouse call it by the correct name?


Sayed lives in Houston, Texas, but grew up in Pakistan speaking Urdu and Punjabi. As someone who began learning English two years ago, he finds that he often mixes up gendered pronouns. It's not surprising that he would confuse he with she and him with her, however, since his native language doesn't designate gendered pronouns at all.


Don from Munday, Texas, is fond of the phrase You can put your boots in the oven, but that don't make 'em biscuits, which is a way of saying that even if you call something by a different name, that doesn't change its essential nature. A more common version: Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, that don't make 'em biscuits.


This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.