Comments by Jackson Braider

Comment for "Journalists and War"

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Review of Journalists and War

For Sy Hersh alone, this is worthy of broadcast anywhere for anyone who wonders at the quality of information offered by this administration. In particular, I think the plea for the moral foundation of journalistic endeavor is vital in this day and age. The "one-the-handism" that we have used to characterize "fair journalism" is, in the fortuitous words of the late Ron Ziegler, inoperative in this environment.

Sometimes, we don't have to present the so-called balanced view. I don't remember stations presenting Jeffrey Dahlmer's POV on his story; what should be different in this circumstance?

Comment for "The Reindeer People"

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Review of The Reindeer People

A straightforward story about a tribe of reindeer herders in northern Mongolia and the worry that they may not be ablwe to continue in a post-Communist world. Good information, clear and concise. Far more than a typical"who knew?" kind of piece -- touching but not sentimental. A good drop-in during the weekend.

Comment for "Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut"

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Review of Three Days Before Christmas in the Zombie Hut

Absolutely terrific, esp. for those who worry about the saccarine overload of holiday programming. PDs: Your challenge: morning drive or evening drive? My advice? Evening drive. Listeners won't be scalding themselves with hot coffee and blaming it on you for offering such high-times outside-the-box programming.

Comment for "American Ballads" (deleted)

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Review of American Ballads (deleted)

Maybe I'm being a bit touchy here, but what's with a program about American folklore that has no folklorist to tell us what's going on? As a longtime admirer of Greil Marcus, I am delighted to hear his thoughts on these old songs. But without a sense of how folklore works, Marcus can't explain how we arrived at the ballads we now have today.

The featured songs are almost full-length -- a wonderful aspect of the program -- and that goes a long way with an old folkie. But unfortunately, much of the talk here is beside the point, because no one is clarifying the relation between these songs, folklore, and community. Without exploring the living/breathing of active tradition, the music featured here just sounds like relics, and not part of living, breathing communal memory.

Comment for "Independent Minds: Peter Sellers"

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Review of Independent Minds: Peter Sellers

A brilliant piece of work all together. Great use of clips, terrific writing, wonderful interviews. Everything that should be here is in here and things that might have been missed have been hauled out of the pantry. We need more of this kind of thing -- programs of "a life" have been relegated to that peculiar circle of hell known as the Biography Channel. Awful things they are too. With "Independent Minds: Peter Sellers," the good people at Murray Street have reinvented a genre of radio -- we can only wait with impatience to hear what they will do next.

By way of note: check out the 60s sound in musical drops -- Herb Alpert in real stereo. Worth hearing on headsets.

Comment for "Slow Food Nation" (deleted)

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Review of Slow Food Nation (deleted)

Slow food is a subject dear to my heart, so when I saw this pop up, I was more than willing to bank the hour to hear what's being said. And sad to say, what I missed in this program was enthusiasm: enthusiasm for taste and tasting, anticipation of flavors, the joy of preparation. So much on the niceties of regional food stuffs -- the peculiarities and challenges of local produce -- so little on the joy of eating and consuming. The Supersize Me segment reveals nothing about slow food. Missing here are the quality-of-life issues at the heart of slow food. And where are the sounds of food??!! Cooking, slurping, crunching -- this program should have been popping out of my speakers. Sounded, in the end, more wholistic than thou.

Comment for "Sounds in a Cowboy's Head"

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Review of Sounds in a Cowboy's Head

Great stuff entirely. Claes Andreasson does a thoughtful and wonderful examination of a stretch of Americana frequently overlooked beyond Baxter Black. Wonderful interviews, terrific examples of the kind of expanded vision of cowboy poetry it takes either an anthropologist or a non-native to recognize. Ditch the puzzle master on Sunday -- listeners will cheer when they've heard this.

Comment for "Invisible Ink: The Anti-Gambler"

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Review of Invisible Ink: The Anti-Gambler

An intriguing series of questions about gambling offered here: an essay on the regressive nature of the lottery, for example, or an interview with an addiction specialist, stuff about risk-taking -- all in all, mixed media in a pubrad talk/thinkfest format. Invisible Ink offers itself as a radio zine -- to my ears: a radio equivalent of a blog with the host as filter.

There's good stuff here, but listeners will have to find the host a compelling figure to listen through the full program. Personally, I wanted less host, especially when I learned he had been reading someone else's words for some five minutes without letting me know. Part of hosting is knowing boundaries -- I haven't gotten a sense yet of that happening here.

Comment for "Pimp my PC! Portrait of a LAN Party"

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Review of Pimp my PC! Portrait of a LAN Party

Wonder where some of the hot-rodders have gone? The answer is the LAN party -- where humans prove yet again that the technological tricks designed to keep us in our cubes can be repurposed to par-tee!

PDs: A good story for a weekend program. The kind of thing they used to do at the network motherships a long time ago before their clocks turned to stone. This is a terrific "who knew?" piece. Worth dropping in to any program that explores the human quest for community.

Comment for "Lost & Found Sound and Beyond: Hour Two"

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Review of Lost & Found Sound and Beyond: Hour Two

From Francis Ford Coppola clearly reading from a script to the wonders of answering machines -- English real estate agents in the San Fernando Valley!! -- to Jay Allison's classic wrap-up for a thing that simply will not lay down and sleep, this is wonderful stuff. L&F Sound was brilliant in its conception; it proved to be genial at its birth. No doubt Harvard has already set aside scholarship monies to see it through college.

Whether offered as an entire hour or as a series of short bits, L&F Sound was a fabulous enterprise. PDs: celebrate this stuff with your listeners.

Comment for "What's the Word? Cookbooks as Literature"

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Review of What's the Word? Cookbooks as Literature

This is a busy half-hour, and somehow, I wanted less someone trying to feed my ear and more just letting the material speak for itself. Not to say that what's here isn't good -- but it is proof that a little knowledge is, indeed, a dangerous thing. The leap to recherche without stopping along the way to acknowledge those who made the whole idea of food palatable -- Julia Child, for instance, or MFK Fisher -- is distressing. More to the point, what's with all this talk about food with nothing really being said about taste? This is a C2 program: half the carbs, half the syrup, half the stuff that makes the subject of food and cooking worthwhile.

Comment for "Fiat 500 Fan"

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Review of Fiat 500 Fan

This is a wonderfully good-natured piece about a woman and her car. Listening to it, I realize how few happy pieces hit the air -- pieces that aren't carrying the boulder of a message on their small miserable backs. Would be a lovely little drop-in during the news shows -- ME, ATC, WESAT or WESUN, though a pic of the Fiat 500 would be nice for a web site.

Comment for "The Sunshine Hotel"

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Review of The Sunshine Hotel

Some radio stories never age and this is one of them. A wonderful narrator, an incredible sense of place, this is a piece that reminds us that human worth is not measured by the thickness of the wallet. PDs worried about a 36 min. program can rifle PRX to fill it out.

Comment for "Lost & Found Sound and Beyond: Hour One"

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Review of Lost & Found Sound and Beyond: Special - Hour One

What an intriguing mix: the combination of a truly visual artist and the some of the most listening-est tape assembled for radio. What's more, this extraordinary series, aired on Fridays on ATC during 2000, has been amplified and expanded upon with the likes of FF Coppola's family tapes.

An obvious drop-in for any PD needing to fill an hour -- in fact, stations should add an hour to the broadcast day to make room for work like this.

Would it be possible to make the individual stories available for drop ins with Mr. Coppola narrating? Let's bring back some surprise to the air! These are beautiful stories listeners should stumble against at unexpected times -- like break in with Glen Campbell during a time block typically devoted to classical. A shock, but a really good one...

Comment for "The Economist Swing State Reports: Pennsylvania"

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Review of The Economist Swing State Reports: Pennsylvania

Another wonderful piece in the series. This is the kind of smart reporting we could use a lot more of this campaign season. Insightful, clear-sighted. Thoughtful production offers versions with and without intro and so-called music. Intro and outro copy could be read locally.

Comment for "The Economist Swing State Reports: New Mexico"

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Review of The Economist Swing State Reports: New Mexico

Terrific, concise, to the point. Cultural analysis little short of brilliant, light years beyond what passes for much of the political reporting from American sources.

In the weeks leading up to the election, these would be wonderful drop-ins at any point in the day, above and beyond typical news blocks.

Comment for "Let the Good Times Roll #17: The Magic of Muscle Shoals" (deleted)

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Review of Let the Good Times Roll #17: The Magic of Muscle Shoals (deleted)

An hour is a lot of time, and this episode about the Muscle Shoals studio carries a lot of great stuff -- terrific songs, great interviews. But it is all a bit inchoate -- it feels like each entry of the narrator is a new start to the show, rather than a reflection of progress being made through a subject.

Still, this program contains a lot of important, interesting, and engaging material. And there's nothing to beat the music.

Comment for "The Organ Builder"

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Review of The Organ Builder

Good character, good ambience. The story is okay as it stands, but while I appreciate all the different things that seem to deserve explanation in the world of the pipe organ, the piece could be trimmed down to 5 mins or less without much damage.

Comment for "Hell's Bells"

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Review of Hell's Bells

A wonderful way to start a serious and intelligent discussion of faith -- not a set-up for an argument or a "debate," but the start of a discussion that really hasn't been aired (at least within my hearing) on public radio.

Thoughtfulness is a hallmark of Anderson's work, but this will come as a surprise to those acquainted with his other pieces. Nice drop in for the likes of WESUN.

Comment for "Wednesday 3PM"

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Review of Wednesday 3PM

I think Mueller invented the short-list radio; I know she's perfecting it. An intriguingly different -- and successful -- music bed, the things she observes so well. I know we tend to target ME, ATC, etc. modules, but hear me, PDs: Just drop this in a couple of moments in your regular broadcast days as a little gift and surprise for your listeners.

Comment for "Smells Like Money to Me"

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Review of Smells Like Money to Me

There is a lot of good stuff -- great audio from the boat and the factory, great quotes like the title -- but there are really two, maybe even three stories bundled into this one. Break 'em out so each story can breathe.

Comment for "Alpendub"

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Review of Alpendub

What's not to love? High-altitude polkas complete with yodels. Absolutely wonderful. Can run as is, but would suggest a little less talk -- for instance: when the guy says "We have ways of making you play German music," we don't need to hear anything more.

Comment for "Fight the Bush"

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Review of Fight the Bush

This would probably work on a community station that isn't taking government funding.

A touch long and repetitive, reflecting more the structure of the song underneath than the producer's message. Judicious removal of a verse or two wouldn't hurt.

Comment for "Errol Morris on Harris execution"

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Review of Errol Morris on Harris execution

There is great stuff in this story -- Morris is a wonderfully articulate man and he does not fail to be so here.

Yet between the technical issues -- over 20 minutes on a phoner -- and the lack of set-up in the piece itself, it takes three or four minutes to grasp what's happening, this is work to listen to. Tape should be pure, of course, but a little EQ would take the edge off Morris's tracks.

Comment for "The Singing Yeast Cell"

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Review of The Singing Yeast Cell

The very idea behind this piece should have made it a no-brainer for PDs everywhere. Somewhere in 24 HOURS OF A BROADCAST DAY there must 13 minutes that really aren't all they could be -- be honest now, people, even if you did program them.

This piece has bagged on average a perfect 5 because it is based on a fascinating idea that has been brilliantly translated to audio. Beautifully produced and rendered -- there is not a dull moment. You must play ALL of this. In fact, play it several times in different program blocks over the course a week.

Playing this piece on your air will demonstrate to your listeners that there is more to being a PD than just filling dead air.

Comment for "Weill and Vegas"

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Review of Weill and Vegas

A kind of piece we don't get often enough on American radio: an imaginative attempt to use an opera by Weill/Brecht to illuminate Las Vegas and to use Las Vegas to illuminate the Weill/Brecht opera. This is at once a clever arts piece and a good travel story.

And it's messy: Lots of great sound, terrific use of the opera. Half the time you have no idea who's talking. My one minor gripe is that there is so much ambience that it's hard to focus on what the people are saying.

44:00 without breaks can be tough. Part of the Vegas charm is its relentlessness, but I wonder if this piece could be broken roughly into three segments, with short travel pieces from your local PRX outlet to offer a little sonic respite.

Comment for "Subway Symphony"

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Review of Subway Symphony

What's not to like? A terrific mix of rhythmic sounds of the NYC subway. May not be exactly Rhapsody in Blue, but this bears its railway inspiration very well. A nice break from voices for 1:45 or so.

Comment for "God is Talking to Me"

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Review of God is Talking to Me

A Father's Day story with a twist that still ends up being a Father's Day story. Hans Anderson is the knuckle-baller in PRX: He amuses, he challenges, he fools, he cajoles from one story to the next. Here he captures one curiously common feature of Father's Day narratives -- the absent father -- and creates something immense, even while endorsing the happy-finding-of-Dad motif.

In this story particularly, Anderson reminds us that when we tell stories, we are all too often at sleep behind the wheel. Some will argue that this is fiction: Well, that never stopped you from presenting White House coverage.

PDs: You've got a week here: Drop Don Gonyea and 9 mins. plus at the White House for this. Your listeners will love you.

Comment for "1000 Postcards"

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Review of 1000 Postcards

A wonderful piece when I first heard it on Transom, a delight to hear again. Everything is so absolutely natural in the layout and design of the piece. Here's a father everyone can love and a daughter not ashamed to admit it.

A real treat for an otherwise fabricated holiday.

Comment for "Knitting with Dog Hair/ Dog Day Afternoons"

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Review of Knitting with Dog Hair sans Dog Day Afternoons

There are actually two stories in this edition of SoundPrint, and I would mightily encourage the program to break these stories back into two half-hours. I remember flipping Kniting with Dog Hair over at Transom several years ago and it remains absolutely wonderful stuff now. It's the fiendish melding of fact and fiction that makes this such a delight.

PDs, check this out. You might go so far as to trade beads for the entire hour just to get your hands on the first part.

Review of Dog Day Afternoons -- 3.5 dots This is one of those things that European broadcasters do very nicely -- 30 mins. about dogs in art, literature, and life. A big bonus is the big hug game at the top. Perfectly fine.

But it shouldn't be placed right next to Knitting. It's not a match. Break the clock -- do Knitting, throw in a quirky 8 min. piece, go to Dog Day Afternoons, and then trawl PRX for the remainder.