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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-1 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:

Space Cadet (#1514)

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

13066494114_bc5db51e42_m_small The French expression peigner la girafe means to do a useless, tedious, or annoying job, but literally means to comb the giraffe. That's one of the many gems in Mark Abley's new book Watch Your Tongue: What Our Everyday Sayings and Idioms Figuratively Mean. Abley also observes that Korean youngsters use words meaning Of course! or Absolutely! Literally, though, the expression translates as It's a carrot! You can hear the expression dang geun in an adorable Korean cartoon that shows carrots singing to each other that of course they'll always be friends.


Andrew from Annandale, Virginia, asks: What's the origin of the word boondoggle? Why does it mean a wasteful project or plain old busywork, but also dentoes a kind of leathercraft lanyard made at camp?


A palindrome is a word or phrase with letters that read the same backwards and forwards, such as taco cat, nurses run, and a nut for a jar of tuna. Word-unit palindromes are similar, although you read them word by word. One example: You can cage a swallow, but you can't swallow a cage, can you? Another is goes Fall leaves after leaves fall. And then there's Did I say you never say "Never say never?" You say I did.


Judy in Miami, Florida, wonders how the expression squeaky clean came to mean spotless, whether literally or metaphorically. At least as early as the 1930s, the term squeaky clean referred to hair that was so free of oil and dirt it makes a squeaking sound between your fingers. Later, TV commercials for Ajax dishwashing liquid  played upon that idea, touting the so-called Ajax squeak that results from using that soap to wash dishes.


In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is a Latin palindrome doubling as a riddle. It's variously translated as We enter the circle at night and are consumed by fire or We turn in circles in the night and are devoured by fire. The answer to the riddle: moths. This Latin palindrome is also the title of a film by French director Guy Debord, and is referenced in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.


Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a Take-Off Quiz. All the answers to this quiz involve removing the letter E from a word to form another word. For example, if the clue is The man at the piano played the black keys with skinny, knobby fingers, what two words does that suggest?


Kirk from New Braunfels, Texas, wonders about the origin of the word Dad. It's one of many names for a parent that arose simply from the sounds an infant makes when trying to communicate.


Keith in Valparaiso, Indiana, wonders why his mother uses the term icebox for what other people call a refrigerator. Before electric refrigeration, people kept food cold by putting it in a an insulated box that was literally cooled with a block of ice delivered by the local iceman.


If you want someone to calm down, you might say Cool your jets! This expression is among several catchphrases from a 1950s TV show about the extraterrestrial adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Others include plug your jets, meaning to shut up; cut your jets, meaning to quit doing something; blow your jets, which meant to get angry. The TV series was apparently inspired by by the Robert Heinlein novel Space Cadet, which also led to space cadet as an ironic term for someone whose head is metaphorically in the clouds.


Our conversation about slang terms for traveling by foot prompted an email from Tom in Canton, Texas, who reports that while living in Israel, he used to hear fellow high school students say in Arabic that they were taking Bus Number 11, the long, straight numerals representing their two legs.


More book recommendations: For a smart, in-depth look at language change and usage controversies, Martha suggests Talk on the Wild Side: Why Language Can't Be Tamed by Lane Greene. Grant says his 11-year-old son thoroughly enjoyed all of the graphic series Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. That series includes such books as Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, which, as it happens, was a great complement to the book for adults that Grant just finished, Barbara Tuchman's excellent history of the outbreak of World War I, The Guns of August.


Sophia is a 13-year-old from Napierville, Illinois, says she and her peers use the phrase search it up on the internet to mean look it up on the internet. Her mother says it's look it up or just search it, not search it up. Sophia and her friends aren't wrong, though. Search it up is used by lots of people, particularly younger ones, and it's becoming more common.


What's the linguistic connection between pretend and pretension or pretentious? They all go back the Latin praetendere, meaning to put something forward.


Susan from Virginia Beach, Virginia, remembers a toe-counting game from her childhood that goes This Toe Tight / This Penny White / This Toe Tizzle / This Penny Wizzle. She doesn't recall the rest and has no idea where it came from. There are many versions of this kind of rhyme, particularly in the traditions of Scandinavia and Germany. Among them are the one that goes Peedee / Peedee Loo / Loodee Whistle / Whistle Nobble / and Great Big Hobble Tobble! And another that goes Little Pea / Penny Rou / Judy Whistle / Mary Tossle / and Big Tom Bumble.  Susan remembers another one that involves gently slapping the bottom of the child's foot: Shoe the old horse / and shoe the old mare / and let the little colt go bare, bare, bare. The blog Mama Lisa's World has a multitude of other versions. Henry Bolton's 1888 book The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children, which is available in its entirety online, is another good source of these, although some of the rhymes may be offensive to modern readers.


This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.