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Playlist: News Station Picks for July '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/96385007@N00/241811700/">Thomas Mues</a>
Image by: Thomas Mues 
Curated Playlist

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

What Naomi listens for in news programming.

A note from Naomi:

At the annual Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) conference in Louisville, we talked a lot about how to expand your news online. Someone said "experiment and learn, fail fast and keep trying." I like that. So in that spirit, this month's picks are about trying new things.

This I Believe - Theresa MacPhail

From This I Believe | Part of the This I Believe series | 03:57

This essay speaks to trying to overcoming fears, and Theresa MacPhail looks back at a childhood where fear ruled how she was brought up. Like all the pieces in the This I Believe series, it is thoughtful and poignant. And it adds a detail about midway through that takes it up another notch.

Tiblogosmall_small HOST: Today's This I Believe essay comes from Theresa McPhail [pron: mac-FAIL], a medical anthropologist at the University California, Berkeley, doing fieldwork in China and specializing in bird flu. Her work requires a certain amount of courage, a quality sustained by her belief. Here's Theresa MacPhail with her essay for This I Believe. MACPHAIL: I believe that embracing fear produces courage. After my brother died in an accident, my mother was inconsolable. I was only four-years old at the time but I still understood the seismic shift in my mom's attitude toward safety. Suddenly everything around us was potentially dangerous. Overnight, the world had gone from a playground to a hazardous zone. I grew up with a lot of restrictions and rules that were meant to protect me. I couldn't walk home from school by myself, even though everyone I knew already did. I couldn't attend pajama parties or go to summer camp because what if something happened to me? As I got older, the list of things to fear got longer. My entire life was divided into "things you should avoid," and "things you needed to do in order to have a good, long life." I know my mom was only trying to protect me. She worried about me because after my brother died, I was her only child and what if something happened to me? What if? I became a natural worrier. I worry about things like getting cancer, losing my wallet, car accidents, earthquakes, having a brain aneurysm, losing my job and my plane crashing-disasters big and small, real and imagined. The funny part is you'd never know it by looking at my life because I'm constantly forcing myself to do the things that frighten or worry me. In fact, I've developed a rule for myself: If it scares me, then I have to do it at least once. I've done lots of things that my mom would have worried about: I've ridden a motorcycle, I've traveled-a lot. In fact, I've lived in China. I've performed stand-up comedy and I'm planning my second wedding. I still travel to China often, chasing bird flu as a medical anthropologist. There's something else I don't usually talk about, but it's a cornerstone in my belief: When I was 14, my mother died suddenly in a car accident. That loss on top of my brother's unnatural death could have paralyzed me, but at my mom's funeral I remember making a choice. I could either live out the rest of my life trying to be "safe" or I could be brave enough to live out a fulfilling, exciting and, yes, sometimes dangerous life. I worry that I may have betrayed my mother by writing about her in this light, but she has been a driving force in my life and in the end I think she would have been proud of me. Courage isn't a natural attribute of human beings. I believe that we have to practice being courageous; using courage is like developing a muscle. The more often I do things that scare me or that make me uncomfortable, the more I realize that I can do a lot more than I originally thought I could do. Even though I inherited my mother's cautious nature, I've also come to believe that fear can be a good thing, if we face it. Believing that has made my world a less scary place.

The 'Courage' to Graduate

From Learning Matters | Part of the Paul Vallas in New Orleans series | 07:30

In New Orleans, a new program run by formerly incarcerated people is aimed at helping students deal with difficulties and make good choices. The leaders are trying to break the cycle of failure they themselves went through. Lots of sound from the classroom helps the listener understand what the program feels like.

This piece is produced by Jane Renaud and Valerie Visconti at Learning Matters in New York City, an independent media production company focused on education.

Caution: watch for podcast announcements at the beginning and end of the piece

Circ_of_c_khalil_points_small At Booker T Washington Middle School in New Orleans’ recovery school district, Khalil Osiris is doing things a little bit differently. In his “Circle of Courage” class, students share their problems, concerns and desires with one another. One common desire? To get out of middle school and move on, at long last, to high school. Booker T is an alternative school that caters to students who have had trouble succeeding in a traditional school environment; many students at Booker T are 16 or 17 years old and are still performing at an elementary school level.

Osiris’ “Circle of Courage” is one strategy the school is using to try and help students stay out of trouble and pass their classes. But how much can sitting in a circle and talking really help?

Grad Student Discos for Dollars

From Hillary Frank | 05:19

This guy is helping pay for grad school by disco dancing in public for donations. What's really fun about this piece, in addition to the feeling of being out on the street, is that when the guy talks, he sounds totally shy. In fact, he admits to having been someone who used to be too shy to dance. But he lets it all go on the streets. And he makes $10,000 a year, so his "trying" is paying off.

This comes from Hilary Frank, who is a freelance writer and radio producer out of Montclair, New Jersey. She has a knack for being both solid and surprising, and picking great stories. Check out her other pieces on PRX, too.

Disco2_small Jason Hopkins didn't know how to dance when he was the student body president at his high school. But when he was put in charge of promoting an upcoming school dance, he figured he'd have to learn quick. So he rented Saturday Night Fever and learned all of John Travolta's moves. He had no idea that one day those moves would earn him around $10,000 a year and would help him through grad school. This story first aired on Sound Money.

Forced Out

From outLoud Radio at Youth Radio | 09:33

This one unfolds nicely in the scripting, and with good use of music beds, as a teacher reveals how she tried to keep her secret under wraps. But some students unwittingly outed her. It goes on from there with the teacher dealing with being at a Catholic School, and then trying a new strategy at a new school. And a little surprise at the end ties it up nicely.

This piece is by Ashley Garber at outLoud Radio in Berkeley, California. outLoud's mission is to give "voice to youth who are otherwise silenced because of who they love or their gender they claim."

Ashleylaughcloseup_small No matter how hard you try, some secrets are hard to keep. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers have it especially hard if they're trying to keep their identities under wraps. One high school teacher found this out the hard way... and ended up loving her new openness.


From World Vision Report | 05:16

Nice to hear a story from Afghanistan that isn't about diplomacy or military strategy... It's about a group trying to bring (mostly) female students together through their interest in skateboarding. They start off in a classroom, being challenged to think about their differences. And then we are out in the skateboard park, headscarves flying and skateboards clacking against the pavement.

Will Everett reports this for the World Vision Report, a weekend news-magazine and daily feature show out of Federal Way, Washington.

If you air this piece, please include a back announce saying "This piece originally aired on the World Vision Report." or "This piece came to us from the World Vision Report."