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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.


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.


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:

Hot Gossip (#1609)

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


How do you organize the books on your shelf? Author Jane Smiley has developed a method that fellow book lovers will appreciate.
We dish about the many terms for "gossip," including hot tea, scuttlebutt, the scoop, the 411, the lowdown, the dirt, the scoop, hot goss, the poop, the dope, the T. In prison slang, grapes means "gossip," and particularly juicy or tragic gossip is gore. In the West Indies, shu-shu, su su, and sey-sey all mean "gossip," and imitate the sound of whispering. The skinny may also mean "gossip," although it's more often used to mean simply "information." The Ancient Greek word for "gossiper," spermologos, literally means "a gatherer of seeds," suggesting someone who picks up scraps of knowledge, much as a bird goes around picking up seeds and other small items. The Greek word's English derivative, spermologer, now rarely used, means "a gossip" or "collector of trivia."
Mark from Richland Center, Wisconsin, wonders about the origin of the expression Murphy's Law, which is often rendered as Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The concept has been around for years, but researchers Fred Shapiro, Stephen Goranson, and Bill Mullins of the American Dialect Society have disproved all the common stories about the origin of the term itself. An interview with mathematician and physicist Howard Percy "Bob" Robertson suggests that the name may have originated with a joking reference to Newton's Laws of Thermodynamics. One variant on Murphy's Law proposed in 1992 by an Australian editor reads in part, "If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written." It's called Muphry's Law.
In his essay "The Art of Dying,"  art critic Peter Schjeldahl reflects on the process of writing: When I finish something and it seems good, I’m dazed. It must have been fun to write. I wish I’d been there.
​​Quiz Guy John Chaneski shares a puzzle he calls "annoyingly amusing." For example, suppose he says Yes, you're right. I don't see any more aliens around. What did you say the coast was? How would you answer? How's that again? Wait, what?
Since the early 19th century, the term collywobbles referred to "gastrointestinal distress." This word may derive from colic, or "abdominal pain," plus the word wobbles, referring to something unsteady, suggesting "a queasiness in the tummy."
An Ohio listener reports that when her toddler daughter used to ask for what she called LMNOPs. It took a while for their family to realize she wanted M&M's candy. She also had her own word go-dogs for "hot dogs," and her family still fondly uses that term. Maybe she was a fan of that children's favorite by P.D. Eastman, Go, Dog. Go! (Bookshop|Amazon)
Sarah in San Antonio, Texas, says that when she goes to a restaurant and orders iced tea, the server usually asks, "Sweet or unsweet?" That doesn't sound right to her. How do you unsweeten tea? Doesn't the un- imply a "reversal of a state"? Not necessarily. You can have something unfolded that was previously folded, something unbuilt that was never built, and something unbelievable that never was believable. Particularly with adjectives, the prefix un- doesn't always imply a reversal. Sometimes it simply connotes the idea of "not" or suggests "the absence of a condition."
Ronald in Columbia, South Carolina, hears some people pronounce the word help as if they're saying hope. There's a British dialectal version of the past tense of the verb help that is spelled holp or holpen or hope, which have hung on in pockets of American dialect. Also in the American South, some people drop the L sound next to what linguists call back vowels, such as O, which are formed in the back of the mouth, so that that cold sounds like the word code, and hold sounds as if it were spelled hoad. 
In the Cornish dialect of South West England, a conkerbell is an icicle.
In her new book Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne (Bookshop|Amazon), Oxford University scholar Katherine Rundell notes that the 17th-century cleric's love poems are famously difficult to unravel, but well worth the effort. "Meditation XVII" from Donne's 1624 work Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and seuerall steps in my Sicknes is the source of the now-familiar English phrases No man is an island and for whom the bell tolls, the latter of which became the title of an Ernest Hemingway novel. 
A tweet from Jeremy London suggests that if we named people the way they did a thousand years ago, we'd hear names like Darren the Depressed or Isaac the Uninsured. What would your name be?
Stacy from Marquette, Michigan, says her German-born grandfather would warn that she was going to get a putsch or potch, meaning a "a gentle slap" on her bottom, if she misbehaved. The German verb Patsch means "slap." The related dialectal German term Putsch, which means a "slap" or "smack," evolved to mean "armed insurrection" or "violent attempt to overthrow a government," such as Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. A similar image of striking is reflected in French coup d'etát -- literally a "stroke of state" -- and the analogous Spanish term golpe de estado. Yiddish speakers refer to a potch in tuchus or potch in tuchis, meaning "a light slap on the bum." The related words potchkie and potchkee can also mean to "fuss or mess around." For example, one might speak of a person who is potchkeeing around.
Here's a neologism used to describe someone possessed of effortless attractiveness or style: rizz. It's a shortening of charisma, a word that goes back to ancient Greek.  
Rebecca in Jackson, Tennessee, says her mother-in-law would describe people unwilling to work as not work brickle. The word brickle has long meant "brittle," is probably a word of Germanic origin and an etymological relative of the word break. The expression work brickle has meant both "eager to work" and "lazy," although the "reluctant to work" meaning is now the predominant one.
Before her biography Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne (Bookshop|Amazon), Katherine Rundell was better known as a writer of children's books, including The Girl Savage (Bookshop|Amazon) and Rooftoppers (Bookshop|Amazon). The latter is informed by her own fascination with walking atop roofs at Oxford University, among other places.
This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.