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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.

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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:

Clever Clogs (#1539)

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

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Hourglass valley, ribbon fall, gallery forest, and ephemeral creek may not be in standard dictionaries, but they're terms often used in parts of the United States to denote features of the landscape particular to various places. Writers Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney have gathered more than 800 of these terms and asked well-known authors to research and write short entries about each of them. The result is Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape, a lovely compilation that poses the question: What do we lose if these words are forgotten. 
Victoria in Madison, Wisconsin, is curious about the expression It's a thing, meaning that a particular phenomenon exists or is genuine. This phrase has been around since at least the time of Jane Austen, who used it in Pride and Prejudice. Other phrases involving the word thing include my thing is meaning "what concerns me is" and the thing of it is meaning something along the lines of "the most significant element is."
Annie in Bend, Oregon, says that while living on a narrowboat in England several years ago, she encountered some intriguing slang: clever clogs, a slightly derogatory term for someone who's a bit too smart for their own good, and pop your clogs, a euphemism that means "to die." Clever clogs was preceded by a similarly sarcastic term clever britches. 
Inspired by Noah Webster's spelling reform, Quiz Guy John Chaneski came up with a puzzle that involves removing the letter U from one word to form another For example, what two words are clued by the following statement? I used to live in a building meant for human habitation, but now I live in a flexible tube for carrying water. 
Barbara in Norfolk, Virginia, wonders why Southerners speak with a drawl. A great resource on how people perceive others' dialects is the work of linguist Dennis Preston and his book Perceptual Dialectology.
The term blind creek refers to evidence of a waterway that's dried up, although water can still be found if you dig far enough. It's one of more than 800 terms defined in Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape.
Mark in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about the history of the second person singular and plural in English. At one time, thee and thou were singular, and you and ye were plural. By the early 17th century, thou and thee as familiar terms of address had been replaced almost entirely, except in certain dialects.
Greg in New York, New York, says that when he looked a bit disheveled, his mother would say You look like Willie off the pickle boat. The phrase goes at least as far back as the 1890s, and the proper name has varied. The person on the pickle boat has been, among others, Annie, Molly, Charlie, and Chauncey. A pickle boat is the last boat in a race.
An email from Sam Rittenberg in New York, New York, describes his mother's use of borrowed day, a term so closely associated with her that her family had it inscribed on her tombstone.
John from Bremerton, Washington, is puzzled by a radio announcer's use of the hortatory phrase Powder River! Let 'er buck! The rollicking, rootin'-tootin' story of this phrase is told in Western Words: A Dictionary of the American West, an acclaimed collection of cowboy lingo and folklore, by historian Ramon F. Adams.
An open book is a rock formation that looks just like its name. This specialized term is one of hundreds collected and explained in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. Such a rock formation is also called a dihedral.
Susan in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, recalls that when someone looked less than presentable, her mother would tell them they looked like who did it and ran. Variants include who did it and ran away or who messed you up and ran away. The common thread is the suggestion that some kind of altercation occurred and the person who's still present was on the losing end.
In colonial times, a sugarloaf was refined sugar molded into a cone. The term sugarloaf later extended to a mountain that resembled one.
Holiday calls from Carlsbad, California, to ask about the term bitchin', or bitchen, meaning "great." In the 1920s, the word was negative, but like bad, sick, ill, and wicked, this word developed a positive sense. Surprisingly enough, the earliest record we have of the word used in this sense is from 1957 in the oh-so-wholesome series, Gidget! 
This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.