%s1 / %s2

Playlist: O'Dark 30 episode 176 (4-20)

Compiled By: KUT

Caption: PRX default Playlist image

KUT's O’Dark 30 features the very best from the world of independent radio that we can find here on PRX and elsewhere. Sunday nights at 10 on Austin's KUT 90.5 we present 3 hours of a bit of everything from the big wide world of independent radio production.

Episode 176 (4-20) includes Episode 11 -- Paint By Numbers (Decode DC)...Benny Goodman (Views and Brews Liner Notes)...#42- Curious City (HowSound)...99% Invisible #66- Kowloon Walled City (Director's Cut)...Walt Whitman: Song of Myself...India's Shifting Gender Roles: One Girl's Tale...My Chilean Pen Pal...The Mikie Show #48, George..."The swimming pool at the Econo-Lodge was empty."

Episode 11 -- Paint By Numbers

From Decode DC | Part of the DecodeDC series | 20:05

Let's start from the beginning.

Ep11_small_small Let's start from the beginning. To understand what underlies every argument in Washington these days, you have to know the basics of the federal budget. Problem is, most of us don't.

Benny Goodman

From KUT | Part of the KUTX Liner Notes series | 03:00

In the 1930’s, the clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman, brought jazz stylings to mainstream America. With this short feature jazz historian and Rabbi Neil Blumofe muses on how Goodman offered a space for freedom and expression which combated early 20th century ideologies based on fear and tyranny.

Benny Goodman

Imagesbgprx_small In an age of segregation, creeping fear, and xenophobia, Goodman boldly set forth a new agenda for American music, integrating his band and exasperating the assumptions of culture, sophistication, and assumed ways of life. His legacy reminds us to reconsider regimented ideas of identity and forge our own paths against repression.

#42 - Curious City

From HowSound | 14:22

"Curious City" loves the local. Hear how this project at WBEZ brings listeners into the making of radio and on-line content.


Talk to any radio old-timer and they will wax on and on and on about "localism." I think it's in their blood.

Localism, is, essentially, a commitment to local public service, the idea that a radio station exists to serve its community. Localism holds that programming should be informed by the needs and interests of the citizens living within the "footprint" of the station's signal.

But listen to most stations --- commercial and public --- and you have to ask: "Where's the localism? Where's the local content that serves this community?"

Most commercial, FM broadcasters air music and typically not a lot of local music. Maybe they have a talk show on Sunday mornings at 6am where, for example, the local Red Cross chapter has an opportunity to talk about an upcoming blood drive. And, of course, there's local weather and public service announcements. But, all that is just an extremely small part of the broadcast day.

Commercial AM stations tend to fare better in terms of localism. They often have morning talk shows that tackle local issues. They may even have a reporter or two producing local news reports throughout they day. But, AM stations are apt to be a "pass through" for network programming originating in some far-off city.

Then there's public radio. Public stations also tend to be a "pass through" for national content --- think Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm, Car Talk, This American Life..... Do the math some day. How much local airtime on your public station is set aside for local programming? What distinguishes your station from other stations across the country?

I don't have time now to explain the disconnect between a broadcaster's commitment to localism and the dearth of local content. Suffice to say, a lot of it has to do with ownership limits and media economics. Fortunately, there's a growing recognition that if radio is to exist into the far future, stations need to reinvigorate their love of the local.

Enter Localore , a project of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) and several funders including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (Full disclosure: I'm on the board of AIR.) Localore funds dozens of public media projects across the US in an effort to, among many things, foster the production and broadcast of local content.

On this edition of HowSound, we listen to a story from the Localore project "Curious City" based in Chicago at WBEZ. The story is about Chicago's distinctive accents . Jennifer Brandel, the lead producer for the series, says "Curious City" looks to 'hack' the prevailing public media model by bringing the community in as content generators.

As an old-timer with localsim in his blood, I think Localore, projects like "Curious City," and the turn toward the local in broadcasting is clearly the right direction.

Cheers, Rob.

PS - Here's a link to an excerpt from the Bertolt Brecht essay on radio I read from in the program.

99% Invisible #66- Kowloon Walled City (Director's Cut)

From Roman Mars | Part of the 99% Invisible (Director's Cut) series | 14:54

The densest place in human history.


[For standard 4:30 length version, go to: http://www.prx.org/pieces/90046-99-invisible-66-kowloon-walled-city-standard-4]

Kowloon Walled City was the densest place in the world, ever.

By its peak in the 1990s, the 6.5 acre Kowloon Walled City was home to at least 33,000 people (with estimates of up to 50,000).  That’s a population density of at least 3.2 million per square mile.  For New York City to get that dense, every man, woman, and child living in Texas would have to move to Manhattan.  

To put it another way, think about living in a 1,200 square foot home.  Then imagine yourself living with 9 other people.  Then imagine that your building is only one unit of a twelve-story building, and every other unit is as full as yours.  Then imagine hundreds those buildings crammed together in a space the size of four football fields.

We can’t really imagine it, either.

Kowloon Walled City began as a military fort in Kowloon, a region in mainland China.  In 1898, China signed a land lease with Great Britain, giving the British control of Hong Kong, Kowloon, and other nearby territories.  But the lease stipulated that the fort in Kowloon would remain under Chinese jurisdiction.  

Over time, the fort became abandoned, leaving the area subject to neither Chinese nor British authority.  This legal gray zone was attractive to displaced and marginalized people.  Thousands of people moved there after the war with Japan broke out in 1937.  Even more people moved there after the Communist Revolution.  It attracted gangsters, drug addicts, sex workers, and refugees.  And it also drew a lot of normal people from all over China who saw opportunity there.  

They built the city building by building, first blanketing the area of the fort, then building vertically.

Buildings were packed together so tightly in the Walled City that the alleys were nearly pitch-black in the day time.  Electricity and water were brought in by illegal or informal means.  

There was no garbage collection, so people pitched their trash out of their windows.

This sewer grate pictured above was installed to keep garbage from falling onto the roof of a temple, seen below.

The Walled City gained a reputation as a sort of den of iniquity—there were high levels of prostitution, gambling, mafia activity, and rampant unlicensed dentistry.

But an order did emerge.  People found ways (legal and otherwise) of getting electricity and into the city.  A resident’s organization settled disputes.  And there was lots of industry.

You could even receive mail in the Walled City.

Kowloon Walled City was torn down in 1993.  Today, it’s Kowloon Walled City Park.  Most traces of the city are gone, though there is a model of the city cast in bronze.

But the memory of the city lives on.  It was featured in the non-verbal film Baraka, and plays a cameo role in Bloodsport.

It’s also served as the setting in a number of video games, including most recently Call of Duty: Black Ops

If you still can’t get enough of Kowloon Walled City, here’s an hour-long documentary (in German, with English subtitles)

This week’s episode was produced by Nick van der Kolk (whom you may remember from Episode #21).  He spoke with photographer Greg Girard and architect Aaron Tan, who both spent time in the Walled City.  Nick also talked to as Brian Douglas, who helped design Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Nick is the director of the award-winning podcastLove + Radio.  You can also hear him over at Snap JudgmentAlexander Jerri contributed to this story.

Walt Whitman: Song of Myself

From WNYC | 58:58

WNYC presents "Walt Whitman: Song of Myself." Hour hosted by Carl Hancock Rux, the program peels back Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and we discover that this groundbreaking work was the product of a man so far ahead of his time that we are just now able to fully appreciate his work.

Whitmanimageversions One hundred and fifty years have passed since Walt Whitman first published Leaves of Grass, a collection of twelve poems that irrevocably altered the development of poetry and literature. His magnum opus shattered existing notions of poetry, breaking all existing conventions in terms of subject matter, language, and style. Leaves of Grass opened the door not only for poets, but writers, artists, musicians, and thinkers to break down barriers in their own work; despite never reaching a mass audience during the artist's lifetime, its tremendous impact is being felt a century and a half later. Today, we are still trying to understand who Whitman was, what he was saying, and what he was styling himself to be. Hosted by Carl Hancock Rux, "Walt Whitman: Song of Myself" explores how a 36-year old freelance journalist and part-time house-builder living in Brooklyn created his outrageous, groundbreaking work. We join Whitman on a walk through the urban streets, imagining the sights, sounds and music, from Stephen Foster to Italian opera, that profoundly affected him and indelibly shaped his poetry. The city transformed Whitman, and Whitman in turn transformed the wild diversity and intensity of the city into a radical, passionate vision for America. In his poetry, he refused to be censored: he celebrated the body and sexuality; he embraced the invisible and the disenfranchised, from women to slaves to prostitutes. His hopes to heal the country of its deep political divisions through his poetry were dashed by the Civil War, but his work lives on as a vital life-affirming force. In this hour-long special, Rux speaks with writers, poets, musicians, and scholars who tell the story of this extraordinary, self-styled celebrity. Guests include writers Michael Cunningham and Phillip Lopate; poets Martin Espada, hailed by some as a contemporary Whitman, and Ishle Yi Park, Queens poet laureate; composers John Adams and Ned Rorem; choreographer Bill T. Jones; Whitman scholars Karen Karbiener and David Reynolds; and many, many others. Actors including Jeffrey Wright and Paul Giammatti share readings of Whitman's poetry, which, one hundred and fifty years on, still astonishes.

India's Shifting Gender Roles: One Girl's Tale

From Rhitu Chatterjee | 11:03

India has come under close scrutiny lately for its poor treatment of women and girls. Yet, this is a time when a growing number of women are enjoying unprecedented opportunities. More and more women are getting educated and joining the work force. So how are girls and women in the country seeing themselves and their future? To find out, The World's Rhitu Chatterjee spent some time with one girl in a remote corner of the country. (Multimedia elements available for embedding at http://www.theworld.org/2013/03/indias-shifting-gender-roles-one-girls-tale/)


The recent gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in the Indian capital of New Delhi sparked unprecedented demonstrations across the country. It also fueled discussions about the status of women in India. But the recent spike in violence against women also parallels an increase in the number of women in public spaces, a fact that reflects the changing role of women in the society.

These changes have even trickled down to some of the remotest and most conservative parts of India.

But how do these changes play out in an individual’s life? How do old and new ways interact and clash in a family, and in a community? And who and what helps a girl learn what is expected of her what she can and cannot do?

The World’s Rhitu Chatterjee answers some of these questions through a look at the life of 12 year-old Sarita Meena, who lives in a remote village in Northwestern India.

Sarita looks like a boy. She is skinny, and wears her hair very short. People in the village call her father's son. In a region, where most girls and women are quiet and shy with strangers, Sarita never hesitates to strike up a conversation. She is fearless, outspoken and likes hanging out with the boys at school.

She is the youngest of three daughters. Her two older sisters live in a small town an hour away and are among the first girls to leave the village for higher studies. Sarita wants to follow in her sisters’ footsteps and eventually get a job teaching school kids.

But she is also a dutiful, obedient daughter. She is eager to help her mother with housework and help her father on his farm. She worries about who will look after her parents once she and her sisters are married and living with their in-laws.

The contradictions in Sarita’s personality reflect a larger reality in Indian society. As women have more and more opportunities, they  have to decide for themselves how much they want to push back against tradition.

This story takes a close look at how one young girl is making those decisions and choices, and why. 

My Chilean Pen Pal

From Nathan Callahan | 10:36

Monkey Fist from Tia Tooth


As far as my family knew, Allende was spelled with a “Y”.  And my pen pal?  Hugo didn’t seem to care about politics, either. As my Secretary of State Henry Kissinger plotted a military coup against Hugo’s President Allende, Hugo and I innocently bounced “How’s the family?” letters up and down the Pacific Coast of the Americas.

The Mikie Show #48, George

From Michael Carroll | Part of the The Mikie Show series | 28:03

Here it is, another new show! This time we speak with George Bradley. He is a master of herpetology, meaning he collects, manages, identifies and pretty much loves everything about reptiles and amphibians. And he gets paid for the love by the University of Arizona Museum of Natural History. Plus, we got to go down to his space to have a talk and look at his many, many critters. There’s also a quiz, nothing about herpetology, just a general one-question quiz. And we have news about things you may think should never be news! How does that work? We’ll see. And there’s always an unexpected guest or two dropping by. So why not hop on down to the play arrow and shed that old skin for some fresh entertainment!


Here it is, another new show! This time we speak with George Bradley. He is a master of herpetology, meaning he collects, manages, identifies and pretty much loves everything about reptiles and amphibians. And he gets paid for the love by the University of Arizona Museum of Natural History. Plus, we got to go down to his space to have a talk and look at his many, many critters. There’s also a quiz, nothing about herpetology, just a general one-question quiz. And we have news about things you may think should never be news! How does that work?  We’ll see. And there’s always an unexpected guest or two dropping by. So why not hop on down to the play arrow and shed that old skin for some fresh entertainment!

"The swimming pool at the Econo-Lodge was empty."

From Joseph Dougherty | Part of the Handwritten Theatre series | 10:33

Another woman in another bar. Another series of cocktails. Another story. Lean close to her and listen.

Handwrittenblack_small Part of a continuing series of brief dramatic pieces originally composed in a small black notebook with a fountain pen. Wry and enigmatic, playful and thought-provoking, "Handwritten Theatre" is a series of brief dramatic works that began in the notebook of an award winning dramatist. Writer-Director Joseph Dougherty won an Emmy for his work on the groundbreaking series "thirtysomething." His plays have been produced by Manhattan Theater Club and at Lincoln Center. In the detailed miniatures of "Handwritten Theatre" he's found a stimulating new way to tinker with language and perception. Produced in Los Angeles with a pool of gifted actors, each "Handwritten Theatre" episode is self-contained and produced with royalty-free original music. Programmable anywhere, they're perfect for shows surveying the performing arts scene, or as a challenging treat for late night audiences.