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Playlist: PRX Picks

Compiled By: Audrey Mardavich

Caption: PRX default Playlist image

PRX Staff are picking our favorites stories from PRX. Here's a list of them.

Bring on the Bling! - A reality TV series and the business that's booming because of it.

From Andrew Davis | Part of the Claim Your Fame series | 07:39

Accidentally watched way too much "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" over holiday break, so I was super curious about this woman who makes all the crazy wedding gowns.

Sondra_discusses_design_w_carol_small Sondra Celli comes from a family of dress designers, but mega-success didn't come until a few years ago when an English reality television production company discovered her on Facebook.

Episode 5: Dropping Like Flies

From Criminal | Part of the Criminal series | 21:00

Learn All About This Insane Plant-Based Crime Ring

Criminal-itunes-compressed-700x700_small Every year for the past few years, tens of thousand of flytraps have gone missing – from the wild, from gardens, from nurseries. And, really, nobody knows where they go. What’s cropped up in rural North Carolina is essentially a Venus Flytrap crime ring — with lackies, middle men, and a mysterious end buyer who’s perpetuating the market.

Isis Aquarian and the Source Family Cult

From The Organist | 14:34

Salads, Polygamy & Psych Rock: The True Story of the Source Family Cult

Isisandfatheryod_small Isis Aquarian on documenting her years living with two hundred other members of the Source Family cult in a mansion in L.A. Hosted by Andrew Leland.

This I Believe - Tarak McLain

From This I Believe | Part of the This I Believe series | 03:42

Your Heart Will Swell When You Hear This 6-Year-Old


HOST: Our This I Believe essay today is a bit unusual because it was written by a six-year-old.  Tarak [TAR-eck] McLain has achieved the grand old age of seven now, but he wrote about his beliefs last year in kindergarten in Austin, Texas where he lives.  Here is our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.

JAY:   I met Tarak McLain a few months ago at a This I Believe book reading when he handed me his list of 100 beliefs.   He'd written them for the 100th day of Kindergarten when all the kids were asked to bring 100 things.  Others brought in cotton balls, or pecans, or Cheerios.  Tarak brought beliefs.  He said his mother helped him think about them, but all the words are his.  He agreed to shorten his list to 30 for the radio.  I asked him if he wrote his original list quickly or if he had to think pretty hard:

TARAK: I had to think pretty hard.  Every day I did two hours of it and in all it was six hours.

JAY: Was it pretty different from what the other kids did?

TARAK:  Yes.  A lot different.

JAY:  Well, let's just start right at the top, take your time, and read every one of them.

TARAK:  Ok.  Start?

JAY:  yeah. 


I believe life is good.
I believe God is in everything.
I believe we’re all equal.
I believe we can help people.
I believe everyone is weird in their own way.
I believe hate is a cause for love.
I believe that when I meditate I feel peaceful.
I believe we should be generous.
I believe brothers and sisters should be kind to each other.
I believe kids should respect their parents.
I believe I should not whine.
I believe people should wake up early.
I believe people should go outside more.
I believe in nature.
I believe people should use less trees.
I believe we should help the Arctic and rainforest animals.
I believe people shouldn’t throw litter on the ground.
I believe people should not smoke.
I believe God is in good and bad.
I believe in magic.
I believe people should not give up.
I believe love is everywhere.
I believe that God helps us to have a good time.
I believe we live best in a community.
I believe we can protect people in danger.
I believe we should help the poor.
I believe its OK to die but not to kill.
I believe war should not have started.
I believe war should stop.
I believe we can make peace.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Love

From Blank on Blank | Part of the Blank on Blank series | 06:28

The Beatles Broke Up. Why Didn't John and Yoko?

Johnlennon_yokoono_square_small "It's all true folks; all you need is love" - John Lennon. From 1969 - 1971, the journalist Howard Smith interviewed Lennon and Yoko Ono five times. Smith was there right before and after the Beatles broke up, and John Lennon embarked on a solo career with the love of his life. In total Howard Smith recorded 9 hours worth of interviews with the couple. What we’re focusing on is one subject that came up throughout the conversations: love.

Where@bouts - Episode 001 - Resale Records

From Mad Genius | Part of the Where@bouts series | 03:45

Meet Eric. He has a second mistress, and he wants to sell her.


Where@bouts - Episode 001: Resale Records

Mad Genius presents the debut episode of what we hope will be a long exploration of the sense of place. We call it "Where@bouts." Our series will feature stories that are inextricably linked to sound and vice versa. Our guests will conduct their world like a song in an imaginative feat of radio art.

Resale Records is a used vinyl store in Madison, Wisconsin. Owner Eric Teisberg opened shop in the late '70s, using a Quonset hut that once housed a car repair business. Nearly 40 years later, Eric looks back on his work and life with a frank assessment toward our changing relationship with music.

Your hosts, found sound addicts Mad Genius, travel the globe like noise nomads. Help us find your Where@bouts. Drop your needle at mad.genius@live.com. Or visit www.facebook.com/madmanor.

Leaving A Mark (Uncensored)

From Emily Hsiao | 13:13

One man's quest to remove his swastika tattoo.

Bruce_s_tattooprx_small Emily Hsiao finds a man on Craigslist who wants his swastika tattoo covered up. And then she goes and meets him. **This is the explicit version of the story. Expletives have not been censored.**

Voyager Found

From The Truth | 13:04

If Aliens Found the Voyager Golden Record, What Would They Think of Earth?

Voyager Found
The Truth

Voyager_icon_small Using actual recordings sent to space on a golden record aboard the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecrafts in 1977, this short radio drama imagines what aliens might think of Earth if they were to find the record.

Performed by Chet Siegel and Peter McNerney, produced by Jonathan Mitchell.

"Survivors" Rock the Senior Circuit

From Catie Talarski | 05:21

The Rolling Stones Aren't the Only Senior Citizens Still On Tour

Jules_small A few years ago a recently retired armament repairman was looking for a way to spend his free time playing music.  He found other seasoned musicians interested in meeting for an occasional jam session at the Wallingford Senior Center in Connecticut. The musicians became the Senior Center "house band", calling themselves the "Survivors"-- Now they’ve moved out of Wallingford and onto the road. WNPR producer Catie Talarski met up with the band at "The Orchards at Southington" -- a senior living community.


Ministry of Presence

From KCRW | Part of the UnFictional series | 25:02

This Minister Sat with 95 Inmates In Their Final Minutes on Earth. Then, He Recorded His Thoughts.

Ministry of Presence

Unfictional320x350_small The death penalty is an emotional and political issue, pitting the rights of victims of violent crime against those accused of committing violent crime, but most of us, thankfully, will never actually set foot in an execution chamber. This is the story of Carroll Picket, who observed 95 executions as a minister at the Walls Prison unit in Huntsville, Texas. Then, after each one he would tape record his thoughts about sitting with a condemned man on his last day.

The Land

From Erin Davis | 09:58

Fire, Swearing and Chainsaws: A New Kind of Playground.

The Land
Erin Davis


So-called Adventure Playgrounds have quietly flourished abroad since the end of the Second World War. They take many forms - from chaotic junkyards to whimsical shanty towns, yet all embrace a fundamental belief in the necessary and positive relationship between risk & play. Death traps by any American standard they allow children the kind of play we remember most fondly from our own childhoods. 

This is an immersive story about one such playground, known as The Land - located in North Wales, UK, about an hour's drive from Liverpool. The Land is one of the world's newest adventure playgrounds, employing some of the movements oldest "junk" philosophies.

This is the short cut (TRT 6:30) of a longer piece first heard on Transom.org. Available for licensing here: http://www.prx.org/pieces/100288-of-kith-and-kids

Cat Bath

From Dmae Roberts | 03:23

Ever tried to give your cat a bath? If not, prepare thyself for these other-worldly sounds.

Cat Bath
Dmae Roberts

769_small Dmae records a friend giving two cats a bath during flea season some years ago. When it aired on NPR in the late 80s, cats across America cried out in sympathy....all set to the tune of "Talk to the Animals" from Dr. Doolittle. This piece is a how "not" to instruction on the unpopular art of bathing cats. No animals were harmed in the making of this piece. But it is still cringe-worthy....

WTF Episode 106 with Robin Williams

From WTF with Marc Maron | Part of the WTF with Marc Maron series | 58:59

An amazing (and now especially sad) episode of WTF in which Robin Williams talks with Marc about the many issues he was facing.

Robin500_small Yeah, Marc's sitting down with Robin Williams for an hour. No big deal. So what do you talk about with an international comedy superstar? How about alcoholism, cocaine, divorce, joke stealing, heart surgery, fame, Richard Pryor, jealousy, and Twitter? Yeah. That should do it.

2012: A Year In Your Ear - "Someone's Screaming Outside"

From Mad Genius | Part of the 2012: A Year In Your Ear series | 03:31

Here it is, the latest song in our "Year In Your Ear" series. We're calling it "Someone's Screaming Outside." Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, one gunshot and our attempt at telling their complex story using only sounds found on YouTube. Should clear up all remaining questions, right?


NEW!  Watch the "music video" (and we use that term loosely) at our series page or at YouTube under MadGeniusBlog.

While working on its debut album, the anonymous vérité pop collective Mad Genius decided to follow the real money with this foray into public broadcasting.

Keeping with what we do best, we're sampling the world's news and audio culture (both professional and amateur) in an effort to tell stories in a way that would make Ira either cry in pain or throw fits of furious envy. Maybe both, come to think of it. We're taking the talking heads and turning them into pop stars, making music with the media and nothing more. The goal is to create an hour-long musical time capsule by the end of the year. That is, of course, unless the apocalypse comes first.

Here's our latest episode. We're calling it "Someone's Screaming Outside." Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, one gunshot and our attempt at telling their complex story using only YouTube reaction to the situation. Should clear up all remaining questions, right?

As we write this, we're developing our next track. A little Columbian samba that takes on the Secret Service. Our question for you: Should we be scared? Will M.I.B.'s visit our studio at Mad Manor? Stay tuned...

App helps track Ebola spread

From University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism | 03:55

Super informative.


Students and faculty from the University of North Carolina and Syracuse University have teamed up with the Liberian Ministry of Information and an American tech company to help the fight Ebola. The team created a web application that collects information on Ebola infection and death rates and displays the data in easy-to-understand visualizations. The app is designed to help the Liberian government and health organizations make quicker and better decisions to stem the outbreak.

In the past, Liberian health workers had to drive miles through rough terrain to make their reports to the government. But with the app, workers can report deaths and infections through text messaging, which is expected to make the reporting process quicker and more streamlined. Virginia based IST Research developed the SMS-based data collection system. 

UNC and Syracuse students, faculty and recent graduates coded and designed the front end of the app.  It's already being used by government workers, Liberian media outlets and ordinary Liberians with Internet connections. 

We hear from a Liberian team member in Monrovia and a American team member at the University of North Carolina.

Here I Am and Here Be Danger (Censored)

From Annie McEwen | 11:45

One of our first Second Ear stories just won a Third Coast Competition award, a super prestigious award in the world of radio. Listen to this one ASAP!

Danger_small Here I Am and Here Be Danger was funded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. 

That Crime Of The Month

From Criminal | 10:00

What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her actions to PMS?

Criminal_itunes_compressed_small What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her
actions to PMS? We revisit the first use of the "PMS defense," in this
country, back in 1981. What have we learned about the science of PMS
since then? Last year, the American Psychiatric Association classified
a form of PMS (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD) as a mental
disorder in the DSM-V. How can the scientific community study severe
premenstrual symptoms without perpetuating the utterly unscientific
idea that menstruating women aren’t mentally competent or liable for
crimes they commit?

EIS 007 Current with the Past

From Everything Is Stories | 48:36

A psychedelic folk singer, long thought dead, recounts his journeys with hallucinogens, a Christian cult and sailing the open sea alone.


Originally released in 1969, Dave Bixby’s Ode to Quetzacoatl is considered an underground classic in the psychedelic folk genre. With tracks such as “Drug Song” and “666″, the album remains dark, revelatory, and spiritual even in the 21st century. For years, rumors of Bixby’s disappearance and death spread amongst listeners. No one knew his story or his whereabouts or what influenced him to create an album dedicated to a Mesoamerican deity. He was a mystery.

In Episode 007, Everything Is Stories finds Dave Bixby in Northern Arizona where he shares his incredible adventures with hallucinogens in the 60s, a Christian cult in the 70s, sailing the open sea alone in the 80s, and what exactly influenced him to produce an album named after a feathered serpent. 

Looking for Love

From Marlo Mack | Part of the How to Be a Girl series | 08:28

For Valentine's Day (or any day) a mother's meditation of what life (and love) might be like for her transgender daughter.

Htbag_logo_medium_small A single mom and her young transgender daughter both hit the dating scene, and then compare notes on the rocky road to romance. 

Raymond Carver Reads What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

From Leet and Litwin | Part of the Tell Me A Story series | 29:43

One of the most popular stories on PRX right now. Raymond Carver reads his short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love."

Carver_2_small The New York Times Book Review says that Raymond Carver is "surely the most influential writer of American short stories in the second half of the 20th century." Surely Raymond Carver's signature story is WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE. This program presents the story, told in his voice: his own interpretation of his work. In 1983, we meet him at dawn, in a motel in Palo Alto. After a short conversation, philosophical and sometimes funny, the story begins.


Originally, the story had a different title: BEGINNERS. The original tale had been different, too: longer, more complex, more nuanced, with more significant characters. At the time Carver's editor was Gordon Lish, who whittled the story, adding violent actions and offensive language. And Lish renamed the story from BEGINNERS to WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE.

When in 1983, we recorded Carver in Palo Alto, he was working on a Broadway play; this would be entitled to be BEGINNERS. Decades later, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrita made the story-inspired, play-inspired into a movie called BIRDMAN; he hired four writers; the director also wrote. The result: the highest award for the 2015 Oscars.

This background is not included in this program, but stations may find useful some extra information to present the show.

ALSO! We suggest to CHOP OFF AT 29:00! The last 43 seconds are NOT RELEVANT now.


Voice Recognition

From Making Contact | Part of the Making Contact series | 29:00

Does public radio sound too white? #PubRadioVoice has been a popular topic of late. Here's a story that explores voice and identity.


What do our voices say about us? On this edition we explore voice and identity. We'll hear from someone who nearly lost their voice as well as the challenges that come ordering a pizza with a speech generating device. 

Real Love: A Valentine's Special from WNYC's Death, Sex & Money

From WNYC | 54:00

One of my favorite podcasts has put together this beautiful hour of radio full of personal, honest looks at love and how it defines the many chapters of life.


Real Love with host Anna Sale is a one-hour Valentine’s Day Special from WNYC’s Death, Sex & Money. It’s a personal, honest look at love and how it defines the many chapters of life. Celebrities as well as listeners from all over the U.S. share their most intimate thoughts about falling in love, navigating the highs and lows of marriage, testing boundaries, forgiveness, and breaking up.

The show features well-known voices talking about personal moments. Jane Fonda reflects on her marriage to Ted Turner -- both its beginning and its end -- and about getting into a relationship again.  Sex columnist Dan Savage divulges the surprisingly significant issue in his marriage: his husband’s online spending habits. Nashville couple Jason Isbell, formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, and Amanda Shires talk about how they deal with jealousy and temptation on the road. James McBride, author of The Color of Water, shares his life priorities after a failed marriage -- and whether he thinks he can ever commit again. Chaz Ebert reflects on the last months of her husband Roger Ebert’s life, when she became not only his caregiver, but also his voice.

You’ll also hear from Death, Sex & Money’s listeners about money, relationships, infidelity and pre-nups. Host Anna Sale also shares her own story about how a retired U.S. senator got mixed up in her love life and convinced her to get back together with her boyfriend after they broke up. Part of this segment aired on This American Life, which launched Death, Sex & Money to the number one spot on iTunes podcast charts.

01 Tom: My Funny Valentine

From The Mortified Podcast | 13:20

"I'm not sure if you can be in love with someone and not love them..not sure, I haven't worked that out yet."

Mortified_alt_logo_1400x1400_small The debut episode of The Mortified Podcast delivers a Valentine tribute to teen romance with a painfully earnest high school love letter from Feb 14,1994.

Love Hurts (part 1)

From Lea Thau | Part of the Strangers series | :00

Hey...love hurts, y'all. Just wanted to remind everyone.

no audio file

Ganzeer in America

From Open Source | Part of the Open Source Shorts and Podcasts series | 24:33

Meet Ganzeer, a graffiti artist who painted the truth about Egypt’s dictatorship and the promise of the Arab Spring on the walls of Cairo.

Screen_shot_2015-03-15_at_8 For our podcast, we're taking a trip to Brooklyn with the graffiti genius Ganzeer, who's talking art as social commentary—Concept Pop, as he calls it—which is to say idea-driven art that comes with a sort of punch in the nose.

08 Shelley: Are You There, God? It's Me, Shelley.

From The Mortified Podcast | 17:26

A hilarious, Jesus-filled episode of Mortified, where adults read from their childhood diaries.

08_shelley_thumb_soundcloud_small A neurotic teenager tries to calm her nerves about a boy by talking to herself -- and god -- in her diary. To learn more about Mortified visit getmortified.com.  The Mortified Podcast is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. This episode is hosted by Mortified's Artistic Director, Neil Katcher. 

Rocker Kim Gordon: "Not a Musician"?

From Peter Johnson | Part of the The Author's Corner on Public Radio daily show: APRIL 2015 series | 01:40

Sonic Youth fans, Kim Gordon reads a short snippet from her new memoir "Girl in a Band."

Taclogowgradient2f_small A boomer reflects: Years have a way of changing people's perspectives, indeed. Kim Gordon, rocker role model and founding member of Sonic Youth, reads from her intimate memoir, Girl In A Band. Just a sample of T.A.C.: Another day's slice of life from a new book, our daily series your listeners should not miss: contemporary, compelling, eclectic. 

#BlackLivesMatter: Alicia Garza on the Origins of a Movement

From Making Contact | Part of the Making Contact series | 29:00

How #BlackLivesMatter came to be.


Black Lives Matter. This simple phrase has become the motto of a growing movement calling for true justice and equalty for black people. Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, first typed out those three words back in 2013.  In March of 2015, Alicia Garza visited the University of Southern Maine to tell the story of how Black Lives Matter came to be, and express her hopes for where it’s headed.  We hear her speech.

From Bullets to Balance Sheets

From Radio Diaries | 08:25

"Every drug dealer is a businessman."

Kamari_t_small As a teenager, Kamari Ridgle was a drug dealer and drive-by shooter until a near-death experience led him to his true love…accounting.

The Birth of Rice-A-Roni: The San Francisco-Italian-Armenian Treat

From The Kitchen Sisters | Part of the Fugitive Waves series | 19:31

The story of Rice-A-Roni is also a story of the Armenian Genocide which recognizes its centennial this year.


The worlds of a young Canadian immigrant, an Italian pasta-making family, and a 70-year-old survivor of the Armenian Genocide converge in this story of the San Francisco Treat.
A Canadian women (Lois DeDomenico) marries an Italian immigrant (Thomas DeDomenico) whose family started Golden Grain Macaroni in San Francisco. Just after WWII the newlyweds rent a room from an old Armenian woman (Pailadzo Captanian) who teaches the young pregnant 18 year old woman how to cook.  Yogurt, baklava, pilaf… After about 4 months the young couple move into their own place. A few years later, Lois' brother-in-law is eating over at her house— looks down at the pilaf on his plate and pronounces: “This would be good in a box.” Prepared and packaged foods are just beginning to come on strong. They name it Rice A Roni.
During those hours in the kitchen the old Armenian woman cooks and tells the younger women the story of her life — her forced trek from Turkey to Syria, leaving her two young sons with a Greek Family, her husband's murder, the birth of her baby along the way (his name means child of pain), the story of the genocide. Mrs. Captanian shows Lois a book she wrote in 1919, directly after her experiences—one of the only eye-witness accounts written at the time. Most were published 30-40 years later by survivors. This one was published in 1919 for the Paris Peace Talks in hopes that it would help provide context for the establishment of an Armenian state.

14 Jenny: Is My Boyfriend Gay?

From The Mortified Podcast | 19:08

Super creepy cat-eye contact lenses FTW.

14_jenny_thumbnail_prx_small The diaries of a high school girl whose first boyfriend is clearly gay. To learn more about Mortified visit getmortified.com.  The Mortified Podcast is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come

From Devon Strolovitch | Part of the Inside the National Recording Registry series | 04:46

RIP Ornette. Here's a short, sweet recording of Ornette's son on his father's groundbreaking album "The Shape of Jazz to Come."

Ornette-coleman-the-shape-of-jazz-to-come-1959-180-grs_small Ornette Coleman was one of the architects of free jazz, a form that broke from conventions of soloing over chords (known to musicians as “playing the changes”) that had carried from Dixieland into bebop. With Coleman’s strong melodic sense, the collective improvisation doesn’t feel chaotic. “When you’re improvising, listening to the other players, that’s occurring on such a deep level that it’s almost impossible to describe,” says Sonny Rollins, one of the great sax players of the era. On The Shape of Jazz to Come, with Don Cherry on cornet, Charlie Haden on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums, Coleman set a high bar for spontaneous invention.

For many fans, though, free jazz — Coleman’s music, Eric Dolphy’s, Albert Ayler’s — was a rupture in the tradition that bordered on heresy. “It may be hard to imagine today, but back then it was a much different society,” says Denardo Coleman, the son of and sometimes the drummer for Ornette. “When you talk about going against the grain or going against the wave, you were going against a tidal wave.”

Encounters Octopus

From Encounters: Radio Experiences in the North | 28:57

Happy #CephalopodWeek!

Eleven_small Elizabeth Arnold finds Alaska's biggest octopii enthusiast who is studying this eight armed fascination. Head down below the ocean's surface to hear HOW octopus studying is creative and tricky business.

#6 Amy Schumer

From How To Be Amazing | Part of the How To Be Amazing series | 01:00:12

Amy Schumer...is perfect.

Amazing-alternate-finalrevision_-_everywhere_medium_small Michael sits down with his friend and fellow comedian, Amy Schumer to discuss her years trying to make it in stand-up, how she made her hit Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, and her upcoming film with Judd Apatow, Trainwreck.

Remembering "I Have a Dream"

From Rebecca Sheir | 05:41

As we remember civil rights leader Julian Bond, hear his remembrances of "I Have A Dream" from 1963.

_01 Rebecca Sheir talks with Washington, D.C., locals -- including the now-late activist/politician/professor Julian Bond -- about how it felt watching Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, live, at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.