Comments by Kamna Shastri

Comment for "In The Land Of The Summer"

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A wonderfully textured piece

“In the Land of the Summer” was certainly unexpected. Marzia Desai gives us a breath of fresh air by weaving her message about the environment into a fictional piece. It is simply written, reminiscent of a vividly illustrated children’s book.
Desai uses music and sound as the pictures that illustrate and give color to her narrative. When fall comes, the sound of leaves rustling in the wind
Her voicing is also full of rhythm and full of texture. She speaks in a sort of monotone, her sentences lilting in the same way each time. Sometimes, this becomes repetitive, but it certainly gives Desai’s piece a character all its own.
I only wish the ending hadn’t been so abrupt. I was hoping for more of a conclusion. Still, this piece is certainly different.
It would be well suited for programming concerning the environment, change, or creative radio.
In the Land of the Summer is a good listen that is worth hearing more than once; each time there is a new idea, a new meaning to the allegory waiting to be discovered.

Comment for "The Desert, My Mom, and Me"

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A Refreshing Piece

“The Desert, My Mom and Me” is a moving piece about growing up and discovering oneself. Whether the tension is between Trent and his mother, or simply between youth and life, it is present throughout the piece. The constant presence of a conflict – however subtle – is haunting, but also realistic of life and growing up.
This piece showcases the emotional power of voice. Trent is reflective, while his mother’s voice is filled with concern, worry and perhaps even hurt. The tension in the voices mimicked the tension present in a harsh climate such as a desert and the acoustic music brought to mind the colors and raw sounds of that climate.
I would have liked a clearer sense of what questions Trent found answered while he was in the desert. The questions were somewhat addressed, but the conflict between him and his mother overshadowed the thoughts that needed clearing in his mind. Also, I wish there had been more elaboration about the books Trent has been reading in class, and how they may have affected his thoughts and decision to go to the desert.
The most refreshing part of this piece is that it ends without a finalistic conclusion – Trent’s journey seems ongoing. The conflicts in the piece don’t disappear, but are rather put in perspective.
This would be a great piece for programming about growing up, or parent-child relationships, even self-discovery.
Above all, I found this to be a raw, honestly told piece. It’s story and scenes linger with you minutes after the piece fades out.

Comment for "Caught Between Dreams and Family"

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Between Dreams and Family - Review

“Between Dreams and Family” is a sweet story about one young adolescent’s courage to break away from family to chase a dream. While Malcolm may be in a different place, the issues he battles with are universal. Without having to elaborate too much, he manages to convey the tensions of family, tradition vs. modernity, and dreams vs. expectations.
Though the piece was fragmented at times in its arrangement, the producer did a nice job of creating a linear story line. Her voicing was fresh in its clarity and fusion of professionalism and personal connection. In the beginning she mentions that she met the main character of the piece, Malcolm, in Yangoon. I find myself slightly curious as to how she met him, though it isn’t central to the content of the piece. Also, the music – Malcolm playing his guitar – would have helped join the whole piece together if it were kept underneath. Sometimes the change from background noise, to music, to the silence of the studio created disconnect.
This piece would suit programing about music, or about the struggle between following family and one’s own passions.
Malcolm’s thoughtful, sometimes melancholy way of speaking, grips you. When you listen you feel his ups and downs, so much so that his final words touch your heart. What those words are, you’ll just have to listen and find out.

Comment for "From Elephant Toys to Elephant Gods and Back"

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"From Elephant Toys to Elephant Gods and Back" - a treat for the ears!

Finally, after months of looking, I’ve managed to find something related South Asian youth. The first thing that draws you into this piece is Shivani’s voice, full of an enthusiasm to tell her story. While her school life is pretty much identical to that of any other high schooler, her life away from school is what lets her tick. This piece is an expose of that life, one filled with family, the clanging bells and chants of the temple, and the scintillating sound of anklets. The strongest point of this piece is the way Shivani has created scenes, full of sound and flavor. All the sounds captured in the piece give the listener the audible textures that make up Shivani’s life. In addition, the musical contrasts in the piece highlight the separation, or maybe the differences between Shivani’s experiences at and away from school.
This piece seemed to me more of a montage piece, a sampler to something larger. Shivani brings up so much that could be further explored – I found myself curious about cultural tensions and about her interest in dance. Perhaps a series of follow ups could explore the topics she presents more in depth.
This piece is well suited for programming dealing with culture, religion and multicultural youth.
“From Elephant Toys to Elephant Gods and back” is a sweet and simple piece, a treat for the ears and a treat for the senses.

Comment for "Race and Heritage in America"

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Review of Race and Heritage in America

This exploration of race and heritage in America is an interesting one. Annie uses her own experience as a jumping off platform from which to touch on issues such as ethnocentrism in the face of diversity. She interlaces personal examples with wider, social ones, a balance that makes it easier for the listener to find common ground with the content. However, I found myself wanting to hear more detailed personal anecdotes.
There are lots of good insights in this piece, tucked away inside long sentences. They are easy to miss in the first listen; they often become more apparent on the second and third listens. In order for the nuggets of this piece to be more obvious, shorter sentences and maybe a slightly softer music selection would highlight the most important parts.
That said, Annie’s voicing is clear and soothing, successful in expressing her thoughtfulness.
This is a piece that would be great as an opener for a program focusing on race, and more specifically heritage.
Given that issues of race and heritage are as vast as an ocean, this is a good attempt at diving into the complicated world of race and culture.

Comment for "The Words of Our Parents"

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"The (little) Words of Our Parents" go a long way

Before I clicked ‘play’ and heard ‘The Words of Our Parents’, I was expecting some sort of confession about how irritating parents really are. That is not what this piece is. The producer, Grace, does a beautiful job putting together this vox-pop piece, which is more like a conversation than your average vox pop. By asking only one question in the beginning and stringing on answers from various people, Grace puts together little nuggets of insight in a very powerful way. The casual style of the piece – no copy, just cuts – makes its messages all the more resonant with the listener.
This piece is a reminder to take the words our parents say to heart. While listening, I was transported to some different place reminiscent of the safety that only parents can give. There are mixed anecdotes of things parents have said, some hurtful, some true, but overall the wide variety only supports the idea that parents wish the best for their children.
One thing I felt would enhance this piece is a follow up. Such a follow up might be to ask the same question that Grace asks to the parents rather than the children.
This is a flawless piece, in my opinion; it turns the little things our parents say into perhaps some of the biggest wisdom of our lives.

Comment for "Head Over Heels for Cooking"

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Review of Head over Heels for Cooking

From the start of this piece, there is a sincerity in Dinh To’s voice that grabbed on to me and didn’t let go. The way she weaves her story - from the way she was before coming to South Philly, and the way she changed- is amazingly smooth. The transitions in her script and the editing of the piece are equally fluid.
While To brings attention to her passion for cooking with her title, she does a wonderful job uncovering all the layers that are connected to that passion. She brings in the struggle of moving to a new country and learning a new language, experiences that navigated her toward cooking. She also ties in the importance of family and how it keeps her grounded. All this, she does without sounding preachy or overly sentimental.
In addition to the beautiful balance of topics in this piece, To illustrates her story with a great use of sound; the Vietnamese music in the beginning, the sound of a simmering skillet, and various voices from Food Network makes the story alive. The snippets from To’s sister are also valuable in enhancing the content of the story, and the conclusions that To herself comes to.
This is a great piece suited for cross-cultural youth based programing, however it will work well as a standalone piece as well.
“Head over Heels for Cooking” undoubtedly deserves to be heard, for its sincere and vibrant presentation as well as its ability to pull the listener into the story and into the shoes of the storyteller.

Comment for "If You Are Loved, You Are Beautiful"

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Review of "If you are Loved, you are Beautiful"

Alex Heath takes a courageous dive into exploring the abstract concept of beauty in this interesting piece. He begins the piece by asking two overarching questions – what is beautiful? Is beauty universal? The following segment where Heath interviews some of his classmates about what they consider beautiful is an enjoyable listen. While the answers may be somewhat clichéd, they are still heartfelt, and the awe in some of their voices can reach out and elicit a smile form the listener.
After the first half of the piece, Heath introduces the ideas of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ in determining what a person finds beautiful. While this is an interesting topic, some more in depth development and explanation would help make the connection that heath sees more apparent to the listener. The same goes for the interesting, and arguable true, connection between love and beauty. All of the valid and thought provoking ideas that Heath brings up are certainly heartfelt, and fleshing them out would only make them speak out stronger to his listeners.
This piece would be well suited for a program dealing with philosophy, or a thematic program on beauty. It could also contribute to a debate on ‘nature’ vs. ‘nurture.’
A great attempt at taking an abstract element and exploring it for radio, “If You are Loved, You are Beautiful”, deserves a listen for its sincere insights.

Comment for "Space for a Big Sister"

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Space for Big Sister - review

Sprinkled with self-reflective humor, ‘Space for a Big Sister’ indirectly tackles the challenges of being an older sibling. Thien To shares the tug of war she endures in order to keep hold of her sanctuary away from her younger siblings. Though To uses very simple, everyday examples, such as sharing a bed with her two younger siblings, she is able to touch on a larger issue; the responsibility faced by older siblings is both an expectation and a choice.
The segment about her younger brother was a little confusing in its execution for me. While it was certainly pertinent, it could have been tied in with more clarity.
To’s delivery is emotive and at times, humorous, allowing for a smooth flow. Her descriptions guides the listener to visualize both her home and her predicament.
A reflective yet perky closing lets the listener ease out of the piece on a high note. At the same time, To’s story continues to resonate with anyone who has ever faced the responsibility of taking care of others and taking care of oneself.

Comment for "Speaking to My Heart"

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"Speaking to My Heart" Review

This piece is the personal, riveting reflection of a seventeen year old mother of two who has been incarcerated. While the story is about a teen mother, it defies all stereotypes and judgments; the narrator’s voice and delivery strips the piece down to its element; a journey of emotions, from joy, regret, pain, love and longing.
Hearing the innocent voices of the narrator’s children immediately pulls the listener into the story. The snippet from the children’s father is touching, and provides a more complete picture of the yearning created by a distance between parents and their children.
The music is pleasant and suits the mood of the piece, though the repetition of the same few chords becomes a little old. The organization of the piece is a little fragmented, with some word endings dropped and some early cutaways.
However, this piece certainly deserves to be broadcast and heard; whether you are a mother, a father, a son or daughter, the narrator’s honesty is fresh and most certainly speaks to the heart.

Comment for "Uncharted Waters"

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'Uncharted Waters' - thoughtful insights about the unknowns of our lives

“Uncharted Waters” is a compilation of the stories of five individuals and how they’ve dealt with the unknowns – or uncharted waters – of their lives. With poignant insights, this piece shines light on how the unknowns of our lives are not separate from what we do know. While I was inspired by the reflections in the piece, I also found myself wanting more details about the stories that lead to these honest insights. The lyrical style of this piece mirrors the thoughtfulness of what is being said, however simpler language would have allowed for less ambiguity and more detail in some places.
This said, the weaving of the piece complements its content very well. The first few seconds of water lapping against a shore creates a scene and sets up a fluid, contemplative mood. The music used throughout the piece helps in guiding the listener by keeping the mood steady and then rising to a sort of uplifting climax toward the end. The creative narrative about a sailor sailing through uncharted waters acts as a glue that brings the 5 stories in this piece together.
This piece would be appropriate for any show looking for a creative piece, or any show covering the unknowns of our lives, or just looking for something inspirational.
Towards the end of ‘Uncharted Waters’ one speaker says that we are not alone in our struggle. The multiplicity of voices and stories in this piece most certainly send a reassuring message, that we most certainly aren't alone on our journey across the unknown.

Comment for "Words"

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"Words" Is a Treat for treat for the Senses: a YEB review

Woven with music and language, ‘Words’ is both a collection of poetry and a poem in and of itself. Ari Rappaport’s voice is crisp and clear from start to finish. In his intro, he speaks directly to the listener. While sentences are a bit long to follow at first (sometimes I got hung up on the words rather than their meanings) the message of questioning our perceptions still comes through.
The three poems that follow are breathtaking. They inspire the listener’s imagination and ask questions without directly posing any. In between the poems are short interludes where we hear what others have to say about poetry. Reaching out to others for this piece adds a variety of voice and color. But it is undoubtedly Ari’s poems- and his deliberate and thoughtful delivery – that are the heart of this piece.
The music that underlies the piece is occasionally distracting. Yet the texture it adds gives the piece richness and sometimes mimics features of the poem. For example, during the first poem, the fast movement of the sitar almost mimics the buzzing of the flies.
This is a piece well suited for a poetry month feature, an alternative show, or any show themed on poetry, philosophy and maybe even perception. It would do well to jerk listeners out of the drone of daily news stories.
‘Words’ is a treat for the senses, and for the philosopher in us all. It invites us to listen again and again, each time uncovering a new element, a new feeling, and a new realization.