Comments by Charles Lane


User image

Review of Blue Highways (deleted)

My God, we need more of this on the radio!

This is the first episode in a new series about something pubradio never really excelled at, engaging radio produced from and about rural America. This first release is a collection of stories (ranging from informational to heart crushing) and studio interviews that will hopefully provoke closer inspection of the state of life outside of major metropolitan areas.

While the subject matter makes this perfect fair for stations in the countryside, listeners in cities could easily be entertained if only for the superb sound mixing and story weight.

One negative would be the slight hokeyness in the show's conceit (set as if the show were a road trip). It works very well at times with producers doing stand-ups as they go about reporting. But then sometimes it gets a little rigid and confining.

Another plus is the number of ways it can be aired. Either as a half hour special or in 5 minute chunks throughout the week.

Programmers have lots of options, but no excuses not to air this one!

Comment for "She's An Ironman"

User image

Review of She's An Ironman

Brilliant! Perfect for ME/ATC cut away, just needs some anchor help.

A clever and well recorded interview with (apparently) good questions profiling a female ironman competitor as she runs down the road. The piece then switches to a sit-down interview where the woman compares being pregnant to training for a race. The piece would work great as part of a magazine show or local news cast. Because there is no narration the story would need some thoughtful anchor ins and outs.

Comment for "RN Documentary: Fairbridge Farm School"

User image

Review of RN Documentary: Fairbridge Farm School

How can you not air a story about children being freed from POW camps! Extraordinarily griping and disturbing stories about Dutch children returning from Japanese POW camps after WWII and then "civilized" on an estate in Australia. The half-hour piece is brimming with witnesses who speak in a way that's dynamic and engaging so that the listener is sucked into the story immediately. The producer did a nice job arranging the half-hour so that the tragic parts are in the beginning and then ending up when they talk about the details of how nice the farm was.

The piece is in the traditional BBC/RN style that might be too rushed for American audiences. Another small hurdler American audiences must leap is the lack of a more paced introduction that would include a bit of history about how children ended up in POW camps. I still don't know why the kids were in a war situation or how they were captured or freed.

But over all nicely done!

Comment for "Writer's Voice interview with author Barry Werth about 31 DAYS" (deleted)

User image

Review of Writer's Voice interview with author Barry Werth about 31 DAYS (deleted)

An engaging and thoughtful interview about the transfer from the Nixion to Ford administration. It’s done in the style of Fresh Air or the DR show. The host asks intelligent and confident questions and did a good job in bringing information from the guest. This will play well currently and through the summer of 06.

One note, the timing is a little odd at 40 minutes and I’m not sure how a PD is supposed to deal with it. However, the concept and production of the piece/show is well done and will hopefully be a start to something good.

Comment for "Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop"

User image

Review of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop

Excellent fare on Kansas City jazz, perfect for stations with a visiting jazz musician or for a program about jazz. It can be fitted seemlessly into other programs. The guest seems very informed with lots of good stories about what jazz was like in the 20s and 30s. It's also a good description of an under-appreciated center for jaz--everyone knows about New Orleans and New York, but it was really interesting to hear about Kansas City jazz.

Comment for "Gateway High Steppers"

User image

Review of Gateway High Steppers

Very sound-present piece that grabs you from the start. It is an audio postcard about a drill team in Kansas that improves the lives of kids by giving them something more. The piece is filled with the voices and rhythm of the moment and the reporter did a good job of capturing the personality of the kids and parents involved.

Because of location it would be hard for other stations to fit this into a cutaway, however the piece would fit nicely in a program or series dealing with anything musical or kids, specifically solutions for troubled youths.

Comment for "Here on Earth: Student Activists" (deleted)

User image

Review of Here on Earth: Student Activists (deleted)

Here on Earth lassos the world and makes it accessible to non-globetrotting America. It is a talk/call-in show that addresses global topics that are of general interest to any public radio listener. I could easily picture this program playing midday or late night and grabbing a random listener’s ear and pulling it in and creating a regular listener out of a scanner. The host is spot on and she does a good job of getting the most out of already intelligent guests.

This episode focuses on young students looking to pad their resume by including altruistic works. I like listen to the debate as to whether “padding” is a good reason to be altruistic. The call screener is either lucky or really good because the callers are actually very intelligent. I’d highly recommend this program for any station looking for international content.

Comment for "Con Toda Palabra: Lhasa de Sela"

User image

Review of Con Toda Palabra: Lhasa de Sela

A nicely arranged review of the musician Lhasa de Sela who performs in three language. Programmers wanting something on music, international music, or polyglots can use this to bring their listeners a sonically perfect taste of what can only be found on public radio stations. Because it is without narration it can also be built into a much larger segment on de Sela by including her songs in full.

Comment for "Carving Music: Oboists and their reeds"

User image

Review of Carving Music: Oboists and their reeds

This is exactly what public radio listeners should hear more of, the small moments that make our bigger world. This will fit well in any program dealing with anything musical. The story is about the process of making an oboe reed, which apparently is a very intricate and personal process—Had no idea and neither will most listeners. The piece contains a beautiful assortment of sounds and voices on a subject I think listeners will find intriguing.

Comment for "Bronze Fairy Tales on Broadway" (deleted)

User image

Review of Bronze Fairy Tales on Broadway (deleted)

Programmer’s looking for content on artists and public art should look here. And not just for New York; with the proper intro this can play in Topeka just the same. It is a profile of Tom Otterness, a public artist who has created many bronze statues for the New York streets that have a fairy tale theme. There’s a good use of in situ interviews and some funny tape that would make for a good promo. The timing is perfect too for a drop-in.

Comment for "They Wanted Us to Leave: Refugee Migrations after WWII" (deleted)

User image

Review of They Wanted Us to Leave: Refugee Migrations after WWII (deleted)

This piece can easily fit in any program looking for content on refugees. It uses good range of voices to tell their own tales and mixes in a much needed authoritative context.. After dusting up the intro a bit the shorter version will make for good general consumption. The longer version is more suited for specific uses.

Comment for "Barber Shop-Short Version"

User image

Review of Barber Shop-Short Version

Brilliant audio portrait of voices not heard enough on public radio, a barber shop. It starts off by bringing the listeners into the barber shop world with excellent ambient sound. It progresses without the need of narration just by the sheer weight of personality and use of sound (kids coming and going, clippers in the background). Then through the interviewers questions, the story turns to a profile of an occupation and ultimately about the struggles and strengths of a community.

Comment for "Peace Talks Radio: The Peace Corps Revisited [59:00/54:00/29:00]"

User image

Review of The Peace Corps at 45 (Peace Talks Radio Series) [59:00/54:00/29:00]

Thoughtful and engaging topic!

This program is in the talk show format and gathers a group of Peace Corp volunteers in a studio to talk about their experience. At times the questions are very engaging, for example, "how does the Peace Corp promote peace?" Thankfully the panelists are intelligent and add something to a clever idea for a show.

At other times this program can be inspiring. Historical commercials were included in the program to texture and segway out of the breaks. Also just listening to these folks talk makes you want to do good.

Journalistically, the show could benefit from alternative points of view. Clearly, it's difficult to say bad things about the Peace Corps, however, at times the discussion seemed to exist in a vacuum where alternatives to the Peace Corps were excluded. Those moments were rare.