Comments by Sarah Elzas

Comment for "The Little Things: What does it Mean to Be An Environmental Citizen in an Unsustainable Culture?"

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Review of The Little Things: What does it Mean to Be An Environmental Citizen in an Unsustainable Culture?

The question that Pagie asks throughout this piece is something I think about a lot.... and probably many listeners out there do, too: How can I live an environmentally responsible life in an environmentally un-responsible world? Through interviews with friends, co-workers and vox pops, Paige Doughty asks this question, and paints a picture of the dilenma people face every day: Do I do what's easy, or do I do what's right? And while I appreciate radio pieces that end with more questions than when it started, this piece (which is very much an essay) could have answered a few more. For example, when the question is asked "why not go off the grid", why not have us meet someone who did go off the grid? Posing these questions to that person would deepen the piece. As for the production... I found the music distracting. I wanted the story to move on. Every time Paige asks a good question, and I want to hear what people have to say about it, but then there's a song, which has a cute reference to what has just been said, but I find it stops the story moving forward. Overall, great start on the radio, but I would like to hear a tightened up version of this piece, with a few more different voices.

Comment for "Where Were You Fifth Period?"

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Review of Where Were You Fifth Period?

This vox-pop/collage of "excuses" for cutting school is fun to listen to, and it's the right length for what it is-- any longer, and it would have had to dig a bit deeper into the subject. My favorite excuse: I didn't need to cut school because "the school got set on fire". Introduced as a youth-produced piece, this would be a fun break in a magazine show.

Comment for "The Military Honor Guard (long version)"

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Review of The Military Honor Guard (long version)

This piece gives an overview of a military funeral: the 4-person flag fold for someone who died in active duty, the 2-person fold for elderly veterans; the 21-gun salute; the guy playing taps. As we go through the preparations for a funeral in Long Island, one officer says he oversees 140 funerals a month. A taps player says he tries to put out of his mind that he's playing at a funeral, so that his emotions don't catch up with him while he plays. Straight forward, with the sounds of guns and taps towards the end, this piece would work well on Memorial Day as a explanation of what goes on at a military funeral.


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Review of Blunt Presents: Youth and Sex (deleted)

Only one piece in this three part series really impressed me: The Talk. The other pieces, Becoming a Man and The Real Truth about Teens and Sex, did not draw me in as much. I think overall, the topic of teens and sex should be explored on the airwaves: it makes everyone uncomfortable, yet it's something everyone wants to know--we've all been there, and the brave producers who tackle this subject are to be commended. Keep up the good work!

I have reviewed each piece in the series separately:
The Talk:
Becoming a Man:
The Truth about Teens and Sex:

Comment for "Let's Talk About Sex"

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Review of The Talk

The intro to this segment drew me right in, with the narrator and the Right Said Fred song ("I'm too sexy for my shirt"). The following vox pop of kids talking about their own "sex talks" is great--I wanted to hear more! This piece is personal, which is why it works. Johanna as a teen was able to get answers from her peers that an "adult" might not have got from them. At the end, Johanna asks her own parents, and it's not too awkward. Air this amusing piece that deals head on with an awkward topic in a humorous, personal and touching way.

Comment for "Becoming a Man"

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Review of Becoming a Man

Becoming a man features Parris's grandfather who gives some "grandfatherly" advice about needing to "find your mate" before you have sex, and how sex has nothing to do with being a man. At the end Parris quotes an Ivy Baker Priest platitude about the end being the beginning referring to his adolescence. I guess I would have rather liked to hear Parris react to his grandfather's moralizing--does he agree with him? Are the familiar words more powerful because they come from his grandfather? (I haven't reviewed much youth radio, so forgive me if I point out P-pops and over-modulation, but as someone who is used to pristine NPR audio, it was a bit distracting in this piece).

Comment for "Talk Early, Talk Often"

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Review of The Real Truth about Teens and Sex

The Real Truth about Teens and Sex started out promising--Aoife's mom tells her daughter about how she learned about sex in her Irish Catholic home. But it turned into a book review of the book The Real Truth about Teens and Sex, and even after hearing it, I'm not sure I really know "the real truth". I would have liked to hear Aoife and her mom's truth. Instead, Aoife tells us that "teens want to know about sex". But because she's quoting the book, I wonder if that's what she really thinks. I'm not sure I believe her. This would have been much more interesting as a dialogue between mother and daughter instead of a quoting of statements from the book.

Comment for "Homeboys to Hollywood"

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Review of Homeboys to Hollywood

There are some powerful moments in this piece, particularly as one ex-gang member after another talks about the pull of being a criminal--the draw of gang camaraderie, getting attention from other gang members, girls and even the cops. One guy talks about his teenaged dream of becoming the big guy in prison. Robin Urevich tells the story of ex-gang member Manny Jimenez and how he was inspired by a TV talk show interview with Quentin Tarantino to go into Hollywood: how he started to audition for and get parts as an extra and then how he started a talent agency providing "authentic" gang members to commercials and as extras in TV and movies (he is the go-to guy for "all things gangster"). Now he's writing a screenplay to feature his actors in starring roles. I found a bit of a lack of soul in the straight-forward reporting style of the piece. There were moments when I wished for more depth from the interviews--letting them breathe more, and exploring more of Manny's and his actors' personalities. I felt like this was more a piece about the talent agency than about Manny Jimenez. That said, the piece implicitly brings up the interesting idea of "authenticity" in Hollywood, as real gang members become actors to act out fictional representations of themselves. And it seems like the start-up talent agency begins to mirror the camaraderie Manny and his friends had in gangs. The piece is an interesting look behind the scenes of a world that many of us have only really seen in the movies.

Comment for "Talking 2 Sophia: A Child Speaks about 911"

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Review of Talking 2 Sophia

Sophia, at age 2, has thought as much, if not more about 9/11 than many adults I know. There are many surprising parts to this simple, four-minute piece: "I wasn't in the building that crashed" says Sophia in response to whether the story makes her sad. "our building is ok". I haven't heard many little kids on the radio, but Michael shows that if you build a rapport with them, they can express themselves with clarity and conviction. In this piece, the result is a simple, yet powerful peek into how one person, in this case a toddler, deals with a huge issue. Play this not just on the 9/11 anniversary, but anytime, as a look into how children deal with world issues--how they absorb and interpret the world around them.

Comment for "Environment: Critical Mass" (deleted)

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Review of Environment: Critical Mass (deleted)

This piece is structured as a sort of "critical mass" of interviews about the "swarming cloud of people on bikes" that has become a political statement in San Francisco and elsewhere in the country. I especially liked the horns and bells at the very beginning, and the crowd and police sirens later on. I would have liked more ambient sound amidst the collage of interviews. I also would have liked the piece to have introduced what it's like to ride ("the person in front is in charge of the ride") up front, instead of hearing about the history of critical mass right at the top (which sort of lost me for a few minutes). This is a piece that could be aired outside of San Francisco, since many cities have a Critical Mass (see:, though I know that here in New York, the experience seems a lot more contentious than the San Francisco one that is conveyed in this piece.

Comment for "Wealth & Poverty: The Homeless Experience" (deleted)

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Review of Wealth & Poverty: The Homeless Experience (deleted)

This piece is about people who are literally walking in other people's shoes-- non-homeless people go on "retreats" and are homeless for a period of time, and as a result, they become activists against homelessness (or at least begin to see homeless people as human). And isn't that kind of what radio does? Producers try to present people so that listeners can feel what it's like to walk in their shoes. However, while this piece is about a great subject, the straight-news reporting style was a let-down. I honestly did not really feel as though I was standing in either a homeless person's shoes, or one of the participants in the retreat's shoes. Instead I learned about the organization that organizes the retreat-- How about going out with one of the people on the retreat and documenting their experience? There's nothing technically wrong with the piece, and it would probably be a reasonable drop in about homelessness, especially as the days get shorter and colder. But it fell short of what could have been a really intense piece about what it's like to live like someone else, even if for just a day.

Comment for "Crime Pays: A Look At Who's Getting Rich From The Prison Boom"

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Review of Crime Pays: A Look At Who's Getting Rich From The Prison Boom

The title of this piece will give you a sense of the point of view of this documentary. Grassroots Leadership, an activist group that has started campaigns against privatized prisons, is extensively quoted, and is thanked at the end. But this hour long documentary did cover the "other side" to an extent that I did feel comfortable that the questions were asked. Sound from various prisons across the southwest are mixed with music-- and while I felt the music sometimes was over the top, I was interested to hear from prison officials, former prisoners, health officials and people from communities that have privately run prisons and who appreciate the jobs they brought in. The program provides a pretty thorough explanation about why privatizing prisons is not so good--why outsourcing can cause more problems and ultimately costs the government more than if they had just run the prisons themselves. And the phenomenon is not about to disappear. In fact, prisons are privatizing more and more low security, immigrant detention centers today than they ever have before. Air this documentary to start a conversation about the issue of privatization, in general, and about incarceration methods specifically.

Comment for "Hurricane Katrina Evacuees Come To Utah" (deleted)

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Review of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees Come To Utah (deleted)

What an interesting perspective on the evacuation of hurricane victims. It's amazing to find out that people being flown to Utah are not told where they are going! We learn this in the piece, and we hear from some of the evacuees and from the national guard who are not allowed to tell their passengers where they are going. Air this soon, as it is totally relevant, and well done.

Comment for "Wealth and Poverty: Predatory Lending" (deleted)

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Review of Wealth and Poverty: Predatory Lending (deleted)

This piece introduces the issue of predatory lending with a personal story of a woman who lost her house and everything in it. How could this happen? And the piece explains. This piece is full of information about what makes a bad loan, and why some legal reforms could work and some could not. And what to do to avoid falling prey? Do your homework. Make sure you don't sign a blank contract, like Julie Hess did. Find a local nonprofit that can help you figure it out. And be aware. That's one thing this piece helps with: opening eyes that this exists in the first place.

Comment for "Dark Florescence: The Music Behind the Story" (deleted)

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Review of Dark Florescence: The Music Behind the Story (deleted)

The elements are here for a great piece, but it's not quite there. There's a good story. The writing is good. The music is interetsing. However, this is just too rambling. It would benefit from a serious revision/edit--cut it down, by half, if possible. What is this piece about, really-- about the physics of sound? about guitar history? about the composer? about the piece? There is a long (though interesting) intro; it leads into an exploration of the instruments (guitars, orchestra) which could be shorter, more sound-rich (more music) and could be put later, after we learn about the piece; and then the story of Dark Flourescence is told in excruciating detail that could be sumarized to better effect. There are also a couple of level and sound quality issues that I found distracting. I think this piece could be great. I'd love to hear a revised, tightened version.

Comment for "American Soundcheck - Fort Worth, TX" (deleted)

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Review of American Soundcheck - Fort Worth, TX (deleted)

I'd like more music programs to be like American Soundcheck: a mix of songs with information. The songs in this series are tied together by place and history. Tripp tells an an engaging history of each place, full of interesting facts, (Pittsburgh used to be called "hell with a lid off") and the music is great! with a nice full song vs. song excerpt ratio. I know talk stations have trouble scheduling music programming, and music stations have trouble scheduling talk programming, but I would argue that this is the right mix of both that would be able to cross over from talk to music to back again, and could be aired anywhere.

Comment for "Put it Away After Labor Day?" (deleted)

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Review of Put it Away After Labor Day? (deleted)

This is essentially an extended vox pop. Perhaps a bit too extended. I would like to have heard a bit more creative mixing of the voices. I would also like this piece cut in half and not have music all the way through. As a shorter piece it would be funnier and the point would be made more succinctly, and would be very airable as a fun piece towards the end of the summer-- like right now.

Comment for "Jews & Blues: Inside Out"

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Review of Jews & Blues: Inside Out

Jews and Blues offers a thought-provoking mixture of music, interviews and archival tape. There's singing by experts, and interviews with singers, and throughout, even though he doesn't delve into it deeply, Goldfarb doesn't shy away from bringing up what's controversial-- the sometimes tension-laden interactions of Jews and African-Americans, particularly in the world of entertainment. This piece strikes a great balance between information and music. Play it for avid Blues fans who should learn something if they listen to it, and for the passing enthusiasts who should be drawn in by the great and varied music.

Comment for ""Being Photographed""

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Review of "Being Photographed"

This is a piece about images and how we present ourselves to the outside world, and how we're seen. It's also a piece about radio production--both the big ideas (about the ethics of editing) and the mundaine (dealing with bad tape). I learned a bit about Jake the radio producer, and through him, it made me think about the bigger issues of how we interpret what we seen and hear in the media around us. From the personal to the universal--what else can you ask for in a radio piece?

Comment for "Black Tension"

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Review of Black Tension

At the base of the issue explored in this piece is who is an 'African American'. African immigrants to this country are African Americans. But they come from completely different places and cultural backgrounds than American born African-Americans, even though, as this piece points out, the broader culture/politics of the United States does not necessarily distinguish between them because of the color of their skin. This piece explores the tension around affirmative action, for example, and we hear from students about their thoughts about who should benefit from these programs and who should not. This is a well reported exploration of the tensions between African immigrants and African Americans--looking at many aspects, from the individual, to the political to the psychological. This piece should make listeners think about how they define themselves in the multi-cultural/immigration culture of the United States. It will also challenge assumptions, made by all people, about categorizing people based on the color of their skin, instead of looking at their cultural or historical background and experiences.

Comment for "Dear Birth Mother"

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Review of Dear Birth Mother

This is a piece that humanizes what can be a touchy issue: bi-racial adoption. It was intense to hear from an adoption lawyer say that it agencies lower the cost of adopting black babies because it's so much harder to get them adopted. What moved me the most in this piece were Suzanne's interactions with her daughter Loretta's birth mother (whose identity is not revealed). Those interactions brought emotion into what could seem like a strangely businesslike transaction. Listen for the end, when the birth mother answeres Suzanne's questions about herself and her family that Suzanne can later tell to Loretta when she gets older. I like that the piece was narrated by Suzanne, though she seemed slightly wooden at times, like she was reciting something rather than telling a story. But overall a moving, intense piece.

Comment for "Sounds of Democracy"

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Review of Sounds of Democracy

This piece explores the piano, through a group of people who use the public piano at a library in Maine. Music acts almost like another voice in the piece. On some level, the people didn't even need to introduce themselves, and instead this could have been an anonymous group of people, each telling a little truth about piano music. Ultimately, I didn't learn so much about the individuals, but rather, I was left with a heightened sense of the piano.

Comment for "Deep Brain Stimulation"

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Review of Deep Brain Stimulation

This is a straight-forward piece about a medical procedure--deep brain stimulation. It starts with a brief portrait of a local DJ diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and then follows him to the hospital, and through the operation. There are parts of this piece that appeal to my voyeuristic streak, since a large part of it is in the operating room with the patient. The sound of the drill going into his head is excruciatingly real. The image I had listening to it of Osef (the patient) hearing that sound while he's being operated on made me cringe! The doctor who explains what he's doing while he's drilling and doing his job is great, and the interactions of when they are doing the stimulation testing is great before the operation, but goes into a little too much detail afterwards. The intriguing part of this operation is that the doctors don't really know what they're doing when they go it. They depend on the patient to guide them as they go along. I personally find this aspect fascinating: the human side of the medical world, that doctor’s are not all-knowing. But this was not explored, since this is really a basic portrait of the procedure (first this happens, then that). Frankly, there could have been a lot less of the post-operation diagnostics, that went on for about 5 minutes in the middle of the piece. Not a bad exploration of a procedure, but it could have been cut in half.

Comment for "Here There is No Moon (European version 31:54)"

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Review of Here There is No Moon (European version 32:28)

Here There Is No Moon follows more the structure of a piece of music than a documentary. Listeners do learn facts along the way, but they are brought along a not-necessarily-linear path through the different aspects of suicide: hearing from the ones who attempted it, the people who study it, the counselors who help prevent it, the police, the writers who try to put it into words And it works. Mostly. There are some intense moments: the juxtaposition of a calm reading (fiction?) about suicide with a loud, desperate 911 call; a layering of readings of suicide notes that all sound eerily similar. But the problem with a non-narrated, layered type of production like this one is that it needs memorable voices for a listener to latch onto. I felt as though there were too many characters/voices in this piece for me to keep track of, and I ended up not caring as much about some of them as I could have. Also, I was craving a bit of silence behind some of the interviews. The emotional content of what they were saying was not as strong with a musical background. But overall, this piece conveys the important message that suicide, though strange and scary, is something that is studied, written about and treated, and can be a transformative event in someone’s life. And many suicidal experiences are similar, even though the person feels like the last person on earth.

Comment for "The Walls"

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Review of The Walls

How many radio pieces take you on the experience of peeing in a public bathroom? Not many, probably. Well, here's your chance. With layered
voices reading the angst-ridden messages on the walls mixed with sounds of squeaking doors flushing toilets, running water, and yes, peeing, this is a strange, yet fascinating piece of radio/audio. It would seem that the women's bathroom in question is a place for some serious contemplation of the intricacies of relationships. The scribblings are intense. I can't compare them to the men's rooms of this world, as one reviewer has done, but even for women's rooms, they are above and beyond what you'd find in your local bar. Play this as an audio postcard from a bathroom near you!

Comment for "Feet in Two Worlds: Immigrants in the Global City"

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Review of Feet in Two Worlds: Immigrants in the Global City

A colorfully personal Frank McCourt takes the listener through an hour of segments from immigrant communities in New York. The best segments were those from the reporters from local papers--Hatian Times, India abroad, etc. Their knowledge of the communities they talk about, their voice-over translations of the languages and even their sometimes rough radio presentation makes their segments personal and meaningful. I learned many things from this piece, and though I am a New Yorker, the segments were presented in a way that it would be interesting for anyone, even outside the city. Overall, a well paced visit into pockets of a city that has historically been the main point of entry for many immigrant groups.

Comment for "Women Making Music: Lucinda Williams"

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Review of Women Making Music: Lucinda Williams

I disagree with the previous review that this is too short. Of course I'd love to hear more from Lucinda, and more longer pieces on the radio, in general. But since there are many three minute slots out there, these are good three minutes to fill them with.
I've never heard her Lucinda Williams speak, and it's nice, though not suprising, that her speaking voice is just like her singing voice. In this piece she says some interesting things about songwriting, and about putting her albums together. There's a lot of information and tons of music in these 172 seconds. Play this piece this month, or any month. Or if you host a music show, put this piece in right before you play one of her songs.

Comment for "Kids React to the Tsunami"

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Review of Kids React to the Tsunami

I think this should go on the air right now, especially since coverage of the tsunami has dwindled. We hear from teenagers whose instinct in December was 'people need help, so I'm going to help them'. This should serve as an inspiration for all of us, in whatever situation. The kids, from as close to the disaster as Malaysia and as far away as Colombia, got involved in the ways they knew how: raising money, going to clinics, etc. Rusirio in Sri Lanka tells us that people around him are afraid to eat fish because they think they have been eating corpses. The fact that an 18 year old like him has the instinct and the drive to go and help people is heartening for the future of his country, and maybe even for the world. This could be aired as-is, or edited down a bit. All the interviews are telephone sound, and the editing is slightly choppy, but the content is very much worth putting on the air.

Comment for "Ridding Cambodia of Landmines"

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Review of Ridding Cambodia of Landmines

This is a piece about a very important topic that I have not heard explored much here in the US: landmines and how they affect people, particularly children, all over the world. My only problem with this piece is that I would have liked to meet Lay Sokhum, the young landmine victim, earlier (he appears halfway through the piece). He is the human side of the Cambodian landmine tragedy. And with his child-like optimistic outlook, he really engages a listener that this is happening to real people. And as the doctors say, he--as a child--is the main target of landmines. This is a pretty thorough overview of the issue and despite a weak ending it's an engaging piece about an important subject.

Comment for "A Man's Guide to Lingerie" (deleted)

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Review of A Man's Guide to Lingerie (deleted)

This is a cute piece for Valentine's day, though the intro and set-up are a bit trite ('ha ha, men would rather be in a hardware store' sort of thing). What is great about this piece is the interview with a woman who works at a lingerie shop (who is not identified in the piece). Listen for her "crash course on lingirie lingo", with explanations of the different items, which most lingerie-wearers, not just givers, could learn from. Definitely Valentine's day material, complete with 'My Funny Valentine' music intro.