Comments by Chelsea Merz

Comment for "Old Whiney Ass" (deleted)

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Review of Old Whiney Ass (deleted)

In the words of producer Jesse Dukes, Old Whiney Ass is a " story that comes out of a simple desire to capture a fleeting moment." That's exactly what this piece is and Dukes does an admirable job of transferring a slice-of-life moment with his family onto tape. The production quality is strong, Dukes' writing and narration have a natural ease that is just right for radio--the content, however, is not. It's a tricky distinction to make--when does one's personal experince become a universal one? Duke's piece never makes this leap, which might make it hard for PD's to justify broadcasting this story. This snapshot belongs in the family album but not in the public archives.

Comment for "Gerda and Olcott"

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Review of Gerda and Olcott

Gerda and Olcott is the kind of love story that would have any Hollywood film executive drooling over his/her wheatgrass martini. The setting is San Francisco and the story involves a flea market, a stack of 40-year-old love letters, the intersection of two long-distance relationships, and some serious sleuthing takes this story in an unexpected direction. Thanks to Outfront, public radio gets first dibs on this dreamy, real-life story . This is perfect radio for Valentine's Day programming. Without the context of this romantic day the piece does lose some of its charm.

Comment for "Marian Apparitions"

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Review of Marian Apparitions

I had to listen to this several times before grasping the content. In the world of iPods, where repeat listening is an option,this is not an issue--it is, however, problematic in the ephermal world of radio. The music competes with the narrator and there is a lot of information to process. If this piece were ventillated it could work. If the narrator slowed down, if the music were used to signify transitions in the text, rather than as a continuous soundtrack, this piece would make for an interesting drop-in for Morning Edition or All Things Considered. It would also be great if there were a bunch of these so that Program Directors could roll this out as a series. Otherwise It might be hard to justify airing only one if the day's news doesn't offer context for this singular piece.

Comment for "My Confirmation"

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Review of My Confirmation

"How do you know when you've found God?" That's the rhetorical question that drives this piece. In her struggle to answer this, narrator and producer Laura Arrendondo is forced to scrutinize her faith as she prepares for her confirmation. The death of her grandfather, a devout catholic, leaves her feeling more estranged from God and uncertain of what a relationship with him guarantees. "My Confirmation" is described as a documentary but the depth of this piece comes from the narrator's observations and insights rather than the two other people who she interviews. The uneven production of this piece--the awkward use of ambient noise, the interviews, the editing somewhat dampens Arrendondo's message. This could be stronger as a commentary. That said, it is nonetheless an insight into Catholicism that is worth listening to. This would be a fine drop-in for ME. It could be an element used in "Sound and Spirit."

Comment for "Jan 19: English- Alona on Edgar Allan Poe"

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Review of Jan 19: English- Alona on Edgar Allan Poe

This biographical sketch of Edgar Allen Poe leaves you frustrated because you expect to get a taste of his poetry/prose and you never do. Without hearing Poe's words we don't get an appreciation for the way his life events informed his literary sensibility. Since Alona doesn't offer this kind of synthetic thinking this portrait of Poe falls flat. It might be unfair to make the comparison to Garrison Keillor's daily gem but in contrast to his work this sounds like a poor man's "Writer's Almanac."

Comment for "The Retro Cocktail Hour #412" (deleted)

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Review of The Retro Cocktail Hour #412 (deleted)

The Retro Cocktail hour serves up two hours of guilty pleasure, straight-up. The playlist, which features, Bossa Nova, noirish jazz , and eccentric pop, is eclectic enough that you never feel that you are the victim of what could potentially be camp. The host is knowledgeable and he keeps his enthusiasm in check, which helps to keep this show from straying into shtick-zone. This music is perfect for late-night driving, cocktail parties and ordinary housekeeping. PDs might want to consider playing the Retro Cocktail hour on Sunday nights as the perfect antidote to those inexplicable and inevitable Sunday blues.

Comment for "Riding the Bus: a sound portrait"

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Review of Riding the Bus: a sound portrait

?Riding the Bus: a Sound Portrait,? is a true illustration of "reality radio." The effect is almost onomatopoetic: this 22-minute documentary on riding a city bus casts a virtual spell on the listener--you feel like you have been on a 22-minute bus ride. While it is somewhat reassuring that there are still places in the radio universe willing to broadcast such long pieces--most stations probably do not have the leisure to do so. If the producer is willing, this piece would be much more desirable if it were edited down to five minutes. At present, this piece feels like a very long vox pop; the problem with this is that the interviewees become dangerously predictable. Though some of the charm in this piece is its length, its ethos could certainly be preserved in a much shorter rendition. This would be a perfect piece for ME and/or ATC during the next transportation strike as it does give you a renewed appreciation for the ordinary bus.

Comment for "Health: Transplant Discrimination" (deleted)

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Review of Health: Transplant Discrimination (deleted)

There is no doubt a need to hear about race and healthcare--particularly as Black History Month approaches. As it is now, this personal story of Robert Philip's kidney transplant is inadequate as an illustration of discrimination. It leaves you wishing that he had shared more specific details from his years of being on a transplant waiting list. When we do hear from a medical expert, a director of a Kidney Transplant Unit, he says "This problem has so many factors that you can't point at any one-- or any five factors-- that go into explaining why blacks receive fewer transplants than whites." But as a listener we are dying to know what some of these factors are. It's our only opportunity, in this piece, to fully understand the complexity of this issue--and to recognize it as a reality within the healthcare system. This piece does bring the issue of discrimintation to the surface but at the end you are left with a nagging sense that there is so much more that we need to know. This could be remedied by a host intro that is heavy on the scientific data that prove that there is transplant discrimination. If you consider broadcasting this it would be compatible with ME or ATC, particulary during Black History Month.

Comment for "Ann Meets Mr. Ellington"

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Review of Ann Meets Mr. Ellington

Anne Searcy's dreamy and detailed storytelling transport you to the salty coastal town of Orchard Beach, Maine in the early 30's. Her recollections of meeting Duke Ellington, of becoming a jazz singer in her own right, of being one of the few blacks living among whites are so unsentimental--and so real--that you are left with a solid appreciation for a woman, an era, the power of music. Production wise this piece is excellent. Seed's writing and narration are effective in their simplicity. He also treats the numerous opportunities to use music with discretion?nothing is gratuitous or overdone. This is a perfect piece for ATC or ME. It would be a nice addition to any Duke Ellington tribute. It is no doubt a good choice for Black History Month.

Comment for "Tale of Two Cities"

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Review of Tale of Two Cities

Thios isn't your usual radio story. This isn't a good show for conventional programming. For those shows out there that can afford to air something unusually long and contemplative, by today's standards, give this a listen. In documenting/comparing her quotidian experiences in both NYC and San Francisco, Sue Mel explores the meaning of home, the identity of oneself in the context of "home." This is a perfect piece to air during the holidays, when most people are leaving their current homes to take temporary residence in their childhood homes, retuning to dynamics of a lifetime past. This is also a piece that could certainly resonate with immigrants and refugees. Although this tale is a personal one, Sue Mel's observations and perceptions transcend the individual , reaching the universal .

Comment for "The Hospice Experiment"

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Review of The Hospice Experiment

This is perfect radio. It is informative and moving and completely thought provoking. After I heard this I wanted to drop everything that I was doing and become a hospice nurse. I know that isn't the intention of this piece but you are enveloped so completely in the universe of hospice care, so enlightened, that when the show is over you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself—though one thing is for sure—you will look at life and death differently. The interviews with hospice pioneers Cicely Saunders, Florence Wald, and Elizabeth Kubler -Ross are fascinating on their own but to hear them alongside a hospice patient’s final weeks of life is profoundly humbling and comforting. Everyone should broadcast this. As death is an undeniable part of every day life how can this not resonate with everyone?

Comment for "With God on Our Side: From Rivalry to Reconciliation" (deleted)

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Review of With God on Our Side: From Rivalry to Reconciliation (deleted)

As "Peace on Earth" is a common saying during the holiday season this program is a perfect broadcasting choice through New Year's. Of course it doesn't really need a particular context for broadcasting--you could listen to this whenever, wherever. Monotheism and religious pluralism are weighty topics indeed but this show renders them weightless: listening to this show is without effort. The anecdotes and the interviews are captivating, the lessons learned and wisdom shared are inspiring. One of the best things about this show is how it ends. After examining the hostility and hatred that emerges when different faiths collide this show offers ways in which we can establish peace and understanding.

Comment for "Yiddish Radio Project Holiday Special, Hour One"

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Review of Yiddish Radio Project Holiday Special, Hour One

I loved this as a series and the accumulative effect of this special is just as good, if not better.

The mixture of archival radio shows, interviews and narration is spellbinding. This special leaves you on the edge of heartbreak: when it's over your first impulse is to tune in to one of these Yiddish stations but by the time your hand reaches the dial you realize the futility of this gesture.

Yiddish radio of years past was immediate, raw, unprocessed, and unselfconscious. It was reality radio in the truest sense. Spirited, unyielding, and varied, Yiddish radio built a community and restored heritage to Eastern European Jews. In an almost onomatopoetic fashion this program illustrates the magic of radio. You are left with renewed appreciation for something that is not tangible, nor visible but utterly forceful and palpable.

Although this is worth broadcasting wherever you have the time, it would be perfect for fundraising. This special explains the importance of radio better than anyone--be it station managers, radio hosts or enthusiastic listeners. Broadcast this and the phones will be ringing off the hook.

Comment for "Toy fair"

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Review of Toy fair

This is a solid documentation of industry trends---but it's not much of an incentive to buy the youngsters in your life presents when you know within months something better will be on the market. This sounds like something that would be on Market Place, ATC, or ME. The one problem program directors might have is that this recording is from the 2003 toy fair.

Comment for "MoMA QNS"

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Review of MoMA QNS

This piece reveals that the absence of MoMA not only affects the merchants of Queens but also its residents. People who never before knew of MoMA were exposed to modern art and artists that would have otherwise remained unknown to them. This report is not just a study in economics but one of community. It reminds us of the responsibility insitututions have to community and it also questions the democracy of art. This is a perfect piece for Market Place, ATC or ME. It might be about Queens and MoMA but it absolutely transcends locale.

Comment for "Do-It-Yourselfers Reuse Scrap" (deleted)

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Review of Do-It-Yourselfers Reuse Scrap (deleted)

This piece offers some great solutions to conserving natural resources without being earnest or dogmatic. For those of you who are do-it -yourselfers never again will you be subject to the despotism of Home Depot . As long as we continue to deplete the universe of its natural resources, as long as we continue to build homes, this piece will be relevant. This is great for ATC or ME. It would also be a nice piece for Market Place and/or Living on Earth, as a segment on Earth Day or to honor our beloved Arbor Day.

Comment for "Lost in Tschotskeland" (deleted)

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Review of Lost in Tschotskeland (deleted)

This is the prefect thing to listen to the next time you plan to travel. Johnson reminds us how susceptible we are to amassing souvenirs when we travel--those shot-glasses, t-shirts, key chains--the waste of wanderlust that never sees the light of day until we take it to the dump. Johnson's departures to Bali and an Indian reservation in Arizona remind us that we may oftentimes overlook the real culture, artifacts and traditions that endure. For those of you who miss the Savvy Traveler this hits the spot. It's a good drop in for Morning Edition or ATC. It's also an interesting analysis of human behavior.

Comment for "Fall of the Berlin Wall"

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Review of Fall of the Berlin Wall

This marks the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mueller's thoughts on how Germany has changed remind us of what a short memory we have and how long progress really takes. These are lessons that are helpful for us to remember, particularly in a post-election polarized Nation. Even though the anniversary has passed this could still be broadcast during the ATC optional break.

Comment for "The Writers Studio, featuring Nicholson Baker"

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Review of The Writers Studio, featuring Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker's genuine claim that his thoughts are nothing but pedestrian seems ludicrous when you hear him read excerpts from his books. Although he studies the everyday with microscopic vision he does so with a poet's sensibility. His ability to evoke profundity from a box of envelopes, starched shirtsleeves and an ant farm leaves you breathless. When you hear him discuss his thought process you can only hope to access a smidgen of his vision the next time you clean the fuzz off your phonograph needle, or lace a shoe. This interview goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. Baker's accessibility, the effective moderators and the great Q&A from the audience leave you wanting to read all of his books, wanting to see the universe as he sees it. Play this wherever you have a free hour.

Comment for "The Lone Ranger of Looney Valley"

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Review of The Lone Ranger of Looney Valley

This is literally and figuratively a window onto the current political climate in the US. In a liberal landscape Harry Aleo's storefront window is a dash of diversity. Aleo's display of an illuminated Uncle Sam and promulgations of conservative values not only stimulate political discussions among neighbors and passersby but also leaves you contemplating what it means to be an American. Although this piece is largely composed of sound bites and vox pop it transcends its own convention by allowing Henry Aleo to talk at length about growing up in San Francisco as a child of immigrant parents. In hearing his story you come to understand and sympathize with his need to express himself. You are also left with a renewed appreciation of what a lot of Americans take for granted: freedom of speech. This should be braodcast ideally before November 2. In tone and mood this is perfect for ME /ATC. You can even play this after the election in the context of the First Amendment.

Comment for "The Writers Studio, featuring T.C. Boyle"

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Review of The Writers Studio, featuring T.C. Boyle

Nothing beats hearing TC Boyle reading his work and talking about it. His respect for readers and literature keeps the conversation particularly interesting and elevated --his humor and accessibility keep it dynamic and energetic. In the process of discussing literature, the art of writing and the joy of reading, Boyle stumbles on religion, science, human behavior and the human condition. This interview is intellectually stimulating, entertaining and enduring--you'll be thinking about what he's said long after this interview has ended. This is ideal for evening or weekend broadcasting. Wherever you have an hour to spare consider broadcasting this.

Comment for "RN Documentary: Tale of Two Women"

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Review of RN Documentary: Tale of Two Women

This is unlike most things you hear on the radio. It isn't overly processed and there isn't much of a narrative arc. Like a quiet foreign film this piece focuses on character and small moments rather than earthshaking revelations and neatly tied up endings. Whether this piece were five minutes or 60, there's a sense that the effect would be the same: an insight into two women who lead very different lives. Their friendship is almost inconsequential to the piece, aside from establishing why we are hearing from these two women the responsibility is ours to imagine their friendship and to understand its endurance. It's hard to say when to play this-- Its slowness and simplicity certainly lends itself to Sunday afternoon broadcasting.

Comment for "And They Never Came Back: Life After Our Parents Have Died"

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Review of And They Never Came Back: Life After Our Parents Have Died

It's hard to summarize a piece that you understand and experience so viscerally. In exploring mortality, loss and life after loss, the women you hear from in this piece bypass philosophy by speaking about death with beautiful simplicity, clarity and honesty. Although this piece revolves around women who have lost both parents at a relatively early age, anyone who hears this will hugely benefit from it and relate to it. The music in this piece is used so literally but to great effect, you realize that the fear of death and loss is everywhere--right on the surface. As most of the women in this piece lost their parents around the holidays this would be a perfect piece to play around Thanksgiving -- it leaves you so grateful for what you still have.

Comment for "Voices Without a Vote"

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Review of Voices Without a Vote

This hybrid commentary/news feature is fascinating. We've heard from undecided voters but to hear from non voters puts this election and the democratic process in a new --and not so flattering-- light. Producer Rebecca Moon talks to non-voting mill workers in North Carolina. To hear these men, who sound just like John Edwards, speak so cynically about politicians and the presidency is eerie and funny and sad. This piece does an amazing job of leaving you feeling both hopeless and inspired. This is a great piece to play on election day and any day until then. It would be a great ME and/or ATC drop in.

Comment for "Subculture"

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Review of Subculture

This is a great biography of New York and its subway system. In looking at the subway from many angles we not only are reminded of the magic of New York City but also get some insight into human behavior and urban culture. You certainly are not limited to broadcasting this in NYC. This piece has universal appeal. The sum of the parts, however, is greater than the whole. There is almost too much to process in this hour-long format. The segments are much more effective if you listen to them in isolation. The cumulative effect of listening to the segments leaves you with a greater appreciation for the life of the subway. In the hour-long format you are likely to miss a stop or two. The individual pieces would be ideal drop ins for ME or ATC.

Comment for "Near-Life Experience: Interview with "The Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan"

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Review of Near-Life Experience: Interview with "The Amazing Race" host

In this interview Phil Keoghan shares his observations of mankind. He seems most impressed by the resourcefulness of those who have the odds against them. He draws particular inspiration from the industriousness and perseverance of those living in third world countries. He goes on to lament that the media are perpetuating unrealistic life style expectations: we have become a society obsessed with our deficiencies--a society unappreciative and unaware of what we DO have. His world view, however, is obscured by hypocrisy when he reveals his latest cathode ray tube tour de force: Discovery channel's NOW ( No Opportunity Wasted!). This show indulges people's life long dreams of becoming nude go-go dancers, playing professional hockey for a day, joining the WWF, and so on. (to be fair one guy dreams of opening up a boxing ring for inner city kids.) The effectiveness of this interview depends on the context in which you would broadcast this. Bill Moyers will be leaving PBS' NOW after the presidential election. Ideally someone will interview Moyers about his Now and life after NOW now and juxtapose it with this interview. The duo might make for an interesting portrait of American media.

Comment for "Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies"

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Review of Tokyo "All Aboard" Melodies

This piece gives you an insight into Tokyo's quotidian life that you would otherwise have to experience in person. This is a fun and informative piece and Raskin does a fine job as your guide without a smidgen of snarkiness, which seems to permeate a lot of pieces of this ilk. This would be a perfect piece for "The World, " "Savvy Traveler" "Morning Edition" or the ATC optional 4:00 break.

Comment for "Subway Etiquette"

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Review of Subway Etiquette

This is a wonderful snapshot of social behavior. Many of the insights into subway etiquette also apply to human psychology above ground. Just about everyone has taken a subway in their life--and for those who haven't this piece will resonate with anyone who has been in a library or a doctor's office--wherever similar rules of behavior apply. Whether you are a New York city slicker or a farmer in southern Illinois you will enjoy this piece. This is a perfect piece to drop in during Morning Edition or All things Considered.

Comment for "Witness to an Execution"

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Review of Witness to an Execution

There is always something new to learn, to consider when it comes to the death penalty. With heartbreaking simplicity this piece turns you into an onlooker and like many of the witnesses you hear from you are left numb--well almost numb. This piece is too poetic to not leave you feeling something. The cumulative effect of images, and information leaves you breathless. As long as there is capital punishment in this country--in the world, it is essential to broadcast this. This would be an interesting piece to play on a show about post traumatic stress, Texas, or the prison system. This piece, however, transcends context--you should consider broadcasting this whenever you have the time.

Comment for "The Problem with Thomas"

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Review of The Problem with Thomas

Rather than focusing on what it means to be autistic--this piece observes how the family dynamic changes in the presence of autism. The psychological demands that Thomas' parents have endured are revealing of both the complexities of autism and parenthood. The producer does a fine job of editing his interviews with the parents and integrating narration so that you have a substantial understanding of the family but you are also given enough freedom to draw your own conclusions about how they are managing. This piece is poignant and satisfying emotionally and intellectually. You could broadcast this on any show that deals with family dynamics, behavioral disorders, or coping mechanisms--or simply broadcast it because it's a good piece and you have the time.