Comments by Adam Allington

Comment for "Media Project- Show#834" (deleted)

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Review of Media Project- free weekly program (deleted)

In my opinion WAMC's Media Project is an example of what some public radio networks are doing wrong.

WAMC's myriad of "roundtable" programs come across as un-professional, loosely organized and convey remarkably little in the way of actual discussion even though multiple guests on the program. Now, I don't have anything against a roundtable discussion on public radio but WAMC takes things to their chatty, goofy, derivitive maximum.

In this edition of the Media Project the first 10 minutes of the program are based around Dr. Chartock's reflections on the Bush-Gore Election and the TV program West Wing. Meanwhile, whilst Dr. Chartock "tells it like it is", the other guests simply sigh in collective unison, "Oh Alan, you're so crazy". In case you miss it, tune in next week for more of the same.

I'm sorry, I'd rather be a lover then a hater but this kind of radio is more about the hosts involved then what a listener might be interested in hearing.

Comment for "Interview with The Books"

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Review of Interview with The Books

This is exactly the kind of music-profile I wish NPR et al. would do more of. Too often a piece meant to highlight a band or a new album is produced in the same way...a "critic" walks us through the albums up and downs arriving at a kind of final "thesis". It feels like they are hustling product. Now...sometimes that style does work but...

...lets examine what we have here--a kind of neutral play-space were the listener can learn some history about the band, hear their sound and also go a step further by hearing band members phrase things in their own words. This feature would be a slam dunk for not only national programming but virtually any local culture or music show.

Plus, it's The Books, these guys are just perfect for radio. Their creative process involves collecting and assembling bits of sound. In their words, "these tiny moments are just jam-packed with human characteristics and memories". C'mon would could be more public radio then that!?

Comment for "Spiritual Reflections From Combat: The Bill Schiebler Story"

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Review of Spiritual Reflections From Combat: The Bill Schiebler Story

Some seriuos hard-hitting storytelling in this feature, but also quite a few relective moments. It's unbelievable acutally...the events that have happened to Bill Schiebler in his lifetime. Seems almost like a Hollywood script.

The fact that Schiebler is alive today is indeed a "miracle". One of four men still alive from his original unit of 186, 4 purple hearts, wounded 10 times

This piece is a slam dunk for Veterans Day programming. Schiebler treats the material with amazing sensitivity and tenderness. I particularly admire the way he is able to take these stories from combat and use them as testement of why people should among other things love their fellow man, forgive ones enemies and respect all races. My only suggestion would be to make the whole thing a bit more sound rich. Particularly with the live tape of Schiebler coming under friendly fire!!! What an surreal audio should have rolled much longer.

Comment for "Art of the Song #33 with Richard Shindell" (deleted)

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Review of Art of the Song #33 with Richard Shindell (deleted)

I first heard this series at this years NFCB conference and I thought "what a great idea for a show!"

I still feel that way. Art of the Song, is as tight and smartly produced as most shows with national distribution. The breaks, cues and segue's roll along without a hitch.

My one major criticism is that the show is perhaps too smooth. The hosts are almost completely occupied with following the script. Which doesn't leave much room for their personalities or surprises.

An nice bonus however, are the two workshop featurettes that are tossed in at the end--The Creativity Corner and Songwriters Toolbox. These would be great content for almost any musician or artist.

Comment for "The Lord God Bird"

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Review of The Lord God Bird

Hands down some of the best radio I have heard in the past year. A chorus of wonderful American voices blend with a haunting song to paint a vivid picture of a forgotten bird and a forgotten town.

I've always liked Sufjan's music but this song makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up...its just chilling. It perfectly compliments the acts which tell a kind of ghost story about a "woodpecker on steroids", a "pterodactyl" that people have caught glimpses of here and there....while fishing, walking through the woods.

I appreciate the attitude the residents of Brinkley bring to this feature-- joy, humor, history...capitalist zeal! It all just comes together in a way that I can completely imagine what the town looks like..."its flat, you can see forever", the main street, the BBQ, the hair salon, the bayou.

What a slam dunk of an idea. Music meet storytelling--storytelling meet radio. Someone should give the folks at Long Haul funding to keep doing more of this.

Comment for "HEART-to-HEART Pgm II: Children Sometimes Die"

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Review of HEART-to-HEART Pgm II: Children Sometimes Die

This thoughtful hour-long program goes a long way to clear up several deep rooted misconceptions about the role of health care in the lives of terminally or gravely ill children.

The first issue the listener is brought to bear on is the simple reality that young children do die. As much as we want to believe that our own children, nieces, nephews, young friends will all outlive us...sometimes they don't. We hear very moving interviews and sounds of a child with cystic fibrosis and another with cerebral palsy. It's hard (emotionally) to hear their labored breathing but that seems to be the point.

The first 8 minutes of this program set the tone for whole hour, the fact that no matter how enamored our medical system is with high-tech procedures with children the most important thing is to do is just spend TIME with them, play with them, talk to them...that is how children work through their anxieties about death.

This hour has lots of interviews and live sound--children, physicians, parents, social workers all who attest to the fact that children have special end-of-life concerns that are different from adults. A great piece of programming that would be a good ever-green feature for most stations.

Comment for "In the Autumn of Our Lives" (deleted)

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Review of In the Autumn of Our Lives (deleted)

A wonderful character, a great voice, and thoughtful tale to tell... everything one needs to make good radio.

I can't tell if I would like this piece to be shorter or longer. There are certain aspects of the story that bring the subject to life...gettting that first guitar, listening to country radio from West Virginia, writing songs about the hard times and the good. Other elements seem more about getting us from point A to point B.

Still... pieces like this are just a slam dunk for local public and community radio. And I don't mean that as a put-down. This is a great piece of sound-rich storytelling! A thoughtful and honest portrait of a man, from perhaps any town in America, who has loved and lost and wants to leave behind a legacy.

Comment for "Who's Your Daddy?"

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Review of Who's Your Daddy?

I admit it...I'm a sucker for produced features that sound like a friend or a buddy just sitting down next to you and opening up about something very personal.

So, this feature by Sean delivers all that and then some. A great story about a women (obviously a friend) who in the absence of MR. RIGHT decides to ask the most beautiful person she has ever seen for his sperm.

It's nothing most people haven't considered during their lifetime..."I wonder what it would be like to have a kid with so-and-so", but following through on that question well...just how do you ask for someone's sperm?

The pace and production of this feature are perfect--great music and great acts. Any time you have an interview subject say things like "at that moment" and "all of a sudden" you know you've struck paydirt.

Comment for "Ibdaa Cultural Center Tour"

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Review of Ibdaa Cultural Center Tour

Ok, the production level of this piece is good. Tape sound is good and music weaves in and out as we meet new people.

Bearing that in mind I still found this piece to be not very interesting at all. I would say that it is a PSA, but it doesn't really explore the notion of "service". Its really more like a commercial for the Ibdaa Cultural Center.

I don't doubt that the center is a very important part of a a community that has seen its share of, tell me about it! Give me a couple characters to become interested in, give me some narrative, and some reflections to bring it all together.

Instead, all we have here is an 8 minute cacophony of Arabic voices with English overdubs about nothing of particular interest.

Comment for "The Remarkable Harry Bridges" (deleted)

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Review of The Remarkable Harry Bridges (deleted)

Unfortunately, an extremely high number of production flaws make this piece un-airable by almost any standards.

Commentator Dick Meister does have a way with words and brings interesting and relevant topics to the public. However, his pieces, this one in particular, show a significant lack of understanding of how actual radio is made.

Things like P-pops, mic noise, flawed delivery and easy edits abound in this 4.5 minute commentary. One has to wonder why so many, p-pops? why so much mic noise? and why doesn't he edit out the dead air in between the end of his commentary and the time it takes to him to find the stop button on his recorder?

Furthermore, it is quite obvious that he is simply reading (sometimes badly) from a piece of text that he has sitting in front of him.

Good radio, will always be more then just one person sitting in front of a mic and reading from a piece of paper. The good news is that these commentaries could be improved significantly with simple and easy changes in approach and some basic editing.

Comment for "The Missing Beatle"

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Review of The Missing Beatle

This is a nice portrait of one guy who has just "had it" with the soul squelching grind of the rat-race. So, he packed it up and moved to South America, where he sings on busses and seems to have come to a peaceful place in his life because of that decision.

Warga's production of this piece is a joy to listen to. Over the course of 7 minutes we are introduced to Phil, we hear a little bit about his life and why he believes that our time on Earth is too precious to spend on a career that doesn't make you happy. Phil's Liverpool accent is a treat for American ears and his gentle songs are delivered with an intimacy and feeling that come through clearly even though he is singing on a bus.

This piece would make a nice closer or drop-in for a variety of programs. After all, a bit of perspective is something we could all use from time to time

Comment for "City X"

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Review of City X

In this mini-documentary Jonathan Mitchell brings his keen talent for creating rich soundscapes to bear on a subject which has been cornerstone to the American economy for decades--the regional mall.

Jonathan's work, tends to be considerably different then the average public radio fare, and in my opinion, therein lies the special magic of this piece.

For exactly 22 minutes and 32 seconds the listener experiences a wild ride of ambient sounds, music and voices from the mall. Some of the voices are commentary, others are expressions of glee or dismay...One wonders if Jonathan might actually be hiding behind a rack of gap jeans with a microphone.

Listening to this piece is almost like riding one of those educational roller-coasters at Epcot center. Through sound, the listerer is taken back in time to hear from the architect who designed the modern day Mall system. We also travel around the mall looking for parking, into the food court, into the perfume department, we even get our fortune read from a "Zoltar Machine". By the time it is all over I actually found myself feeling a little overwhelmed, which I think is part of the point.

Throuth a variety voices a narritive is created which tells a story of a town that has changed and continues to change based on the influence of their mall

I think this work deserves to be recognized as a highly creative approach to a a very important topic. In this work, Jonathan does not preach to the listener. His subjects speak volumes about what is good, bad, sad, and ridiculous about malls. In the end, we are left with our own thoughts and opinions. "City X" is a marvelous piece of documentary storytelling!

Comment for "Pacific Drift 03" (deleted)

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Review of Pacific Drift 03 (deleted)

Producers Ben Adair and Queena Kim really have something special with this wonderfully produced slice of southern-california-ness. There are so many things to like about this program.

The stories and features throughout the hour flow from one into another and make a very pleasing kind of stream-of-consciousness listening. There is a wonderful absence of the "now were going to hear from..." host intro. Instead sounds and characters ebb and flow from one to another.

Audio treats abound in this piece thanks to well placed use of ambient and musical beds--We hear the sounds of a barber shop, a tatoo studio and some smoking old soul tracks. I also l liked was thow the producers celebrate localism by actually going into the field and talking with people in their environments. There is a wonderful field-recorded vibe throught the program that I rather like. I felt much closer to the subjects because I could hear that the reporters were really right there and not in some studio.

A good testiment the strengh of this program, which is made for west coast listeners, is that even someone like me from upstate NY can still find it interesting.

Comment for "Where Coffee Rituals Go to Die"

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Review of Where Coffee Rituals Go to Die

Being from Leelanau County I was happy to hear this little slice of life from my old home.

The narration was crisp and well paced, the music fit the tone. Overall I felt the piece could have used a little more focus...There are all sorts of informational bits in this piece but they don't really seem to point to anywhere. Why is the piece called "where coffee rituals go to die"? Is Starbucks killing coffee rituals? Was Ray's really that much of institutuion? Because I really don't get this sense until minute 11:00 when a patron of Rays is finally introduced into the story.

I think this is a good piece and maybe it was made to be 12:00 on purpose to fill air time, but for the story's sake I think it would could be much better at around 7 or 8 minutes.

Comment for "My Criminal Life"

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Review of My Life as a Criminal

Great radio. Marks story will rip your heart out. Through his struggle with addiction, incarceration, self loathing, trauma and attempted suicide there is a lot to digest about the state of penal system in America. I wish more material like this would hit the airwaves.

Comment for "With This Ring-Pledging Abstinence: Inside Out" (deleted)

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Review of With This Ring: Pledging Abstinence - Inside Out (deleted)

One of the most thorough and intriguing bits of documentary journalism I have ever heard. This series would be a spectacular programming feature anywhere.

I caught this piece when it first aired on WBUR and it had me glued to my radio for the next hour. The tape is very telling, stringing together clips from enthusiastic proponents of the abstinence trend to ambivalent participants, to health workers, to the minister who started the movement.

Mr. Cole does an admirable job of actaully "reporting" on events and facts that are taking place. He is on and behind the scene at these traveling abstence road shows capturing the sound and feel of the event. To me, its somewhat "spooky" this mixture of MTV glam with conservative christian morals. On the other hand, I actually caught myself empathizing with several of the teens who were interviewed.

This is a controversial topic. By some accounts the abstenece movement actually harms teens by spreading mis-information. Again, the producer skillfully walks the line between both sides of this issue. The result is a fair and revealing look at a growing movement.

Comment for "Killing for Fun"

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Review of Killing for Fun

While I appreciate part of the sentiment of this commentary (we as a civilized society need to inact tougher gun ledgislation), I don't agree with the commentator that this idea should naturally apply to "all" instances of hunting.
He infers that hunters only hunt because they enjoy the thrill of the kill. This is a rather heavy-handed deduction to make given that hunting is still a viable source of food, income, management and tradition throughout many regions of America. By oversimplifing the facts and presenting a rather extreme moral reasoning I feel that this type of radio will only hold water with the most strident vegetarians.

Comment for "Dubya's Word [J.Boggs]"

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Review of Dubya's Word [J.Boggs]

....I try to imagine a world in which G-Dub could get on the good foot and take it to the bridge

This funky mix of a presidential speech is seemless and artfully produced. Much in the same vein as the Dan Rather-AC/DC mix.

I would love to hear more pieces like this on public radio. Espicially in the midst of all of these debates, a piece like this would be a cool musical outro for show.

Comment for "Ramen Jiro"

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Review of Not the Soup Nazi

Not many producers are willing to sacrifice their gall bladder for the sake of good radio!?

I enjoyed this piece alot. At first I was a little confused because I did not get the "soup nazi" reference. About one minute in however, the narrative developed and I was hooked.

The acts and tracks in this story are hilarious. Good use of musical bridge hightens the feeling of anticipation and suspence as the characters procede cautiously along toward their fates.

I could imagine this piece on almost any show or program but especially those who feature unusual, offbeat and sometimes quietly affecting subjects.

Comment for "Riverside Drive"

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Review of Riverside Drive

When I lived in Brooklyn, one of my favorite places to walk was down by the old Brooklyn Navy Yard where overgrown parks and crumbling brick buildings and rusting iron gates just sit there waiting for life to come back to them.

This piece is interesting. It kind of remindes me of that sense of wandering around somewhere and stumbling upon a park or road that you didn't know existed.

On an artistic level this piece stands up great. As a feature....I wanted to hear more. I think it could have easily carried another minute. the bridge from the water sounds to the guy talking was somewhat confusing. Then, once he started I wanted him to talk more, his accent was wonderful.

This piece could serve as a short drop in for a show dealing with community development, local memory, urban soundscapes...etc.

Comment for "King Joe Harris"

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Review of King Joe Harris

This excerpt from an interview about police violence in Portland, Oregon is emotional and seems to have some strong significance to events in and around Portland but aside from that I can see no real reason why this would be aired anywhere else.

Furthermore, there is a rather large lack of context. A host intro would clear much of this up but, even within the interview there seems to be an almost no structure to that. As a listener I was just confused. Who is he? what are the events that he is talking about? why is he saying that? and what is his point? where among the many questions.

Comment for "A Man on Horse Back"

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Review of A Man on Horse Back

This is a nice short sentimental piece about one of Americas most famous cinema genres. It is the perfect length for a cutaway. The clips from the interviewee's are tastefully sandwhiched in between all kinds of cowboy whoops, gun shots and galloping horses. I think this piece would be a welcome addition to any show or program that has a cause to talk about movies or cinema.

Comment for "NPR Geeks"

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Review of NPR Geeks

What about the Neil Conan groupies!? Doing a vox pop about This American Life fans is a good idea, because for most listeners public radio equals TAL, and if not TAL than ATC. It would be interesting to hear from the serious NPR geeks though... the people who want Terry Gross to run for president, or think Garrison Keillor is a great singer.

Comment for "Sawlady"

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Review of Sawlady

Tight and thoughtful production give this piece all of the elements of really great radio. It tells a story, it gives the listener information and finally, we actually HEAR it all come together. I like radio that uses ambient sound as part of the actual story, rather then just as a generic background. I love when she describes how she creates the different pitches at the exact moment we hear them. Its interesting how much a regular carpenter saw sounds like a theremin.

Comment for "Charley the Spelling Whiz"

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Review of Charley the Spelling Whiz

Nice feature. Sound rich, smooth and focused. I don't think the producer was trying tto probe into the behind the scenes working of the National Spelling Bee--just one kid's story. Still, I wanted to hear more about actually being in a spellng bee--the pressure, the thrill, the fun?

This would make an interesting color sketch for any station or show to air on or during the national spelling bee.

Comment for "Summer Camp"

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Review of Summer Camp

What a great story/commentary/narrative. Really brings you into the "mood" of the piece. So often producers try to conjure a moment, or a tone, with all sorts of slick ambient and protools wizardry. Just goes to show that good storytelling and writing will always make good radio. This would be a good piece to play almost anytime, but especially in Spring or Summer.

Comment for "Brooklyn Oil Spill"

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Review of Brooklyn Oil Spill

A very important story. Would be a perfect fit for any local news station in or around NYC, or perhaps an environmental show. The producers writing and production are top notch. However, in my opinion there just seems to be too much info coming at the listener too quickly. Granted, it is a very edgy newsy time piece, but at almost 7 minutes I think it is just too much for the average listener to follow especially with the clips come so fast. As I said, a very important story, it seems like there must be a way to get the main points across while in less time.

Comment for "75 State Street Salon" (deleted)

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Review of 75 State Street Salon (deleted)

Very nice, a well put together piece. Would be a good color sketch for any show dealing with seniors or aging. Seems a slam dunk for AARP's Prime Time Radio.

Good pace, I liked the "snip snip" of the scissors and the little bits of wisdom from the hair stylist. I wanted more from other people, more interactions to balance out the running commentary

Comment for "Cathy, 16, Mom"

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Review of Cathy, 16, Mom

This is hardcore radio. It just lays everything out it the open for the listener to take and digest (even if they may not want to).

Cathy is very open and up front about her situation, she does not hide from the mic. Thanks to Sarahs skillfull production we are able to litterally "hear" the conflict of a young immature teenager trying to be a good mom....and it made me uncomfortable.

The only question that I wanted to hear that wasn't addressed on tape was, "what about birth control?" "Condoms?" "How did she even get pregnant, let alone twice?". I mean if it was an accident isn't that an important part of the story.

Comment for "Mother's Day Diary"

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Review of Mother's Day Diary

Damn thats funny!.... very slick and tightly produced. A perfect slam dunk for any station on or around Mothers Day.