Comments by Hans Anderson

Comment for "Iraq Contractors"

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Review of Iraq Contractors

When I heard this piece on TAL earlier this year I remember thinking that it wasn't exactly what I was used to hearing on TAL. But, it fit the show it was in, and it is definitely a good piece.

I learned a lot about how we are handling this war and how the job that used to belong to an underpaid soldier is now being performed by a much-better-paid (but not necessarily overpaid) civilian "contrator" (the word sounds like it's just some inexperienced Joe from the streets, but these guys are all ex- something, and generally know what they are getting into).

With all of the kidnappings and violence, the gruesome photos and videos on web sites, this piece fits *anywhere* right now. PD's, make some room for it! And also, PD's -- this is a special pledge drive cut.

Comment for "Outside the Dying"

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Review of Outside the Dying

This a very edgy piece, but not in the "let's say a lot of rude things and hope for the best" way. I love it, it's eery and takes tough topic -- a journal of a woman caring for her young husband suffering from the withering effects of Lou Gehrig's disease.

There are moments where it is hard to listen to the piece, with overlapping voices. Lots of 90% stereo panning is used, so those without headphones might struggle to make sense out of portions. It sounded good to me, though.

The content is exceptional. The delivery is amazing. Of course, it's dramatized, but holy cow! This wasn't slapped together (or, if it was, these guys are even that much more talented). I tend to shy from things that are overly artsy, and this comes close, but it didn't cross my personal threshold. It's a tremendous listen and I was touched by the spirituality.

I don't know where this fits. It's a great piece, and belongs somewhere, but I don't hear this on ME or ATC. There is somewhere to put it, though.

Comment for "Owning Guns"

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Review of Owning Guns

Great piece on gun ownership by a superb audio producer. The piece touches on Jay's love/don't love relationship with guns, and he relates it to how people view Americans. Are we violent people, or just unwilling to be controlled? In this day and age, where we have colored alerts playing for our attention daily, safety and security are on our minds? Whether guns contribute to either is a central theme to the piece.

Well done, I would recommend it to any PD anywhere, but especially if there is a highly publicized gun trial or such going on in your area.

Comment for "And, How Does That Make You Feel?"

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Review of And, How Does That Make You Feel?

I like audio fiction, and this piece is exactly the kind of stuff I like to hear. I listened to it three times to catch it all. Not that it wasn't there the first two times, but I'm a slow listener.

It is a great use of audio; disjointed but connected, dreamy and bedeviling. There is a lot of good stuff coming out of Blunt. These are pieces that are changing and pushing the edge a little farther out, and not just for the fun of it, but to take audio a little farther gives the rest of us room to operate in the comfortable confines of the accepted. This piece deserves the awards it has received.

Comment for "Ramen Jiro"

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Review of Not the Soup Nazi

I liked the feel of this piece, and the topic. There was some overextending to reach the premise that you can learn under pressure from a noodle kitchen, but that's okay. It made for a good piece and I enjoyed the story. These quirky pieces need to go on at the top of ATC or ME more often, in my opinion. I'm glad to see it ran on ATC. Even if you had to trim it down to the core of the piece, it would sound good in a position to remind people that the world isn't all about Iraq and politics, as it so often seems nowadays. There still are noodle kitchens to teach us how to handle pressure.

As a listener, I would like to hear more of these to spice up the day.

Comment for "Mayor Bloomberg -- Walking a Fine Line"

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Review of Mayor Bloomberg -- Walking a Fine Line

This piece aired during the RNC in New York and because of a couple of non-absolute time frame references, a little creative editing might be necessary to be used at a later date (any time after the RNC has ended).

Otherwise, this is an excellent story on Bloomberg and a short history that any non-New Yorker might find interesting. It's a quick look at Bloomberg through his hosting of the RNC and his future political aspirations. Nicely done, a hard piece with jovial journalistic sound. I like the way the piece brought energy to the topic, through writing and editing, but didn't compromise quality.

Comment for "The Writers Studio, featuring Tracy Kidder"

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Review of The Writers Studio, featuring Tracy Kidder

I like this format, an interview in front of an appreciative audience, especially if the interviewee feels comfortable doing it. Engaging author Tracy Kidder does and he brings laughs and chuckles to keep the interview material from becoming too heavy.

It's a good thing, because there are some heavy topics. I was caught by this piece and find myself wanting to read the next Tracy Kidder piece. I do wish the audio was a little clearer because I missed some parts. This is previously aired and clocks in at a perfect 59 minutes, so it's ready to go for any slot that is open. There isn't focus on one topic, other than this is all about Kidder, which is great. There is a lot devoted to a kind Harvard Doctor who travels to Haiti to provide medical care. If that is a topic that interests your listeners, that section would be a great focus. Otherwise, the interview in it's entirety is a fun listen and fans and first-timers alike will find the interview compelling.

Comment for "Banjo Pete"

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Review of Banjo Pete

"Banjo Pete" is a close, polished piece about a banjo player and maker from Baltimore. It goes deeper, into the history of the banjo and pays homage to other imported instruments. High quality piece, light, not too newsy, first person from Pete with a short introduction. Nicely done. This could find a home on any show dealing with music or any of the subjects brought up. Aaron's pieces are all worth a listen. I think nearly everyone will find something from him they really like.

Comment for "A Disturbance in the Force"

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Review of A Disturbance in the Force

Very, very interesting story. Tells several stories and makes enough of a generalization (about real life versus "in game" virtual reality) that it could be a headliner for This American Life. This seemingly shallow story about someone caught in a virtual world, goes much deeper than expected. You must hear this story. I don't play video games. I do like Star Wars, but this isn't about that at all, this is about humans, and is a very compelling story. If I don't hear this on TAL, I will be surprised.

This is so good, it has to be true. In ten years this will be even better, with more time to figure out what happened afterwards. Never has a game become so much like real life, not in the format of the game, but in the distinction of what is truth and what is reality. Of all the pieces I can remember, this one is my favorite.

Comment for "B-Side: Pets"

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Review of B-Side: Pets

Disclaimer: One of my pieces appeared on a B-side show in August 2004 (but not "Pets").

This is a a good show from UC-Berkeley. The show is very Calicentric, and has the same "theme" as This American Life -- being a show based on a "theme." It doesn't sound exactly the same, much of it is more "reporting" and the pacing is definitely different. I'm a big TAL fan, but B-side has a fresher feel, in my opinion.

On in mid-2004, TAL host Ira Glass talked about the stories on his show, how they had a "surprise" and a narrative arc. B-side doesn't utilize that strict criteria, which is why is seems so different from TAL, even though it would seem to be almost the same show. B-side does a wonderful job. Without a TAL-like insistence on the unanswered question, the stories move along and the show doesn't quite sound "public radio-ish." I know from exchanging emails with some of the B-side crew, they are aiming for a younger sound, and they definitely hit it (I'm not implying TAL is for old folks).

This specific show hit on a lot of emotions. I was touched by the Lost-a-Pet hotline -- not lost as in "can't find Spot" but "I loved Spot, he died and I'm distraught." I cherish my aging beagle in this way, and have loved many a pet. I know how three dogs made my grandmother's final decade bearable. And, the outtake at the end was funny, too.

I am definitely biased about this show, having appeared on it once, but I think it has a lot of potential. The age of the producers and contributors probably isn't too much younger than TAL's, but the sound is. I'd recommend it to any PD looking for that energy.

Comment for "Lost in the East"

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Review of Lost in the East

Judah writes about his existence as a Clevelander living as a Bostonian and how that relates to his sports world. This piece reflects a love for Cleveland that isn't quite Harvey Pekar-ish, but if you can relate to Harvey, you can relate to Judah. Coming from neither Boston nor Cleveland, this piece doesn't hit home with me like it might with a Browns or Indians fan. If you are a Cleveland or greater Ohio public radio station, Judah's work is worth listening to.

Comment for "Learning to Hear"

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Review of Learning to Hear

This is an interesting story for me, having some hearing loss. I also have a young girl living in my house who is deaf. As the world of the deaf is revealed to me, I have found the Cochlear Implant question is controversial. Through this piece, I understand much more about the topic.

This piece hit on that controversy at the end, how the deaf community cherishes their language and cohesiveness. It is also packed with information about "learning to hear" after the implant and about how deaf people who come to hear have to grasp their newfound situation. This piece is well-written and produced. This is a good all-around informational piece for everyone.

Comment for "Smells Like Camping"

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Review of Smells Like Camping

This is a well-written essay piece about camping, or more accurately, about what bears do in the woods (but it's not a bear in this case, but the essayist). It's humorous and hits its mark, but whether that mark is one you want on your station is the only question. It's not offensive in any way but it won't fit but in the right spot with the right listeners.

Comment for "Lunch Room Radio Mystery Theater - episodes 1 - 4"

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Review of Lunch Room Radio Mystery Theater - episodes 1 - 4

Fiction is alive and well in Massachusetts, with this class of 6th graders putting out a well-produced and acted audio drama. Audio is a wonderful way to bring out the actors in the class, as well as introduce children to the technology necessary for an audio production.

This piece would fit on any station that caters to children. Younger children or peers of the sixth graders will be inspired. The length leaves just enough room for an introduction and closing remarks and still keep in in a 30 minute time slot.

Comment for "Alpendub"

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Review of Alpendub

Great use of audio, mixture of voices and accents, music familiar and strange. The focus of the piece, the dub-music/yodeling sounds pretty cool. I like that kind of music a lot. It's very interesting, and I think other listeners will agree. It almost has a mockumentary feel to it, though I'm sure it's not. It would be fun to play on April 1st along with several pieces like it and one mockumentary and see who could pick out the "real" one. But, any day of the year, this is an interesting listen.

Comment for "Habits of the Heart - "Sampler""

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Review of Habits of the Heart - "Sampler"

I liked this sampler. I'm not sure if I understood the concept clearly, but it seemed like they said they were planning to run a show based on a theme with a personal TAL-ish piece, a Fresh-Air-ish interview and some vox pop. If that is what the concept is, I like it, especially if all the shows come off as well as the sampler, which had a lot to do with the Simpsons.

As a recent Christian, I am also a sucker for talk about how some churches will go to great lengths to serve others with drive-ins or whatever.


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Review of The David Palmer Radio Show Demo - 5/22/04 (deleted)

Maybe it's just that I don't get the humor -- this is very possible. I've done pieces myself that some people loved but others felt like I feel about this series. That could be that they, or I, just don't get it.

The series seems to be predicated upon the humor of an unprepared host, or a host that is given consistently and completely incorrect information and is surprised by spontaneous guests. Joe Frank did these sort of rambling conversations but ones that captured so much more. His trick, he says, was doing dozens of "takes" and piecing them together. Maybe if dozens more yards of tape were recorded and distilled into 3-6 minutes, maybe then it would hit closer to Joe's mark, though I don't pretend that anybody could hit Joe on the head.

Technically, the levels in this series were too low. I had my board cranked and it was barely moving the needles.

Comment for "Capoeira Tourism"

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Review of Capoeira Tourism

Very Savvy-Travel-ish (it's aired there already). "Capoeira Tourism" has excellent sound and plenty of information. This is your standard PR fare, well-produced, a great listen, engaging.

This piece will capture your public radio audience perfectly. In an afternoon slot on the drive home from work, your listeners will be happy to find a piece with the classic public radio sound.

You probably will have to chop the end, "... for the Savvy Traveler."

Comment for "Living Flag"

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Review of Living Flag

I've seen this piece before, on Dmae's website, and in the Flash format that you can optionally view.

This piece is professionally produced (the names of the producers can tell you that much), and sounds fantastic. To me, it is the embodiment of controversy, as I don't necessarily agree with the concept of reparation as put forth in this piece. But the piece cuts like a knife, which is a effective resolution. Put this together with Bill Cosby's recent remarks for a sparks-filled show.

Comment for "Rockin' for Jesus"

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Review of Rockin' for Jesus

Because I had just reviewed two other Salt pieces, I wasn't going to review this one until I read Daniel's review. I try not to read other reviews in advance because it can color my own review.

But what Daniel wrote made me want to listen, so I did. And, I agree with him. I would love to hear this along with a story about another hard rock band, but maybe one that's on a mission to party.

Being a Christian rock band member is hard, we find out. Hard rock fans don't really want the message (lyrics), many Christians don't favor the music (but do the lyrics).

I can relate to this band and what they believe, and that's another reason I liked it. But, for non-Christians or those that don't know much about all that, it still can be an interesting piece. PD's, team it up with a piece about a local church running a rock band and contempory sermon -- there's one in every town. Or, contrast it with a party-band and let the two stand on their own together.

Comment for "Who Needs Math?" (deleted)

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Review of Who Needs Math? (deleted)

The world of an 11 year old home schooled student. The girl sounds fantastic when she opens the piece. Very mature sounding, despite what we found out that she wasn't excelling in school until she was pulled out in favor of home schooling.

The piece sounds great. There is no narration, it's put together professionally and would sound great on the air anywhere, especially with Zoe's precocious voice.

This piece doesn't go down the well-worn "These Kids are Really Smart Because They are Home Schooled" road, and Zoe's mom didn't do it for religious reasons, which is a more common reason for home-schooling. Just getting inside Zoe's head made for a simple and refreshing piece.

Comment for "Where is the French in Lewiston" (deleted)

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Review of Where is the French in Lewiston (deleted)

A melting-pot piece, but with the French, which I realized while listening, you don't hear a lot about. I know the French presented us with the Statue of Liberty as a gift, but it seems you don't hear many stories about French immigrants, or the trials Franco-Americans in America. They all settled in Canada before they immigrated here, and then not too many.

The piece explores Franco-Americans through a couple of close-ups, including an older woman who didn't learn English until she was over 50. The entire Maine town of Lewiston spoke French, mostly immigrants from not France, but Canada. They actually had a part of town called "Little Canada." The melting didn't occur until after WWII, when the area factories closed and the Franco-Americans left the neighborhoods around the factories and assimilated into non-French speaking areas.

This piece is surprised me. I don't know exactly what kind of show it works in. Maybe one about immigration, or maybe just an interesting piece to drop in whenever.

Oh, and how to improve your English? Play Scrabble.

Comment for "Hollywood Blockbuster Sets Sights on Global Warming"

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Review of Hollywood Blockbuster Sets Sights on Global Warming

A piece in the familiar public radio style. It uses a recent Hollywood release to jumpstart a discussion of global warming. Some of the information is worrisome, scary and should make you sit up and listen -- the ocean's level increasing quickly, polar icecaps and glaciers melting. I think the piece could have felt a little more urgent, but since that would require more slant, I applaud the relative objectivity of the producer. Timely for Earth Day, if the reference to "The Day After Tomorrow" is removed, and during discussions of global warming or green house effect or the Kyoto Treaty.

Comment for "How to Sing the Star-Spangled Banner"

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Review of How to Sing the Star-Spangled Banner

Timely for the 4th of July, but useful just about anywhere. I'm not a musician, and I'm less of singer, but I know how people feel about our national anthem. Probably it's the reason why they sing American the Beautiful a lot now, too.

I think the hard part isn't just the note, the singing of "glare" is easier than the long 'e' in free.

This reminds me of something I read once, that when people chant "Air Ball" at a basketball game, they always -- Always -- do it in the same key. F, I think.

See how these types of things stick in your head? This piece will stick with your listeners for awhile. Play it early Sunday morning.


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I really like the content of this piece, but I think it needs to be re-issued in a different format. The wealth of unique, cool ansi art information in this piece is remarkable. The printer music was really cool, and the information about ANSI art was also compelling -- even without the images to view.

The longform presentation didn't work that well, though. With a little cleanup, or a change of format, I think this would be very interesting, and I think that it would be one of those pieces that could generate a lot of discussions and "did you hear about" watercooler discussions. I could hear it as a Fresh-Air type interview, or with a change of format even a This American Life piece (especially during one of the live TAL shows). It needs tightening and focus but there are overall generic themes that Ira and the gang seem to love... the humor, surprise and "Americans can turn anything into art" plot. Throw in the surprisingly interesting backstabbing at the art group level and you have the narrative story that TAL wants.


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Review of 10 in Their 20s (deleted)

As a series, I think this would do well for conversation starters. Stations that are aiming at replenishing their listeners, those ones that will be there in 30 years if you can get them now, will benefit from pre-packaged shows like this. The topics are wide-ranging and clear. I can see this as something your station can play, then have an in-studio group of 18-30 year olds discuss it for a few minutes, maybe take some calls, etc.

Comment for "The Singing Yeast Cell"

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Review of The Singing Yeast Cell

This is an excellent piece, a wonderful example of how to open up audio to different uses. I did have a lot of trouble listening with the high-pitched squeals. I significant hearing loss, so maybe others wouldn't be as bothered by it. Beyond that, this piece is very unique and an interesting artform -- both the cell music and the production of the piece.

This piece will surely be heard on a national show sometime, if it hasn't already. But it could fit on any station that wants to focus on news of the strange, or during a local science show. There is so much educational stuff out there in audio. There really should be an effort to put together a weekly show to be played in schools. Somehow we need to be able to deliver a show to schools so it's effortless for them to let the children here wonderful pieces like this. Something almost ethereal.

Comment for "Subway Symphony"

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Review of Subway Symphony

I just reviewed the Internal Combustion Engine piece from a different producer, and I liked that one for the reasons I like this one. An artful rendition of what most of consider "noise." Another piece to bring some spice to a PR station, something to talk about during a pledge-drive maybe. It's short enough to play anywhere, and is almost sure to grab some attention.

Comment for "Father's Day Tribute: Fix'er Up, Dad."

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Review of Father's Day Tribute: Fix'er Up, Dad.

In May 2004, Ira Glass, host of This American Life, described what kind of things the show's producer's look for in their stories... generalities to explain what the story is about.

This might not quite have the duration of a TAL show, but it does have the generalities and would be a good, short tribute that I can picture wrapping up a Father's Day weekend of TAL.

Comment for "Internal Combustion"

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Review of Internal Combustion

I was pretty sure I'd like this before I heard it. It just seemed like a cool idea.

I was right.

What a symphony! It's like Rap thirty years ago. Will this be a modern form a music for the rural folks?

This will definitely spice up a day, for any PR station. It's short and would be fun to talk about. There is no excuse not to give this piece a shot.