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Playlist: News Station Picks for August '10

Compiled By: PRX Curators

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39046851@N08/4581150872/">Mutasim Billah</a>
Image by: Mutasim Billah 
Curated Playlist

Here are August picks for news stations from PRX News Format Curator Naomi Starobin.

What Naomi listens for in news programming.

Maybe these slow news days of August have you thinking about something fresh, new and lively. Well, you can’t give each of your listeners a yappy puppy, but how about a new series? Great stuff out there. I had a look around on PRX and it was hard to pick just a few. This list displays a range from series with short interstitial pieces that you can plug in to a news magazine or show, to longer ones that would make great choices for weekend hours that right now just aren’t quite dazzling your audience. Have a listen!

Volunteers and Design

From Smart City Radio | 59:00

This is one in the series from Smart City Radio. All of the pieces are about cities...sometimes specific cities and how people are dealing with particular problems (Detroit, Syracuse), and other segments, like this one, are issue-oriented. These are heady and intellectual, and well-suited for an audience that is concerned or curious about urban life and its future.

It's hosted by Carol Coletta.

Default-piece-image-1 Ten years ago, two undergrads from Yale noticed the fundamental gap between their university and the community surrounds it.  To bridge this divide they formed the volunteer training organization that's now known as LIFT.  We'll speak with Ben Reuler, the executive director of LIFT, about harnessing the energy of students to engage them in the community and help combat poverty.


Good design can do many things, but can it change the world?  My guest Warren Berger has written a book on how design is doing just that.  The book, titled Glimmer,  shows how design in action addressing business, social, and personal challenges, and improving the way we think, work, and live.

Unconventional Archaeology -- Groks Science Show 2010-07-28

From Charles Lee | Part of the Groks Science Radio Show series | 29:42

For that half-hour time slot, go science! Lots of lively interviews in these segments, along with commentaries and a question-of-the-week. This series is produced in Chicago and Tokyo by Dr. Charles Lee and Dr. Frank Ling, who also host the show. They are natural and curious, and lean toward short questions and long answers.

There are pieces on cancer-sniffing dogs, outsmarting your genes, number theory, ant adventures, and lots more, displaying great breadth.

It's geared to listeners who are interested in science...no college level inorganic chem required.

Grokscience_small Archaeology is often portrayed as a romantic adventure to the remote corners of the globe. But, what is the life of an archaeologist really like? On this program, Dr. Donald Ryan discussed unconventional archaeology.  For more information, visit the website: www.groks.net.

Are Freckles Just Cute or Something More?

From Dueling Docs | Part of the Dueling Docs series | 02:02

Dueling Docs is a great idea, well executed. Each two-minute piece answers a simple medical or health question. The host, Dr. Janice Horowitz, lays out a question (Should you get cosmetic surgery? Is dying your hair bad for you? Can stretching make you more prone to injury?), presents opposing views, and concludes with advice.

This would fit in nicely during a weekend or weekday news show. A good two minutes.

Duelingdocs_prx_logo_medium_small While the rest of the media doesn't bother to challenge the latest news flash, Dueling Docs always presents the other side of a medical issue, the side that most everyone ignores.  Janice gets doctors to talk frankly about controversial health matters - then she sorts things out, leaving the listener with a no-nonsense take-home message

Reading Russian Fortunes

From Rachel Louise Snyder | Part of the Global Guru Radio series | 03:03

This series, Global Guru, claims to "ask one simple question -- just one -- about somewhere in the world." Those questions have included: "How do the Hopi bring rain to the desert?" "How and why do Thai people categorize their food?" "Why are there so many barbershops in Tanzania?" This is a great series of three-minute pieces you can squeeze into just about any hour. Rachel Louise Snyder out of Washington, DC is the producer. She says "each week, our mandate is to surprise listeners." Your listeners would say she succeeds.


The Global Guru is a weekly public radio show that seeks to celebrate global culture, particularly in countries where Americans have either single narrative story lines, like Afghanistan (war), Thailand (sex tourism), Rwanda, (genocide), or perhaps no story lines at all, like East Timor, Moldova, Malta, Lesotho, etc. Engaging and rich in sound, the 3:00 interstitial seeks to enrich our collective understanding of the vastness of human experience. Presenting station is WAMU in Washington, DC and sponsored by American University in DC. Some of our favorite past shows include: How do Cambodians predict the harvest each year? How did Tanzania become the capitol of barbershops? How and why does Thailand categorize food? What is Iceland’s most feared culinary delight? How do you track a Tasmanian devil? What are the hidden messages in Zulu beadwork?

A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Public radio listeners, as you know, are curious and intelligent. And they are, as you know, sticklers for language. Satisfy their curiosity with this hour-long series. It's hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette, who talk about word usage and origin, and take questions from callers. Often those questions center around a word or expression that the caller recalls from childhood and is curious about. The mood is informal and the hosts joust a bit in a friendly way with their answers.

Most recent piece in this series:

Beside Myself (#1535)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

2839023335_1268af6c77_w_small In response to our conversation about how to handle swearing in high-school classrooms, a longtime teacher shares a strategy that works for her. She insists that anytime students want to swear in her presence, they should instead say the words Moo Cow.
Carol from Falmouth, Massachusetts, is curious about this bit of wisdom from her father: As you travel through life, whatever your goal, keep your eye on the doughnut, and not on the hole. The Mayflower Coffee Shop chain, based in New Jersey and New York in the 1920s and 1930s, had a similar slogan. Word historian Barry Popik has collected other versions, including Between optimist and pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist the doughnut sees, the pessimist the hole. An earlier version: As you ramble through life, Brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eyes upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.
Some proper names could also function as verbs. For starters, there's Grant, Bob, Josh, Mark, Chip, and Sue.
Gabriel Ray from Virginia Beach, Virginia, wonders about the history of something his grandfather used to say in a shoulder-shrugging way: Everything's duck but the bill. The origin of this phrase is unclear, but it's similar to a couple of old proverbs: Nothing ruins a duck like its bill and A wise duck takes care of its bill both serve as warnings to be careful with the things coming out of one's mouth, or metaphorically, out of one's bill.
The old-time radio performer Fred Allen had some great one-liners, such as Hanging is too good for a man who likes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. He also said I like long walks, especially when taken by someone who annoys me. Among his most profound observations: A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it.
Quiz Guy John Chaneski's puzzle involves subtracting the names of Greek letters from sentences. For example, the name of which Greek letter could be removed from the following sentence to leave another English word? I piled my gear on the horse that was in front.
Gina from Athens, Texas, wonders if there's any rhyme or reason to the names we give to the denizens of a particular place. There are a few general rules for creating demonyms, the names applied to the denizens of a particular locale. George R. Stewart, a professor at the University of California Berkeley, has written extensively on the topic of municipal onomastics, including the books Names on the Land and American Place Names. But there are so many exceptions to any general rules for how demonyms are formed that your best bet is simply to memorize them.
The giant statues of Easter Island are called moai. They're the subject of a Nova/National Geographic special about who those statues might have been moved into place. The technique that islanders used to move them may have involved tugging at ropes tied around the statue and extending out opposite sides. The statues could then be moved by tugging from alternate directions and "walked" the way you might move a heavy object like a refrigerator. The indigenous term for this technique is neke neke, which translates as "walking with no legs."
Jimmy and his high-school classmates wonder about the pronunciation of words like zooplankton, zoology, and zoological. The traditional pronunciation for many scientific terms that start with zoo- is to use a long o rather than an oo sound. The reason stems from the fact that the original Greek roots for these words use two different Greek letters -– omega, which is a long o, and omicron, which is a short one. These days, though, the word zoo, short for zoological garden, influences the way lay people pronounce those words.
Peter in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, asks how the expression I'm beside myself came to mean "upset" or "unsettled." The phrase suggests an out-of-body experience and came into English in the 14th century via a French translation of the Aeneid.
Science historian Cecelia Watson's splendid new book Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark is her long love letter to an underappreciated punctuation mark.
Marian in Norfolk, Virginia, says a character in the new Downton Abbey movie uses the term swag meaning either "bunting" or "stuff," and wonders if its use in the film is a linguistic anachronism. In fact, swag was used with both those meanings long before the early 20th century, when that story takes place.
Matt, a new college grad in Austin, Texas, wants guidance about what kinds of things are appropriate to share during conversations in the workplace. Sociolinguist Janet Holmes has extensively researched and written about communication in the workplace.
Suzanne in Williamsburg, Virginia, but grew up in Southern California, where she used the term go-aheads for the rubber-soled shoes that other people call flip-flops or rubber thongs or zoris.
This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.