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Postcards: This Week

My homage to my hero. Originally produced for Trop Mag.

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Marriage Problems, aired.

We had fun with this one.

Thank you, Dan Carino and Katie McMurran for your illustration and editing, respectively. And to the Life Advisor, Tom Dibblee, who helps run Trop, the original home of Life Advice Radio.

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Listening to Small Scale Sin (air date: 11/24/1995)

Ira sounds more like Ira in this episode.

I love when he confesses his question-asking remorse.

“And as soon as I said this, I really, I regretted it,” he admits at 13:30.

Another favorite moment from Ira: “When is hell a possibility? Whenever you think it is it is.”

Yikes. This makes me think of Jake. One of Jake’s biggest complaints about religion is the invention of hell. So many kids spend days and years terrified, literally, thrown into a state of intense fear or desperation. Because of hell. They (we) live in fear of eternal pain. Eternal suffering. And not only pain that lasts forever, but also pain for which we are wholly responsible.

Then, there was Act Three:

How to weave music underneath stories.

For me, it’s hard not to feel manipulative when blending music into journalism. In a story I’m producing now about elderly and disabled folks who are losing access to health and social services, I want to incorporate their singing into the story. About 100 of them sing the Star Spangled Banner together every morning at this senior center type place they attend. But, how manipulative is that? People in wheelchairs, hands on their hearts, singing to The Flag then being axed from their state-funded health program? Ouch. It feels disingenuous even though that actually happened. So, I didn’t do that. But, I do want to experiment with music at some point. Music and storytelling. How can music move a story along. And what producers should I be listening to who do this beautifully? Maybe I’ll ask Rob Rosenthal to do a How Sound episode about this. Maybe he already has.

When to narrate, when to let characters speak their stories.

I suspect this’ll be a lifelong question. Ira speeds the story along with narration about how the hackers used their skillz to get celebrities’ home phone numbers. They call Julia Roberts. They call Queen Elizabeth, too, Ira says. Then Ira stops the narration and lets the guy, Eli, pick up the story about calling the Queen. Eli imitates the queen’s voice picking up the phone, “Hello?” and tells it in a quick, funny and heartbreaking way. (Like, what is one supposed to do after he gets the queen of England on the phone? Uh…). Then Ira continues his narration.

Make your characters step back from the details to reflect on big picture, universal themes.

From Eli:
“We’re not evil people”

and

“I was a criminal in the sense that Jesus Christ was a criminal, you know?

Over reporting.

Ira comments at the episode’s end that gang members he had spoken to said they eventually tired of their gang tired of doing the same things night after night. He brought it up as a response to Eli’s comment that destructive computer hacking was a thing of the past, a thing of his teenage self. Made me think about all the untold stories that have touched Ira’s ears that we’ll never hear. And made me think about all the ideas and details I have in my head for a story I’m working on that never make it into the final product. Hours of tape for a four minute story. More heartbreak.

Incorporating other media.

He’s just going for it. Why not read a passage from Clockwork Orange at the end of the radio show? Why not throw a poet into the middle?

This was produced before iTunes. Before Google.

Hated the radio play, but who cares?

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Listening to New Beginnings

Listened to the very first episode of This American Life, then called Your Radio Playhouse.

Ira Glass sounds like he has a lozenge in his mouth. On purpose. Like, to show how casual the program is.

The thing that struck me most was how un-tight each episode was. Your Radio Playhouse didn’t have This American Life as a mentor or model. I’d love to sit in on an editing session between the 2012 Ira and the 1995 Ira. I bet 2012 would have cut out a ton from 1995. Every Act could have been cut by minutes and/or given a clearer focus, especially the first one. I would have axed it completely. Not only was it meandering and repetitive, but the premise (20-something guy finds Jesus in Jerusalem and in the process decides – seemingly at random – that he only has six months to live) didn’t really make the character all that lovable. In fact, the tears at the end felt disingenuous, especially since his six month death sentence was self-made.

I would have held the last one (the musician who talked about his “new beginning” after wrongfully in prison for 20 years 20 years) for a show about how songs mark life events and/or how we hear songs differently throughout our lives. Or, in some cases, how we can’t even hear a song later in life that so saturated a certain moment in our past that to hear it would take us back to a place we do not want to be.

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My First Public Radio Story: Teenager Combats Climate Change

SoCal Kid Fights Global Warming.

I posted this on Facebook, so all my “Friends” have seen it already, but I feel compelled to post it here as well. My first public radio story aired on KQED’s The California Report on August 1. Thank you, Alec and Victoria Loorz, for putting up with my home invasions for the last several months! And thank you, Victoria Mauleon, for helping cut my story down from 11 minutes to four!

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Tote Bags, Unboxed

This just makes me love them more.

I want to bathe in NPRness.

Thank you, Gizmodo, for showing me this in all its auto-tuning splendor.

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