21 December 2006

The Miltyway - Airs January 3

As a child, independent producer Kristina Lund of Minneapolis received unusual gifts from her father: Recordings of her favorite songs. But not by the stars. By her father, Milt. In her audio essay, The Miltyway, Lund remembers those days. "My father was the most famous person I knew. His backup singers were Neil Diamond, Waylon Jennings and Tanya Tucker ... I felt a sense of pity for the other 4-year-olds in my neighborhood with their boring Dads. My father would present me with cassettes of his newest hits." Listen in as Milt sings, Lund remembers and a star isn't born.

14 December 2006

The One-Room School, Part 2 - Airs December 27

My mom rode a horse to a one-room school in rural South Dakota in the 1940s. While kids may not ride horses to one-room schools anymore (who knows ... maybe they do), they still exist. Reporter Neenah Ellis tells us that these tiny schools still serve a purpose in the American educational system. Farm kids depend on them. And educators look to one-room schools for clues about what might work at larger, urban and suburban schools. Emily Hanford at WUNC describes this documentary as "a gorgeous piece that is full of ideas yet moves ... gracefully from scene to scene."

07 December 2006

Cutting - Airs December 13

I'm not sure what to make of this piece by producer Amanda Wells and that's a good thing. It's eerie. It's educational. It's an inside look at how cutting, or self-mutilation, caught on at one American school. A girl named Christie described her initiation to cutting this way: "I had an eating disorder going on at the time ... I didn't know what else to do. I would binge and purge each night and that didn't help anymore. I needed something more. Why not cut?" The reporter says 1 out of 10 teens cuts. Come along for a wild ride. The story, and the other piece I'll air on December 13, are from KRCB Radio in Rohnert Park, California.

Off to the Army - Airs December 13

I listened to this story yesterday on PRX. I liked it so much I wrote this review: This piece made me chuckle in the first few moments. "Tell me the whole story in one minute," the producer says. So the protagonist, he says, "Got expelled from school. Failed out of JC. Got my ass whupped at a party. Went to Mapp's. Chilled with my girlfriend. Girlfriend cried. Now I'm here." This cool, loping beginning is reason enough to license this piece. It's real. It's not a story trying to be real. The interview continues of the protagonist, a young man, some kid in his late teens and he's telling this story in a lazy, out-of-body way while he's eating a taco or sandwich or something. After a few minutes (and by the title, of course) we figure out that this is a piece about why this boy/man joined the U.S. Army to become a soldier. "Do you think you afraid of dying?" asks the producer. "No. That part I don't mind." And then this tale takes an unexpected turn. It's no longer about war or signing up for the army, it's about something related, but completely different. I'm not satisfied with the ending, but maybe that's the point. I love this piece!

05 December 2006

Update on the Sunshine Hotel

On November 29, we aired a great piece on the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last flophouses in the SoHo neighborhood of New York. If you heard the show, and at the moment it's playing in the KFAI archives, you met Fat Anthony, a fellow so big he only wears a bedsheet. That documentary was recorded in 1998. Three years later, hotel manager Nathan Smith wrote producer David Isay with an update. "Fast coming are the days when all of this well be no more than a chapter in someone's book of memories of days gone by," writes Smith. There's also a link to Smith's actual letter.