23 April 2007

City X: Airs April 25

We had an impressive number of calls during our Pledge Drive show last week. Let's keep those calls coming on Wednesday, April 25. For inspiration, we're rebroadcasting Jonathan Mitchell's quirky documentary City X.

Here's what I wrote about that documentary on PRX: "Who wants to walk around downtown in the middle of winter?" asks a character in this futuristic, suburban, head-spinning, insightful documentary by Jonathan Mitchell. The answer, of course, is this: "Nobody." In City X, Mitchell masterfully layers interviews with average people, architects, bus drivers (who knows really, none of them are identified) into a mosaic of sound that gives us a clear understanding of why Americans love malls. Here are just a few comments, each delightfully enunciated in the documentary: "It was metropolitan ... When it came, we were hip and happening. We were a real town. We weren't just some little spot in the middle of the cornfield. We've made it!" There's also great stuff in here about mall culture: How the boys go there to scope out girls, how the girls go there to be scoped out by the boys, the mysteries of how to pronounce the "exotic" gyro and a debate about where to find the best parking spot. One person loves the lower level down by Sears. Another absolutely swears by the entrance that leads right into the middle of the Food Court. And to push the narrative forward, Mitchell uses Muzak, real Muzak, as his sole musical accompaniment.

18 April 2007

Melby wins national journalism award

Todd Melby, host of KFAI's Listening Lounge program, has been awarded a 2006 Sigma Delta Chi award for best radio documentary.

Melby produced Flatlined: How Illinois Shortchanges Rural Students (with Diane Richard) for Chicago Public Radio's Chicago Matters: Valuing Education series.

The documentary aired on the Listening Lounge on June 7, 2006.

"The narrative-style writing and use of natural sound hooked the judges from the beginning," wrote the Sigma Delta Chi judges. "The reporters introduced us to many of the story's characters, and capturing sound and interviews on different locations was a plus. Perhaps the most notable aspect of this documentary was the subject — inadequate educational systems and funding. It is an incredibly important — and difficult — topic to cover."

The Sigma Delta Chi awards, which recognize work published or broadcast in 2006, will be presented July 20 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“These awards represent the best of American journalism,” said Christine Tatum, Society of Professional Journalists president. “In an age when it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between fact and opinion and news and entertainment, the outstanding work of these journalists is a powerful reminder of the importance of ethical and responsible news gathering that is of true public service. This award winning work is what all journalists should strive to deliver every day.”

Pledge Drive Shows - Airs April 18 and April 25

If you haven't seen KFAI's new website, there's no better time to check it out then today. That's because it's pledge drive ... a time to show your support of the outstanding, individual, eclectic programming this great station offers every day.

On the Listening Lounge the past six months, I've been obsessed with the work of two talented producers: David Isay and Jonathan Mitchell. We'll air two of my favorite pieces during pledge drive.

On the April 18 show, we'll air My Lobotomy, a harrowing documentary about Howard Dully, a man who underwent the surgery as a child. It's produced by David Isay (left) and Sound Portraits.

On the April 25 show, we'll air City X, a funny, insightful and entertaining doc on why people love shopping malls. It's produced by Jonathan Mitchell, who is both a radio guy and a composer. You can hear his musical skills in the way his pieces are edited. Listen closely.

The Listening Lounge airs Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. on KFAI, 90.3 FM
Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.