26 September 2007

Witness to an Execution - Airs Oct. 8

We aired this documentary during our David Isay/Sound Portraits month in November 2006. If you heard it then, it's worth another listen. If you didn't, don't miss this chance.

Here's Todd Melby's Public Radio Exchange (PRX) review on the documentary:

"You'll never hear another sound like a mother
wailing whenever she's watching her son being executed," says reporter Leighanne Gideon. "There's no other sound like it. That wail surrounds the room." At the time this documentary was recorded, Gideon had watched Texas kill inmates on 52 separate occasions. Witness to an Execution weaves the harrowing tales of reporters, prison guards, the warden and others who have observed or participated in state-sanctioned murder. Although Texas kills inmates by lethal injection instead of the rawer electrocution, the result is the same. One of the wonders of this documentary is that it doesn't get political, it doesn't state a position about the death penalty, it simply leads the listener through the process of an execution. One important step in that process is the action of the "tie-down" team. These are prison guards whose job it is to strap the inmate onto the gurney before lethal injection. Kenneth Dean, a member of the "tie-down" team says many inmates thank him after Dean has secured them into place. "After all the straps are done, they will look at you and say 'Thank you.' And here you've just strapped them into the (execution) table ... You know that's kind of a weird feeling." Dean believes in what he does, but another prison guard, Fred Allen, quit the job after the impact of dozens of executions left him in tears one day. Listening to Allen talk, however haltingly, is moving. There are many other great moments here, all worth airing.

Josh in New York City: Growing Up with Tourette's - Airs Oct. 1

Pledge drive isn't an annoying, turn-the-channel kind of event at KFAI. It's a fun time to listen because you get a chance to connect with the on-air hosts that bring you fantastic music, great discussions or in the case of the Listening Lounge, inspiring documentaries.

On our Oct. 1 show, we feature two stories from Joe Richman of Radio Diaries. He's a talented producer who lets his subjects speak for themselves. One story we'll air is called Josh in New York City: Growing Up with Tourette's. Here's a description: Josh has Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. "It feels like there's a big balloon inside my stomach," Josh says. "And the balloon keeps growing bigger and bigger, like every second extra the tic stays inside it feels like somebody blows up the balloon another notch, until I let it out."

We'll also air Amanda from New York: Girlfriend, the story of a bisexual Catholic girl struggling with her sexuality.

24 September 2007

Birdathon - Airs September 24

Every spring since 1989, bird lovers in Berrien County, Michigan, (directly across the lake from Chicago,) have taken part in the annual Southwest Michigan Team Birdathon.

Birdathons are much like walkathons, but instead of racking up miles for charities, people pledge donations based on the number of birds a team sees or hears. The proceeds are, for this particular event, donated to nature or conservation groups

Participants in the southwest Michigan birdathon can start at midnight and go all out until 7 p.m., tracking down as many species as possible within Berrien County. And because the event is held at the height of spring migration near the shores of Lake Michigan, a major corridor for migrating birds, there are literally hundreds of different species teams can tally on their official checklists.

Producers Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison followed two of the 24 teams who took part in last spring's event. One team was made up veteran birders who won the previous year's Birdathon. The other included younger, less experienced members.

03 September 2007

Third Coast Audio Festival in Chicago

If you dig the pieces we air on The Listening Lounge, you might consider attending the Third Coast International Audio Festival. It's an annual gathering for audio and documentary producers that convenes in Chicago each autumn. This year's conference is scheduled for November 1-3. The conference is an opportunity for producers to come together, listen to each other's work and share ideas and expertise. The three-day conference features listening sessions and panel discussions about topics ranging from the practical to the philosophical and culminates with an awards ceremony honoring the winners of the TCF / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition.

You don't actually need to travel to Chicago to benefit from the conference. Organizers upload audio files of presentations and sessions on their website.