Redux: Maybe Check the Alamo Basement?

There are quite a few good moments in this episode of This American Life, which centers around the theme of "Social Engineering." Among them: an adult thinks back to his childhood days when he learned a very valuable lesson involving a very new and oh so shiny bike; Salt grad Lu Olkowski documents the stories of two men who became known on the NYC poetry circuit as the "homeless poets"; and a former gang member talks about what it's like to have the job of "interrupter."

Redux: Feeling Stressed? Charge Up a Seal and Go

I always love checking out the "most e-mailed stories" from NPR. As a producer, I want to know what grabs a listener's attention, enough to sit in her car until the piece is over or - in this day and age - click on that "email" link to share the piece with a friend.

So on June 27th, one of the most emailed stories was, um, about a robotic seal. This sensor-driven seal (yes, it coos and moves and does seal-like things when you interact with it) has been in Japan for years, but is now making its way into the U.S. of A., being used in nursing homes and hospitals as a source of comfort and entertainment for its residents.

Lately, I've been thinking about getting a dog. But maybe this electronic seal will do the trick?

Redux: Robotic Seal Makes Old Folks Smile

Being old can be lonely. Just ask the random old people who tell me all about their lives (and health problems) every time I take public transportation or go to the grocery store. But what if they could whisper their problems to their very own robotic seal?

An American offshoot of the original Japanese company will soon begin selling these highly creepy, yet reportedly comforting robotic seals to nursing homes across the country. And as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce recently discovered, old folks love this odd little seal. Nell's piece is full of sweet, vaguely dementia-ridden moments between nursing home residents and their favorite fur covered robot. I can't decide what's sadder: that these people's lives are so empty or that they can be thrilled by a robot masquerading as a seal. Luckily, the folks at Eden Alternative feel as sad and squirmy about the whole thing as I do.

Redux: When the Tables Turn...

As Love & Radio warns, "This Podcast is VERY SEXY," so if you're not in the mood for an oh so graphic description of a male strip club experience, you're better off sitting this episode out.

But what you'll miss is a hilarious description of what happens when one bachelorette's expectations of what a strip club outing should be don't quite match reality. At all. We're talking, not even close. Equal parts funny, disturbing, and vindicating.

Blog: Talent Quest Winners are Oh So Hosty

If you were one of the nearly 1,500 radio wanna-be's who sent a two minute snippet of your best "hostiness" to the Public Radio Talent Quest last spring, you'll want to check out the three winners.

Their pilot shows are in the works, but you can get a sneak peak in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's super cool video they posted on that You Tube thing.

Dig that funky music! And a big congratulations to Al, Glynn, and Majora.

Blog: Calling All Public Radio Fans...

Just last week my boss, the super cool Sue Schardt, told me about a site that just blew me away. Most of you probably already know about it, but for those of you who are still in the dark like I was just a mere few days ago, let's give a shout out to:

www.publicradiofan.com

... the most helpful site around for the public radio fan in all of us. Traveling through Syracuse and want to know what time Day to Day is on the local NPR station? Check out www.publicradiofan.com As their site states, publicradiofan.com "features schedule listings for thousands of public radio stations and programs around the world." No more poking around on NPR's site for, oh forever, trying to find the info you need. Just set your time zone on publicradiofan.com and that's that.

I'm contemplating making it my home page.

Redux: The Most Trying Dilemma of All: Rhubarb Dilemma

So it's been a while since I checked in with Rob of the quirky NPR podcast, "What Would Rob Do?" And as someone who has never really understood what rhubarb was, when I saw the title of the latest podcast, I couldn't resist having a listen. This time Rob talks to public radio diva Susan Stamberg about his confusion surrounding fruits and vegetables of the less mainstream variety.

Even if rhubarb doesn't grab your attention, it's worth listening all the way through this podcast for the song at the end, "Party in my Tummy" (or you can also check out the video of the song from the Nickelodeon show "Yo! Gabba Gabba"). Sheer brilliance.

Blog: Newspaper on the Radio

The New York Times has been doing some pretty snazzy multimedia work lately. Its audio slide shows (while hidden away in the nooks and crannies of its online edition) are a shining example of the power of sound and photography.

Check out Erin's latest contribution to the Times' growing multimedia archive. Hear that crystal clear sound at the beginning? That's all Erin.

Redux: David's So-Called Prom

Every year, as malls across America stock up on poofy, glittery prom dresses I think, "Thank God I never have to do that again." Yes, prom season is here with a vengeance and teens from Maine to California are renting tuxes, asking dates, and picking out corsages. All of them except Blunt Youth Radio's David Barber-Callaghan.

David isn't sure if he wants to go to prom, so he decided to ask around to see why his friends are going. Most are going because it's "the thing to do" and some are spending upwards of $5,000 (yes three zeros) on their getups. Is that something David really wants to be a part of? Only Stairway to Heaven knows for sure. Yes, David's soul searching is a bit melodramatic, but isn't that what high school is all about?

*Photo lifted from some cheesy 80's teen magazine.

Blog: So Sweet, So Awkward

Listen Here!

Zooey Deschanel's voice is haunting - simple and old fashioned. I love listening to her sing, perhaps more than I like watching her on screen. And yet, every time she does a radio interview with her musical collaborator M.Ward (who happens to be the other half of her duo She and Him), M.Ward doesn't do much talking. Which is a shame, because, well... Zooey is kind of an awkward interview.

But hearing veteran producer Steve Lillywhite give us the post-production play-by-play is pretty interesting. He's seen everyone from U2 to The Pogues waltz through his studio and his take on this actress-turned-chaunteuse is spot on. She does have a beautiful voice. She is a little shy. But that doesn't stop me from loving She and Him's new album (and coveting her incredible hair).