Redux: SpyDad

Okay, so I may be a little biased since I helped to edit this piece, but Charlotte Dennett's search for answers about her father's CIA activities is pretty darn engaging. We all know our parents have secrets, but this is a big one.

P.S. One of my favorite parts of freelancing is the extremely abreviated names shows come up with to refer to audio files they send back and forth. This one was named SpyDad. Catchy, right?

Redux: A Ghoul-Free Ghost Story

It's hard to avoid those creepy Halloween ghost stories where the reporter follows around a group of ghost hunters, waiting to be spooked. The thing that's usually missing from those paint-by-number radio pieces is well, the ghost. But this Outfront documentary follows the spirit of a real woman named Maggie Brown, as told by Antje Springmann, the person who now lives in her Newfoundland home. We hear the sea lapping against the ocean where Maggie once walked, the sounds of Antje scrapping off decades of wallpaper from her home, and about a dozen voices of friends and neighbors who knew Maggie personally. There are so many beautiful and unexpected scenes in this piece that it makes you feel like you're on a quest right along with Antje, no fake screams necessary.

Redux: Watching you, watching you, watching you....

Sorry, no audio. Try the permalink.

This is one of my favorite Song & Memory features by Ann and Kara, featuring the Hall and Oates diddy, "Private Eyes." How do you capture the sound of a memory? When is it OK to use sound effects in radio? Take a listen and be prepared to have this song stuck in your head for, oh, months (but at least it will bring a smile to your face).

Redux: "Hello, this is the First Class Line...."

So you know how nowadays if you're a "premium" or "priority" member of an airline, you have your own special red carpet or "breezeway" paving your way to the plane at the gate? Well, in this episode of Seven Second Delay (one of my favorite radio programs ever), Ken and Andy try out the radio version of that. Supporters (and we're talkin' in the money sense of the word) get their own special "first class" call-in line and actually get treated nicely by Andy. Check out the Seven Second Delay Blog (run by a Salt classmate of ours) for more Ken and Andy fun.

Blog: It's Tuesday Night, Where's the Noise?

Tuesday nights have been eerily quiet since I moved to North Carolina. For years, the most familiar sound of my life in Albany, New York was the clank of bottles and cans rattling in shopping carts against cobblestone streets.

New York is a bottle bill state, so the city's more industrious street folk made a little extra money by raiding my recycling bin each week. It was a symbiotic relationship: they needed the cash and my bleeding heart needed to feel like I was doing something for the city's poor (and to be honest, I was too lazy to bring back the bottles myself).

But here in North Carolina there's no incentive to bring back your cans of PBR, leaving my recycling bin overflowing and my Tuesday nights silent.

Redux: Two is Not Always Better than One

I love indie punk rocker Ted Leo. I also love the hilarious Faith Salie. In fact, I love them even more when they're together. So what's my beef? Last week Fair Game had Ted Leo on twice. Normally I'd say hooray, but the second appearance was just a repeat of the first.

I completely understand the difficulties of producing a live music segment - just ask me about the time a six foot tall Russian bass player showed up an hour late for a live broadcast and didn't speak a word of English. But when things fall through, give us a repeat we haven't heard that week. Fair Game has a treasure trove of outstanding musical guests like Grizzly Bear, Buck 65, and Andrew Bird in its archives, so why not air one of those gems? As much as I love Faith and Ted's witty banter, I don't need to memorize it.

Redux: A Very Modern Radio Drama

This fast paced radio drama will sound familiar to anyone who has slaved away in corporate America. The best part? It was produced by teens in Alaska.

*We don't have a radio drama category, so I put this in documentary because the piece is so textured and well produced.

Redux: A Year to Live, A Year to Die

It's a deeply intimate thing when a radio piece shakes up your emotions and stops you from driving, cooking or whatever it is you do while you listen to the radio. Mary Beth Kirchner's piece A Year To Live, A Year To Die has done that to me twice and I still can't get it out of my head. I have a distinct memory of the first time I heard this incredibly personal story of a family facing terminal brain cancer. I was sitting on the living room floor surrounded by cardboard boxes and packing tape, getting ready to move into a new apartment with my boyfriend. We'd been together for two years and I could imagine us happily chatting away our entire lives. We seemed to never run out of conversation, much like Rebecca and Stuart, the couple in this piece. But as I heard how Stuart's brain tumor and subsequent treatment unleashed puzzling emotions and transformed them from a happy family into people who barely recognized each other, I was stricken. I set down my roll of tape. Tears welled in my eyes and my mouth hung open. I literally stared at the radio. I couldn't imagine how a piece of audio could have a greater effect on me.

One year later, I was in the room with Mary Beth Kirchner and Rebecca Peterson as they relived the making of this documentary. The conference room at Third Coast International Audio Festival was silent as we learned how painstaking the making of this piece had been. Despite 40 hours of audio diary tape, Mary Beth didn't have the moments of reflection that she needed to tell this story. Stuart had passed away and Rebecca didn't want to be involved. Through a careful tightrope walk of phone calls and emails, Mary Beth slowly opened Rebecca up to the idea that her involvement could offer catharsis and maybe even help people - if she agreed to be interviewed.

Redux: Will You Be My Grandpa?

The Story never fails to uncover exceptional every day people, but Harry Bernstein is something special. At 97 years old, he is incredibly articulate and a wonderful storyteller.

Host Dick Gordon draws out Bernstein's life story, one anecdote at a time. From growing up in a religiously segregated English mill town to helping clandestine Romeo and Juliets pass notes across the cultural divide, Bernstein has a lot to reflect upon. But it's his patient voice and vivid memories that make me wish he was part of my family tree.

Redux: The Head and Heart of a Patriot

Leave it to Weekend America to find the most devoted sports fan on earth - and to treat him with the respect most shows reserve for college professors.

Victor Thompson loves the New England Patriots, a lot. So much so that he's tattooed various Patriots-themed logos on his head. He's even considering a full silver face mask. But what makes this sound-rich mini-doc by Shannon Mullen unique is the obvious respect she shows for Vic. It's not your normal 'look at the wacky sports fan' interview. Shannon takes her time introducing you to Vic the man and the sports fan. Besides, there's something about the buzz of a tattoo needle at the beginning of a piece that makes me sit up and listen.