Redux: Good News Economic News Made Even Better

We're all a little desperate for some good news these days. Hoping it'll come from Youngstown, Ohio is a lot to ask. WCPN's Dan Bobkoff upped the ante even further with some creative editing tricks that really catch the ear:

- No stodgy acts and tracks here. The Youngstown Business Incubator CEO's voice fades in and out of Bobkoff's narration, making you feel like you're touring the building along side them.

- The phone rings in an echo-y lobby. You can hear from the way the receptionist's voice bounces off of the glass windows that this is a fancy tech company.

- The tap tap of start-up employees playing foosball (Sounds like 1997!)

Throw in an interesting and surprising topic, brimming with good news and snappy writing, and I dare this piece not to win an AP award.

Blog: Wooly Mammoth Found in L.A. Parking Garage

Okay, so it was really the wooly mammoth's bones that were found deep below a Los Angeles parking garage, but throw in a sabertooth tiger, a short faced bear, and a sloth or two and you've got yourself a real paleontological find.

Just listen to the president of the company that found the fossils squeal with glee on All Things Considered. It makes me want to dig out my Fisher Price paleontology kit and start digging up every parking garage in town.

(photo by rpongsaj)

Blog: 100 Days, Zero Stupid T-Shirts

NPR's David Greene is on a road trip. If you're expecting handfulls of refrigerator magnets and cheesy postcards, think again. David Greene is also on a mission.

During Obama's first 100 days, Greene is criss-crossing the country to find out how folks from Michigan to Florida, California to DC, are making due in the new economy.

If the thought of another depressing story about the recession makes you want to bury your face in a pillow full of cyanide, check out Greene's latest dispatch from Atlanta. You could describe it as downright uplifting. America's 20 and 30-somethings may be pouring coffee and collecting scrap metal, but you can't say we're not resourceful.

NPR is even trying out some new media apps for the series. You can follow David Greene on Twitter and see photos of the people he meets on Flickr. The interactive map may be a bit dicey (tonight it alternates between a cluster of dots surrounding New Orleans and nothing at all) but you have to give NPR credit for giving the series a life beyond the airwaves.

(photo by Ciccone Youth)

Redux: Transgender Kids

Sorry, no audio. Try the permalink.

Boys play with trucks. Girls love the color pink. These cliches have dissolved into stereotypes, but most parents would still put their child into one of two categories: male or female.

For some kids, it's just not that simple. There's a growing transgendered youth movement which encourages children as young as elementary school to live their innate gender.

In this week's episode of This American Life, independent producer Mary Beth Kirchner documents one weekend in the lives of two families grappling with the reality of raising a girl who was born a boy.

Kirchner's documentary is sensitive and honest, allowing the 8-year-olds to speak for themselves. They giggle and gossip, but are far more self-reflective than your average second graders.

You may doubt their parents' motives. You may wonder how their lives will change once puberty hits. But no matter how you feel about the issue, you will leave this piece with a much better understanding of what it's like to grow up transgendered. That's the mark of a true documentary.

(photo by dodidoune)

Blog: Abe For a Day

If you went to elementary school in the United States, you likely made a Lincoln Hat. This sheet of black construction paper held together with multiple layers of scotch tape was supposed to teach us about equality, freedom, and any number of Lincoln-esque qualities.

On Lincoln's 200th birthday, WBEZ revived the Lincoln Hat tradition by asking its producers, editors, and other staffers to strike a pose while wearing a handmade Lincoln hat and beard. The powder blue construction paper may be a bit controversial, but never doubt the power of scotch tape to raise newsroom morale.

(photo by Andrew Gill)

Redux: Valentine's Day On a Budget

Roses, chocolate, and those weird candy hearts that taste like chalk. Year after year, we fall back on the same expensive, unimaginative Valentine's Day traditions.

What Would Rob Do is determined to help us save money and surprise our beloved with some unique gifts, courtesy of DIY expert Michele Beschen.

Heart shaped tree branches and a batch of candy topped cupcakes are certainly do-able. Recreating our first date would be brilliant, if only I could travel through time and space to re-live Quintessence's glory days.

What are you doing to celebrate (or purposefully ignore) Valentine's Day?

(photo by Sister72)

Redux: Raising a Glass to the Recession

When times are tough, the tough drink beer. At least that's what Grupo Modelo is banking on as it builds a giant new Corona factory just south of the Texan border.

NPR's John Burnett stopped by the construction site as well the much smaller 512 Brewery in Austin, TX to find out why beer sales are staying buoyant.

There are some great sounds in this piece: the bubbling of a fermentation tank, the tha-whap tha-whap of hurried construction, and an enthusiastic bartender ready to serve up a long list of delicious, "recession-resistant" beer.

(photo by Virginia Zuluaga)

Redux: A Vegan til Dinner Lifestyle...

I was first introduced to Mark Bittman when I received How to Cook Everything as a gift about five years ago. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say it changed my life. A columnist for the New York Times, Bittman is a food genius who is able to write recipes and explain all-things-culinary with humor and ease.

In this episode of On Point, Tom Ashbrook talks to Bittman about his latest philosophy on how Americans should change their eating habits. Making a commitment to be a vegan -- at least until dinnertime -- could do wonders for both one's health and the planet.

Picture by planetgordon, "Mark Bittman's Tomato Paella"

Redux: Billboards That Watch You

Sorry, no audio. Try the permalink.

We whiz past billboards every day, mostly ignoring their pleas to buy more beer and better toothpaste. Billboards aren't going to take it anymore! A French company has emboldened these normally placid roadside ads to stage a revolt. If we won't look at them, they'll watch us instead.

Quividi has figured out how to install tiny cameras into billboards that can detect the driver's age and gender, all in the interest of better advertising.

During this week's On The Media, Quividi's chief scientific officer argues that its consumer recognition software isn't as "evil" as you might think. It turns out that it may not be entirely accurate either. Fabio would likely be tracked as a woman whose interests might include haircare products.

One thing's for sure: these new billboards raise a slew of privacy questions and make me want to drive around wearing a gorilla mask.

(photo by lordsutch)

Redux: Through Cloudy Eyes

Millions of people wake up every morning, open their eyes, and get on with their day. For Sandy Wolofsky, life isn't so simple. The "dull haze" of her cataracts keep her tethered to the bright lights that illuminate the corners of her Montreal home. Unlike most cataracts sufferers, Sandy isn't in her 80's. She's a young woman (of undisclosed age) who needs to get on with her life.

CBC's documentary series Outfront follows Sandy as she goes into surgery, pulls off her bandages, and sees clearly for the first time in years. Recovery isn't easy: driving is dicey and her first showers require a snorkel mask. Even two months after surgery, she is in pain and still can't see clearly.

Sandy shares the challenges of recovery with equal parts joy and frustration. The microphone is her confidant as she helps us understand what it's like to navigate the world through cloudy eyes.

(photo by photostar58)