Best of Contemporary Radio in 2006

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This project started in October 2006. There is a summary at the end of the page.

Week of 8-14 October 2006:

"Photography 2.0" on Open Source with Christopher Lydon

What better way to start this list than a gem from a program devoted to fusing radio and the Internet? In this 54-minute program, Christopher Lydon leads a discussion of Photography 2.0, the phenomenon of the masses posting photographs on-line, and what it means to the art of photography. Interesting and informed opinions came from guests including Keith Jenkins, photo editor of the Washington Post, Heather Champ, a community manager at Flickr, and Fred Ritchin, Associate professor of photography at the Tisch School of the Arts.

Listen to MP3 File of Open Source "Photography 2.0"

Week of 15-21 October 2006:

"Losing Faith, Finding Meaning" on To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Public Radio produced two excellent hours of To The Best of Our Knowledge last week, but an interview with Devo (who knew that "Whip It" was about the Carter administration?) has to take a back seat to an excellent 53-minute show on faith (or lack thereof) with Richard Dawkins, Mary Gordon, and Julia Sweeney--whose one-woman show on losing her Catholic faith I had seen performed in Seattle the previous May.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Losing Faith, Finding Meaning"

Week of 22-28 October 2006:

"Does American Democracy Still Work?" on On Point from WBUR

With US elections only a few days away, it is hard to avoid US politics and Boston College political scientist Alan Wolfe has always had an interesting take on the electorate. Throughout the course of this 49-minute program, Wolfe raises a variety of concerns from his book "Does American Democracy Still Work?" in a interview with WBUR-Boston's Tom Ashbrook and Jack Beatty distributed by National Public Radio.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of On Point "Does American Democracy Still Work?"

Week of 29 October-4 November 2006:

"Internet and U.S. Politics" on The Current from CBC Radio One

Probably everyone will be glad when the US elections are over next week, but believe it or not there are some interesting topics mixed in with the "inappropriate discourse" that seems to dominate most media. In the middle of a solid week of programming on a wide variety of topics, CBC Radio One's "The Current" spent a 23-minute segment exploring how the Internet has changed politics in the US. Producer Andre Picher provided host Anna Maria Tremonti with the best summary I have heard on the topic, followed by balanced commentary from Andrew Rasiej and Michael Turk.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of The Current "Internet and U.S. Politics"

Week of 5-11 November 2006:

Carl Jeffers Discussing the 2006 Elections on the Dave Ross Show from 710 KIRO

As is probably obvious from perusing this page, I don't often cite commercial programming in this feature, but that doesn't mean that I don't listen to commerical programming or that there isn't illustrious material in commercial radio. A stand-out in the genre of commercial talk radio is Dave Ross of 710 KIRO in Seattle, who presents entertaining but civil "drive-by wisdom to the masses." A good example was the hour he spent discussing this week's election with regular Friday guest Carl Jeffers, who did a better job analyzing the reasons for and implications of the results than any other single commentator I heard all week, presented here as a 33-minute podcast.

Listen to a MP3 file of the Dave Ross Show with Carl Jeffers Discussing the Election

Week of 12-18 November 2006:

"Al-Jazeera Launch" on As It Happens from CBC Radio One

When organized publicity campaigns occur, it is not uncommon to find an author or other guest on a wide variety of programs, affording an opportunity to see how different media handle the same story. This week's launch of Al-Jazeera International in North America was a typical example, and in my mind the best feature came from the CBC. As It Happens focuses on phone interviews, whether with newsmakers or interesting people, and guest host Helen Mann both asked some confrontive questions and let Al-Jazeera correspondent Josh Rushing tell the network's story--including insights into the perception that Americans don't want to view international news and how American reporters behave differently than those from other countries. The format worked very well for this story, the second segment of this 24-minute "Part 2" of the full show.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of As It Happens "Al-Jazeera Launch"

Week of 19-25 November 2006:

Free Speech Radio News for Monday, November 20th

Straight newscasts will rarely appear in this space because truly good newscasts are, by their very nature, not very "evergreen" and lose their punch with time. This week, though, I want to cite the Monday 29-minute Free Speech Radio News broadcast for covering stories that weren't well covered if they were covered at all elsewhere. Started during the era of Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship, this packed newscast often comes from a left-wing perspective, but in this specific program mostly just covers stories not heard elsewhere, including a UN report on Somalia and continued coverage of Oaxaca, Mexico (which was almost a daily staple on this broadcast).

Listen to a MP3 File of the November 20th, 2006 Free Speech Radio News

Week of 26 November-2 December 2006:

"Curtains for Cursive" on Open Source

The premise sounded like a boring show, a discussion of whether the Internet and electronic media were killing cursive writing and what that might mean for society. But, the Open Source team led by Christopher Lydon and Mary McGrath proved once more in this 53-minute gem that bringing intelligent guests together can lead to valuable side paths that can be genuinely educational and not boring at all. Guests included Margaret Shepherd, an author of books on calligraphy, "Alice," a "calligrapher at large," Roger Rubin, a handwiting analyst, and Chris Lozos, a graphic designer. This was conversational radio at its finest.

Listen to MP3 File of Open Source "Curtains for Cursive"

Week of 3-9 December 2006:

"Mapping the Imagination" on To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

Jim Fleming, Anne Strainchamps, Steve Paulson, and the production team in Madison, Wisconsin really know how to make a compelling interview radio show. The ongoing "Electrons to Enlightenment" series is exceptional, but this week it was overshadowed by the show's other 53-minute program, called "Mapping the Imagination." Who would think about what is left out of maps, how California encourages exploration, and diversity in mangoes all in the same cohesive show?

Listen to streaming RealMedia of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Mapping the Imagination"

Week of 10-16 December 2006:

"The Environment and Maher Arar" on The House from CBC Radio One

The Maher Arar torture case continued to make headlines in Canada this week, and it was largely because of an interview with US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins on "The House" on CBC Radio One. "The House" hosted by Kathleen Petty is sometimes a political show focusing on arcane topics, but this week's 49-minute program, besides breaking news on the Arar case, featured a good overview of how the environment "file" is increasingly important in Canadian politics, presenting how it creates a conundrum for the New Democratic Party as well as interviews on the topic with new Liberal leader Stephane Dion and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The show did an excellent job of making politics relevant to the average Canadian, and provided a good overview of hot topics to both Canadian citizens and those curious about the country.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of The House "Environment and Maher Arar"

Week of 17-23 December 2006:

"Holiday Travel Fiascos" on The Conversation from KUOW

This was a tough choice this week after an excellent special on democracy by CBC's Dispatches, but on the week before most North Americans get to go on vacation, one has to choose a holiday show. Ross Reynolds does a masterful job of turning an issue of the day into something that sounds more like a conversation (hence the name of the show) each weekday on KUOW in Seattle, and on Thursday tackled the topic of how to prevent holiday travel fiascos. While advice from guru Rick Steves was a nice opening to this 53-minute show, the tales of woe from callers could make this program a holiday classic.

Listen to streaming MP3 file of The Conversation "Holiday Travel Fiascos"

Week of 24-30 December 2006:

"Inform, Impeach, Unite" on Dispatches from CBC Radio One

The week between Christmas and New Year's is usually the domain of repeat programming, and fortunately some of the programs heard again were excellent radio. Since this feature started after most of these programs originally aired, I feel comfortable citing one as the best of the week. Dispatches with Rick MacInnes-Rae from the CBC is probably the best compilation of reports from foreign countries that airs on any network, and the 30-minute show they replayed this week, on American politics, earned a Silver Medal at the New York Festival. It's easy to see why, if one gets past just how fringe some of the groups and people interviewed actually are in US society and just enjoys the presentation and the distinctly Canadian perspective.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of Dispatches "Inform, Impeach, Unite"

(Partial) Year Summary for 2006:

By Form:

  1. Long Form (All 12)

By Genre:

  1. US Public Radio (7)
  2. Canadian Public Radio (4)
  3. US Commerical Radio (1)

By Producing Station/Organization:

  1. CBC Radio One (4)
  2. Open Source Media (2)
  3. Wisconsin Public Radio (2)
  4. KIRO Seattle (1)
  5. KUOW Seattle (1)
  6. Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship (1)
  7. WBUR Boston (1)

By Distributor:

  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (4)
  2. Public Radio International (4)
  3. KIRO Seattle (1)
  4. KUOW Seattle (1)
  5. National Public Radio (1)
  6. Pacifica Radio (1)

By Program:

  1. Open Source (2)
  2. To The Best of Our Knowledge (2)
  3. As It Happens (1)
  4. The Conversation (1)
  5. The Current (1)
  6. The Dave Ross Show (1)
  7. Dispatches (1)
  8. Free Speech Radio News (1)
  9. The House (1)
  10. On Point (1)

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(C) 2006-10 Lance Gleich - Last Updated: 17 April 2010