Best of Contemporary Radio

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This page provided a quality radio program each week in 2009. A summary follows.

Week of 3-10 January 2009:

"Samuel Johnson at 300" on On Point from WBUR

Generally speaking, radio shows on long-deceased authors do not interest me. However, a caller about 35 minutes into this 53-minute show described how he had acquired the giddiness about Samuel Johnson that author Jeffrey Meyers and analyst Jack Beatty had been expressing from the top of the show, and I suspect that most listeners will share that giddiness after hearing about Johnson's modern relevance. This show was a great example of how to make a literary figure accessible and interesting to a general audience.

Listen to streaming MP3 of On Point "Samuel Johnson at 300"

Week of 11-17 January 2009:

"Recession Marketing" on The Age of Persuasion from CBC Radio One

Everyone right now would like to know what to do in a recession. There are some tips on how advertisers should behave during a recession. Yes, the CBC has brought back Terry O'Reilly's quite entertaining "Age of Persuasion," and this 27-minute episode will not only provide nostalgic clips from the past, but teach us what smart marketers are probably doing during this recession based on some great historical examples. This show is a classic example of how to use audio to present history and educate.

Click listen link on this page to hear The Age of Persuasion "Recession Marketing"

Week of 18-24 January 2009:

"Yellow Fluff and other Curious Encounters" on Radio Lab from WYNC

The process of scientific discovery is something that too few of us ever experience. This episode of Radio Lab, the final of this latest season that stands as the current podcast, provides some real-life examples of how it happens. Be forewarned--this 59-minute show should probably not be heard on a weak stomach, but the tale of Jerry Coyne and the botfly larva is one that quite graphically explains how many scientists think and cannot be found anywhere else on the radio.

Listen to MP3 of Radio Lab "Yellow Fluff and other Curious Encounters"

Week of 25-31 January 2009:

"Private Companies Waste Money" on the Dave Ross Show from KIRO-FM

The election of Barack Obama as President seems to have emboldened liberals around the United States, and some of them are saying things that never would have made the mainstream media even six months ago. Dave Ross, traditionally considered a moderate at KIRO-FM in Seattle, went over the liberal deep end this week by spending the better part of an hour arguing that private companies wasting money was just as bad for the economy as the government wasting money. Such audacity made for radio that simply wasn't heard on the mainstream commercial dial until quite recently, making this 39-minute clip something notable and worth checking out.

Listen to MP3 of the Dave Ross Show "Private Companies Waste Money"

Week of 1-7 February 2009:

"The Day the Music Died" on the Brian Copeland Program from KGO Newstalk 810

Thanks in large part to Don McLean, 3-February-1959 has come to be known as "The Day the Music Died." Just before the 50th anniversary of the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash, KGO Newstalk 810 talk show host Brian Copeland teamed up with the San Francisco Chronicle's radio columnist Ben Fong-Torres to co-host a two-hour program featuring a variety of interesting interviews with survivors of that day, including THE Peggy Sue, THE Donna, and the Big Bopper's son. If you don't understand what the fuss is all about, this 103-minute show will provide a proper perspective on the events of that day.

Listen to MP3 of the Brian Copeland Program "The Day the Music Died"

Week of 8-14 February 2009:

"Annoying Music for Valentine's Day" on Weekend Edition Saturday from NPR

Sure, a show on Abraham Lincoln or Charles Darwin could have been selected this week, but what really stuck with me was Jim Nayder's appearance on Weekend Edition Saturday. Nayder occasionally takes his Chicago-based "Annoying Music Show" nationwide on the program, and this 8-minute episode was one of his better segments. Highlights included the "Taco Bell Canon" (somebody had to do it), "When a Man Loves a Chicken", and a Welsh men's choir singing "Feelings"--it's even worse than you're imagining, but a great example of how to do comedy on the radio.

Follow the "Listen Now" Link to Listen to streaming media of Weekend Edition Saturday "Annoying Music for Valentine's Day"

Week of 15-21 February 2009:

"Obama to Visit Canada" on the Global News Podcast from the BBC World Service

This week, residents of both Canada and the United States had a hard time missing the story that US President Barack Obama took his first foreign trip to Canada. The coverage in the Canadian media was of course especially thorough, but the most interesting context came from farther away--the British Broadcasting Corporation. Because the BBC is best at news programming, which often becomes stale, it has been neglected in this feature. This context piece on the events in Ottawa demonstrates how the BBC presents the daily news in a very useful form every day, not just when I finally get around to highlighting it. The story in question is about 14 minutes into the 25 minute podcast.

Listen to MP3 of BBC Global News "Obama To Visit Canada"

Week of 22-28 February 2009:

"Bad Bank" on This American Life from Chicago Public Radio

The economic crisis gripping the United States has been described as "so complicated that anyone that claims to know how to fix it is lying." That doesn't mean that people shouldn't try to understand the complexity, and there have been remarkably few tools available to assist such attempts. NPR's Planet Money team continues to provide remarkable insights into the realities of the situation, presenting them on a variety of public radio programming but in full form in this week's 59-minute episode of This American Life. Why isn't anyone else doing this kind of understandable reporting?

Listen to streaming MP3 of This American Life "Bad Bank"

Week of 1-7 March 2009:

"Tribute to Paul Harvey" on News and Comment from the ABC Radio Network

In the wake of the loss of broadcasting legend Paul Harvey, the ABC Radio Network that he aired on for more than half a century has been putting together a great series on what made the man and his broadcasts such an institution in the United States. Voiced by a person many regard as the best fill-in Harvey ever had, current KGO talk show host Gil Gross, and written by long-time Harvey writer Stu Chamberlain, the series in Paul Harvey's former five-minute and fifteen-minute time slots has been a fitting tribute to a man that has influenced multiple generations.

Listen to MP3 of News and Comment "Tribute to Paul Harvey"

Week of 8-14 March 2009:

"Where Tourism is Up" on Keller at Large from WBZ Newsradio 1030

Jon Keller, commentator at WBZ Newsradio 1030 in Boston, had an especially good group of morning commentaries this past week, covering such issues as the possible end of the Boston Globe newspaper and why people are leaving Massachusetts. However, my favorite was one describing a rare tourist attraction that has increasing business during this recession, Old Sturbridge Village. His near-ode to the institution and its relevance to modern life in this two-minute commentary was a nice reminder that the art of the short-form radio broadcast did not die with Paul Harvey.

Listen to Shockwave Audio of Keller at Large "Where Tourism Is Up"

Week of 15-21 March 2009:

"Facing Time" on To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

It seems like every time I turn on my radio I hear something about the "slow food" movement, but leave it to Wisconsin Public Radio's inquisitive "To The Best of Our Knowledge" to find a proponent of the "slow time" movement and bundle that together with explorations of time travel and the relation between time and music. This 53-minute episode is another example of why this program is the best interview show on the air.

Listen to streaming RealAudio of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Facing Time"

Week of 22-28 March 2009:

"What is Happiness?" on The Conversation from KUOW

I admittedly have a soft spot for good radio production pieces--it's one of the reasons I still tune in the Boston Marathon coverage on the WBZ-AM stream each year, if possible, just to hear the concluding summary the station produces to end the show. I normally avoid programming during public radio fundraising, but KUOW inserted such a well-produced montage of past coverage about happiness on "The Conversation" that I kept listening to the show. The eight-minute piece starts about twelve minutes into the program--skip the fundraising, but enjoy the montage.

Listen to streaming MP3 of The Conversation "What Is Happiness?"

Week of 29 March-4 April 2009:

"Hockey Jerseys" on As It Happens from CBC Radio One

For the most part, I was disappointed with the April Fool's stories I heard on the radio this year. However, for the second straight year, the CBC's As It Happens pulled off a very good one. After all the talk about "pansification" of hockey this year and admonitions on the show that they were unable to run their intended April Fool's prank because of recent news stories related to the environment, their story on the banning of away-team jerseys in the National Hockey League was very nicely done, about half-way through the 24-minute second segment of the show. As always, the follow-up on the show was almost better than the original joke, the second story in the 24-minute second segment the following day.

Listen to streaming Windows Media of As It Happens "Hockey Jerseys"

Listen to streaming Windows Media of follow up to As It Happens "Hockey Jerseys"

Week of 5-11 April 2009:

"Brand Loyalty" on the Age of Persuasion from CBC Radio One

I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that a marketing expert can produce excellent radio, but Terry O'Reilley continues to both spin compelling historical stories explaining how marketing has developed, and to do so with excellent production values. The "Age of Persuasion" is interesting to listen to even if one doesn't care about marketing, and few in the series have been as compelling as this week's show on brand loyalty, featuring such gems as the Molskine notebook and the Harley Davidson motorocycle in a 27-minute program.

Click the listen link on this page to hear The Age of Persuasion "Brand Loyalty"

Week of 12-18 April 2009:

"Our Peace of Mind" on To the Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

The concept of Gross National Happiness as a replacement for the Gross Domestic Product (as advocated by Bhutan among others) has gotten a reasonable amount of publicity in recent years, but the best explanation of the science behind happiness and the rational for Gross National Happiness was aired this week as part of the "Future Perfect" series on Wisconsin Public Radio's To The Best of Our Knowledge. The key segment of the 53-minute program was the second, in which Richard Layard, Robert Biswas-Diener, Sonja Lyubormirsky, and Satish Kumar all weighed in with their opinions.

Listen to streaming MP3 of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Our Peace of Mind"

Week of 19-25 April 2009:

"Blogging in Federal Politics" on The House from CBC Radio One

Garth Turner isn't popular in many circles, and he openly admits that he is finished in politics. Yet, he still has an interesting perspective to present on the future of blogging in politics and on the state of party politics (even using one of my favorite words, "sheeple"), providing a highlight to a 48-minute edition of CBC Radio One's "The House" that also featured a look at how this recession is not hurting women as much as men and a nice summary of the way those in the US couldn't get their immigration facts straight this week.

Listen to The House "Blogging in Federal Politics"

Week of 26 April-2 May 2009:

"The Real Deal: Authenticity" on the Age of Persuasion from CBC Radio One

I don't like making a habit of choosing the same program every few weeks, but CBC Radio One's "Age of Persusasion" is really having an excellent season. This week's 27-minute program provides insight into how anecdotes can be used to support a theme, in this case Terry O'Riley's lessons on authenticity. Tiger Woods and Sea Monkeys are among those taking center stage along the way.

Click the listen link on this page to hear The Age of Persuasion "The Real Deal: Authenticity"

Week of 3-9 May 2009:

"Egypt To Censor Religious Statements" on Free Speech Radio News

As I've mentioned in the past, news programs are under-represented here by their timely nature. However, Free Speech Radio News correspondent Aya Batrawy included one of the best explanations of fatwas that I've ever heard in a story on Egyptian censorship that was the final five-minute segment in the Thursday program. This kind of context is all too rare in modern radio.

Listen to WAV file of Free Speech Radio News "Egypt To Censor Religious Statements"

Week of 10-16 May 2009:

"The Difference Between Listening and Hearing" on Weekend Edition Saturday from NPR

I've avoided paying much attention to the controversy over Miss California. However, Scott Simon has made the one point about Carrie Prejean that I believe was worth making--in what started the whole thing, her answer to what seems to have been a planted question about gay marriage during the pageant, nobody seems to have listened to what she actually said. This kind of analysis has been sorely lacking in most of the rest of North American media.

Listen to MP3 of Weekend Edition Saturday "The Difference Between Listening and Hearing"

Week of 17-23 May 2009:

"Can You Win a Cosmic War?" on The Conversation from KUOW

Ross Reynolds and the Conversation have again been impressing me lately with program flow from topic to topic that has been at times brilliantly caller-driven (including calls from witnesses to a major transit crime and a "brothel" raid) and bringing up topics not addressed elsewhere. A good example this week came in an interview with Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American author and commentator who has been getting air time, but only rarely has really gone into his future vision for Islam as in the final segment of this 52-minute program.

Listen to streaming MP3 of The Conversation "Can You Win a Cosmic War?"

Week of 24-30 May 2009:

"The Skinny on Skin" on Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio One

As the time of year when we need to protect ourselves from sunburn gets well underway, the CBC's science show, Quirks and Quarks, not only provided a feature on the microbes that live on our skin, but closed with a question about tatoos and skin cancer in this 53-minute program.

Listen to MP3 of Quirks and Quarks "The Skinny on Skin"

Week of 31 May-6 June 2009:

"Who's Copying Who?" on Search Engine from TVO

The world now is full of niche media, and in that realm, Search Engine is one of the best. Originally a CBC radio show, then a CBC podcast, and now a TVO podcast, Search Engine provides very interesting coverage of the Internet. This week, host Jesse Brown's second story described how western governments have been trying to pass legislation to inhibit the translation of documents into Braille, which has to be one of the most absurd anti-copyright initiatives I've ever heard, and I've only heard about it on this 14-minute edition of Search Engine.

Listen to MP3 of Search Engine "Who's Copying Who?"

Week of 7-13 June 2009:

"Quiet Canadians" on Dispatches from CBC Radio One

Some of the best reporting of the realities "on the ground" in Afghanistan in recent years has come through the extended reports on CBC Radio One's Dispatches program. This week, new correspondent James Murray opened the show with a look at how quintessential Canadian sensibilities exist even in the military and make reporting difficult in this 53-minute program.

Listen to MP3 of Dispatches "Quiet Canadians"

Week of 14-20 June 2009:

"Embracing New Media" on the Age of Persuasion from CBC Radio One

One of the things that radio can be good at is recounting history. This under-used capacity has been utilized by the CBC's Age of Persuasion. There are some great moments in this 27-minute show, from the "You had me at ahoy" joke to descriptions of how some radio personalities didn't transition to television.

Click the listen link on this page to hear The Age of Persuasion "Embracing New Media"

Week of 21-27 June 2009:

"Women in Iran" on The Current from CBC Radio One

There have been many interesting angles on the elections in Iran in the past week as evidence has mounted for fraud. Arguably, the most interesting aspect of the situation, besides what happens next, is not what happened during the election but how the situation of the past few weeks was created. CBC's "The Current" and host Anna Maria Tremonti took an interesting tack by looking at the influence of women in Iran in this 22-minute segment, introduced by a nice piece of satire.

Click the "Listen to Part One" Link on this page to listen to The Current "Women in Iran"

Week of 28 June-4 July 2009:

"News 2.0 Part Two" on The Sunday Edition from CBC Radio One

Ira Basen has long been one of my favorite CBC producers; pretty much everything he has touched, from "Quirks and Quarks" to "The Hidden City" to "Spin Cycles" has made for excellent radio. His latest effort is a two-part series on the reality and future of news in the Web 2.0 world which has been titled "News 2.0". The second fifty-four minute segment aired this week on the Sunday Edition and right from the first story explaining how a blogger ended up greatly affecting a stock price, the impact of technology on news is explained in a compelling manner.

Listen to MP3 of The Sunday Edition "News 2.0 Part Two"

Week of 5-11 July 2009:

"My Life So Far" on Global Perspectives from CBC Radio One

While I am already characterizing the summer CBC Radio One lineup as the weakest in my memory, there are some old stand-bys. One of these is "Global Perspectives," in which English-language broadcasters from across the world contribute documentaries on a theme, which this year is "islands." The CBC aired its own contribution this week, which was a 27-minute re-packaging of a feature that had aired on the now-canceled "Outfront" program on the lives of native youths at Alert Bay, British Columbia. The re-packaging came across as quite cohesive, and in fact may be the best example of recycled content I've ever heard, though unfortunately only the original segments are available for review on-line.

Click on "Listen" Link on this page to listen to Global Perspectives "My Life So Far"

Week of 12-18 July 2009:

"Like Iran, Minus the Technology" on Search Engine from TVO

Jesse Brown scored again on the podcast about the Internet, Search Engine, which this week not only took on a ridiculous analogy of the Internet to a swimming pool from an editor of the National Post, but also provided valuable coverage of the impact of technology on the violence between Hans and Uyghurs in China. The sixteen-minute podcast features both captivating story-telling and insightful interviewing to make a compelling and edifying show.

Listen to MP3 of Search Engine "Like Iran, Minus the Technology"

Week of 19-25 July 2009:

"The Language of Reform" on On The Media from WNYC

The language used in political campaigns is especially tuned in the United States, and specifically the language used in the health care (or is it health insurance) reform was explored by NPR's "On the Media" this week. The important program often explores such topics; my only regret is that the great sense of humor of hosts Bob Garfield and Brook Gladstone is sometimes muted by the subject matter. The fact that Joe Pesca was substituting in this week's 53-minute show seemed to make no difference in quality, and allowed for a nice foray into sports as well as politics.

Listen to MP3 of On The Media "The Language of Reform"

Week of 26 July-1 August 2009:

"What Next for Sarah Palin?" on the Newshour from the BBC

It has often been noted that news programming is under-represented in this feature because of its timely nature, but the BBC Newshour, long my favorite long-form news program, managed an exception this week. About twenty minutes into last Sunday's broadcast hosted by perennial favorite Julian Marshall, a feature on trying to downsize Flint, Michigan provided a timeless perspective on shrinking cities, and about forty minutes into the fifty-five minute broadcast, an amusing retrospective on Sarah Palin's political career set to Starship's "Sara" was aired.

Listen to the BBC Newshour "What Next for Sarah Palin?"

Week of 2-8 August 2009:

"Natives in the Military" on Revision Quest from CBC Radio One

Traditionally, the CBC has offered a large selection of special programming in the summer that has filled these selections for most of the season. Not this year. In a limited selection of new programming, the only program that has impressed me has been a second season of "Revision Quest," a show that "kicks some ass-umptions about aboriginal life in Canada." Comedian Darell Dennis hosts a comical but often profound look at issues affecting natives--such as what they should be called. This week's 27-minute broadcast focused on the military, asking the question of why so many natives have fought for a country that treated them so poorly.

Click here and scroll to the August 3rd program to hear Revision Quest "Natives in the Military"

Week of 9-15 August 2009:

"Real Death Panels" on the Dave Ross Commentary from the CBS Radio Network

In the recent mainstream media explosion over the "death panel" misinformation being spread by opponents of health insurance reform, very few have made the point that such death panels already exist, they just aren't run by the government. It was left to talk show host Dave Ross to report on this insurance company reality, brought out in this minute and a half commentary that ran on the CBS radio network.

Listen to MP3 of Dave Ross Commentary "Real Death Panels"

Week of 16-22 August 2009:

"Reality Check in Afghanistan" on On Point from WBUR

Sometimes there are moments in radio when an idea is expressed that becomes a distraction that one thinks about afterward repeatedly. Rory Stewart's comment toward the end of this 45-minute On Point program on Afghanistan was one of those moments for me--calling Afghanistan the angry cat and Pakistan the tiger in a room, with the United States deciding to focus on the angry cat, and describing why Al Queda is better off in Pakistan anyway. It was an informed perspective worth contemplating in a program well-directed by host Tom Ashbrook.

Listen to On Point "Reality Check on Afghanistan"

Week of 23-29 August 2009:

"Categories" on Revision Quest from CBC Radio One

A constant debate related to affirmative action is whether disadvantage groups are actually better off simply assimilating into the general society, or whether there is value in having specific programs or awards for the disadvantaged group. Revision Quest and host Darrell Dennis took on this debate with respect to aboriginals. The congnitive dissonance of arguing for assimilation on a show that clearly exits because of special aboriginal funding just added to the whole effect.

Click here and scroll to the August 24th program to hear Revision Quest "Categories"

Week of 30 August-5 September 2009:

"Just Ignore It..." on the Comedy Factory from CBC Radio

Topical programming that matches the end of summer mood always captures my attention at this time of year. This week, it was the CBC's Comedy Factory podcast that served the role, with segments on why an anticipated election in Canada ruins the mood, a great skit rewriting the Archie Comics wedding, and an analogy between gang membership and pyramid schemes in this 14-minute program. Specific Canadian knowledge might be required to fully understand the GPS and political segments, but those who do may have trouble controlling their laughter.

Listen to MP3 of the Comedy Factory "Just Ignore It..."

Week of 6-12 September 2009:

"T.R. Reid on Health Care" on The Conversation from KUOW

For those frustrated with a lack of substance and perspective from all sides in the current health care discussions in the United States, a very informative background on various systems around the world can be found in the research of T.R. Reid. In the final two segments of this 53-minute program, host Ross Reynolds quizzed Reid about what elements he found in different countries and how the lessons learned abroad could be applied in the United States.

Listen to MP3 of The Conversation "T.R. Reid on Health Care"

Week of 13-19 September 2009:

"Music That Changed the World 14: The Beatles" on The Sunday Edition from CBC Radio One

I have been remiss in not including in this feature a wonderful series that Robert Harris has been bringing to the CBC's Sunday Edition, "Twenty Pieces of Music That Changed the World." Not only is Harris providing the social context of how these songs had a major impact, but he provides a musical history of the influences that created the music. This week's edition, a 29-minute segment located two hours and four minutes into the audio file of the show, focuses of course on the Beatles on the anniversary of their entry into the United States musical scene.

Listen to MP3 of The Sunday Edition "Music That Changed the World 14: The Beatles"

Week of 20-26 September 2009:

"Right Here Right Now" on As It Happens from CBC Radio One

Quality writing has long been one of the stand-out properties of CBC's flagship news magazine, As It Happens. A great example came up this week in a commentary directed at the Ford Motor Company, also demonstrating how to integrate popular music into such a commentary. The voice of guest host Chris Howden was perfect for the three-minute feature, nineteen minutes into the segment.

Listen to streaming Windows Media of As It Happens "Right Here Right Now"

Week of 27 September-3 October 2009:

"Orphan Patients" on White Coat Black Art from CBC Radio One

One of the programs returning to CBC Radio One this season has been the medical show "White Coat, Black Art." This week, host Dr. Brian Goldman returned to the first topic ever explored on the show, patients without a doctor serving as their general practioner, and looked at the solution of using Nurse Practioners in the role. Throw in some stories about practicing medicine on oneself, and it turns into a 27-minute model of what a specialty show can bring to a general audience.

Listen to MP3 of White Coat Black Art "Orphan Patients"

Week of 4-10 October 2009:

"Frist and Dean on Health Care" on On Point from WBUR

In a week of "progress" on health care reform in the United States, it seems appropriate to pick out an intelligent discussion of the topic aiming for finding compromises. Such a conversation occurred when doctor-politicians Bill Frist and Howard Dean appeared on WBUR's On Point. Not only was the discourse civil in the 45-minute program, but the two actually appeared to agree or be in striking distance of agreeing on a number of points, something rare in radio coverage of the topic of late.

Listen to MP3 of On Point "Frist and Dean on Health Care"

Week of 11-17 October 2009:

"Other People's Money" on This American Life from Chicago Public Radio

Sometimes good story-telling and analogies can really help to gain insight on a complicated issue. One of the best story-telling shows on the radio today is This American Life from Chicago Public Radio, which this week teamed up with NPR News for a Planet Money report on the health care system in the United States. Analogies with "food care" (think "universal food coverage") and with the growing pet insurance industry really drove home some points about health insurance reform in the United States in this 59-minute program.

Listen to streaming MP3 of This American Life "Other People's Money"

Week of 18-24 October 2009:

"Making Words" on To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

The staff of Wisconsin Public Radio's To The Best of Our Knowlege created a hard choice for me this week, as both of their weekly hours was worthy of selection. In honor of the recent death of William Safire, the show on language received the nod. Everyone will probably learn something from this 53-minute program, from how US and British English diverged from Patricia O'Connor, why Klingon seems to be attractive as a language from Arika Okrent, or how a parrot pushes the definition of language from Irene Pepperberg.

Listen to streaming RealMedia of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Making Words"

Week of 25-31 October 2009:

"Halloween 2009 Edition" on Politics Takes a Holiday from the Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps release a radio program with updated clips from their latest performances four times a year, and this year's Halloween release includes a variety of topical comedy, including "Runaway Balloon" (set to "Beautiful Balloon"), "Not Easy Being [Environmentally] Green" and a great swipe at Northwest Airlines during the Hugh-Jim Bissell (pronounce it; you'll get) skit in a 28-minute program.

Listen to MP3 of Politics Takes a Holiday "Halloween 2009 Edition"

Week of 1-7 November 2009:

"Ralph Nader's Flight of Fantasy" on Open Source from the Watson Institute

Ralph Nader has been on a book tour recently for his fictional work "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us," which has arguably been over-promoted. As often happens with well-known authors on book tours, I've heard too many interviews with him lately. Yet, just like the last time Christopher Lydon interviewed him back in 2007 (when Open Source was still a radio show), Lydon managed to get Nader talking about other things and create an interesting show. You may not agree with Nader's ideas about the difference between personal freedom and civic freedom, or his analysis of President Obama's personality, but pay attention to how Lydon gets him to talk about those things in this 38-minute podcast. This is a master interviewer at work.

Listen to MP3 of Open Source "Ralph Nader's Flight of Fantasy"

Week of 8-14 November 2009:

"Giller Winner" on As It Happens from CBC Radio One

Somehow, I had managed to be ignorant of the fact that two of the CBC's finest journalists, Caroll Off and Linden MacIntyre, were married. When MacIntyre won the presitigous Giller Prize this week, the fact came out when Off was asked to interview him in the first husband-and-wife interview in As It Happens history. The interesting exchange started about 21 minutes into the half-hour first part of the program.

Listen to streaming Windows Media of As It Happens "Giller Winner"

Week of 15-21 November 2009:

"Covering the War" on To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio

I've often expressed the opinion that To The Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio is the premier interview show in English-language radio, and their ongoing series "Boots on the Ground" on the war in Iraq is reinforcing this opinion. This week's show, focusing on press coverage, features interviews with embedded reporter Brian Palmer, film-maker Deborah Scranton, and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez by three different journalists. The editing of each of these interviews in the 53-program is simply exquisite--pay attention to how they use various clips to make the conversation flow.

Listen to streaming MP3 of To The Best of Our Knowledge "Covering the War"

Week of 22-28 November 2009:

"Music That Changed the World 18: La Marseillaise" on The Sunday Edition from CBC Radio One

I have to admit that I've always had a soft spot for the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, not because of any particular affection for France but just because the melody is quite fun to play on the viola. So, when Robert Harris chose to feature it on The Sunday Edition's "20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World" on the CBC, I had to pay attention, and this was a Harris classic. In a 30-minute conversation with host Michael Enright, he not only spoke to the musical elements but to national anthems in general. There should be more such discussions of music on the radio.

Listen to streaming MP3 of The Sunday Edition "Music That Changed the World 18: La Marseillaise"

Week of 29 November-5 December 2009:

"Inside Bin Laden's Family" on Outlook from the BBC World Service

One aspect of the terrorism story that has been under-reported is that of the family members of terrorists. The BBC interviewed Jean Sasson, an author who has written the stories of Osama Bin Laden's first wife, Najwa, and his fourth son, Omar. The 12-minute piece offers insight both into the character traits of these three Bin Ladens and how a terrorist interacts with a family in the context to Islamic society.

Listen to streaming media of Outlook "Inside Bin Laden's Family"

Week of 6-12 December 2009:

"Hatch Writes Hanukkah Song" on All Things Considered from NPR

This week's award for over-reported non-story goes to Senator Orrin Hatch's new Hanukkah song. Appearing widely across many programs, the only coverage of the song that I found worthwhile was NPR All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talking to the reporter that started it all--Jeffrey Goldberg. If non-news makes a program, at least provide some real background--which NPR did quite well in this four-minute segment.

Listen to streaming media of All Things Considered "Hatch Writes Hanukkah Song"

Week of 13-19 December 2009:

"Thomas the Tank Engine" on As It Happens from CBC Radio One

This time of year, many people are shopping, especially for toys for children. An increasingly popular gift this time of year for boys has been Thomas the Tank engine--but did you ever realize the conservative messages inherent in the Thomas stories? Political Science professor Shauna Wilton of the University of Alberta presented such views about fifteen minutes in to the second half-hour of the CBC's As It Happens.

Listen to streaming Windows Media of As It Happens "Thomas the Tank Engine"

Week of 20-26 December 2009:

"The True History of Christmas Music" on The Sunday Edition from CBC Radio One

The series "20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World" may be completed, but Robert Harris' appearances on the Sunday Edition continued with a bonus feature on Christmas carols. Not only was the musical analysis up to its normal quality in this 38-minute feature, but the ecumenical perspective of a secular Christmas coming from a Jewish commentator--well, it was just stereotypically and refreshingly Canadian.

Listen to streaming MP3 of The Sunday Edition "The True History of Christmas Music"

Week of 27 December 2009-2 January 2010:

"The Year in Rebuke Part II" on LeShow from KCRW-Santa Monica

I couldn't let an entire year go without at least once citing Harry Shearer's satire and as in most years, he concentrated the best of his satire pieces in a 59-minute "Year in Rebuke." The second show in that series, aired this week, included Barack Obama in a "Fathers Knows Best" sitcom, Richard Nixon in heaven, and even one of my favorite features--a story about a cat ruining the reception of digital television.

Listen to streaming MP3 of LeShow "The Year in Rebuke Part II"

Yearly Summary for 2009:

By Form:

  1. Long Form (45)
  2. Short Form (7)

By Genre:

  1. Canadian Public Radio (20)
  2. US Public Radio (20)
  3. US Commercial Radio (5)
  4. Canadian Podcast (3)
  5. British Public Radio (2)
  6. British Podcast (1)
  7. US Podcast (1)

By Producing Station/Organization:

  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (22)
  2. Wisconsin Public Radio (4)
  3. British Broadcasting Corporation (3)
  4. KUOW-Seattle (3)
  5. WBUR-Boston (3)
  6. Chicago Public Radio (2)
  7. National Public Radio (2)
  8. TVO (2)
  9. WNYC-New York (2)
  10. ABC Radio Network (1)
  11. Capitol Steps (1)
  12. CBS Radio Network (1)
  13. KCRW-Santa Monica (1)
  14. KGO-San Francisco (1)
  15. KIRO-FM-Seattle (1)
  16. Open Source Media (1)
  17. Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship (1)
  18. WBZ-Boston (1)

By Distributor:

  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (22)
  2. National Public Radio (7)
  3. Public Radio International (6)
  4. British Broadcasting Corporation (3)
  5. KUOW-Seattle (3)
  6. TVO (2)
  7. ABC Radio Network (1)
  8. Capitol Steps (1)
  9. CBS Radio Network (1)
  10. KCRW-Santa Monica (1)
  11. KGO-San Francisco (1)
  12. KIRO-FM-Seattle (1)
  13. Pacifica Radio (1)
  14. The Watson Institute (1)
  15. WBZ-Boston (1)

By Program:

  1. The Age of Persuasion (4)
  2. As It Happens (4)
  3. To The Best of Our Knowledge (4)
  4. The Sunday Edition (4)
  5. The Conversation (3)
  6. On Point (3)
  7. Revision Quest (2)
  8. Search Engine (2)
  9. This American Life (2)
  10. Weekend Edition Saturday (2)
  11. All Things Considered (1)
  12. The Brian Copeland Program (1)
  13. Comedy Factory (1)
  14. The Current (1)
  15. The Dave Ross Commentary (1)
  16. The Dave Ross Show (1)
  17. Dispatches (1)
  18. Free Speech Radio News (1)
  19. Global News Podcast (1)
  20. Global Perspectives (1)
  21. The House (1)
  22. Jon Keller Commentary (1)
  23. LeShow (1)
  24. Newshour (1)
  25. On The Media (1)
  26. Outlook (1)
  27. Open Source (1)
  28. Paul Harvey Tribute (1)
  29. Politics Takes A Holiday (1)
  30. Quirks and Quarks (1)
  31. Radio Lab (1)
  32. White Coat, Black Art (1)

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