Criminal in the Classroom

IMG_1782Steve Riccio (L) and his forensics students

Steve Riccio is a teacher at Oriskany Junior-Senior High School in Oriskany, New York, near Utica. This past school year, he used both individual episodes of Radiotopia’s Criminal and the first season of This American Life’s Serial in his forensics class for juniors and seniors. I talked with Steve about how he used the shows, and his advice for other teachers hoping to make use of podcasts in the classroom. Here are excerpts from a recorded interview:

Genevieve Sponsler: Let’s start with an overview of what you did.

Steve Riccio: We listened to an episode [of Serial in class] every Monday, and I had the students write up a little summary: what was new in the episode [compared with] the previous week, specifically trying to address forensic evidence. There was a heck of a lot of forensics discussed, and specific things the case missed. I tried to have the kids focus on the forensics side. Some weeks were better than others: when the show talked about phone calls, for example, there wasn’t a lot of forensic evidence, like physical evidence you would find at a crime scene. Every week we listened to another episode, which was cool because it kept the kids on their toes. They enjoyed it.

GS: Did some of them try to skip ahead and listen at home?

SR: There was one girl who, after the second week, had listened to the whole thing.

GS: That’s great they were so into it.

SR: Yeah! With Criminal, I would listen to [episodes], write up short summaries, and turn them into questions for exams. We also listened to an episode in class as part of an exam. I have two students who are looking to go into science, one definitely criminal justice and possibly forensics. Another student is thinking of biology, but possibly forensics as avenue. Both are female. To have two young ladies who have said hey, I want to do science, and possibly forensics, is pretty cool.

GS: I agree. Since Serial and Criminal both have excellent women hosts, I wonder if that inspired the students. It’s interesting for them to listen to, I imagine.

SR: Absolutely. I think it subliminally makes a huge impact. I think there are a lot of little tiny things that we don’t really recognize that have a on significant impact on our culture and the way students think. When you told me you wanted to chat about [podcasts in the classroom], I asked my students: what do you think? What did you like? What did you dislike? What should we do differently next year?

They said they really liked listening to the podcasts. One student said she didn’t like writing summaries every time [we listened to Serial]. She said she’d rather have a project on it. Which made me think: Is there some way I can design a project around this? I might be able to work with one of our history teachers, who does a government class, to perhaps host a debate examining the legal aspects of the show. A couple kids said that instead of listening to an episode of Serial every Monday, they would’ve rather listened every day for a couple of weeks. I’m wondering if I can do that as a real short unit. I could also have the students listen at home and come in the next day for an activity or a discussion. That way we’re not actually using class time to listen to it but they’re listening on their own.

GS: Having them listen at home sounds good, but it’s a tough choice because listening to audio together and watching people’s reactions is a unique and bonding experience.

SR: It’s funny that you mention that because I know exactly what you’re talking about. When we would listen to [Serial] together as a group, I knew what was coming since I’d listened ahead of time, but I’d watch the students’ reactions at the end and they would say, “No! What happened?!”

GS: If you knew another teacher in a different school who was interested in using podcasts in the classroom, what advice would you give?

SR: It’s a good way to engage students, and a different style of learning. A lot of times students will hear teachers talk, but they’ve never listened to just straight audio. It’s a really beautiful thing, because they’re bombarded by images all day, every day on their phones. [With podcasts] they’re taking a step back, listening and coming up with images in their own heads, and stimulating a creative part of their brains they don’t often use because they don’t have to. Take a chance — I did and I think it went pretty well. It wasn’t part of our curriculum, but it parallels the curriculum pretty well for forensics. It was a really good change of pace for the kids.

Ed. note from Genevieve: I’ll check back in with Steve in the fall to see how his new class is going. He has 20 kids signed up for fall, instead of the nine he had this past year! (Some were missing from the photo above.)

Chasing Hillary Rodham

I’m sort of a geek when it comes to archival audio. The kind of audio that has been locked away just like that scene in Indiana Jones—it’s there somewhere, just waiting to be set free! 

Hillary Rodham ClintonOne piece of audio that’s been on my wish list is from 1969, when a young Hillary Rodham (Clinton) became the first student to deliver a commencement speech at Wellesley College’s graduation ceremony. Like many college students, Hillary Rodham’s experience was transformative. As she wrote in her autobiography, “I arrived at Wellesley carrying my father’s political beliefs and my mother’s dreams, and left with the beginnings of my own.”

On top of that, this was during the tumultuous ’60s—her speech reflected her steps toward adulthood during that disruptive time.

I knew hearing her voice and such a piece of audio history would be amazing, so I kept my eyes open. A few weeks ago, on the eve of the California primary, Wellesley College released excerpts of the speech audio in a produced YouTube video. It only took a few phone calls and an engaging conversation for Wellesley to release the full Hillary audio to PRX, with its ’60s self-actualization language, hints at Earth-shattering change, and a touching poem at the end.

What strikes the listener most is how much Hillary Rodham’s voice has changed…reflecting her own coming-of-age journey. Listen here:

Here is the full transcript: Remarks of Hillary Rodham

I am very glad that Miss Adams made it clear that what I am speaking for today is all of us —the 400 of us—and I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now. We’re not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable element of criticizing and constructive protest and I find myself reacting just briefly to some of the things that Senator Brooke said. This has to be quick because I do have a little speech to give.

Part of the problem with just empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn’t do us anything. We’ve had lots of empathy; we’ve had lots of sympathy, but we feel that for too long our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible. What does it mean to hear that 13.3 percent of the people in this country are below the poverty line? That’s a percentage. We’re not interested in social reconstruction; it’s human reconstruction. How can we talk about percentages and trends? The complexities are not lost in our analyses, but perhaps they’re just put into what we consider a more human and eventually a more progressive perspective.

The question about possible and impossible was one that we brought with us to Wellesley four years ago. We arrived not yet knowing what was not possible. Consequently, we expected a lot. Our attitudes are easily understood having grown up, having come to consciousness in the first five years of this decade—years dominated by men with dreams, men in the civil rights movement, the Peace Corps, the space program—so we arrived at Wellesley and we found, as all of us have found, that there was a gap between expectation and realities. But it wasn’t a discouraging gap and it didn’t turn us into cynical, bitter old women at the age of 18. It just inspired us to do something about that gap. What we did is often difficult for some people to understand. They ask us quite often: “Why, if you’re dissatisfied, do you stay in a place?” Well, if you didn’t care a lot about it you wouldn’t stay. It’s almost as though my mother used to say, “You know I’ll always love you but there are times when I certainly won’t like you.” Our love for this place, this particular place, Wellesley College, coupled with our freedom from the burden of an inauthentic reality allowed us to question basic assumptions underlying our education.

Before the days of the media orchestrated demonstrations, we had our own gathering over in Founder’s parking lot. We protested against the rigid academic distribution requirement. We worked for a pass-fail system. We worked for a say in some of the process of academic decision making. And luckily we were at a place where, when we questioned the meaning of a liberal arts education there were people with enough imagination to respond to that questioning. So we have made progress. We have achieved some of the things that we initially saw as lacking in that gap between expectation and reality. Our concerns were not, of course, solely academic as all of us know. We worried about inside Wellesley questions of admissions, the kind of people that were coming to Wellesley, the kind of people that should be coming to Wellesley, the process for getting them here. We questioned about what responsibility we should have both for our lives as individuals and for our lives as members of a collective group.

Coupled with our concerns for the Wellesley inside here in the community were our concerns for what happened beyond Hathaway House. We wanted to know what relationship Wellesley was going to have to the outer world. We were lucky in that Miss Adams, one of the first things she did was set up a cross-registration with MIT because everyone knows that education just can’t have any parochial bounds anymore. One of the other things that we did was the Upward Bound program. There are so many other things that we could talk about; so many attempts to kind of—at least the way we saw it—pull ourselves into the world outside. And I think we’ve succeeded. There will be an Upward Bound program, just for one example, on the campus this summer.

Many of the issues that I’ve mentioned—those of sharing power and responsibility, those of assuming power and responsibility—have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. But underlying those concerns there is a theme, a theme which is so trite and so old because the words are so familiar. It talks about integrity and trust and respect. Words have a funny way of trapping our minds on the way to our tongues but there are necessary means even in this multimedia age for attempting to come to grasps with some of the inarticulate maybe even inarticulable things that we’re feeling.

We are, all of us, exploring a world that none of us even understands and attempting to create within that uncertainty. But there are some things we feel, feelings that our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue. The questions about those institutions are familiar to all of us. We have seen them heralded across the newspapers. Senator Brooke has suggested some of them this morning. But along with using these words—integrity, trust, and respect—in regard to institutions and leaders, we’re perhaps harshest with them in regard to ourselves.

Every protest, every dissent, whether it’s an individual academic paper or Founder’s parking lot demonstration, is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age. That attempt at forging for many of us over the past four years has meant coming to terms with our humanness. Within the context of a society that we perceive—now we can talk about reality, and I would like to talk about reality sometime, authentic reality, inauthentic reality, and what we have to accept of what we see—but our perception of it is that it hovers often between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men’s needs. There’s a very strange conservative strain that goes through a lot of New Left, collegiate protests that I find very intriguing because it harkens back to a lot of the old virtues, to the fulfillment of original ideas. And it’s also a very unique American experience. It’s such a great adventure. If the experiment in human living doesn’t work in this country, in this age, it’s not going to work anywhere.

But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Integrity—a man like Paul Santmire. Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said “Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust.” What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All we can do is keep trying again and again and again. There’s that wonderful line in “East Coker” by Eliot about there’s only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we’ve lost before.

And then respect. There’s that mutuality of respect between people where you don’t see people as percentage points. Where you don’t manipulate people. Where you’re not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word consequences of course catapults us into the future. One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn’t want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn’t want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she’s afraid. Fear is always with us but we just don’t have time for it. Not now.

There are two people that I would like to thank before concluding. That’s Ellie Acheson, who is the spearhead for this, and also Nancy Scheibner who wrote this poem which is the last thing that I would like to read:

My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.

Thanks.


Photo credit: Courtesy of Wellesley College Archives/Photo by Stimmell

Steer Clear of These Five Science Reporting Pitfalls


Andrea Mustain

PRX has taken on big initiatives in the last few years to create original science programming, including our STEM Story Project open call for science audio ideas, our Transistor podcast which features many of those, the space podcast Orbital Path, and the Outside Magazine podcast on the science of survival.

We asked our science editor Andrea Mustain, who edited all of 2015’s STEM stories and is now also an editor for Orbital Path, to share her wisdom on science reporting.

Steer Clear of These Five Science Reporting Pitfalls
A (very short) guide for audio producers

by PRX Science Editor Andrea Mustain

Science reporting gives you entrée to a nearby yet rather mysterious country—a place with an arcane language all its own, that outsiders rarely get to visit. (This, to me, is what makes science reporting challenging and fun.)

It’s also a privilege that brings with it some pretty big responsibilities. You must bring back something of substance: a compelling narrative that is also informative, accurate, and clear. To that end, a few perils to note—and avoid.

1. The gee-whiz trap. Also known as the, “I just read the press release” trap.

This is a pretty obvious one. Always read the full journal article before you head into an interview. Press releases sometimes drift into dangerously hyperbolic territory. PR departments are tasked with drumming up coverage, and that can lead to scary words like “breakthrough” and “game changer.” This is not to say that communications departments are full of deceptive, conniving people. Many are staffed with deeply thoughtful and responsible science writers, steeped in the research that is coming out of their institutions. However, that is not always the case. Beware the too-good-to-be-true press release.

When you actually talk to the scientists behind a paper, their takeaways are sometimes very different from what you see in the press release. And if you haven’t read the research, you a) won’t be able to ask intelligent questions, and b) may come off as naive. PR departments are just trying to do their jobs. Make sure you do yours.

2. The scaredy-cat trap.

Scientists are people, too. Some are wonderful communicators, and others aren’t. Some are wonderfully gracious, and happy to explain something to you over and over; others may helpfully suggest you go take a physics class. So when you run into trouble understanding something, don’t get scared and give up after the third try. It never works to just drop some gorpy, technical tape into your story, and have the scientists “tell it in their own words.” If you don’t understand something, your audience won’t either. (If I’m running into trouble, I ask my interviewees to start over, and explain the concept as if they are addressing a 12-year-old.)

Keep asking for clarification or different explanations, even if you’re worried you’re being annoying or sound like a dummy—you must always be able to accurately explain every scientific concept in your story in your own words.

3. The trap that’s like a fried egg riding a watermelon airplane. Or, the terrible/wrong metaphor trap.

Metaphors are a powerful tool for science writing. A good one can instantly repackage a befuddling concept, and make the science both appetizing and digestible. A bad one can ruin your day.

A poorly constructed metaphor is dangerous. If it’s trite, or doesn’t conjure a helpful image, you’ve possibly bored your audience—or worse, confused them. If a metaphor is inaccurate, you have lied to your audience. It’s helpful to run through your ideas with researchers during your interviews, so they can help you fine-tune for accuracy.

Of course, it is your job to make sure that you also think the metaphor gets the job done. You can’t be entirely beholden to scientists. It is ultimately your decision; but you must be confident of your understanding of the science before you can craft an appropriate metaphor.

4. The “I’ll just Google it” trap.

The Internet is not a reliable fact checker. It certainly can’t take the place of verifying something with experts. If something in your notes strikes you as dubious, or if you are even the teeniest bit unsure of the meaning, check back with a researcher. To illustrate, a cautionary tale:

One of the stories created for PRX’s open call STEM Story Project in 2015 used a very impressive metaphor. Our producer got it from a scientist, and it was a great illustration of a particular phenomenon. But as we got closer to the final mix, something didn’t feel right. It was too impressive. But the dang metaphor appeared in several news stories; two different reporters couldn’t have gotten it wrong..right? And in fact, the producer insisted that, based on interview notes, the metaphor was accurate. I decided we had to triple check.

When I went back to the researchers, they said no, this comparison was actually not accurate at all. Reporters had (quite innocently) misinterpreted a simile the scientists had come up with themselves. As one researcher put it, “I think the science writer went a bit too far in the analogy.” Thankfully, they weren’t able to say that about the PRX story—we changed the script. The lesson here is, double-check your work during the reporting process. Find mistakes early.

5. The jazz hands trap.

In some hands, fancy production leads to incomparably beautiful radio. So it’s tempting to think that because some amazing shows (backed by a raft of talented staff) do this flawlessly, you should, too. A science audio story is just the place to bring your composer friend on board, and get crazy with the soundbeds. But be honest about the skills and tools you have at your disposal. You may be a phenomenal basketball player, but that doesn’t mean you can tap dance.

Besides, a story doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to move a listener. At the heart of any great radio—whether it’s highly produced, or just you and some tape—is a powerful story supported by strong reporting, excellent writing, and an invested narrator. No jazz hands required.

PRX and Transistor Podcast Introduce Trace Elements Series

PRX is thrilled to welcome a new special series of episodes on its podcast, Transistor. The episodes, called Trace Elements, feature hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek as they take us on an off-road trip into the science that connects us.

Each episode explores something new. Whether it’s a medical mystery, the future of social robots, or implanting foreign objects into your body — Trace Elements is on it.

The first episode introduces us to a man who woke up from a hospital procedure and no longer felt any fear. Learn more and listen here, and get the official press release below.


PRX and Transistor Podcast Introduce Trace Elements Series

Cambridge, MA (March 10, 2016)—Award-winning public media company PRX is launching a new series of episodes on its popular science podcast, Transistor. The five special episodes, called Trace Elements, are produced by and feature dynamic hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek. The series is meant to be an off-road trip into the science that connects us.

The episodes are part of PRX’s commitment to creating and distributing new science programming, especially from women, on Transistor. The podcast is supported with funds provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Quinn and Bruzek both work as journalists in the Boston area.

“Cristina and Alison’s style is what attracted us to these episodes. They ask the right questions about science, and their curiosity and chemistry make science stories utterly engaging,” said PRX Chief Content Officer John Barth.

Trace Elements launches on Transistor March 10 with an episode titled, “The Reset”. The episode focuses on a man who no longer feels fear following a hospital procedure. It’s part medical mystery, part psychological quandary, and it urges listeners to reflect on how fears can define us.

Trace Elements will be featured on Transistor every other week. Subscribe to Transistor on iTunes or transistor.prx.org/subscribe.

PRX’s other science initiatives funded by the Sloan Foundation include the podcast Orbital Path with Michelle Thaller, Blank on Blank’s animated series The Experimenters, the Outside Magazine podcast, and entries from the STEM Story Project.

About PRX
PRX is shaping the future of public media content, talent and technology. PRX is a leading creator and distributor, connecting audio producers with their most engaged, supportive audiences across broadcast, web and mobile. A fierce champion of new voices, new formats, and new business models, PRX advocates for the entrepreneurial producer. PRX is an award-winning media company, reaching millions of weekly listeners worldwide. For over a dozen years, PRX has operated public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio shows including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour and Reveal. Follow us on Twitter at @prx.

About Transistor
Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio & podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

About Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek

Cristina Quinn is a radio and TV journalist. She got her on-air start in Japan, hosting “Let’s English!” for FM-Aizu. Stateside, she’s been WGBH’s Weekend Edition anchor in Boston and became the station’s first midday news anchor. Cristina has done in-depth reporting on innovations in science, technology, and social issues. Her stories air locally on WGBH radio and TV’s Greater Boston, and have aired nationally on NPR News, PRI’s The World, and Innovation Hub. She has a journalism degree from UMass Amherst and a master’s in visual and media arts from Emerson College.

Alison Bruzek is a science writer and radio producer. Originally from the nation’s heartland, she has been known to occasionally reprise her Minnesotan accent. She is currently a freelance producer for WBUR in Boston. Prior to that, she worked as a video producer for WGBH. Before she came to radio, she developed science curriculum and science center programs with The HistoryMakers, an African American video oral history collection.

Case Study: Esquire Classic Podcast for Broadcast

Podcast to broadcast.

mundt
Todd Mundt

We kick around this notion all the time at PRX: can the stories and styles that work so well in the highly intimate podcast medium also work in the mass form of radio?

Some do, some really don’t, and I am skeptical of podcast-to-broadcast working in every case. But KUOW in Seattle is one of those daring stations that’s willing to try something at least once. A few weeks back Todd Mundt, managing producer at KUOW, reached out to PRX saying he’s a big fan of the Esquire Classic podcast that we produce with Esquire magazine.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.58.46 PMEvery two weeks, Esquire editor Tyler Cabot, host David Brancaccio (and anchor of the Marketplace Morning Report from APM), producer Curtis Fox and I select a nonfiction story from the Esquire archives. The Esquire Classic podcast then dissects the story and its background—the assignment, editing, twists and turns—and its newfound context in the 21st century. Cindy Katz, an actor, usually reads excerpts live and David interviews an expert: the article’s original  author, editor, or someone else who really knows the material.

Todd suggested trying an episode for broadcast in Seattle. “The larger KUOW view is that we find, curate and present the most interesting content from wherever we can get it,“ he said. That mindset attracted him to an episode about a Tom Wolfe story profiling Silicon Valley pioneer Robert Noyce. Noyce was a major developer of the silicon chip, and helped create the entrepreneurial culture that we now associate with innovation. Brancaccio interviewed acclaimed tech reporter Kara Swisher of Re/code for the podcast.

Noycesq
Robert Noyce

“It was a moment to present a story the [Seattle] audience would find interesting,” said Todd. “This was a creation moment for Silicon Valley, the whole ethos of it, and Kara is in a unique position as a chronicler. With Brancaccio known to the audience, you have it all come together.”

The challenge was to take a 30-minute podcast and make it sound right on air. Todd worked with producers Caroline Chamberlain and Curtis Fox to break the podcast into four sections. Caroline had to craft tight and contextual host leads that really fit each excerpt. “We chose to serialize [the podcast], and that is harder. As you get deeper in, you get to parts two or three or four, and you have to do more backfilling of information in host intros, which we try to keep to no more than 25 seconds,” said Todd. He and Caroline went through many drafts. The Esquire Classic excerpts ran on consecutive days within a cutaway in All Things Considered (ATC). “It worked because I think of ATC as a bit of a step back from the day’s news. Plus our listening is high then.”

PRX is interested in working with other stations on this notion of podcast-to-broadcast. If you are station that’s game for surprising your audience with newly contextualized, original content, please get in touch at john@prx.org. You can find all the Esquire Classic episodes on PRX.org.

Written by John Barth, chief content officer at PRX.

New Podcast: Orbital Path with Michelle Thaller

orbitalpath-500x500

Please welcome the newest podcast from PRX, Orbital Path.

Hosted by NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller, the series takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. Space, stars, the universe, and us — for space lovers or just the curious.

The debut episode features the infamous Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, as Michelle and Phil talk about why aliens get the credit for almost everything unexplainable. And episode two is in the works with another guest you won’t want to miss.

Subscribe on iTunes and beyond.

Orbital Path is produced by award-winning reporter Lauren Ober based at WAMU in Washington, DC. Many thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for making the show possible, along with PRX’s STEM Story Project and Transistor, our podcast featuring science stories from reporters near and far.

Thank you, also, to Carl.

Announcing this year’s STEM Story Project grantees

PRX is pleased to announce the grantees for our third annual STEM Story Project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The STEM Story Project is an open call for science, tech, engineering, and math pitches. Over the summer, we asked producers around the world to share their ideas with us. Then, a team of scientists in various disciplines, plus a team of radio professionals, screened the over 100 proposals we received. As you can imagine, the final decisions were incredibly difficult to make!

The stories below (titles subject to change) are being created right now, and will be available on PRX.org starting in mid-November. Stations and shows on PRX can license the stories for air, and they will also be featured in the upcoming season of our science podcast, Transistor.

Past years’ STEM stories aired on many stations, PRX Remix, Here and Now, All Things Considered, and Studio 360, to name a few. So don’t be shy if you’re with a show or station and not yet on PRX. Get in touch.

Without further ado, the grantees of our third annual STEM Story Project are…

The Words are a Jumble from Tobin Low.
Vissarion Shebalin was not a great composer. But his music could unlock an important truth about how the brain processes music and language.

Rodney Learns to Fly from Ari Daniel.
Rodney grew up selling dope and guns. But he’s always loved caring for birds. The drugs landed him in jail. The birds helped set him free.

Ovarian transplant is the surgery on infertility’s cutting edge from Robin Amer.
Twins Carol and Katie are physically identical in every way but one: Katie was born without ovaries. Carol donated hers to her sister so she could start a family.

Imagine All the People from Pien Huang.
Meet a four-year-old with a LOT of imaginary friends. What do fake friends do for us as kids and adults?

HIc Sunt Dracones: The Art of Polynesian Wayfinding from Lily Bui.
Ancient Polynesians relied on three core faculties to navigate: knowledge of the stars, understanding of the environment, and—above all—their memories.

Owning the Clouds: Fears, facts, and the future of weather from Steven Jackson.
Can we harness clouds to counter drought, stop storms, and fight climate change? And if we can, should we?

Peeing in My Pants, Everybody Does It from Lauren Whaley.
A personal and research-driven journey into the science, technology and emotional sides of pelvic floor dysfunction.

From Frogs To Wands of Destiny: The Evolving Science of Home Pregnancy Tests from Anne Noyes Saini & Amy Gastelum of the podcast Mother.
Trace the evolution of modern pregnancy testing from when tests entailed injecting frogs with women’s urine, to the first reliable home pregnancy test kits.

Many Humans, One Music? from Katie Burke.
Is music a universal language? A new study says music worldwide shares features like rhythm & group performance.

The Science of Protecting Cities from Floods from Jenny Chen and Ellen Rolfes.
Head to the scene of forensic flood science, where engineers are doing detective work to rebuild cities to be more resilient to climate change.

CSI Bee Squad from Megan Molteni.
A look inside a tiny crime scene — investigating a bee kill.

That Bowl Was Delicious from Hannah Marshall & Quentin Cooper.
Swear your coffee tastes better from your favorite mug? You may not be imagining it.

The Noisiest Species from Kerry Klein.
How our vrooms, clangs and thunks are harming natural ecosystems — and ourselves.

Tick Tock Biological Clock from Marnie Chesterton.
Women in their late 30s are told their fertility falls off a cliff. The truth is more surprising.

Three Letters Met on Broom Bridge from Samuel Hansen of the podcast Relatively Prime.
Every October, hundreds of devotees gather to walk across a bridge in Dublin — for math.

The Ghost in the MP3 from Emily Richardson-Lorente.
What’s lost when a song is compressed into an MP3? To the untrained ear — perhaps nothing. But to one composer, it’s the source of stunning and ghostly ‘lost sound’ compositions.

Cosmic Ray Catchers from Ross Chambless.
Something out there is hurling powerful particles at Earth, and a team of scientists have found a hotspot near the Big Dipper.

Radiotopia Shows Make up 1/3 of Third Coast Winners

Winners of the 2015 Third Coast Audio Festival/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition — honoring the best new audio works — were announced today. Three of the nine winners are from Radiotopia, PRX’s podcast network. Congratulations to all!

The category in which each winner falls (like Best New Artist, and so on) will be announced on October 24th during the awards ceremony at the Filmless Festival in Chicago. Take a listen to the winning episodes from Radiotopia shows below:

695BGK (USA)
Produced by Lauren Spohrer and Phoebe Judge for Criminal

The Living Room (USA)
Produced by Briana Breen with editing, mixing and scoring by Brendan Baker for Love + Radio

Structural Integrity (USA)
Produced by Joel Werner and Sam Greenspan with editor Roman Mars for 99% Invisible

Welcome Maggie Taylor!

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Hi everyone! My name is Maggie Taylor and I am very excited to be joining PRX as the new Director of Marketing, and to be making my first foray into both the public media and nonprofit spaces.

I obtained my undergraduate degree in Public Relations from the University of Rhode Island. Since then, I have built a marketing background that’s heavy in tech and start-ups, in both the B2B and consumer spaces. I love working directly with consumers, and using PR, influencers, and social media tools to help grow brand awareness and adoption. I enjoy representing the voice of a brand, and the opportunity to facilitate new customer exposure. I’m also an avid reader and writer, and like to create engaging pieces of content and experiences. I love public radio and listening to podcasts; I remain in constant awe of their ability to create such intimate relationships between host and listener. It reminds me of a quote from the book “All the Light We Cannot See”: “Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth.”

On the personal side, I hail from the Seacoast area of NH, but had the pleasure of living out a West Coast adventure in San Francisco for two years, and returned last summer via a cross-country road trip. In my spare time I love traveling, food, reading, and spending time with my friends and family. I also have a penchant for song memorization and, consequently, karaoke.

I’m delighted to join this intimate and passionate team to help craft and spread the unique PRX story to a large, diverse audience. I’d love to personally connect with all of our readers and listeners, so please feel free to reach out and introduce yourself: maggie.taylor@prx.org.

Julie Shapiro Selected as New Radiotopia Executive Producer

Drumroll please… After a highly competitive search, Julie Shapiro has been selected as the Executive Producer for PRX’s Radiotopia.

Julie’s leadership, creativity and commitment to excellence will drive Radiotopia’s success as a leading podcast network at a moment of growth and opportunity for the industry as a whole.

Julie will help lead overall strategic planning for the network, establish and oversee production standards and best practices, develop and manage creative collaborations, and set and meet audience and revenue targets.

We are thrilled to welcome Julie as the newest member of our stellar team.

Check out the press release below for details.


PRESS RELEASE

Contact Kerri Hoffman, COO
Email kerri@prx.org
Website www.prx.org

Cambridge, Mass., September 1, 2015 — PRX is pleased to welcome Julie Shapiro in the new role of Radiotopia executive producer.

Radiotopia is at the epicenter of the newly expanding galaxy of podcasts. Since launching in February 2014, Radiotopia has accelerated to 8.5 million monthly downloads across a growing roster of 13 programs, including 99% Invisible, the celebrated show on design from Roman Mars, and Criminal – a new breakout hit from Lauren Spohrer and Phoebe Judge. In May 2015 the Knight Foundation awarded $1M to PRX to support the development and strengthening of Radiotopia.

Julie will bring editorial vision, creativity and leadership to Radiotopia’s expanding portfolio of top programs. She will work closely with PRX, Roman Mars and the Radiotopia producers to grow the shows, cultivate relationships with talented producers and partners, and build sustainability of the podcast medium.

Julie co-founded and was artistic director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival (TCIAF) for thirteen years. As the creative engine at TCIAF, Julie did everything from co-producing the biannual conference and Filmless festival, to co-curating and editing the Re:sound podcast, to leading strategic direction and public image of the organization.

In 2014, Julie left TCIAF to become the founding executive producer of the Australian Broadcast Corporation’s Creative Audio Unit (CAU), where she led a team in establishing two weekly, national shows and set the strategy and vision for the unit. She is a thought leader and a determined advocate of creative pursuits. Julie originally coined the term “Radiotopia” in a speech at the Third Coast Festival, describing it as a place where awesome stories live.

“Julie has championed the work of hundreds of independent producers and has demonstrated the passion and bold thinking we need to make Radiotopia thrive.” said Kerri Hoffman, Chief Operating Officer of PRX.

Julie is also known for her dedication to diversity and gender balance in public radio, and wrote the influential ”Women Hosted Podcasts” article which had a major impact on the public media industry.

Radiotopia co-founder, Roman Mars said, “Julie Shapiro will provide leadership and vision for both Radiotopia and for the emerging podcasting industry as a whole.”

About PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering tens of thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, State of the Re:Union, Reveal, and the Radiotopia podcast network. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.