Sam Greenspan posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 | PRX Remix | No Comments
The first striking thing about this story is that it starts with 30 seconds of trumpets.
The second striking thing is that suddenly James Franco is copping to it. “You’re probably saying to yourself, seriously? Is this for real? Trumpets? And I’m saying, yeah.”
But of course it only gets stranger from here. In no time at all, Franco is conjuring images of horses galloping through thunderstorms, and surreal dialogue happening in parking lots that might or might exist–all while extolling the virtues of the medium of radio.
And then Franco admits to you, “gentle listener,” that he is the Angel of Death.
This strange piece of radio fiction is part of The Organist, a new podcast from The Believer magazine and KCRW. The Organist is an odd mix of arts reporting, celebrity interviews, and other audio oddities, all told with the McSweeney’s moxie that we all know and love. Listen for The Organist on PRX Remix (stations, download it for your audiences here).
Lily Bui posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014 | STEM Story Project | No Comments
This post is part of the STEM Story Project series.
Do you ever wonder how much students actually learn from science fair projects? Producer Adam Hochberg investigates how some professional scientists hope to remake science fairs in the future. In Remaking the Science Fair, he shows us that rather than just building models or conducting demonstrations, children as young as eight can develop original science projects and make important discoveries.
While the concept of bringing science beyond the classroom is not completely new, framing science in a way that students can relate to remains a challenge for STEM educators and advocates today. The piece features interviews with some eighth-grade science fair participants, teachers, a citizen science advocate, as well as a science fair coordinator to get their perspectives. After listening, one might conclude that perhaps a more “inquiry-based” approach to science fairs may be successful.
Hochberg’s idea for this story came from a journalism graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Daniel Lane. After seeing a discussion on a science blog in which a number of scientists bemoaned the state of modern science fairs, they brainstormed ideas on how they could be improved.
“Daniel had originally proposed the idea for our own student-produced radio news magazine,” Hochberg says. “But one of the challenges we faced was finding a science fair we could visit. At least in our part of the country, science fairs tend to take place in the fall and winter, and we started working on the story in late spring.”
Luckily, the science fair season in Massachusetts runs into late May. Hochberg connected with Ari Epstein who runs MIT’s Terrascope Radio program, which encourages students to gather and produce stories about science. One of the students in the program, Ana Vazquez, was able to attend the Massachusetts Middle School State Fair in Worcester to record interviews with participants and organizers, which made it to the finished piece.
Give this story a listen and tell us your ideas on remaking science fairs in the comments below.
For more ideas on how to engage with science beyond the classroom (whether you’re an educator, student, or lifelong learner), get ideas from YourWildLife.org (mentioned in Adam Hochberg’s piece) and SciStarter, another citizen science site.
Audrey posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014 | PRX | No Comments
On the PRX Apps blog, Technical Projects Director Matt MacDonald gives a rundown of how and why we updated our station apps platform.
With this update, the station iPhone apps are significantly easier to use. They focus on the core functions and features that users truly want, with an updated design that feels more 2014 than 2009.
Audrey posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014 | PRX | No Comments
HowSound producer/host Rob Rosenthal is featuring a wild documentary called “Hark! The Acoustic World of Elizabethan England.” This piece was so stimulating that it sparked a New Year’s Resolution for Rob to, “listen deliberately to the sounds around me as often as possible.” We think that’s an excellent resolution, Rob.
PRX Remix’s Sam Greenspan said of Hark! “This stunning work takes us back 400 years into a long-extinct sonic world–a world absent of the noise of cell phones, car traffic, household appliances, and recorded music. A world where the “sonic event” of the day might be the livestock getting fed.”
And fed the livestock will be.
Jones posted on Thursday, December 19th, 2013 | Blog, PRX | No Comments
In 9 years of leading Generation PRX, I’ve watched this network grow from a handful of committed youth radio groups to something more closely resembling a movement. And though I’ll be leaving PRX to pursue a career in health at the end of the month, I’m so excited to see what comes next for the youth radio field.
We’ve come a long way! Thanks to dedicated youth radio producers, teachers, and stations, diverse stories from young producers are reaching millions of listeners. From 26 youth radio stories, the PRX catalogue now hosts over 2,400 pieces from 60 youth radio groups. Audiences are hearing young people report on topics ranging from politics to heartbreak, but they’re also hearing something else: young people’s capacity, vision, and insight.
GPRX’s Youth Editorial Board has proved to be a vital network of peer feedback, and our hour-long specials on topics as wide-ranging as immigration, parenting and the environment have created a new model of programming. This work demonstrates what I think of as the hallmark of youth-produced radio: the transformative power of both making and listening to stories.
But this isn’t goodbye! I’ll be staying on in some new capacities to help shepherd this important work forward, and we’ve got excellent partners that support new voices:
- At PRX, we’ll continue to feature youth-produced radio on the website, newsletters and social media. And PRX Remix - our 24-hour satellite and broadcast stream – is always looking for great content from new producers. If you have work or news to share please let our editors know. We’re also planning to offer webinars to help youth radio groups build capacity in areas like fundraising, peer feedback and distribution. Details to follow.
- Transom has recently launched online workshops (now in testing) to help new producers hone skills in a free, distance-learning format. From history, to interviewing, to equipment – keep your eye on this one.
- HowSound podcast, from venerable radio teacher Rob Rosenthal, is an incredible tool for understanding how great radio gets made. Subscribe in iTunes.
- Start planning now to go to Third Coast Festival, the best producer meet up in radioland. TCF is a chance to build skills, connect with new and veteran producers, and (of course!) show off your dance moves.
- AIR - the Association of Independents in Radio – offers both student-discount memberships and mentorship programs that help individual producers focus on a particular skill and audio piece. Their New Voices scholarships help minority producers attend Third Coast. Contact Erin Mishkin (erin[at]airmedia[dot]org) to learn more.
I’m so proud of what the Generation PRX network has created, and excited to hear what comes next. I remain as inspired by young people’s stories - and the producers, teachers and stations who bring them to the world – as I was ten years ago. The future is bright!
Lily Bui posted on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 | STEM Story Project | No Comments
This post is part of the STEM Story Project series.
What if an equation could put police officers at the scene of a crime, before it happened? In Southern California, a team of academics discovered that crime patterns could be mathematically modeled like the way that earthquakes and their aftershocks are modeled. The LAPD gave this “predictive policing” a chance to prove itself on the streets, and discovered that it worked. Now, this mathematical model could transform the future of law enforcement.
Producer Aaron Mendelson first came across this idea through an academic paper that aspired to refine a statistical model that predicts crimes. This piqued his interest, and he began to dig deeper into the world of crime modeling. What he found was that it was not only something being explored in academia, but it was also in use by one of the nation’s largest police forces, the Los Angeles Police Department. The software is called PredPol, which takes crime data, runs it through an algorithm, and visualizes it on maps.
“The epicenter of this work is in LA — both at UCLA’s MASC (Mathematical and Simulation Modeling of Crime) Project and at the LAPD,” says Mendelson. “So I hopped on a plane to Southern California to figure out what was going on down there.” In reality, Mendelson’s journey to collect audio for this story involved much more travel than a simple plane ride to SoCal. His trajectory included stops in Milwaukee, where he had just moved for the summer; Los Angeles, where he interviewed people at the LAPD and UCLA; Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania, where he covered another story; and then Rockford, Ill., to attend his cousin’s wedding. Mendelson sums up his trip in just five words: “It was a hectic week.”
In Santa Clara, CA, Mendelson was able to talk to George Mohler, a mathematician and one of the leading postdocs working on this model. What he found was an unexpected connection between earthquakes patterns and crime patterns:
“Mathematically, earthquakes and crime work in a similar way. Mathematical models for predicting earthquake aftershocks could be applied to predict the ‘after-crimes’ of an initial incident…According to Mohler’s model, one crime sets off a wave of crimes in an area. The equation draws in details from police reports, such as times, locations and types of crimes that already have happened.”
Mendelson’s piece ran on The California Report in Sept., where they also noted that San Francisco plans to implement the system by the end of 2014 and hopes to add other capabilities, including predicting gun violence and property crimes. Take a listen to his piece — we predict that it’ll teach you something new.
Audrey posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 | PRX | No Comments
Each year, PRX staffers come together to make a list of our favorite pieces of the year. It’s a great way to reflect and celebrate the producers who have worked so hard to create phenomenal work.
We listen to a lot of radio. And even then, we know we still haven’t heard everything. Here are some of our favorites from PRX, but chime in with your own favorite radio from 2013 in the comments. We want to know what you loved.
Genevieve posted on Monday, December 9th, 2013 | Blog | 2 Comments
Not an audio producer.
We couldn’t get ahold of Santa, but we did gather some ideas from other friends on what to get for the audio makers in your life.
- Sony MDR-7506 headphones
- Tascam DR-60D. Better yet, Sound Devices 722.
- Sennheiser K6 mic preamps and capsules
- Pair of KRK Rokit 8 nearfield self-powered monitors. Better yet, pair of Focal CMS-50s
- Nice mic boom, like a K-Tec. “I tend to like the ones that don’t have cables inside because they can rattle and you can’t do anything about it. Lightness is good, like carbon fiber. Here’s a super cheapy… never tried it.” – Jay Allison.
- sE Electronics Reflexion Filter PRO Portable Vocal Booth
- Hindenburg software
- WAVES plug-ins – Broadcast and Production bundle, Sound Restoration Bundle, Dorroughs Loudness Meter plugin
- Dropbox account
- A good camera for stills and video. Like GoPro.
- Sonic Studios mic cables. “He makes all kinds of cables, but his basic mic cable is great. Expensive, but the best. You can get right angle on a mini plug, which reduces stress.” -Jay Allison
More ideas from us and other places:
More ideas from us and other places:
Satisfied bib customer.
- If you shop on Amazon, we’d much appreciate you starting from here, our Amazon affiliate link, which supports us.
- A PRX membership! $50/year for individuals. Get in touch.
- Babies love headphone bibs.
- Great T-shirts and CD sets for supporting Transom.
- KCRW has a list of inspiring books and more in Gifts for a Future Radio Producer.
- John Biewen’s book Reality Radio — a compilation of stories and reflections from audio documentarians.
- Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) membership
- Stick stuff to this and it’ll still be there later.
- Third Coast Festival T-shirts and more.
- New book from The Moth. It’s sold out on Amazon right now. But, you should find out which indie stores near you have it anyway.
Producers, what are some of your favorite gifts you’ve received or given? Jump on in with your ideas in the comments below!
Audrey posted on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Blog, PRX, PRX at Ten | No Comments
This year is PRX’s 10th anniversary and we’ve been doing a lot of reflection on PRX’s accomplishments as well as those of our producers, stations, and public media partners.
PRX is participating in Giving Tuesday (think the opposite of Black Friday, Cyber Monday or… Brown Thursday?!). In contrast to the buying frenzies, we want to show our support for a different kind of gift-giving, a day for giving back.
Why PRX? We believe that public media plays a critical role in our civic society and our democracy by creating an informed and educated citizenry. That belief is what drives all the serious fun we have getting public radio stories out into the world. It’s why we nurture new and established talent, forge new distribution opportunities, and use technology to get public radio onto new platforms.
Some major PRX accomplishments from 2013:
- Pop Up Archive.
- STEM Story Project and the Global Story Project open calls.
- Built The Moth app for iOS and Android.
- Saw many programs reach Kickstarter success.
- Matter One and Matter Two.
- PRX Remix app for iOS and Android.
- PRX/CIR collaboration on Reveal pilot.
- Public Radio Player redesign.
PRX is a small entrepreneurial nonprofit with big ambitions. We’re leaders and innovators who want to continue to develop content, technologies, and ways of doing things that provide broader access to public media. We want to support our storytellers and truthtellers to do what they do best: add value to our lives and our communities.
Here’s a testimonial from one of our PRX Remix listeners:
“When the world looks like it’s starting to suck even worse and it’s going down hill, I turn off my phone and I turn on the radio to you, and you always give me a little glimmer into the things that are here that are good. Just little people with little stories. It makes the whole crappy world look a whole lot better.”
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to PRX today so we can continue our mission of making public radio more public.
Take a moment on Giving Tuesday to reflect on public media as a whole and consider donating to your local radio station, a favorite public radio program, or other public media organization that you find valuable. You can find a full list of Giving Tuesday participants here. And help spread the word.
Lily Bui posted on Friday, November 22nd, 2013 | Blog, STEM Story Project | No Comments
This post is part of PRX’s STEM Story Project series.
The New York City Subway is one of the most complex engineering feats in American History. In 1904, it spread out the dense population at the southern tip of Manhattan and has since fueled the city’s growth. In Engineering Gotham From Below, hear how the first subway system was engineered and its current expansion from the MTA’s chief engineer, historians, and the tunnel workers who make it possible.
In a conversation with PRX, producer Bishop Sand shared the inspiration behind the story:
“When I first moved to NYC, I loved the idea that I could get anywhere via the subway. The subway seemed to be this infinitely large passageway that I’d never fully explore. I remember riding in the front of the C train, where there is a window facing forward onto the tracks, thinking that there was an entire world of utilities and sub-tunnels down there. Then I wondered–how this was ever built with the city buzzing above and around it?”
With so much to say about a subway system that is one of the oldest in the U.S. (preceded only by Boston’s MBTA green line), it was a challenge to decide what information to include or exclude. One noteworthy aspect of production that was included, however, was Bishop’s interview with the Sandhogs, the guys who “do the dirty jobs that nobody else can do” and improve the subway for those who take public transit. (The myriad of improvements to work on may surprise you.)
“[They work in] the ‘hog house,’ where the workers change into their work clothes before they go into the tunnels. Inside, guys who knew each other for years asked about families, told jokes, and gave a lot of support to each other when someone was injured…The interview was done in small room, in between off-color jokes that would never make it radio…”
After about half an hour of trying to gather stories from the Sandhogs, Bishop began to realize that what we may see as an impossible feat is just like any other ordinary day.
“To them, their normal day’s work doesn’t seem like anything worth talking about and yet it is almost superhuman for most people.”
Lean in and listen to the story about the engineering of New York’s underbelly.
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