New Adds

Hello friends, yesterday I uploaded a bunch of new goodies into rotation:

-KQED Writer’s Block featuring Stewart O’Nan

-2 Episodes of Radio Berkman

-The latest NYT podcast set: The Ethicist, Science Times, Book Review

-New Transom podcast “After the Forgetting”

-New Planet Money(s)

-Two New Sound of Young America episodes featuring The Kids in the Hall and Alan Zeibel

and a ton more, plus a couple dozen songs of the indie rock variety…stay tuned.

Center for Future Storytelling

MIT and Plymouth Rock Studios have joined to create The Center for Future Storytelling.

From MIT news: “Storytelling is at the very root of what makes us uniquely human,” said Frank Moss, Media Lab director and holder of the Jerome Wiesner Professorship of Media Arts and Sciences. “It is how we share our experiences, learn from our past, and imagine our future. But how we tell our stories depends on another uniquely human characteristic — our ability to invent and harness technology. From the printing press to the Internet, technology has given people new ways to tell their stories, allowing them to reach new levels of creativity and personal fulfillment. The shared vision of the MIT Media Lab and Plymouth Rock Studios allows us to take the next quantum leap in storytelling, empowering ordinary people to connect in extraordinary ways.”

From what I gather, this means robots…or maybe Jar Jar Binks. Not sure, but I like not being sure when it comes to the future.

The new

Run over to PRX 3.0 right now! More interactivity! More playlists! More stats! I can’t get enough stats.

The people/marketplace section is a real benefit to the audio community in particular. So many tape syncs and quick turnaround field work are solicited through a few gatekeepers via email lists. This could change all that.

NPR “experimenting” with fiction

There’s an interesting discussion going on at the Day to Day blog. They’ve been running short radio drama pieces and the response has been decidedly mixed, as was the case when WBEZ premiered 11th Central Ave. when I was there several years ago.

It’s funny to consider fictional drama “experimental” when it was so dominant on the radio back in the golden age.

The major obstacle to overcome, as I see it, is that public radio has become (unfortunately) synonymous with news, and therefore synonymous with truth. I have presented fictional stories on the radio, said it was fiction before hand, reiterated that it was fictional afterward, and STILL people email their concerns about the story as if it were true. It’s just the nature of how we’ve positioned ourselves. That’s our fault. Which sucks. One of the comments in this discussion written by “Murray Sampson” illustrates the corner we’ve painted ourselves into:

“I tuned in briefly and caught 11 Central Ave. All fine and good until the last line: ‘Medicate only when dying.’… Encouraging people to “medicate only when dying” is dangerous and irresponsible.”

Imagine this criticism being leveled against Shakespeare (“killing yourself because your new girlfriend did sends the wrong message to our kids”) or the Sopranos (“encouraging people to beat hookers to death is just wrong”). Dramatically representing behavior doesn’t necessarily condone it. Film goers know this, TV watchers know this, book readers know this. Why does modern radio not have the same freedom of expression?

Our other problem has to do with our mission of serving the public good. I have a very broad definition of what that means for art. I think that making art of any kind serves the public good. Period.  But nervous EDs, PDs, GMs, CEOs have been backed into a corner, so that they are forced to demonstrate serving the public within a very narrow range of possibilities–mainly covering issues fairly, giving a voice to underserved, etc. All noble goals, but when I think of the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act, I think of creating both a space that serves the public good in that limited sense and also a place free of commercial interest so that art can flourish, unfettered by commercial interest.

In the aforementioned blog post, Jason DeRose’s defense of fiction had this argument:

“…fiction can be an effective way to explore very real events in our society — to get at it in a way that other financial stories and actual interviews (which we always have many of) don’t.”

I agree, but I would also add that fiction need not explore real events, or make us reflect on issues of the day, or do anything demonstrably “good for you.” It’s good because it is. Art is good.

What do you think?