Pigs. Deal With It.

Nearly three minutes of uninterrupted squealing. It’s challenging. It’s painful. And it’s total genius.

HARK!, a documentary by Chris Brooks, Paolo Pietropaolo, and Alan Hall, “investigates the acoustic world of Early Modern England.” Even though the historical record may give us some clues as to what the Elizabethan era might have looked like, we have almost no inkling what it sounded like.

Almost. 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.

So when you start hearing pigs around the 22-minute mark–and you keep hearing pigs through 25-minute mark–don’t fast-forward. Let the pigs take you through a time warp. And then be glad that you don’t have to clean up after them.

Listen for HARK! on PRX Remix.

An Auditory Unghosting

How can one make sense of an untimely death? Especially the death of someone who spent his life working to make his country a more fair and compassionate place?

In 1963, NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith. Evers’ life and legacy has been commemorated in song, film, and TV. Now, author Frank X. Walker gives a new take on Medgar Evers’ story in poetry.

In this hour-long special, “The Unghosting of Medgar Evers,” Frank X. Walker and WUKY producer DeBraun Thomas present a stunning remix of poetry, music, and historical context.

Chicago Gets Curious

Have you ever wanted a radiophonic go-to source for info on legends, rumors, and lore about your city? If you live in or love Chicago, then you’re in luck.

Curious City, based at WBEZ, is a new project from AIR‘s Localore initiative. It invites listeners to ask questions about The Windy City. Upcoming episodes will have WBEZ staffers investigating queries such as, “What is it like to live on a minimum-wage job in Chicago?” “What economic impact do local colleges and universities have on the city’s economy?” “What is the average income of a street performer in Chicago per year?”

So far, my favorite stories have been about how Chicagoans speak. On a request from a listener, the Curious City team produced a story about the origin of the Chicago accent. But after hearing that story, another listener pointed out that Chicago is really home to more than just one accent–there’s also the Chicago “Blaccent” (as in, black accent). Take a listen.

If you’ve got some curiosity about Chicago, find out how your question can become a radio story over at wbez.org/curiouscity.

Episodes of Curious City are making their way onto PRX, and you can also catch them on PRX Remix.

PRX Spotlight: Stylus Episode #1: Silence

This week, PRX saw the debut of Stylus, which producers Conor Gillies and Zack Ezor describe as a “host-less documentary show navigating ideas, artifacts, histories, cultures, and places along the mysterious terrain of sound and music.”

Episode one is meditation on the idea of silence. It drifts seamlessly from John Cage to Beethoven to Zen Buddhism to The Shining, creating a dreamy landscape of voices and ideas and music.

Stylus began as an academic project while Conor was studying history and journalism at Boston University. At the time, Conor was also interning at WBUR’s Here and Now, which is where he met Zack, the station’s Member Services Coordinator. The two collaborated on the show’s pilot episode with help from WBUR’s Innovation Lab.

Like many young producers, Conor points to This American Life and Radiolab as the shows that got him interested in radio. But it was the work of Canadian producer  Paolo Pietropaolo who helped Conor realize the kind of sound that he wanted for Stylus. “I really love the idea of an hour long show, with no host, to curate voices together with interesting music,” Conor told me over the phone.

Alas, this is but a teaser of what Stylus will become. The show will go on hiatus for a year while Conor and Zack create a six-episode  season. Conor says he’s excited. “This will be a first step into a longer journey of sound and music and listening cultures.”

Take a listen to the first episode:

Best of the Best!

Each year the judges at The Third Coast International Audio Festival select the best new documentaries produced worldwide as part of the TC / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition. The winners are the best of the best in radio. This 2-hour special, hosted by Gwen Macsai, collects the winning documentaries, interviews with the makers, and moments from the award ceremony held at the TCIAF conference in October.

If you only listen to two hours of radio this year, these two hours should be it!


Law students spend countless hours reading cases and distilling them down to the “black letter law” – the rules they’re tested on at the end of each semester. But what gets lost during that process? A friend series creator Zach Miller once said that “law is history stripped of context”. BeyondtheBlackLetter brings back the context. The history. The politics. The people. Connections with other disciplines, like economics and sociology. The goal is to make the law accessible and engaging, and seek out those “Aha!” moments when you realize that something you’ve taken for granted is far more interesting than you once thought.

BeyondtheBlackLetter is latest in a new crop of “short shows” that focus a single subject over the life of the series, like The Longest Shortest Time (early motherhood), the memory palace (surprising history), Blank on Blank (lost print interviews), and 99% Invisible (design and architecture). It’s a fantastic development in public radio and podcasting.

How To Do Everything

Please welcome How To Do Everything to the mix! It’s half advice show, half survival guide. If you need to know how to find a date, or how to find water in the desert, this is the show for you. No question is too big or too small.

Here’s how it works: you send HTDE your questions—from “how do I break up with my hairstylist of 20 years” to “how do I not sound stupid when ordering wine” to “how do I escape a charging rhino”—and Mike and Ian answer them. Usually, given how little they actually know how to do, they find experts who can help you out.

How To Do Everything is hosted by Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag and produced by Blythe Haaga. You may know Ian and Mike as two of the names Peter Sagal says really fast at the end of NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

We’ve added 15 episodes of HTDE to the mix and will add a new one into heavy rotation every week.