Scratchy Grooves For almost twenty years, starting in 1984, Bill Chambless on WVUD-FM at the University of Delaware, explored the pop music of 1900 to 1940 on vintage recordings, "scratches and all." Stream the shows at this website, migrated from the original cassette tapes and maintained by his son.
Can you name a firth in Scotland where the dolphins have individual names? The destination of Haiti's Kita Nago parade? A Sami Village in Lapland where tourists go to see the Northern Lights? A former "city of pirates" on the Adriatic Coast? Every weekday, listeners of PRI's international-news radio show The World are treated to the serendipity of a brief journey to a distant point on the globe. It's part of the daily GeoQuiz, a challenging geographical trivia game enhanced with ambient audio, imagery, mapping, and revealing details of history and landscape. You can play along via Twitter or subscribe to the podcast - either way, this 5 minute vacation will make you a little bit smarter about this incredible planet.
Stetson Kennedy died yesterday at 94. The folklorist and writer was best known for infiltrating and exposing the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, increasing public resistance to the organization and helping lead to the revocation of their national charter. Kennedy revealed details of the KKK to writers of the popular radio show "Superman," giving the Man of Steel a new postwar enemy through 16 episodes of the series "Superman vs. the Klan". [more inside]
The days of the legendary late-night FM DJ are pretty much behind us...with one notable exception. Vin Scelsa, whose radio career spans 43 years on six different New York City FM stations, has developed a uniquely passionate following through his free-form show Idiot's Delight, which blends an idiosyncratic array of music new and old, commentary, and book recommendations. For decades, Vin has used his on-air time to read entire chapters of books, wax philosophical, and add to his remarkable roster of guests. Faithful fans chronicle every aspect of the show, archive past playlists and articles, and even create works like this very homemade but very informative and worthwhile Unofficial Documentary: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. [more inside]
Bridge to Somewhere: Lessons from the New Deal, an American RadioWorks documentary, chronicles Roosevelt's recovery-through-work programs (the CCC, the WPA, and the PWA) and their lasting impact on America's infrastructure. Rich with oral histories and actualities.
NPR's On The Media presents a short set of pieces about comments on news websites and the challenges of "digital democracy," with discussion from Ira Glass about responses to a show about teenage runaways, and New Republic editor and critic Lee Siegel, who posted anonymously to respond insultingly to comments on his own blog. And a Roanoke newspaper editor discusses how one paper sees the integration of comments into online news sites and whether it's a valuable reader service. [more inside]
Whole Lotta Shakin' - a PRI documentary series on the history of rockabilly, hosted by Rosie Flores.
To The Best Of Our Knowledge is one of the most wide-ranging and literate public radio shows in the US, a two-hour "radio salon" featuring leisurely exploration of weekly themes like No Smoking, Identity Crisis, Weekend, and The Mind, Music, and Math. Host Jim Fleming approaches these big ideas through the works of authors - journalists of all stripes, memoirists, poets, fiction writers, essayists. Five years' worth of shows are available on audio archives; you can also search the impressive list of authors by name, or subscribe to the podcast. [more inside]
So You Think You Hate Country Music? Then listen to this. The roots of American country music may surprise you. In this series of NPR programs, trace the gradual development of real country music through the first half of the 20th century. Learn how a woman's instrument of the late 1800s, the parlor guitar, became the the central symbol of country and rock; see how African-American musical forms like gospel and blues meshed with the development of country and early rock and influenced the traditional forms in turn; listen to German-Mexican hybrids of accordian style; find out why women had so many honky-tonk torch songs to sing in the late 40s. The series contains hours of content (narrative, interviews, music tracks), and a multitude of excellent links for deeper digging.