The producer’s wife likes to swim at night, far out into the lake. She was taught long ago how to effortlessly, and beautifully, skim across the water. Aired originally on This American Life “Lessons“.
Mashup master GHP, aka, Mark Vidler, mixes Queen’s sports stadium classic, “We Will Rock You,” with AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Crowded House and a bit of Beatles, Outkast, and Snoop Dogg. Download off GHP’s This Was Pop 2002-2007.
The producer spent the winter coaching a boys basketball team in her Washington, DC neighborhood. The boys’ grades aren’t good enough to play for the school, so they join a local church league. And Katie Davis starts more as counselor than coach. Originally aired on NPR. Part of the producers Neighborhood Stories series.
Spin class gets personal, with Chet Siegel as Sam, Emily Tarver as Lisa, Ed Herbstman as Kirk. Written collaboratively by The Truth, from a story by Chet Siegel. Special thanks: Peter Clowney, Kerrie Hillman, and Chris Bannon. Recorded at WNYC and on location in New York City. The Truth podcast is produced by Jonathan Mitchell (also on PRX.
Field recordings in the Annapurna region of Nepal near Tibet, including a ceremony for the Buddha’s birthday, a few donkey trains passing in a cacophony of melodious bells; and a five-foot prayer wheel in a Buddhist gompa in Marpha.
From NPR Radio Expeditions, hidden deep in the woods of the Payette National Forest are the terraced remnants of the “Ah Toy Garden” (near the town of Warren, Idaho), now on the National Register of Historic Places. Produced by Carolyn Jensen Chadwick with sound desgin by Michael Scweppe.
When most people are headed to the beach, our producer heads for the ski slopes near his home in Utah. The goal is to find a combination of freezing and thawing in the late spring that gives the mountain snow pack the singular spring skiing experience(on PRX | on NPR).
Attempting to climb the world’s most deadly and second highest demands extreme gear, training, timing, preparation, and a carefully selected team. Joe Frank eschews every bit of that: why make so easy? Excepted from Joe’s hour, Mountain Rain, available on CD and as an MP3. Music: “Buried At Sea” MC 900 Ft Jesus, One Step Ahead of the Spider.
From Morning Edition, June 2001 “Unfinished Business— Daughters of Destiny:”
Sez the Sisters:
On Monday, Joe Frazier, the great heavyweight boxing champion, died. We had the honor of interviewing Smokin’ Joe at his gym in Philadelphia in 2001. A sweet man, a tough man, a man with eleven children, a man who was caught square in the racial politics of the 1960s. Joe was in the ring that day with his son, Marvis, training his 39-year-old daughter, Jacqui as she prepared to fight Muhammed Ali’s daughter, Laila, and avenge her father’s lost title.The fight was billed “Ali vs. Frazier IV” and fought at a casino on the Oneida Nation in upstate New York. Jacqui and Laila’s match was a continuation of the blood feud that fueled their fathers’ three title fights in the 1970s. We were there to record that story.
We came and went from the gym in Philly, chronicling the saga of the Frazier family, seeing Joe add two cents here, a jab there, struggling with his words and his stories. He was gracious and kind to us. We honor him today.
We called our story “Unfinished Business: Daughters of Destiny.” It aired on Morning Edition a decade ago. Sportswriter Burt Sugar’s description of Frazier’s “bodacious, pluperfect punch” in the 15th round that dropped Ali at Madison Square Garden is mesmerizing.
From the series Neighborhood Stories– Park Life, profiling the daily life of a community’s urban oasis: “Country Bobby” Lowry is the guardian of Walter Pierce Community Park in Washington, D.C. He’s been keeping an eye on the park for almost three decades, and knows more about how it than any city official — he knows the trees, the plants and the kids. In the first of four stories about the park, we meet this transplanted farm boy who never takes shortcuts in his work. See NPR’s has great photo gallery.
Utah’s Zion National Park draws 2.7 million visitors a year, and a major attraction for hearty hikers is a trek along the Grotto trailhead to Angel’s Landing. From the banks of the Virgin River, the yellow-and-red sandstone sides of Zion Canyon rise 2,000 feet. It feels like being inside a huge body. The canyon walls are the rib cage spread open and Angel’s Landing is like the heart.
The sounds of a St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball game are combined with the echoes of Scott Joplin’s ragtime and the distinctive calls of Bushy Wushy the Beer Man. This 39-year veteran beer vendor at Busch Stadium, he shares his love for the game, the crowd, and the communal spirit of St. Louis. Commissioned by Continental Harmony, a partnership of America Composers Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the White House Millennium Council. Performed by Equinox Chamber Players, who premiered the work in their hometown of St. Louis.
“National Anthem” (1990 5:01) Gwen Macsai of Re:sound
Our “Home Team” guest host goes to games at her local minor league stadium, in Prince William, Virginia. After hearing the a host of different folk try to sing the Star-Spangled Banner there, she figures she could do better. That’s where the trouble begins.
“Rookie League” (1989 9:41) Barrett Golding
At the Helena Brewers ballpark in Montana, teens and early twenty-somethings get their first, and for most their only, taste of playing of pro baseball.
“Dug-Out” (1993 27:15) Terry Allen
The fictionalized history of two people: a man born in the late 1800s who runs away from home to play baseball, and a woman born in the early 1900s in a half-dugout (a small house partially built into the side of a slope or hill), who grows up to be a piano player and a beautician. Told by Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, and Katie Koontz, with music by Terry Allen. Commissioned in 1993 by New American Radio. (“Radio Memories” self-interview with Terry Allen.)
A short symphony in pistons and rings, made from tractors recorded at the Reidsville, NC Antique Engine Show. All sounds are actual engines; the piece has no instruments or effects. Paul Overton is at: Dude Craft | Every Day is Awesome | PRX.
The ethanol-injected noise of cars, drivers, and fans at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an ocean-side street race with top pro race-car drivers from around the globe. One-hundred-and-eighty thousand aficionados gather around a two mile course of Fast & Loud in downtown LB — 186mph avg, 200+ on the straightaways. Co-recorded by Joe Skyward.
Bruce Davidson has been a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team since 1971. He’s a world class rider, trainer and breeder. NPR visited Chesterlands Farm, in Unionville, Pennsylvania, when Bruce Davidson and his horse JJ Babu were training for the 1984 L.A. Olympics (they won a Team Gold). David Molpus is now with Ideastream in Cleveland. The producer Carolyn Chadwick’s latest project is Conservation Sound.
Summer Bird, Rags to Riches, Empire Maker, Lemon Drop Kid, Colonial Affair, Thunder Gulch, those are some of the winners at the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. In 1979, an army of NPR sound-recordists showed up trackside at Belmont Park, Long Island to document Spectacular Bid’s attempt to match Secretariat’s legend. Writer/Produced: Josh Darsa. Technical Director: Skip Pizzi, with Field Engineers: Paul Blackmore and Ceil Muller. Technical Assistance: John Widoff and Dave Glasser. Editorial Assistance: Neal Conan.
In 1955, LaLanne swam 1.23 miles from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. He later told an interviewer that the worst part about the ordeal was not being able to do jumping jacks during the swim.
In 1974, LaLanne turned 60, but he showed the world that, for him, age was just a number by once again swimming from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. However, this time, he was not only handcuffed but also shackled. Oh, and he towed a 1,000-pound boat.
LaLanne’s last public stunt was in 1994, when he celebrated his 80th birthday by getting handcuffed and shackled in order to fight strong winds and currents and swim 1.5 miles while towing 80 boats with 80 people from the Queensway Bay Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.
Along the way, Darsa digs into the the history of the “cowboy,” mixing in the experiences of Baylis John Fletcher on an 1879 cattle drive, herding 2000 longhorns from Texas to Wyoming (read by Paul Blakemore from the book Up the trail in ’79.
And underscoring it all is the wild-west symphonies of Aaron Copland.
Josh Darsa wrote and narrated. The technical director and recording engineer was John Widoff, assisted by Miles Smith, Dave Glasser and shop technician Bob Butcher.
“While we were at the rodeo, Josh Darsa wanted to record multiple vantage points of a single scene. For instance, I’d have a Nagra tape recorder on the roof of the grandstand and Miles Smith would have a Nagra in the chutes where the riders would bust out for their ride. Then we would have a free-running Nagra III on the rodeo announcer. We ran them in sync kinda like you would do in video with multiple cameras. This gave us three vantage points. During the show you hear the perspective change through cross fading which is a result of these different but simultaneous perspectives.
There must have been 70 hours or more of tape we shot out there in Cheyenne and every single thing got dubbed. What you heard in the halls of the old NPR were rodeo sounds coming from RC1. Constant horses, bulls, things crashing, just all kinds of things. I think it drove people nuts hearing this stuff up and down the halls.
This was the height of my career at NPR. It was a combination of everything… the music recording, the production sound recording, interviews… every single thing that I had ever done for this company all came together in this show. This was probably how Walt Disney felt when he made Mary Poppins. It was a dream come true for me to build something like this. ‘Cowboy’ is the kind of show you would listen to in a darkened movie theatre. The writing is spectacular.”
–John Widoff, “‘Cowboy,’ a Study in Radio Tale-Telling” Read the entire interview.
The final four games were great, but even better was seeing the Prez take on former pro Pacers star Clark Kellog in a game of HORSE, renamed POTUS for this CBS playground matchup. Makes me proud to have a Prez that can talk policy, talk trash, while consistently sinking nada-but-net from 3-point land:
The best traveling is time traveling. We (journalists and planners) awoke this morning in the early 1900’s. A potbelly stove strove to warm the dusty, drafty, and mostly forgotten ranch house built from 1903-1905. The house itself woke to find squatters in sleeping pods in every room and hallway. This ranch house is now used only once a year for a month of skiing. Skiing? I looked at Frederico Siha, the 67 year old man who owns the property and has lived here for over 50yrs. He didn’t strike me as a skier. Apparently the word for skiing and sheering (of sheep) is very close, my translator corrected with a smile. Senior Siha has three children, all living in the city, none with any interest in continuing the farm tradition, “You have to keep going till you can’t,” he tells me. Further, he’s sure they’ll just sell the land when the time comes. But before then, he wants to travel to Europe, a place he’s never been. When pressed for specifics he smiles and says, “Anywhere in Europe.” More…
The race started, like all good races, with a bang – this particular bang came from a Chilean policeman’s pistola. The beach was empty of teams long before the bullet fell God knows where. Getting to this point however was far from easy.
6:30am, Punta Arenas (Photos)
Everyone, including the first rays of sunlight, gathered in the town’s Central Plaza to board a fleet of buses…buses we would get to know very well. Many of us had already survived the greatest danger of the day…a frenetic ride in local taxis. We watched our last city sunrise for many days and packed into the tour coaches for transport to the kayak launching point and the official start of the race. The early hour muted some of the excitement as racers settled-in. Highly engineered socks started poking up from reclined bus seats by those achieving curious pretzel-nap poses only possible on chartered transports. Lumbering down the highway I watched the scenery change from graffiti-peppered buildings to industrial brick-making plants to just lots of plants being nibbled on by sheep. Lots of sheep. Then the vast nothingness of land, of that something we’re here to traverse and treasure.
NPR Alex Chadwick invites America to share their stories of Flexible Flyers and downhill runs in a cross-USA audio Sledding Party, produced by Katie Davis. (Music: “Come to the Meadow” Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet (1974).)
Seven skiers go into the back-country, only six return; the story from the perspective of the survivors: Dave Carter, Dwight Butler, Alan Murphy, Chris Larson, and Larry Olson; in memory of Greg McIntyre.
A training day in the life of three women at the U.S. High Altitude Sports Center in Butte, Montana; with skaters Chantelle Bailey, Tara Laslo, and Mary Doctor, and trainers Michael Crowe and Susan Sandvig.
“Vatnajökull” (excerpts /2003) Chris Watson
And the sounds of Iceland’s largest glacier, captured by field-recordist Chris Watson, on his CD Weather Report(Touch Music).
Watson’s Vatnajökull sounds were also used in this Sigur Rós film, “Heima” (trailer):
The start of this year’s camel racing season is just starting in the United Arab Eremites. In Australia the season ended a few weeks ago. Every year veteran camel trainer and jockey Glenda Sutton competes, and often wins. Photographer Tim Bonham caught up with her in Queensland, at the Boulia Camel Races.
PRI The World is featuring a superb audio-slideshow of the event; photos and audio by producer Tim Bonham, “Camel Jockey- Glenda Sutton” (3:33 mp3):
Just got the new Funny Car flyer from Drag Racing Underground. Reminded me of their musical side, the band Big Stick. Their tunes are audio auto crashups, fusing dragster sounds, race track announcers, race engine specs, driver intervus, and full throttle rock n’ roll.
Their 1895 sonic salute to summer, “Drag Racing,” went top ten in the U.K.. The tune was one of the select singles in John Peel’s Record Box. And its lyrics are a single line of pure poetry: “In the summer I wear my tube top, and Eddie takes me to the drag strip.”
“Glenda Sutton is a camel jockey.” She trains, rides and races the critters. Photographer Tim Bonham is mixing a radio story for us on Glenda, based on his superb photo-audio slideshow, “The Boulia Camel Races,” in his multimedia collection.
According to some estimates there are upwards of a million feral camels roaming the Australian outback. Some end up as meat, some are culled in a seemingly futile attempt to keep their numbers down, some ruin sacred aboriginal watering holes by drowning in them. A select few end up in the outback town of Boulia, Queensland to run in the most important camel race in Australia. Glenda Sutton is a camel jockey and talked to me about the nature of camels and what it’s like to hurtle down the racecourse on the back of one.
In bicycle trials, evolved from motorcycle trials, “the rider negotiates man-made and natural obstacles without their feet touching the ground” (Wikipedia). This video of Scottish Trials Rider Danny MacAskill (for Inspired Bicycles was filmed around Edinburgh:
A curated collection of radio docs, “AudioDocumentary.org is a first-of-its-kind guide to free radio and audio documentary content on the web.” For instance, check this gem they found at Weekend America, a Vitamin A induced Doc Ellis hurled MLB zero-hitter: “FROM THE VAULT: No-Hitter of Acid“.