The Day I Quit Caring about NPR

I have posted before about how I spent my adult life as a public radio financial supporter and devoted listener, but since the beginning of the podcast era I have completely stopped caring about NPR, its affiliates, and practically all of its programming. If you look at the comments on that linked post, there is a guy who takes me to task because some of the programs I talk about are NPR, some are PRI, etc. He feels that invalidates my point but I think his nitpicking actually supports my larger point, which is that public radio has systematically ceased to interest me. It’s not a single point of failure.

If you want to be specific about when NPR news programming lost me, I can pinpoint the exact date, and in fact the exact story. July 28, 2006. The story was called “Sitting on the Porch: Not a Place, But a State of Mind.” It was an exploration of the role of the front porch in America. This was the story I am thinking about when I state that modern day NPR news reporting “explores the intersection of the uninteresting and the irrelevant.”

When I hear people talk about how good the NPR reportage is, it seems to me like this is residual karma. There was a time when the reportage was very good indeed, but that time is passed. For people that do think this is the case, are there stories from the last few years you can point to?

One of the things spurring this post at this time is that I just decided to stop listening to the News from Lake Wobegon podcast. I had been finding it a step up from listening to the whole of Prairie Home Companion because truth be told, it is the only part I cared about. The podcast was a step up because there was a lower risk of hearing Garrison Keillor singing. Over the last few months, I’ve just realized that I just don’t care anymore. A few minutes ago I erased that line from my bashpodder subscription list and now it is gone. This thing that once was so completely essential in my life is now barely even present. Part of this is a direct line from podcasting changing my tastes but a lot is the programming itself. It’s like a what used to be a favorite meal at my favorite restaurant that one day I just lost the taste for. It’s sad, but things move on and now so do I.

Update: Here is Roger Ebert waxing rhapsodic about how much he loves NPR. He sounds like me, 15 years ago. The bloom is off this rose for me. I don’t care about the news, the entertainment programming, any of it. I want to buy a new car stereo that includes an auxilliary input jack which my current one doesn’t have. If I could save $10 on one by having no radio in it at all, I’d take that option. I truly don’t care.

Thomas Peake Historical Audio

Thanks to Chris Campbell’s reminder, I was reminded that I have CDs of all the MP3s from the 2004 WREK alumni weekend. That weekend was to celebrate the history of the old station in the Georgia Tech Thrillerdome as they prepared to move to the brand new space. Thanks to CDC’s persistence and the kindness of Mr. Dave Hamilton I can present here an hour of radio that Thomas did. It was nostalgia at the time for a time a decade and a half prior. Now it is double nostalgia for the original period, as well as Thomas’ life as a whole.

I listened to the whole hour this evening and misted up all over again. Here is the audio of Thomas at the WREK alumni weekend shindig in July 2004 – part 1; part 2 and part 3. It’s cold comfort but it lets you hear his voice again, talking about something he really loves. I’ll take it.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Public Radio Fails Me

This blog post has been percolating for a very long time and now I finally am getting to it. As it turns out, it is more timely than I would have expected considering last night’s forum at MPR in Minneapolis (or at least it was last night two weeks ago when I first started writing this post. It has taken days to get this down.) In the interim, Jeff Jarvis has posted on the ouster of NPR’s CEO.

First, let me provide a little background on myself and public broadcasting. Growing up in Kansas I got a great value from public broadcasting. If it wasn’t for it in the days before cable, I never would have seen Monty Python, the Prisoner, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, I Claudius, All Creatures Great and Small, Fawlty Towers, The Good Neighbors and any number of other programs that I loved and love greatly. Public radio didn’t affect me as much until I moved to Georgia and got access to the programming that we couldn’t receive in rural western Kansas. It didn’t take long to get addicted to Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion. Not long after I graduated college I began contributing to public radio and I have been basically my entire adult life. I’ve been a member of Peach State Public Radio, Oregon Public Brodcasting, South Carolina’s ETV. In Louisiana we actually were a member of two stations: our local station KRVS in Lafayette and also WRKF in Baton Rouge because we listened to the local Cajun programming as well as Prairie Home Companion on WRKF. KRVS was also the flagship station of my syndicated radio show, so they have a place of honor in this list. My independently produced program was on the satellite for two years and when I met public radio people at conferences they were almost universally warm and wonderful people. They treated this kid in his twenties doing a science fiction talk show from Louisiana as a one man operation as their peer, which was a great kindness and much appreciated by me.

All that preface is to point out that I’ve had almost 20 years of support for public radio. I’ve been a listener and someone who ponies up cash for that time. When I say that public radio no longer meets my needs, it is not a casual comment by a disinterested party, it is a cry of despair for someone who has been on the team for his whole adult life and feels the team has let him down. Note too that I’m talking about the NPR(tm) brand, not that of the affiliate stations or their programming. In many cases, I think the locally produced programming is of higher value than the nationally syndicated shows. [Update: For those who want to pick nits, I’m not being careful about distinguishing NPR from PRI from APM. They all have the same problems and same failings. The guy who felt he was really zinging me by pointing out that Prairie Home Companion was APM not NPR truly missed the point by a mile and a half.]

Jarvis was posting in terms of business and political maneuvering, but I’m speaking as a listener and constituent. I think modern day NPR is just dismal. It sucks and no longer matters to me. I’m not talking about one or two programs that aren’t as useful to me as they used to be, I’m talking about the whole slate top to bottom. I’m not 100% sure if NPR has changed anything or if after three and a half years of listening to podcasts all day every day I have developed a taste for the natural voice and a disdain for the artificiality of the NPR voice.

In the early days of podcasting, I was compared favorably to Ira Glass and This American Life a number of times and I always considered it a compliment. Back in 1997 when I first heard the program I was still doing my radio show and I was absolutely blown away by TAL. My first inclination after I picked up my jaw was to figure out what they were doing that was so powerful and try to figure out how to steal that for my program. It felt like powerful human stories with a natural voice and I just loved it. It was fresh and interesting and completely unlike anything on NPR. In fact, it wasn’t on NPR because NPR passed on it, which is why it is syndicated by PRI.

Fast forward a decade. I have a TAL confessions to make. I have only been able to finish two episodes since 2004. [Update: I tried to listen today at 3 PM while in the car, shut it off in disinterest.] I don’t listen regularly and those occasions when I do run across it, I always turn it off in disgust because I find it unlistenable. Even the contributors like Sarah Vowell that I really like seem to be turning in lackluster stuff, painting by the TAL numbers. I can’t stand to listen to Ira Glass’s voice. When I see him on Letterman I just want to slap those hipster glasses and that smug shit-eating grin off of his face. I can’t imagine ever watching the television program on Showtime without shooting my television Elvis style. There was a time when This American Life was the best thing on the radio, now it is not the worst but it is the most disappointing. Add to that the bogusness of how they dealt with the early days of podcasting when they first put up MP3s and Jon Udell rigged up a homebrew RSS feed. They not only made him take it down, but made him take down his mentions of the takedown. That is pure distilled bullshit and whatever lingering goodwill they might have had with me dissipated that day. Even worse than TAL are the knockoffs like The Next Big Thing. Oy vey.

I used to love Prairie Home Companion and now when I listen, it sounds like a sad shell of its former self. I didn’t even care about seeing the film but I did because I love Altman’s work. The elegiac feel of that movie was spot on. The show itself has died some time ago, but like a zombie the animated corpse continues to lurch forward. Like many of these long running NPR programs the formula itself is so well worn that people can do it in their sleep. Thus, they do. I used to enjoy Whadya Know and now it is must skip listening. The list, sadly, goes on and on.

I can’t listen to any of the NPR news programs. They used to, in the early days, provided long form, in-depth coverage of issues because they didn’t have many reporters and couldn’t get out to every press conferences. They adapted to that weakness by focusing their energy on fewer stories but covering them well. I long for those days. Now, when they have reporters all over the place they have become sound bite bogus journalism just like that of every other form of broadcast news, audio or visual. When they do longer form bits, they are almost always at the intersection of the uninteresting and the irrelevant. I remember the day when I was listening to All Things Considered and they did a long exploration of the front porch in America. This is no joke, that is what they aired on the program. It was the opposite of a driveway moment, it was an instant finger to the off button.

I tried to listen to Christopher Lydon’s Open Source program. I know his heart was in the right place and his reverence for new media borders on the scary, but I thought the program was far less than the sum of its parts. Even though they worked like crazy to bring in bloggers, to integrate the new media aspects, to take user questions and calls and program suggestions, I never thought it worked. There was too much NPR style DNA in this chimera, which made it stillborn to me. I found Lydon hard to listen to. The make or break show to me was when he had Sonny Rollins on, a guy I love. When he couldn’t make a show that spoke to me out of interviewing Rollins, there was no reason to stick around.

The NPR voice is smug and stilted and has that elitist, know-it-all air. I can’t stand listening anymore. Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation: it doesn’t matter. None of them speak to me in any relevant way, seldom on any subject of interest and never in a voice that isn’t arch and superior. That’s the part that really loses me. I get the sense of superiority from this programming, that they are on a mission to tell me what they think I need to know, at the same time as their relevance to me decreases drastically.

That gets us to the relationship of NPR and their supporters/audience/donors. It has always been a weird relationship because they talk such populist talk about how “we’re all in it together” and “we can’t do it without you.” At the same time, I feel like they have continually pulled away from listening to or even caring about the input from the listeners or the listeners themselves. They need our money but after they get it, they need us to shut up and listen. Even when they say the opposite, their actions betray themselves. Read the live blog from that MPR forum for an example of this dynamic in action. I don’t doubt that the MPR people feel they were doing the right thing but were so disconnected from what it is to interact with their constituents that they can’t even do it without slumming and condescending.

Jeff Jarvis’ post about the internal issues of the NPR leaders touches on something I’ve been discussing since the beginning of the podcast era. When NPR itself podcasts programs, it is a huge channel conflict. They are competing against the local affiliates who, by the way, are the real customer. They are the ones who pay the checks when they pop for $100K/year or whatever it is to broadcast Prairie Home Companion. I always thought the better way to deal with new media was for NPR to have zero podcast feeds themselves. Instead, they should have granted a podcast license to any affiliate who paid the broadcast fees, ie that they could podcast anything they had the right to broadcast. Instead of having a single podcast of Fresh Air, there could be hundreds of them, each branded with a “support our station” message. You could get your podcasts from your local station, or from some distant station with a better feed, or whatever and you could pop a few bucks to whomever. NPR, of course, would never consider that because it is an organization that needs to control. Now they have this centralized service that has even sucked in local programming that gets affiliated. Ultimately, I think that what is likely to happen is that the affiliates lose their patience with the NPR hegemony, drop syndicated programming and go back to creating more local programming. That’s what makes KRVS such a special station, the many hours per week of locally produced Cajun and Zydeco programming. When I lived there, I was much more interested in that than one more hour of some centrally produced music programming. Really, I wish South Carolina produced more programming. I’d rather hear local and regional interviews at 7 PM than Fresh Air.

I think this is indicative of the mindset that I’ve been talking about all along. They want us to be on their side, but they are not on our side. They are not even on their affiliate’s side. They have long since lost their scrappy and scruffy charm and now have more aspirations toward being Clear Channel than the BBC. They talk populist and act elitist. They consider their programming the crown jewels of radio but it has dropped in quality below the threshold of listenability.

Here is the full list of any NPR or NPR type programming in my podcatcher:

  • Garrison Keillor’s Writers’ Almanac
  • KCRW’s Le Show
  • KCRW’s The Treatment
  • WGBH Morning Stories with my friend Tony Kahn

That’s it. There are a few other radio programs in my list, several Subgenius and WREK programs, but no other NPR/PRI/APM programs. There used to be something like 15 in that list, and I’ve pared it down to those four. If Sound and Spirit had a podcast feed, I’d subscribe to it but they don’t.

If NPR can lose me in the new media world, who else can they lose? What value do they add? How can they reclaim their soul? I’ll never forget the session where I heard Tony Kahn, himself a veteran of decades of public radio, give the advice to young broadcasters not to go into radio but to create their own programming on their own channels that they themselves control. That, my friends, says it all. This game is not over, but it’s down to 2 seconds and only a half court shot will send this to overtime. NPR needs to step up fast or they will be stepped over.

Update: People in the comments think they can be clever by putting this back on me. “You stop liking it and you think public radio has changed?” I kind of thought the whole point of my piece was that public radio hasn’t changed, but the world around it has. In a world where we have true interactivity in many ways, the folksy faux interactivity of NPR doesn’t cut it. “Send us money, we’ll tell you what you need to hear and oh, here’s a tote bag.” Of course I have changed out from under it. That’s why public radio doesn’t meet my needs anymore and why listening to these programs I once loved are now like walking barefoot on broken glass.


One of the best things that has happened to me in the new media era is that I occasionally get to talk to Tony Kahn. I love that guy as a person, as a broadcaster and as a wit. A while ago he was nice enough to give me a copy of the series he produced in the mid 90’s called Blacklisted. It is his recollection of his childhood and the period when his screenwriter father was being pursued by the House Unamerican Activities Committee and was literally blacklisted, hence the title. It’s the kind of thing that is sadly relevant in our modern day.

At the time, it was only available for purchase from Audible but I just found out that it is now available for free download from WGBH. My friends, you now have no excuse to not listen to this. It is 6 30 minute episodes, a week or less of a most people’s commute time. I urge everyone to give it a spin. It’s well produced, touching and infuriating material. Let’s remember history lest we be doomed to repeat it. Thank you Tony and thank you WGBH for giving this series distribution in this form. It is a great holiday present to all of us in the new mediasphere.

An Open Letter to APM

I am a regular listener to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac and have been since before they had a podcast. However, they screw up some simple things that makes listening to their show kind of a pain. I thought I’d actually email my issues to them, and blog it as well while I’m at it. I’ve had a general post brewing for months about public radio, how it doesn’t serve me as well as it seems to think it does and how they integrate uneasily into the new media sphere. This is a tiny spoke in that wheel.

Hello. I am a listener to the Writer’s Almanac and have been for many years. Although my local station doesn’t carry it, in the days before you had a podcast version available I used to record the MP3 streams of public radio stations and save them to listen later. When you began podcasting it made my life easier.

I thought I would bring a few technical issues to your attention. One is the implications of the way you use your ID3 metadata tags in the MP3 itself. Every file has the same tags, which are to have an artist of “APM”, an album of “The Writer’s Almanac for …” and a song title of “The Writer’s Almanac for …” . The ellipses are not my convention, those are the literal text in every one of your files. Y’all might not be aware of this, but that causes problems with a number of MP3 players. I have both a Creative Zen and a Microsoft Zune and both of them have some “smart syncing” capabilities. That is, they will only sync a given song once and what defines a distinctive song is that it has a unique set of artist, album and song title. Since your song title never changes, I get one and only one copy of the song on my device, regardless of how many were downloaded. It would not only make that syncing issue work but make your show more usable if the song title also included the date.

Your show appears to be assembled from several different audio files; the main program and several pre and post roll underwriting announcements. All of these files are at somewhat different levels. The announcement in the female voice for the Poetry Foundation is significantly lower than everything else, such that if I’m listening in my car setting the volume for the main program makes that portion all but inaudible. If you set your volume to be able to hear that section, the main show would deafen you. It would really help out the podcast listening experience if these were brought together. It would only need to be done a single time for all the component files and then the show would get better for everyone. There is even a free tool to do this for just this situation:

Hope you are all well. I’m trying to do good work here, and by definition I have kept in touch.

Dave Slusher

The Return (sort of) of Penn Radio

For a while last fall, I was running so far behind in podcast listening that my laptop hard drive kept filling up. In the height of that time, I moved a bunch of files onto my external drive for safe keeping and then kind of forgot about them. Now that I’m actually kind of underloaded, I went back and looked in there to bring some back. I remembered moving a lot of the WREK shows over there. Because each half hour is 29 Mb and Personality Crisis and the Subgenius shows are each 5 files (because they usually run over the top of the hour they nominally end in), each instance of those was 145 Mb.

What I had forgotten is that I had moved over a lot of the Penn Radio shows at the same time. I have a full month worth of episodes, 20 of them, from October and November of last year. Whereas recently I was listening to two of them each cycle to catch up, now I’ll be sure and only put one on each time to savor them. When these are gone, I guess that’s it. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to find that I had this little pocket of unlistened Penn. The experience of listening is a little different after I heard the Skepticality episode where he was weird to Swoopy, but I’m still glad to have these nonetheless.

Apologies of the Week

I’m a listener to the podcast version of Harry Shearer’s public radio program Le Show (podcast feed here). A few weeks he read a story out of “Clemson, North Carolina.” I wrote in an email suggesting that perhaps he could slide himself in as an apology of the week for lumping both Carolinas together. I suggested that from California, of course both Carolinas seem like the same thing but as a part time Louisiana resident maybe he could get a closer look. Lo and behold, a week or two ago I was listening to the show and heard his apology! Wowza, it worked. Thanks Harry.

Friends of WREK Blog

Bad things are afoot in Atlanta. Various factions are trying to take over some or all of the programming on WREK, the Georgia Tech student station. I’ve glancingly mentioned Georgia Public Broadcasting’s attempt to air the commodity NPR programming over WREK’s signal during weekdays. The GT Athletic Association, which cares nothing about radio except for those times when they have a game to air, also wants to exert some form of greater control. I haven’t gotten wildly involved in defending WREK this time. I’ve fought lots of these fights and I’m just weary. I support them in principle and although I was not a signatory to the recent letter to the administration that’s just from my failing to respond to email. I will probably write my own letter soon.

An alumnus named John Nestor has set up a blog about the whole issue if you want to follow these events and/or help out.

Nicola Griffith on NPR

More about my friend Nicola Griffith. This weekend she was on The Best of our Knowledge. It actually airs in my area but I missed it live on the radio (which is not uncommon.) Apparently they have a podcast feed which means that you can get an MP3 of the show, rather than the craptacular unportability that is any Real Audio file (which seems to be the defacto standard for NPR archives.) This episode is not yet in the podcast feed yet, but I suspect they delay it a little. I’ll be on the look out.

One of my friends gets on radio shows with the tagline “Lesbian Crime Writer.” If you have to have your career boiled down into three words, those are three you don’t see together every day. I can’t wait to hear this show, because although I’ve interviewed her about her science fiction, I’ve never heard a radio interview on her since she’s been writing the Aud books, which are more mystery/action/thriller type novels. Right on, Nicola!

Update: Here’s a direct link to the MP3 file of Nicola’s interview. I’ll try to keep WordPress from automatically enclosing it in the feed.

JC on the NPR

My boy Coulton was on the Soundcheck program from WNYC. I listened to it and while I thought Johnny Geekrock did just fine, I thought the show in general and the host in specific sucked. It had all that condescending smugness you associate with NPR talk shows coupled with some general underinformedness. Perhaps that guys is bucking to be sufficiently condescending to one day become host of Talk of the Nation.

The Ongoing Death of Radio

Over at Jon Kincaid’s Personality Crisis blog, Scott Long has a great comment about radio stations switching formats to pick up listeners. I agree with him, nowadays it is just a shuffle of deck chairs on the ship as it goes down. His point is that the loyal listeners will bail at the format change, and there is no new influx of listeners to move in. As he says,

96rock listeners were all waiting for an excuse to tell their wives they needed Sirius/XM and now they have it.

Amen, brother. Radio stations with a following would probably do best playing defense now and try to maintain their current listeners rather than looking for this mythical new format that will bring in the kids. The kids don’t give a damn about any station at all. When all new car stereos start to come with RCA input jacks, kids will jack in their iPods and never listen to the radio again.

Dixie Chicks and PBS

Last night An Evening with the Dixie Chicks was on PBS. I recorded it with the DVR and am watching it today. Bless you, little DVR. Pledge drive programming on PBS is watchable again! Bob help you if you don’t have one and have to sit through the mind-numbing faux populism of the on-air pledge shills. Considering that every public broadcasting organization I know of has the goal of becoming an ever bigger machine, the whole “You are one of us” schtick falls pretty flat to my cynical ears. Now that Georgia Public Broadcasting is trying to bully WREK off the air during the day, trading the latter’s unique programming for the former’s commodity widely-available-elsewhere NPR slate, I’m embarrassed that I ever gave money to GPB. I wish I could take it back.

And as far as the Dixie Chicks go, I wasn’t a big fan until Home which I bought on a whim one day and really enjoyed. When the whole political thing started, I should have bought one more album every time I heard of some anti-Chick rally. It’s nice to see that it doesn’t take much to bring the barely buried prejudices and misogyny of the country scene to the surface. Even if I didn’t like their music, if Toby Keith hates you then you must be doing something right.

Blogging the (Personality) Crisis

A few years ago my buddy Jon Kincaid had a heart attack. One of the advantages of having a hosted box is that you can set up web pages in literally minutes and in fact we did. I registered the domain name, Thomas Peake did the HTML for a webpage with information about the situation and we set up a PayPal account for donations. Over the course of a few months, we actually raised several thousand dollars, which is good and all but a drop in the bucket when it comes to paying for a quintuple bypass for an uninsured man. After the emergency, basically nothing else happened with the website for years, until a few weeks ago.

I got tired of the shrine to the heart attack, so I set up a WordPress blog for Jon and gave him the password and let it rip. I wasn’t sure if he’d find it usable and/or have the desire to post to it but he has and in really interesting ways.

His most recent post is a necrology of all the dead record stores that he encounters on his commute to work. In the first two sentences he ties together his heart attack with the bankruptcy of Tower Records. Wow. As an ever older guy, one of the things I like to do is drive around and look at buildings and talk about what they used to be. Since I have moved so often, I lose that ability every time I start over in a new place. I’m delighted to have Jon do that for me. I’ve shopped at a number of the stores he cites. The original Tower Records at Around Lennox is where I bought my beloved copy of Coltrane’s Love Supreme and all the volumes of Zappas You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore so I have some affection for the damn place myself. Thank you Jon, for your many years of service rocking the masses and entertaining Atlanta and now the world. I’m glad to see you gracing us with your essays and blog posts with whatever frequency you can. Welcome to the blogosphere, hoss.

Galaxie 500

I’m listening to an archived copy of Jon Kincaid’s Personality Crisis radio show and on it he played all Galaxie 500 music for his 2 hours. Wow, I haven’t listened to them in at least a decade but I’d forgotten how good they are. Hearing their music makes me feel like I’ve just woken from a dream — or maybe that I haven’t quite woken up yet and I’m still dreaming. The show is old enough to have already rolled out of the WREK archives, but dang it was a good one.

This American Life Doesn’t Get It

Jon Udell posts this very disappointing exchange between himself and the webmaster at This American Life. In a nutshell, TAL is asserting that Jon is violating their copyright by publishing an RSS feed that points to MP3s that they themselves host. This is exactly the same thing I’m doing with the WREK feeds I host. In my case, I have a close relationship with WREK (they recently put me and several alumni on a plaque honoring our service to the stations) so I can’t see them doing the same thing to me.

I wish WBEZ was still my local affiliate to which I was a donor. I’d write them a note of disappointment as a member. I will still write that note, but with a more tenuous relationship. Public radio wants to be perceived as different than commercial radio. If that’s their desire, getting legal and cease-and-desistish on people for linking back to their own files is the wrong way to do it. It’s absurd on a technical level, and dickheaded on a common sense and moral level. I’m slowly ceasing to think of the organization as “public radio” (in the sense of us all being in it together) and instead thinking them as another form of “corporate radio” (where the corporation is the CPB).

Really, who needs that anymore? I’ve been a deep supporter of and even a participant in public radio as an independent producer in my life, and even I am becoming an antagonist of them. Folks, when you are antagonistic to your supporters you create antagonism. As Colbert says, “You are (this close to being) dead to me.”

Thanks to EGC reader/listener Ken for the heads up on this issue.

Update: Now they’ve even asked him to take down the blog post cited above talking about the takedown notice. To me, that just compounds the cluelessness further and works me into more of a lather than I originally had. When I send them my email, I will post the text as a blog post.

Penn Jillette Radio

Although my listening to terrestrial radio has dropped to something that rounds to nil, I do listen to a number of timeshifted and/or area-shifted radio programs. The newest one I have added is the syndicated Penn Jillette talk show on FreeFM. I’m subscribed to this RSS feed which originates from DC. I really enjoy Penn but from the promos they run during the commercial breaks I can tell there is nothing else on that station that I’d remotely be interested in. It sounds like Penn and then a bunch of knucklehead shock jock Stern wannabes on this format.

It’s very interesting to listen to how he handles the callers. On a recent show, he was talking about abortion and a woman called in with her arguments about where life begins. Penn did not agree with her position, but as they talked he didn’t ridicule her points but actually refined her arguments with her. He pointed out ways that she could clarify it to make it more persuasive to him. By the time they were done, she could restate her position in one sentence – “I believe the smallest right of the already born outweighs the largest right of the unborn.” Again, that is not necessarily his belief but he got her into the most well articulated and readily understood form of hers. It was kind of amazing to listen to. Lots of talk shows claim to be about discussion and discourse, but this might be the first time I’ve really heard that in action.

Personality Crisis does Queen

I’m listening to the most recent episode of Personality Crisis from my outlaw RSS podcast feed. Queen is playing (played?) Atlanta this week, so Jon did a show with a lot of Queen (still going, so I don’t know if all 2 hours were nothing but.) This is seriously good stuff, not the tired things like “Bohemian Rhapsody” that you’ve heard 17,000 times on classic rock radio. Think “Tie Your Mother Down”, “Ogre Battle”, “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon/I’m In Love with My Car”, etc. I think I’d put Queen at the very top of 70’s bands that I care about, or possibly tied with Cheap Trick. Although there are half a dozen songs that get played over and over on radio, it’s easy to forget that there are so many good albums loaded with good songs top to bottom.

If you want to hear this, you have until Sunday night March 12, 2006 when it gets overwritten in the archive by the next show.

Outlaw WREK Feeds

Here’s a quick list of all the outlaw, unofficial podcast feeds I have set up for WREK programs.

Personality Crisis; punk, post-punk and what have you: feed

Subgenius mayhem; the Hour of Slack and Bob’s Slacktime Funhouse: feed

Desoto Hour; big band jazz (at 90 minutes not really an hour): feed

Atmospherics; ambient and electronic: feed

Longboards and Longhorns; surf, country, hawaiian, and western soundtracks: feed

Classics; ancient and modern: feed

New Forces; garage and psychedelic rock: feed

Update: I forgot to mention that all of these feeds include the trailing half-hour beyond the nominal endpoint of the show. Because WREKsters are, ummm, non-rigorous with the clock often shows start late and run over by amounts that range from a minute or two up to and including the point where it seems ridiculous. Any given episode of any of these shows may have some of the preceding show in the first part and run into the following show on the back half.

Also, by popular demand I have added feeds for the daily Classics show and for New Forces. OK, one guy apiece asked for them but sometimes that’s all it takes.