Comments for Buckstaff Planetarium

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Produced by Jon Stricklin

Other pieces by Jon Stricklin

Summary: Attempting to learn Astronomy while locked out of the building

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Review of Buckstaff Planetarium

This amusing drop-in is Jon Stricklin's debut piece as a young producer. Stricklin has enormous promise as a public radio personality.

He takes us on a tour of the universe, asking us, "When was the last time that you looked at the stars, I mean, really looked at the stars, laid on your back in the middle of a field and gotten lost in its patterns in the sky, with names like Orion, Leo, Ursa Major, or Draco?" From there it would seem that a trip to his college planetarium would follow as night follows day.

Not so. In all his three years at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, Stricklin has never visited the campus's Buckstaff Planetarium. Neither have his student interviewees, who offer mock-scary descriptions of Buckstaff. One coed quips that the domed building is devoted to "breeding wolverines for cage fights." Another gal opines the planetarium is a place for "massive naked orgies." Nonetheless, Stricklin's growing interest in the stars leads him to take an astronomy course and experience Professor "Halsey's lecture pits," which somehow never involve a field trip to Buckstaff Planetarium.

When he finally wends his way through upper campus and steps inside the eerie edifice, we hear a voice-over of Neil Armstrong's fabled words about having taken "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Stricklin finds groups of townies, Boy Scouts, and a planetarium worker, Terell, who lets him know Buckstaff is, as we suspect, under-utilized.

As clever and sound-rich as it is, for me this piece de-mystifies things and doesn't end up conveying the passion of "space fever" that it begins with. Not that I'm looking for spaced-out poetry, only more of the excitement Stricklin expresses in the first minute or so of his piece. The devil's in the details here, and -- to mix metaphors -- I end up losing sight of the sky for the earthlings.

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Review of Buckstaff Planetarium

I love planetariums, and I love secret places! This piece brings the two together with an irresistible good humor. It's well paced, perhaps a bit too cute at times, but overall a fun listen. When Stricklin finally ventures across the "alien landscape" of upper campus and into the elusive planetarium show, the result is extremely satisfying. "Buckstaff Planetarium" is certainly worthy of some airtime.