Comments by Michael Johnson

Comment for "KUT's On the Record: Ruthie Foster"

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Review of KUT's On the Record: Ruthie Foster

On The Records a series of interviews presents an interesting scenario: musicians talk about the music that inspired them, and then that music is featured. In this particular episode, Texas based musician Ruthie Foster, talks about Stevie Wonder and his influence on her music, but then all the listener hears in te piece is Stevie's music, leading me to ask the question, " was the show about Foster, or about Stevie Wonder?.

The fact that the series is narrationless only gives use one shot at introducing the sole voice in the piece.

The only proerr presentation would have to be airing the series as a whole, not individually, as part of an electic music series, given the range of musicians and musical tastes presented, as well as the varying lengths of time in the 12 or so features in the series.

Excellent quality, great editing, good for drop in to a show that doesn't mind input from an outside producer, with the cavaets above, it's a good show.

Comment for "Healing in the Cards"

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Review of Healing in the Cards

Reporter David Kates visit to the local botanica/sprit healer shop could have been a fun venture, but is limited by "newsy" narration, uninspired scripting, and minor technical glitches.

Comment for "The Big Payback-A Tribute to James Brown"

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Review of The Big Payback-A Tribute to James Brown

Peter Bochan offers up James Brown cleverly edited in this lively half hour of beats, actualities from the Godfather of Soul, samplings of studio outtakes TV appearances and more. There are a few times that I wish I knew who was commenting on James Brown, but when you get to the voice of JB himself explaining how he formed his music and the soul of the soul music, it's quite engaging.

Some bookend narration would help a lot , but the in the end, the music and the man, speak for themselves. Ow! Unh! Hit Me!

Fantastic editing job here, never a dull moment, nicely paced with the funky, the soulful, and the peaceful side of this one and only performer, whose musical legacy will remain with us for many years.

Comment for "Coming Home: Iraq Veterans" (deleted)

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Review of OPEN SOURCE: Coming Home: Iraq Veterans (deleted)

Sure to heart up the discussion on the fallout of the Iraq War in this engaging hour of talk, host Christopher Lydon turns his attention to the plight Iraq Veterans on this edition of Open Source, where his guests, Iraq Vets themselves, give voice to the special circumstances and needs of the returning Gulf War soldiers, and how the post war treatment of vets is falling far short of what is needed.

This discussion is long overdue and will make a noon time air slot all the more appealing to lsteners, and would bear repeating in the evening, for listeners whose families or friends are affected by the on-going war.

Comment for ""Lincoln Memorial" from American Icons series (PRI's Studio 360)" (deleted)

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Review of "Lincoln Memorial" from American Icons series (PRI's Studio 360) (deleted)

Kurt Anderson gives the Lincoln Memorial the Studio 360 treatment for an hour study of one of the country's most recognizable icons. A great program for midday on the 4th of July or President's Day, of course.

Comment for "The Tristan Mysteries: The Mythic Mysteries"

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Review of The Tristan Mysteries: The Mythic Mysteries

A compelling telling of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde told with many voices, a rich and near perfect soundtrack to the expertly chosen interviews, scenes, and narration. Producers Amy O"Leary's pedigree from This American Life, Weekend America, and WNYC's Radio Lab, show in this evenly paced 17 minutes. Have classical music program? Tease and please your listeners with this finely crafted piece.
This production is part of a weeklong series.


Comment for "Roots 30th Anniversary"

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Review of Roots 30th Anniversary

Nannie and Bill Haley, the wife and son of author Bill Haley, talk about the 30th Anniversary of Roots with host Dan Kramer. The mix of clips from the TV series, as well as the ambiguous ambient presence of music in the background, are not able to salvage this piece from the languid pace, and lack of back introduction of the guests. More cowbell, or more narration would have made this brief interview stronger.

Comment for "Why the Dudes Dig Me"

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Review of Why the Dudes Dig Me

This one woman personal essay on life lessons in female male relations is a witty, irreverent tale of looking love in a few of the wrong places, and would make a fun drop in to a music program, just as a little something different in the mix. Taped before a live audience the unidentified female comedienne regales her audience with awkward moments from her life, that will make the listener recall their own moments of "suspended grace". There's applause at the end so some poignant or ironic song could be played at the end of this great monologue.

Comment for "Brothers at Odds: The U.S. Army vs. Lt. Ehren Watada" (deleted)

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Review of Brothers at Odds: The U.S. Army vs. Lt. Ehren Watada (deleted)

This episode of Making Contact explores the court martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first Army officer to be tried for publicly opposing the war.

There are no surprises here; the political bent of the program is decidedly in Watada's court, but the show is still a strong presentation of a significant anti-war statement.

Comment for "Radiolab, Show 304: Memory and Forgetting"

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Review of Radio Lab, Show 304: Memory and Forgetting

Exploring memory in this edition of Radio ab with Jad & Robert, has never been so fascinating...or hallucinogenic. Many engaging stories are told:

a wife whose husband has no memories past a few seconds and how music brings it back

how memory is constructed by the barin

how memory is deconstructed by science.

All told in RadioLab's curious Krulwichian, like Ken Nordine on caffeine, like a David Mamet verbal habit.

I was nearly worn out by the last stretch of the program, but the journey was still intriguing.

RadioLab is an experiment gone right, doing what radio can do best: tell stories in new ways, and this hour on memory has some transcendent moments that make the frentic narrative, all the more worth the listen.

Play this one at noon any week day, and then repeat it at night... a week night or a Sunday evening.

Comment for "Me and Hank"

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Review of Me and Hank

This story is a loving tribute from Sandy Tolan to his boyhood sports hero, Hank Aaron. Tolan roams the country and his memory for this well told story of the legendary ball player.

With Barry Bonds closing in on Aaron's all time hitting record, this would be great to run on, around, shortly after, or shortly before the day the record is broken.

Comment for "Kansas City Central Debate: Rules of the Game"

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Review of Kansas City Central Debate: Rules of the Game

Sylvia Maria Gross attempts to reconstruct the story of a couple of students from Kansas City's Central High School who shake up the national debate circuit with rap and by making the case that the debates themselves are rigged to benefit privileged kids at expensive schools.

It's a long 20 minutes that tries to chronicle the students journey, from the locals to the nationals, but the complexity of the story and the narration heavy presentation, make this a tough listen.

Comment for "Art of the Song Darfur Special" (deleted)

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Review of Art of the Song Darfur Special (deleted)

This engaging hour long tale of compassion, music, and citizen diplomacy will move your listeners with its deceptively simple story of a few american women who reached out to oppressed women in the Dafur section of Sudan through music. "We are Connected" is the name of the CD; "We are delighted" you listeners will say after they listen to the stories of traveling to Darfur, meeting and hearing the suffering the darfur refugees, then a celebration of two peoples acknowledging their common human bond through song.

Great for a Sunday or Saturday early afternoon as a special filled with rocky, folky, bluesy music written specifically for the benefit of the Darfur whose voices were mixed into the music.

Comment for "Pastures of Plenty: Sailing East: Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos in the Fields"

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Review of Pastures of Plenty: Sailing East: Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos in the Fields

California's historical relationship with asian and filipino farmworkers is skillfully rendered in this first of a four part series .It is narrated by playwright Luis Valdez at the top and bottom, byt this piece really shines when the producer, Rachel Anne Goodman, takes over the mic and guides the listener directly to the workers involved in this rich, yet often hidden story of the men and women who harvested California's fields, and helped to feed the nation,

This would be a great series for the week of the 1st of May.

Comment for "Making History in Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick, From the South Side to the State House"

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Review of Making History in Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick, From the South Side to the State House

This portrait of Deval Patrick, Massachussetts' first black governor, is an hour of biographical facts on this historic figure, told in personal anecdotes, political analysis, and historical perspective.

Comment for "The Legacy of Torture"

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Review of The Legacy of Torture

Several former Black Panthers speak out abuot their past experience of torture at the hands of the police 36 years agoafter the unsolved murder of a San Francisco polce officer. . After having their cases dismissed because of confessions construed under torture, they were rounded up just in the last years, and questioned about associations with terrorist groups. In this chilling half half hour, their graphc descriptions of torture ad the connections to the current "war on terror" remind us of how precious our human rights are.

Comment for "Language Arts"

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Review of Language Arts

This pece on Durham, NC hip-hop group Language Arts is a hopeful portarit f young musicians by a young producer. A very fine effort about two young men with a message in their music. I just wish there was more of the music! Listening will make you want to hear more.
Great in a segment on youth ventures r as adjunct programming for youth, or as a standby drop in during morning drive.

Comment for "Abused and Abandoned: Breaking the Cycle of Violence Against Women"

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Review of Abused and Abandoned: Breaking the Cycle of Violence Against Women

This somber accounting of the satae of violence against women around the world is familiar ground, unfortunately, but a necessary telling of an onging tale of injustices in communities and countries that discourage the reporting of rape and violence directed towards women.

This is not an easy hour to listen to, but is important that it be heard.

Comment for "Black History Month (Musicians from Philadelphia): Solomon Burke"

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Review of Black History Month (Musicians from Philadelphia): Solomon Burke

Producer Tracey Tanenbaum's respectful profile of Soul Singer Solomon Burke with interviews and music in a very NPR / ATC manner would make a good drop - in to any prrogram of American popular 60's music.

Comment for "Afrosippi Picnic" (deleted)

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Review of Afrosippi Picnic (deleted)

Producer Ben Adair leads the listener on a 12 minute journey into the two fading american traditions, while giving a sense of discovery and wonderment at the same time. "Picnic" a gathering of mostly african americans from a North Mississippi sharecroppers' harvest tradition, and the music of the Drum and Fife, are deftly revealed through some quirk narrartion, great actualities, and a steady escalation of music and rhythm. It will have the listener tapping their toes and wishing that they were at this rich, and unfortunately fading tradition.

Do that listener a favor: play this piece during the 4th of July, late morning or early afternoon. They will thank you for it.

Comment for "New Orleans Now: Can Art Help Heal a Broken City?" (deleted)

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Review of New Orleans Now: Can Art Help Heal a Broken City? (deleted)

As usual Making Contact delivers another quality program with this moving installment on artists and their comtribution to the restoration of devastated New Orleans. In this radio journey, a pile of rocks, a lone tree, a cyclone fence. and more ordinary objects are all changed by a group of artists who interact with the N.O. residents and together a mutuak trust, and healing takes route.

This half hour would go well on a Sunday afternoon before WEATC or on a weekday evening, post drivetime.

Comment for "Every Voice And Sing! "The Early Legends"" (deleted)

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Review of Every Voice And Sing! "The Early Legends" (deleted)

Narrated by NPR's Michelle Norris, Every Voice & Sing showcases the history of choral music and choirs at historically Black Colleges and Universities. It's a carefully and considered production that has a slightly slow pace, but is rich in information and music, and would be great on Sunday mornings . Perfect for Black History month.

Comment for "Black Classical Masters: Moses Hogan series"

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Review of Black Classical Masters: Moses Hogan series

Davis Person has crafted 4 fine features on black composer/arranger Moses Hogan, rich with personal stories, and each showcasing one of Hogan's striking arrangements of negro spirtuals; each a gem of musical thought and inspiration. This series of four 5 minute pieces swould work equally well on a classical or american folk music formatted station. Beautifully produced and narrated, this offering from the Black Classical Masters series will provide an opportunity for listeners to sit back and enjoy a few rich moments in American Classical music not usually heard.

Comment for "The "New" New South"

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Review of The "New" New South

Tanya Ott's examination of the trend of blacks returning to the south is a well researched production on an aspect of lack life not often cosidered in mainstream press. This woud be a good kick off for a discussion focusing on social trends & black society in America today.

Comment for "Program 01: Daisy Turner, Vermont Storyteller"

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Review of Program 01: Daisy Turner, Vermont Storyteller

This Peabody Award winning series of short portraits of storyteller Daisy Turner who lived to be 104 ( narrated by the inimitable Barbara Jordan ) is a perfect gem to drop into ATC or ME if your station is looking for programming for Black History month. There are 20 short modules that use Turners voice recalling her songs of childhood, slave narrative, and personal history, as well as commentary from other figures knowledgable of her life.
The production is clear, polished without seeming so, and aims directly at the soul.

Comment for "A Hawaiian Christmas with Slack Key Master Kapono Beamer"

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Review of Hawaiian Christmas with Slack Key Master Kapono Beamer

If you're still looking for Christmas Day programming, Heidi Chang's intimate half hour with Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Master Kapono Beamer is just the ticket. Christmas stories and memories are told throughout the program, lovingly seasoned with music from Kapono Beamer, and near perfect , natural, and pleasently voiced hosting by Chang. It's a slice of Christmas culture everyone will enjoy on Christmas Day.

Comment for "Separate Worlds, Shared Dreams: Voices of Muslim & American Youth" (deleted)

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Review of Separate Worlds, Shared Dreams: Voices of Muslim & American Youth (deleted)

A thoughtful hour on young people communicating across an East-West cultural divide. Young people from the US and in the Middle east engage in a long term internet discussion group and share their feelings about the commonalities and differences between themselves.

Host by Mark Sommers, it's an engaging collection of expressions, that wold make a perfect noontime special on any week day, or on a Sunday afternoon.

Comment for "It's King Biscuit Time"

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Review of It's King Biscuit Time

This portrait and interview with Sunshine "Sonny" Payne originator of King Biscuit Time, the longest running daily radio program in the country from the Delta town of Helena, Arkansas, is a great slice of american spoken word history. I wanted to hear more music and actualities to punctuate the story, as the interview cuts run a bit long, but there are great stories along the way. A nice saturday afternoon drop in for listeners or a great piece to have on hand in case there's a gap between music programmers!

Comment for "The Denver Spirituals Project" (deleted)

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Review of The Denver Spirituals Project (deleted)

Claudia Cragg's offering of The Denver Spirituals Project concert starts with the promise of stirring black spirituals and honest voices. but almost from the first moment those voices begin, they are the ghosts of technical difficulties: faulty editing, lack of internal "um-ectomies", and background music competing with the actualities.

With some remixing and a few well placed mouse click edits for clarity, this could be a nice piece, but as it stands, the Denver Sprituals Project may have to remain on local radio in the mile high city.

Comment for "StoryCorps Memphis - Christmas" (deleted)

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Review of StoryCorps Memphis - Christmas (deleted)

A charming recollection between friends of Christmas on Mud Island, located on the Mississippi River and now part of Memphis. I on;y wish tis was a series of Christmas Tales, as this would make a lovely daily drop in to a news magazine; on it's own it's a great story told in a great southern american voice, and still holds charm .