Comments by Russ Jennings

Comment for "What is The Meaning of Life?"

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Review of What is The Meaning of Life?

The Man-On-The-Street is On The Street Again -- Mal Sharpe has been doing hysterical Man-On-The-Street interviews for decades. This show strings together dozens of recent interviews, roughly hovering around the big question: What's the Meaning of Life? Of course, he finally gets the definitive answer from his mother -- where else?

Just so you know, Mal has been a friend and colleague for nearly twenty years, so I'm used to his humor. That didn't keep me from breaking out in laughter several times. This is a great program that simply fascinates the listener. What will he say next? Where did these people (the interviewees) come from? It's amazing the way people get completely into the absurd question at hand.

The show is fast moving and peppered with great jazz tunes that in some way relate to the topic at hand. Some of these numbers are pretty obscure, but then Mal has a great collection.

Bay Area people can catch his humor when his band, "Big Money In Jazz" (the Grateful Dead of Dixieland) performs. Great stuff.

Comment for "Bruce Springsteen: The Story of Born to Run"

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Review of Bruce Springsteen: The Story of Born to Run

I have two iconic Bruce Springsteen moments in my life. They are part of how I define myself in the world today. The first was in the beginning of the year-or-so-long “Born In The USA” tour (I saw that tour twice – the beginning and the end). It was at the Oakland Coliseum, and the place was filled with teenagers who were thrilled to see the guy with the number one song (the irony of which they just didn’t get) and a lot of folks in their early forties who were there for the cathartic anthems that had shaped them. We (the old folks) were dancing our butts off, the kids were screaming and jumping up and down. There’s nobody like Bruce. And it all began, really, with “Born To Run.”

The other moment was several years before that, also at the Oakland Coliseum, when Clarence Clemons stepped into the spotlight, center stage, and played the most amazingly emotional sax solo ever to goose a rock and roll song – “Jungleland.” My body shakes and my eyes tear up just thinking of it.

“Born To Run” is everything everybody says about it: poetry, drama, politics, optimism, defeat and hope – an opera. This program captures the uncertain majesty of this amazing work of art. I loved hearing about all the details of the process, most of which I hadn’t heard. Listening to it lead me, inevitably to my stereo to listen to the album itself for days afterward. Great work.

But there’s one big question. Where’s The Big Man? That album was also Clarence Clemons’ finest hour. I must confess I haven’t kept up with the gossip. Maybe they’re not speaking these days, but can you talk about “Born To Run” without Clarence Clemmons? Maybe they couldn’t get the interview with Bruce without promising to exclude Clarence, but……… geeeez!

So an excellent program has a major flaw. I’d still program it if I was a program director, with my own disclaimer. But if I was producing the program and I found myself in the awkward situation of having to leave The Big Man out of the story, I don’t know if I’d be able to go along with the program.

Comment for "Giving Radio"

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Review of Giving Radio

I love this piece. It takes the listener through Joshua's family and into our own world of life-long relationships. I can, however, see that it would be embarrassing for all to sit in a circle at her birthday party to listen. So it is a difficult birthday gift. It is meant for the solitary experience of radio. Seems to me that this would be a good piece for This American Life.

Comment for "Hi, I'm Jesus, With the Loan That's Right For You"

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Review of Hi, I'm Jesus, With the Loan That's Right For You

Merele Kessler does it again. He's comentaries are always way "not from here" but yet dead on the money. This one goes deep into the day-to-day world of the "born agains" and pulls out all the irony, for us to savor. Problem is, he's gonna gore my ox someday. Oh well, it'll probably really funny and right on.


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The biggest strength of this piece is the personality of John Black Feather, the Native American man who produces Pow-Wows. His warmth and knowledge are highlighted very well by the producer. Black Feather is full of information and a clear understanding of Native culture and how it fits into the overall American scene. Very informative, great sound.

Comment for "The Liar's Table"

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Review of The Liar's Table

Very well put together. The piece has a sweetness about it, I guess because it reminds me of the characters in the small town where I grew up. Just the right length.