Comments by David Schulman

Comment for "Out of the Blocks: 4700 Liberty Heights Avenue (mini version)"

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Just listen ...

Damn this is good. What radio is made for. Stop what you're doing, and just listen, as they say. Just listen ...

Comment for "Early Bloom"

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Fascinating ...

... and a terrific production!

Comment for "Journey of the Asian Carp"

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terrific piece

such great radio!

Comment for "NEA Jazz Master Toots Thielemans and His First Night in the US"

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Review of NEA Jazz Master Toots Thielemans and His First Night in the US

Delightful! A musical smile from one of the best music producers working in radio, Molly Murphy.

Comment for "THE BO DIDDLEY BEAT: The Music of Bo Diddley and His Disciples"

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Review of THE BO DIDDLEY BEAT: The Music of Bo Diddley and His Disciples

Bo Diddley just rocks. Still. And so does Paul Ingles.

Bo said it: You got your radio turned down too low ...

Comment for "StoryCorps: Debora Brakarz and Michael Wolmetz"

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Review of StoryCorps: Debora Barkarz and Michael Wolmetz

Heartbreaking, beautiful, raw and shocking. (To state the obvious, it's impossible to script or stage or pre-interview for radio as stunning as this). I'm afraid to say any more — but listen, listen, listen. Bless you, StoryCorps ...

Comment for "A Short History of Music as a Weapon"

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Review of A Short History of Music as a Weapon

In reading the previous review, I'm reminded of just how subjective listening can be. While finding a way to appropriately credit the source of the ideas here is important, this piece struck me on the whole as an unusual and thought-provoking talk+music essay, in the upper tier of what's available on PRX.

Henkin's strategy of unexpectadly stepping back in time to Waco at the end was, to my ears, an effective and powerful narrative choice. It allows the piece to end on a note that engages listeners pretty directly in the psyops experience, and I think will cause them to reflect on what they've heard in more depth (and with less ideological polarization) than if the piece ended with the more straight-forward scenes from Iraq.

Hadn't remembered the details of how crickets and Nancy Sinatra were used at Waco, and Henkin's dramatization, adding sound on top of sound, felt quite effective. This is an audio essay, not a news report, so I wasn't greatly bothered by the use of sound effects — though it would be simple for the producer to tweak the narration to make it clear that we're not listening to actual sound from Waco, by saying that it sounded "something like this."

Presented as an essay or commentary, and perhaps followed by a phoner interview with Kerr Houston as Henkin suggests, this could work nicely on a station-produced magazine show.

Comment for "1000 Postcards"

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Review of 1000 Postcards

Beautifully done, full of gentle surprises (the viola?), and richer and deeper with every passing minute. It operates on many levels at once -- there's a lovely Oulipian formalism to the task Rene's dad sets himself -- but this piece always feels warm, natural, and absolutely unaffected. Rene and her dad, and their relationship gradually bloom as characters in this piece, and, as a storyteller, Rene has a deft touch for saying just enough, and leaving room for mystery. A little gem -- one of the best pieces I've heard on PRX.

Comment for "Walter Backerman, Seltzer Man"

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Review of Walter Backerman, Seltzer Man

Eric Nuzum is right -- for a piece to be viable for stations via PRX, it needs to be easy to use, without extraneous material. So the Dean Olsher intro here should be cut, and the identical script provided for local station staff to read. But the piece itself is such thing of beauty -- a beautiful, beautiful piece of sound and storytelling. It's masterful: disarming, and funny , and then you get this amazing truer-than-life scene between Seltzerman and an old customer. For anyone who hasn't heard this piece before, I won't spoil it with more words. Listen!

Comment for "God is Talking to Me"

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Review of God is Talking to Me

Edgy and artful and funny and provocative and compelling. Sean Cole's review is dead on. But where can it air? This is not your father's Father's Day special -- and I hope its fate will be something more than being just an underground hit for audioheads. It would make a great pick for any station that does an audio showcase. And the first AAA station that dares to broadcast this piece during music programming, even if late at night, should get the PRX medal of valor.

Comment for "Office Artist"

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Review of Office Artist

The first two minutes of this piece are totally groovy and sensuous ... it's great to have those full two-minutes to just sense and feel and be charmed before getting told directly what the piece is about. The office artist/narrator is delightful. And check out the "use of music" in this piece - it's a nice reminder that you can do cool and quirky first-person piece without relying on music to carry you between thoughts. In this piece, the wild sound and the shape of the ideas do that work.

Comment for "Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder"

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Review of Too Curvy and Not Enough Shoulder

Some truly lovely tape here. Kelly is totally sweet -- I love his opening scene, and there's another bit of wonderful tape from him towards the end. What we have here is a bicycle encased in vaseline, and a teenager who talks about the seat of a fast bike as being his favorite place to pray. Beautiful.

The mom, though, feels superfluous. I'd rather have spent the time getting deeper into Kelly's world. He's such a sweetie, and he somehow doesn't seem to know how appealing and unusual he is, but there's that loneliness -- he can't find a soul to shoot baskets with. What's going on with this kid?

Alternatively, you might go the less-is-more route, use the existing tape of Kelly, and tighten this into a 2-minute piece. Give us something that whirrs past headed down the mountain, and leaves us wanting more.

True confessions: I was lured to this piece by seeing that Gillian Welch is in the mix. So maybe I'm too close to the music to have a valid perspective, but my main quibble with this piece does have to do with the use of music. I often felt distracted from the main story by trying to track the correspondences, and the non-correspondences, between the song and the two characters. (The music levels are also a bit hot.) It may be that the only thing standing in the way of this being an utterly delightful piece is the urge to match the story to the music. Dare to lose it. Try to find the shape of the story that comes from Kelly. You might do better by having the narrative carried along by wild sound, instead of by the song -- you could figure out a way to tape Kelly actually cruising on his bike, then use that as your "traveling music." There's a lot of promise here, and I'd love to hear it fulfilled -- then, maybe, we could hear some Gillian Welch.

Comment for "The Day My Mother's Head Exploded"

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Review of The Day My Mother's Head Exploded

PDs at newstalk stations, don't be put off by the slightly glib title -- if you audition no other PRX piece this month, listen to this one. You don't have 20 minutes to listen, so do this instead: Listen to the start, then go about 6 minutes in, then about 16. You will know then whether this terrific piece can work for your station.

This is a lovely and compelling story of a daughter and a mother whose relationship is transformed by a stroke. (The mom almost dies, and emerges, superego impaired, a new and delightful person: "I love sex now; I wasn't so crazy about it before.")

This piece, or a condensed version of it, would work well as part of a show that touches on topics including:

*mother-daughter relationships
*the cutural phenomenon of hospitalization
*kids caring for aging parents.

This is serious business, certainly, but the story is told with a light touch and an easy sense of humor. The hospital scene six minutes in is riveting, and realized beautifully as radio. There's some more amazing tape 16 minutes in -- a lovely unforced scene of disagreement between mom and daughter.

The BIG question is: How do you program this warm, amusing, deeply stereotype-busting piece? Of course this piece deserves to be heard in the full glory of its 20 minute version, but I'm afraid that length may limit its usefulness for many stations.

The most obvious local market for this -- if it's not snapped up by TAL -- may be local news-talk shows. This story could be used to focus a discussion -- by callers, by local in-studio guests -- of some of the topics mentioned above. But a local show can lose it's own sense of identity going 20 minutes without standing down and bringing in local voices. So if there is a shorter version, or a version that occurs in three or four segments, I urge the producers to make these alternatives available to stations via PRX. I think this could add significant flexibility, and could get this on the air more often, in more places, and at times of day when more people are listening. Personally, I think this is some great radio, and I want lots of people to hear it.

Comment for "Naked People"

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Review of Naked People

Zippy editing and some great clips -- "... you can almost see a heartbeat ..." -- are the highlights of this lighthearted yet thoughtful feature on what we see (or don't see) when we see nudes. Shades of John Berger, and Deborah Tannen, and that statue at Justice whose modesty was restored by John Ashcroft.

The narrator lapses a bit when he pretends to know that the listener is having leering thoughts. (Sorry - not that kind of duck.) But these moments are very brief, and barely slow the momentum of an expertly produced piece. Toward the end there's some unexpected, exuberant use of music - and you have to smile. This piece would be much at home on a Studio 360 sort of show.