More NPR Listening
September 30, 2009

Here are two more NPR shows worth a listen.

The first is last week’s episode of the Diane Rehm Show on natural gas. It starts off with twenty minutes of interviews with a natural gas executive and two sympathetic experts, congratulating each other on the amazing progress and future prospects of natural gas as a fuel source. Then they start taking calls from the listeners, and spend the rest of the show desperately trying to play down the barrage of angry callers recounting how natural gas drillers have devastated their homes and poisoned their water. It’s worth noting that the whole hour was sponsored by the natural gas industry. Whoops.

Second is yesterday’s episode of Fresh Air, featuring an interview with Taylor Branch about his new book, “The Clinton Tapes”. Branch and Clinton secretly recorded interviews throughout the Clinton presidency in an effort to produce an oral history for posterity. Amazingly, these tapes remained secret, even throughout all the subpoenas and investigations Clinton faced. Most of the interview is a summary of the history Clinton administration, but it’s told almost in first-person present, since Branch is drawing off contemporary secret interviews of the main character in this history. Pretty fascinating.

Russell Brand
April 12, 2009

Briefly: here’s an interview with Russell Brand that’s well worth the 38 minutes it takes to listen to it – don’t even bother reading the summary, the audio is much better. The interviewer is Terry Gross, and the interview aired on last Monday’s episode of Fresh Air on NPR. She usually does a pretty good job, but every once in a while she’s clearly prepared more then usual and her questions connect just right with the interviewee, and so the result is spectacular. This is one such instance.

(Here’s a link to Russell Brand on Wikipedia if you need it)

Wordplay
January 23, 2009

crossword

One of the highlights of Shakespeare’s comedies for me is reading the wordplay. I think this is actually more enjoyable on the page than it would be on stage, since at normal speed the jokes come too rapidly for me to get.

In the same spirit, I really enjoyed this interview between Diane Rehm and James Lipton. If you don’t want to listen to the full hour, I would recommend just the five-minute quiz they take starting around 44:20. In addition to being really entertaining and erudite people (the latter gets somewhat over-the-top), they have two of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard; this interview really showcases the strengths the medium of radio. Diane Rehm’s voice is due to spasmodic dysphonia (itself a fascinating disease – check out Scott Adams’ blog post about his battle with it), while James Lipton’s is due to years of classical theater training.

The other side of wordplay that I really like can be seen in this New York Times article, which I highly recommend.