public radio

Chris Morris on All Things Considered

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Robert Siegel - Class Act.

Alec Baldwin Insists you NOT Donate.

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In this spot recorded for our flagship station, WNYC, Television's Alec Baldwin insists that you not donate to public radio, under any circumstances.

More at WNYC.

Roger Gomoll's Biplane & the Red Baron Pizza Squadron

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Above: Public Radio International's Roger Gomoll, who helps us with our pledge drive shows and rights things when we accidentally send the public radio satellite on a collision course with earth, flying in his new biplane.

This isn't really that important, I just think it's neat.

I once flew in a biplane like Roger's for an old, old episode of The Sound of Young America. First, in one of my favorite episodes of the show, we gave away a trip on the biplane, and discussed how horrible an idea it was. Then, I went on the ride, along with a nice freshman from UCSC's College 8, and I made a piece, which I've found on my hard drive for your listening enjoyment. Red Baron Pizza Squadron FTW.

Radiolab: Words

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What a lovely video the folks at Radiolab have made to accompany their latest episode, Words. Semiotics + science + film + Radiolab = A+

If you mess with Louie and Terry, YOU'RE MESSING WITH US.

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Great Americans

The brilliant comedian Louis CK has been a guest on our program on a number of occasions over the years. As I recall, the first time he appeared was nearly ten years ago, promoting the DVD release of "Pootie Tang." More recently, he's become a repeat guest on one of our favorite public radio shows, Fresh Air. In fact, we liked his last interview so much that we embedded it on this here blog.

Unfortunately, it seems that the folks at Mississippi Public Broadcasting didn't like the interview as much as we did. In fact, they disliked it so much that they pulled Fresh Air from their stations. This was reportedly prompted by the fact that the station plays as the "hold music" on the University telephone system, and a caller to the University who was put on hold happened to jump into the Louis CK conversation just as Gross was asking if he always kept his shirt on during sex. This one person was SCANDALIZED, and it led directly to an appropriate and proportional reaction on the part of MPR: dropping one of the best radio shows in the world.

This was the statement that MPB Executive Director Judy Lewis released to explain the decision:

Mississippi Public Broadcasting strives to deliver educational, informative, and meaningful content to its listeners. After careful consideration and review we have determined that Fresh Air does not meet this goal over time. Too often Fresh Air’s interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues.

Of course, this thesis is absurd on its face. Fresh Air won a Peabody - the most prestigious award in broadcast news - because it's very, very, very "educational, informative and meaningful." Gross also won an Edward R. Murrow award, the most prestigious award in all of public broadcasting, in 2003. If you still need convincing that Gross and Fresh Air meet the goal of "educational, informative and meaningful content," check out this video of another of our heroes, Ira Glass, giving Gross a National Book Award.

This incident is of particular concern to us here at The Sound of Young America not just because we create a show with a format similar to Fresh Air's, or because Terry Gross is a personal hero of mine, but also because much of our show is focused on humor, and that seems to be the real target of the ban. Louis CK is, in my professional opinion, the single most insightful, "meaningful" comic working today, and he is no less insightful and "meaningful" in an interview context. Ms. Lewis' statement, to our eyes, seems to imply the age-old falsehood that the work of a comedian, because it's funny, doesn't "contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse." That's directly contrary to the values upon which we've built this show. I've often said that one of our goals on The Sound of Young America is to demonstrate that you needn't be "serious" to be "serious-minded." In my mind, one of Fresh Air's most redeeming attributes is Gross' warmth and openness to the insights that can come from humor, though she herself is not a humorist. That's certainly one of the attributes I have most tried to emulate.

For these reasons, we'd like to stand with Fresh Air and our colleagues and heroes Louis CK and Terry Gross, and we've come up with a plan.

For as long as Mississippi Public Radio continues to unjustly bar one of broadcasting's best programs from its air, The Sound of Young America is hereby banning itself from Mississippi Public Radio. Mississippi Public Radio doesn't carry The Sound of Young America, and they probably weren't considering carrying it, but that won't stop us from snipping any potential consideration of carriage that might occur in the bud, should it happen to unexpectedly appear. WE'RE JUST THAT PRINCIPLED.

That's right: you mess with Louie and Terry, YOU MESS WITH US. Whether you KNOW WHO WE ARE or whether you are COMPLETELY UNFAMILIAR AND UNINTERESTED IN US AND OUR PROGRAM.

Consequences be damned.

We've started an "I'm Banning Myself From Mississippi Public Radio" Facebook page, so if you're ready to join us, sign up!

Louis CK on Fresh Air

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Great, as always.

Peter Sagal on Craig Ferguson

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Good to see our pal and long-time Sound of Young America booster Peter Sagal on the Late Late Show. It's too bad most of public radio is too insular to participate in the larger media world.

Future Tense Launches

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Our pal John Moe has done a lot to bring good humor and curiosity to public radio, most recently as the host of the now-canceled Weekend America. He's been secretly developing a new project over at American Public Media every since that show got canceled, and now it's launched. It's a technology show called "Future Tense."

When you think cutting-edge, you probably think "public radio," so it'll be interesting to see how this goes. You can listen to the first episode at futuretense.publicradio.org or with the handy player below. John's a funny guy, too - you can follow him on twitter @JohnMoe.

Jay Smooth & Maura Johnston on Nicki Minaj

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A nice Morning Edition piece from our pal Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston on the rapper Nicki Minaj. The frame is exactly what one would expect ("a female rapper in sexist hip-hop?!"), but Jay and Johnston are both too smart to fall into cliche. Just as I was thinking, "I wish they would mention that she can spit," Jay said "she can spit."

The comments may be the best part. Specifically the guy who basically admits he was only familiar with Minaj because of a picture in his computer's "beautiful women folder." And then he says "we all know what that's for (can I say that?)". YES. You can say that, and you are the greatest NPR commenter ever. I mean, I love Bahamadia as much as the next guy, but her two albums came out what? Ten years ago? And I get it: Jean Grae is also a woman and she's not famous and hip-hop vs. rap and SNNNOOOOOOOOOOOZE.

Seriously: some sharp stuff from Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston.

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