Sunday, December 30, 2007

bum diggy diggy diggy bum diggy bum

there's so much, and i mean SO much to take care of before we leave for ghana in two days. but i just spent about forty minutes playing with this internet toy. (thanks bshap!) so as a small token of goodwill on the eve of new years eve, i wish you all the best in 2008 and many mesmerized hours with the tony-b machine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

dollar storeys jr.

when the third coast festival conducted the dollar storeys public audio project earlier this year, we received submissions from all over the world. 82 of them, to be exact. but as far as i know, we didn't receive any from middle schoolers. now that doesn't mean there weren't any sixth, seventh or eighth graders producing short audio stories inspired by items purchased at a dollar store anywhere. in fact, dozens of them over in winston-salem, NC spent some time dollar storeying away with gusto. no really, hear for yourself.

such energy! such enthusiasm! such a great way to spend your time while schoolmates practice for the cheerleading squad or roll around on a mat in the gym, gunning for the next national wrestling championship!

thanks to the enthusiastic students and obviously very cool teacher over at hanes middle school who took the project on. thanks also to sue mell for alerting me.

full disclosure - mr. clauset is actually an old acquaintance of mine. but i didn't know he'd be teaching the DS project.

you may have noticed that Team Hanes picked a couple new dollar store items in addition to the ones we chose for the TCF version of the project. yes, i'm jealous of the toy pony option.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

mighty organization seeks help

the prometheus radio project, which toils tirelessly to protect community radio and promote, support and build low power FM stations around the world (while fighting hard for some semblance of a fair and accessible / non-corporatized media landscape in the US) is hiring a volunteer and intern coordinator. from a recent email announcement: "we want someone with a commitment to social justice and strong organizational skills, who possesses enthusiasm and experience recruiting, coordingating and mentoring interns and volunteers to help expand and strengthen these programs and the educational opportunities we can offer."

is this you?

find out more about the job and how to apply.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


greetings from the heart of it all where i'm simply taking a week off. this means there's time to sit and read up on ghana for an upcoming trip, and listen to the entire two-hour democratic candidate debate with my mom, and meet my friend and her two kiddos at gasoline alley for 4-cheese macaroni, and visit square records and sleep tremendously long hours get the point. there's also time to follow up on links i've been meaning to, like this one. joan schuman's a media /radio/sound artist who's been producing audio work ranging from abstract, deeply personal sound poems to straight-up documentaries ever since i've been listening carefully. joan's a writer, teacher, producer, artist and many other things i'm sure, and her work's been heard all over the place. she has a distinct voice and a light touch, and she's been a tireless champion of artful sound constructions - many of which you can hear through her pleasingly mostly grey website, which i hope you'll check out.

what's up for tomorrow in the buckeye state, you ask? well we're not going to miss the lighting of the chocolate menorah at summit mall, right at sundown. i'm already looking forward to the latkes and free chocolate donuts advertised in my nephew's school's newsletter. AND to hearing his class sing some rousing hanukah tunes. see? the heart of it all. and yes, i'll take pictures.

update: well. that was definitely Something. we didn't stick around for donuts - it was a pretty loud / chaotic / exuberant affair by the time the choir and school band finished up and the rabbis and local politicans (mayor of akron!) had their say. i'd hazard a guess that it was the first time in summit mall's history that klezmer-inspired music filled the air, mingling with the smell of latkes and yes, chocolate. (WDGET*?) turns out the choc-orah suffered some breakage, and so instead of standing tall was laid flat on a table in all of its confectionery glory. and there was plenty of other chocolate to be found, including a very blonde young woman dressed up as a human-sized hershey kiss and handing out tidbits. i'll leave that image to your imagination. (you're welcome.)

*What Did Gap Employees Think?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

preservationing sound

"we lose individual noises all the time."

so says anne matthews, author of the recent cover article of preservation magazine which explores the lasting impression and importance of sounds unique to certain spaces/buildings/ places, through a particular recording project (undertaken by longtime audio producer alex van oss and the goethe-institut in washington) that recreates the soundscapes relative to landmarks desgined by german architect adolf cluss. read an interview with matthews (who is incredibly well-spoken on the subject) and hear excerpts from the cluss-inspired cd here.

if you think for just a minute about your own favorite places (like...alliance bakery in chicago) and then what they sound like (excitable customers debating outloud which cupcake will taste best, espresso machine whirring away, old timey cash register ringing up orders) i think you'll agree that the savoring AND saving of place-sounds is a worthy endeavor. here's a dutch website devoted to just that - the library of vanished sounds.

Friday, November 09, 2007

post and during

on the heels of the seventh TCF conference, which was great fun and unspeakably exhausting, i'm just about feeling recovered. besides the illuminating (i'm assuming - waiting to hear them myself. mp3s coming soon on the TCF site) sessions, incredible caliber of radio peeps and palpable devotion to sound throughout the conference, a few things were especially and sonically exciting:

- the new TCF awards. they're beautiful AND they make noise. here, have a listen. and thanks, alex.

- phonoscopy! it's even better in person than on the website. you should invite kevin to bring his mighty box to your neighborhood soon.

and... the arctic: soundscape sound installation at millenium park, which just happened to be running while our final event took place in a room tucked away in the core of the main pavilion. imagine gigantic images (by david buckland) from and inspired by the high arctic, projected on wide glass doors across the huge MP stage, while the most mesmerizing, crushing audio recordings (seals barking, glaciers creaking, walruses walrusing, winds screeching....are you shivering yet?) rush out of the speakers spanning the park's entire Great Lawn. if you're anywhere near chicagoland you should definitely check this out. it's only up for two more days - saturday and sunday, november 10th and 11th, 9am - 10 pm.


not to be missed - audio artist max eastley, who made the recordings for arctic: soundscape, will be performing on a single bow instrument (of his invention) tomorrow evening, saturday november 10th, at 7:30 pm. free exhilaration guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

post and pre

i've been wanting to write about the recent (october 21) lissenup but have been swept up in the thousands of details attached to the third coast festival conference, which kicks off in about 48 hours. a friend asked if we were completely swamped and i told him that it's more like standing outside in the summer as dusk settles and the mosquitos go to town, and suffering countless small bites - irritating but manageable. if only i could grow out my nails for scratching...pass the calamine lotion, please.

but somehow tonight there's the smallest amount of time to breath and type a bit. as the new little cat continues to taunt the older grumpy cat and the older grumpy cat continues to pretend she's ignoring the new little cat.
there's a lot of Racing Down Hallways going on over here.

anyway - it's extremely cool to hear someone talk about something he/she loves to listen to, and then actually listen to it. carving out the space and time in a busy weekend to sit still and concentrate seems almost an impossibility. an improbability, anyway. and to do it in a room full of game friends and friends of friends - is memorable, fascinating and a whole lot of fun.

so thanks to darlene, nathaniel, anthony and kelly for bringing a selection of audio to share -
we had an unplanned (and unplannable?) range of sounds - startlingly exhilirating gamelan, haunting banjo (dock boggs,) haunting voice (diamanda galas), jaunty pop (new poi dog pondering) a memorable mew and this story by robert krulwich about yawning, which i's just obviously made for group listening. and thanks to everyone else for coming out for deliberate listening and fine snacks. i'm already looking forward to the next lissenup, mid-decemberish. will announce here first.

in the meantime - if you won't be experiencing the audio hoopla in chicago this weekend, you can follow along over at or if you're in the DC-area - next monday i'll be presenting and talking about recently-awarded documentaries from the TCF and prix europa, with peter leonhard braun (who's receiving the TCF's audio luminary award) the event is at the goethe-institut, is free, and should be hot.

otherwise - i'll be back on the flip side of this weekend. wish us luck.

Monday, October 08, 2007

pick a color, any digression

yes, it's just as you thought- here's a photo, taken via my cell phone, of a projection of tony conrad ringing a bell with all of his heart, body and soul. it's one of the seven screens depicting seven rotating artists (the others are zeena parkins, ikue mori, lee ranaldo, kim gordon, stephen vitiello and j.g. thirwell), all of them tinted a different color. the screens are hung at different angles, directions and heights, and each has two small speakers affixed to it, out of which music played by the musician depicted on the screen tumbles.

standing in the middle of the screens, where you can hear some of all seven recorded performances and catch different color combinations in your peripheral and direct vision is nothing less than revelatory. at least it was for me. conrad's bell pierces through the rest of the combined, random noise orchestra, beckoning your ears and taking hold but just enough to help you focus and slowly realize how many other instruments/tones/melodies/rhythms you're hearing.

"sound digressions in 7 colors" by video artist
tony oursler was the very last artwork i stumbled across at the end of a long afternoon touring through the sympathy for the devil exhibit (art and rock and roll since 1967) that's up right now at the MCA. in all honesty i was tiring of rock and roll + aesthetic + cool factor + drooling young rockers who were wandering around the exhibit in droves, and nearly skipped entering the partitioned-off section of the gallery where ourser's piece was installed. but conrad's hypnotic bell ringing lured me in, and i couldn't have been more amazed by what was there to see and hear.

the exhibit's up until early january 08 and
admission's free until november 14th (happy 40th, MCA!) so if you're in the vicinity, or happen to be passing through for a radio conference in a few weeks...i implore you to carve out some time - even 30 minutes - and drop by for some sound digression.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

the return of musicircus!

lopsided tap dance with obstacles! paper mache! household implement noise! balancing globes! belly dance! many megaphones! many pianos! many noises! many gestures! four hours of layered performance, hope and a whole lot of john cage!!! [and it's all free!]

of course i'm talking about
MUSICIRCUS, which is coming up this weekend. it's own brand of church, sunday's event will offer a culmination of so much that john cage stood for - from music to anarchy, and every flavor of hoopla in between and beyond. cage's first musicircus erupted in 1967 at the university of illinois, so it's fitting to be reconstructing the spectacle again in chicagoland.

follow your ears this sunday to the cultural center, from 12-4pm, october 7th, where
"you won't hear a thing; you'll hear everything"...

(thanks, chicago composers forum, for making this happen)

have a seat...take a listen

we just announced this year's winners, over at the third coast festival website. you can hear excerpts from the winning pieces, place bets on who'll take the gold/silver/bronze and check out our new tshirts too. i can't stop wearing mine... (thanks alisa, for another beautiful design)

Sunday, September 30, 2007


after quite a hiatus i'm excited to announce that LISSENUP is back, with some slight changes. if you have no idea what LISSENUP is (besides the name of this blog) read about it here.

what's the same:
it's still a potluck, it's still about deliberate listening, it's still free, it's still good, clean fun.

what's different: location, content, size

come meet new people, enjoy fine snacks and drinks, and listen to a variety of Neat Things. four or five guests will be asked (beforehand) to bring some audio to share (a beloved song, the cassette recording of your bat mitzvah you recently found at the back of the junk drawer in your parents' kitchen, recordings of african wildebeestes - sky's the limit) and each time i'll pick something too. given the new location, i'll sadly have to limit each gathering to 25.

- Sunday, October 21
- 7 - 9:30 pm

- rsvp here and i'll send you details about where to come, etc.

it makes me super happy to be starting LISSENUP back up -

i've missed it, and it's missed you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

let the people tell

one thing i've learned in the past seven years working for an international radio festival is that most americans have had little or no exposure to european radio. and the more i hear and learn about traditions, innovations and general programming from all across europe, the more regrettable this seems.

but recently a digital carrier pigeon delivered curious news which i'm excited to share. ready?

here comes the third ever
Radio Day of European Cultures, on sunday 14 october 2007 (note euro-arrangement of date!) the goal of project, which has been organized by the european broadcasting union and the prix europa, is to involve radio audiences across the continent in an interactive dialogue about european identity, history, culture and - maybe most interestingly - europe's future. implicit in this goal is to hear from listeners - to "Let the people tell."

stations from
across the continent are participating. and currently the radio day blog asks the question 'what does your europe look like?' and features various answers to that question from russia, france, hungary and beyond. don't miss the post that likens europe to a crowded bus...

realistically this project isn't going to teach you everything you want to know about european radio, and most of the actual audio related to the project isn't accessible through the site (since it will mostly play on october 14th) but it's not a bad way to get a feel for the energy and spirit traversing the airwaves, Over There.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the art of resonance

head's up - london's first and best radio art station, resonance fm, just launched a new website, which looks clean and clear and is significantly easier to navigate and digest than the old one. the station also recently announced that it's 'taking a good hard look at itself' as its fifth birthday nears. considering the impact resonance has already made around the world, what might come out of this intense self-reflection? there's only one way to find out. (get listening.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

eleventh hour

you know how you're always grumbling about how tedious and conservative public radio sounds?

yes, YOU. well you only have until midnight, THIS sunday the 23rd to cast your vote in the fourth and final round of the
public radio talent quest. from 1400+ original entries, it's down to 5 semi-finalists. the judges have selected 3 of the 5 to be full-finalists, but the peoples' choice is still unwritten, and could replace one of the judges' picks. at this point every vote counts toward that one, believe me you. so let this be an official nudge to get over there, spend half an hour listening and then decide who you think should get $10,000 (and a mentor) to produce an hour-long pilot for a new public radio show.

maybe you'll get what you've been hoping for (on the public radio airwaves) out of this?! maybe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

708 vs. 773

if you've called my cell phone in the last year and i haven't picked up, you've heard a message instructing the usual (leave a message, etc.) but then you've also heard my 'this IS NOT maria's phone number, if you leave a message for maria she will NOT hear it' shpiel. for the past three years i've been getting calls for "maria," who's apparently a nurse, and who apparently gets emergency shouts out from patients at all hours.

i've argued with some of these patient-callers for longer than i'd like to admit - me insisting the number they've called is NOT maria's, and them insisting it IS maria's, and can they talk to her please? will i just get her please?

this had begun driving me crazy - not just because of all of the random calls, but because these men (it was always men) seemed to really need maria. 'she's my nurse,' they'd explain, over and over, and most of the time they did not sound well.

one man was especially incredulous when i told him the number he'd dialed was mine, and that i'd had it for the past six years, and that there was no way to reach maria through it. i kept him on the phone for awhile trying to learn more about maria, so i could track her down and explain the perennial mix-up, and by the end i think he'd taken a shine to me. he called back several times over the next few days, lonely, just wanting to talk to...anyone. finally, after the third call at work, i told him to stop. but felt pretty badly about it...felt pretty bad that i'm no maria.

so earlier today i answered another of these calls, and when i explained there was no maria at the other end of the number he'd dialed, the older gentleman on the phone was very apologetic about his mistake. as per usual i pressed him for information about the elusive maria, and finally learned the crucial bit of information that's been the cause of the dozens and dozens of maria-seeking calls that i've received over the years.

it's an area code thing. maria and i DO have the same phone number...but we also have different area codes. such an obvious, simple explanation! now i'm anxiously waiting for the next maria call, when i can instruct the caller how to actually reach his beloved nurse.

luckily, i probably won't have to wait long - there may be an ailing man somewhere out there in chicagoland, reaching for is telephone right at this very moment. i wonder if maria's ready for him...

update: forget all of the optimistic benevolence above - i'm still getting calls for maria but can't seem to help/make/force the callers to understand the situation, try as i might. and yes, legions of sick, confused old men in chicagoland are still leaving messages for maria on my phone. clearly, acceptance is the only way forward...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

one long song

there are moments when chicago really shines. last thursday we listened (and watched) in awe as legendary pianist muhal richard abrams played one long song on a grand piano set up in the middle of the huge pritzker pavilion stage at millenium park. [the camera on my phone captured the moment surprisingly well, considering up-close pictures of people are barely recognizable] the performance was free, the weather accommodating, and hundreds of folks sat mesmerized in the seats or sprawled on the huge lawn next to their picnic sets, absorbing the music.

there's something incredible about improvised music spilling forward as the sun strokes the heart somehow. one lucky bird dove and swooped back and forth across the stage as abrams, hunched, did the same across the piano. we rode our bikes home supremely satisfied, a feeling that lingered for the rest of the night.

good job, chicago. and thank you, mr. abrams.

Monday, August 06, 2007


who do you want to hear on the radio?

if it happens to be one of seven contestants still competing in the
public radio talent quest then speak up and vote for your favorite(s), now that the audio submissions for round three have been posted. kudos to all of them for sticking in there and subjecting themselves to intense scrutiny. including yours.

the quest still makes me think of capes. but not exactly the kind pictured here. the cape in my mind is more of the orange variety...

Monday, July 30, 2007


my pal aaron and i have been talking for months about organizing an enormous game of catch this summer, at kosciuszko park. we're envisioning an officially record-breaking collection of eager catchers, a veritable BYOMitt free-for-all, though neither of us is sure just how many people would have to participate for this to happpen. at this point i'm not sure our monumental dream will ever come to be...but there WILL be some record-breaking going down at the old town school of folk music on august 7th, when the world's largest music lesson brings an entirely new crown of glory to chicago.

that's the goal, anyway. the entire guitar-teaching staff will be instructing folks how to play two basic chords and will then perform two full songs with the largest student body ever gathered solely for the sake of playing music. they need to officially teach more than 539 people to break the record in the guiness book, which is currently held by a bunch of swiss harmonica-ers.

you have to enroll to participate, but that's about all that's required, besides showing up at 6 pm. the lesson starts at 7:30, please, no stairway to heaven verses, while you're waiting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

so many hows

the stockyard institute in chicago is organizing a pedagogical factory this summer, "exploring strategies for an educated city" by among other things (happening at the hyde park arts center) offering numerous public events which have been programmed by AREA chicago (art / research / education / activisim).

there's tons planned for the next two months, including three audio-inspired sessions - "how we sound" (
featuring the favorite chicago sounds project, 8/18), "how we listen" (featuring audio artists lou mallozzi and christina kubisch, 8/18) and "how we listen pt. 2," (featuring wbez's new project, 9/12).

i love the idea of Teaching the City, and expect these sessions will be provocative and revealing, each in its own way. i hope to report back about them after the fact, but in the meantime - there's so much else going on at the pedagogical factory - check out the entire schedule and marvel at how much there is to learn - for free. then find your way down to hyde park and get yourself some.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

medium of life

taking a short break from russia, to talk about iran. specifically, about the international radio festival, which is held each may (coinciding with the birth of radio in iran) by the islamic republic iran broadcasting (IRIB) in a city called mashad.

the IRF is in its eighth year, and seems in some ways similar to the project i've spent the last seven years working on, despite some differences, like the nods to god in the directors' message.
one other divergence is the list of countries involved with the IRF, which includes afhganistan, iraq, ivory coast and bashkortostan. we've made some strong connections with europe and the australian/nz corner of the world, and have practically been taken over by the canadians (no complaints!) but have yet to work with anyone from africa, or the middle east.

but our goals are especially correlative, as both festivals seek to nourish creativity in radio production and pave the way for exceptional radio work to reach more listeners. i'm especially fond of the IRF's motto: radio is the medium of peace and friendship and the medium of life.


we're hoping some producers from the IRIB will make it over to chicago for the third coast festival conference - it would be amazing to meet them, and learn more about what's happening on the iranian airwaves. in the meantime - take a look around the festival's website
to learn more about it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

5 tiny stories about moscow

this post will have less to do with sound, and more to do with all of these stray impressions of moscow that are rattling around in my brain. (though i AM typing this to the pops and cracks of firecrackers being shot off in the alley behind our apartment. t'is the season.) there's no cohesive narrative to be found (much the opposite, in fact) so i'm listing.

ready, go:

1. one morning in moscow i rode a one-eyed horse. he was very sweet, and had good balance despite his handicap. his name was kavkaz, which i'm told means 'caucasus', like the region in eurasia.

2. many, many of the people i met - from young producers at the radio festival to the mysterious older woman i encountered one night walking home from the train (she's been seen around town with a parrot on her shoulder) - wanted to know if i was married. then every person wanted to know why not. and they all thought i was about 23.

3. the subway system in moscow is incredible. there are huge soviet-style statues all over the place, and mosaics, murals and paintings all over the ceilings and walls. ornate yet mighty chandeliers hang in many of the platforms, and the escalators leading up and down are endless. apparently advertisements are played for commuters while they ascend or descend, but occasionally a poem is read between ads. (shaving cream, pushkin, nescafe) the trains come about once a minute and i noticed a lot of young boys traveling with their grandmothers on the subways, and wearing funny hats.

4. because i hadn't recently pondered it seriously, was not expecting moscow to be so capitalistic. my first hint was passing the IKEA on the way from the airport to lena's apartment. the next day while looking from one corner of red square (which was closed for a party?!) over at lenin's tomb, i also noticed a louis vuitton store in my peripheral vision. and while i expected to find mcdonalds (not to mention mccafes) and other corporate franchises, did NOT expect the tgi fridays, or that crappy fast food 'italian' chain sbarro, which was everywhere. didn't see a starbucks. but they've got their version of it going strong ("coffee house") AND a competing local chain - "coffee mania", which is actually a great name for a coffee shop chain.

5. my new favorite food is kachapuri, which is sort of a georgian (NOT the peach state) version of grilled cheese. it's a round bread stuffed with a white cheese. the kachapuri i found was nice and light on the cheese, but i hear this is not always the case. i also tried many other variations of the 'cheese and bread' theme - a safe vegetarian choice available pretty much everywhere. during the radio festival, lunch was served at a chinese restaurant at the hotel where the festival was held. sitting down the first day for fried rice at a table with a brown checkerboard tablecloth was also pretty surreal. and the condiment containers were ace.

stay tuned for a few more tiny stories about moscow. in the meantime, here are some photos i took at the huge riding stable where i met the handsome kavkaz.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


after a 43 hour adventure getting home from moscow, i've been back for a few days...but am still figuring out how to write about the experience. in the meantime, my luggage eventually caught up (with armenian vodka bottle, chocolate bars and assorted souvenirs still intact) and i've had some time to reflect back and collect some thoughts about the experience. there's so much to convey...

to summarize - i was over there to present the third coast festival / american public radio work at a festival called "vmeste radio," which means "radio together", or "radio brings us together". (fabulous logo above) the festival is organized by the foundation for independent radio broadcasting, (FNR), which i wrote a little bit about in the previous post. i presented one 90-minute talk and also participated in a special session about radio stories covering xenophobia. both were translated into russian as i spoke, a few sentences at a time. if i'm not mistaken i was the only non-russian at the festival besides the inimitable kari hesthamar, from norway, a german-russian journalist and one other american who trains commercial radio djs (and who i didn't cross paths with much - he was working with an entirely different segment of the festival.)

about 200 producers from all across russia (including eastern siberia, northern-most points and a secret city or two) gathered for the happening, and spent three days talking about, listening to, debating, praising and challenging all aspects of radio documentary/feature making. even though i couldn't understand a word of the conversations, it was clear that the producers were passionate and serious about the radio medium - and the power it has to reveal, describe, ponder, define the world. [not so different from the context i work in every day around the TCF.]

i was especially impressed with the young producers i met - in their early or mid 20s - who are _on fire_ about radio production. they're dying to LIVE through radio, and help their audiences learn how to understand radio in new ways. on the last day during the xenophobia session mentioned above, we heard 7 pieces by producers who had all made stories related to that theme. though i couldn't directly follow the stories, my ever-generous host andrey allakhverdov (photo below) summarized and explained them in english, so i was able to listen and then get a sense of the subject of each. stories ranged from a portrait of an anti-fascist rock band to the story of one elderly german woman living absolutely alone in a russian group home, who longs to return to germany. the production quality and sophistication of these pieces was quite impressive - this came through even without understanding a word of them. and the discussions that followed each program were equally dynamic and provocative, which was also evident purely from observation. there was also a good amount of laughter in those discussions - these folks have _sharp_ senses of humor.

the festival culminated with a big celebration and awards ceremony, honoring the year's best documentaries, news reports, critical media analysis, promotion and websites for commercial radio stations. again, it was hard to follow exactly, but a lot of fun nonetheless. scenes from famous films featuring radio references were screened between prizes and one award trophy was presented along with two huge turnips. i'm still trying to figure out what THAT was all about.

now that you have some sense of what was happening at the festival, what i really want to express is how deeply valuable FNR's work - the promotion and support of independent media, highly-skilled journalism and community radio - is at this point [especially] in contemporary russian history. the best i can do is [over]simplify, but: recently the putin regime has shown little tolerance for independent media, as evidenced by the situation with the educated media foundation, which recently suspended activities after an eleven hour raid on its headquarters. (please follow the link and read more - it's important.)

though radio in russia is rampant, it's mostly in the form of commercial music stations (think - Morning Zoo-type shows and DJs) and other independent networks that are increasingly coming under the control of governmental allies, such as the Russia News Service which recently implemented a mandate dictating how much 'positive' news must be reported each day. (50%)

so especially in this context, the FNR's work shines a bright, bright spotlight on a darkening media landscape. the energy, excitement and commitment to honest and meaningful radio production that FNR is cultivating and nourishing in journalist and producer communities across russia is so significant: historically, politically, culturally and artistically. i was more honored than i can express to be a part of this year's festival, and to share a few american tidbits ranging in topic from mexican/us border crossings to shopping mall culture to teenage obesity and an overview of human conflict throughout history, in two and a half minutes.

pictured with balloons (stay tuned for TCF balloons) are andrey allakhverdov and lena uporova, who are not only two of FNR's hardest-working staff members, but also the most gracious hosts imaginable. they both made my trip even more special. and special thanks to babaev, for his endurance on the highways and byways stretching across moscow, all the while playing calexico cds.

so there are a few impressions to start with. coming next - cultural observations and tales of unexpected equestrian feats, narrowly averted skinhead skirmishes and the georgian version of grilled cheese sandwich.

in the meantime, here are some pictures: churches and skies, and subway snapshots.
more to come...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

moscow bound

a quick apology for the lapse in posts. it's been quite a few weeks, with public listening events to host, a wedding to attend, finding shoes for said wedding, spending as much time as possible on my bike, keeping up with our first CSA vegetable box delivery (greens!) and sorting out passport/visa issues for this trip to russia i'm about to board a plane for.

the foundation for independent radio broadcasting (FNR) has invited me to moscow to talk about the third coast festival at their annual festival - vmeste radio ("radio together" nice, huh?) the FNR is "working for the development of quality and independent broadcasting for the benefit of civil society," and is the only russian NGO producing regular radio programs. i'll be able and look forward to sharing many more impressions about all of it in a few days.

until then, here's a photo from the recent listening room hosted by wjff that went down just a week ago, in the catskills at the greatest bookstore you could possibly imagine finding in a small mountain town. this was snapped just before things got going. there were three cats in attendance for the actual event - a listening room first, no doubt.

all of that radio lissening and yakking about was followed by hanging out on stacy's back deck, underneath a million visible stars. it was profoundly good to see so many stars, so easily, so clearly. i heart the catskills, dearly.

Monday, June 11, 2007

the illusion of everywhere

the third coast festival's hitting the road again this week, for not one but TWO listening rooms, on the same day, (june 14th) in different locations. which is especially lucky (for you) if you live in the DC area or near livingston manor, in the catskills, and can join us for some radiophonic good times.

as part of the esteemed silverdocs film festival, my boss-lady extraordinaire johanna will be spreading the radio cheer to a bunch of film peoples, while over yonder in the mountains i'll be serving up stories about ghosts and fiddleheads and a merry-go-round museums at hamish and henry booksellers, collaborating with the good, good folks at WJFF (hydro-powered radio!!)

and even though there'll be a light reception afterward, we're saving room and heading out for twist/dipped frozen soft serve treats after all that listening - you're invited.

here's more information about both events, and links to helpful links.
and did you know that "creemee" is another word for soft serve? neither did i!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

in general i'm leery of manifestos found on the internet but kevin t. allen's thoughts about the way we listen to, view and comprehend the world really struck a chord - partly because his manifesto contains traces of humor (unusual), partly because it's abstractly conceived yet clearly expressed, and partly because it includes this sentence: "Put some luster in your step, try phonoscopy."
see the appeal?

kevin builds boxes (phonoscopes) that exhibit 3d photography and corresponding binaural sound recordings. viewers/listeners peer into the boxes through bincoular-like slide viewers (kinda like
viewmasters) and wear headphones with seperate volume for each ear (!), thus experiencing both sound and image simultaneously, though not necessarily listening to sounds directly associated with the image on display. i've never had the chance to gaze into phonoscope myself, but apparently doing so urges you to "listen with your eyes, and look with your ears" ...which is a notion i'm not sure i really believe, but am hugely intrigued by, and would love the chance to see/hear for myself.

i imagine these boxes are easier to experience than explain, but kevin's website does a good job, even
showing the construction of a phonoscope. and if you live near or make it to brooklyn some time, you can actually see and hear one at the proteus gowanus gallery. if you make it over there, let me know how it goes, ok?

sometimes i just appreciate thinking a little bit more/harder about things...

Monday, May 28, 2007

fills your head...empties your head

so i made a radio piece last week for the daily arts and culture show on WBEZ called eight forty-eight. it's about experimental music, and this organization called lampo (which presented it's HUNDREDTH show this past weekend, with the most beautiful concert by philip jeck, balloons dropping from the ceiling, a five-foot trophy and tasty chocolate cake.)

my goal was to offer listeners a few more things to think [about experimental music], besides [automatically] "yuck" or "huh?"

one way to do this was with a tale about potato pancakes - works every time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

dueling live music events this saturday

well..not really. one's in new york and one's in rhode island. sadly, i can't make it to either. but maybe you can. they're both happening this saturday, may 26th.

there's the eye, ear, nose and throat festival in providence, featuring 'forward-thinking' music and experimental films made by a variety of folks, including some old friends, some musicians i've heard of but not heard yet, and one guy i've been trying to catch in chicago all year. it's seven dollars for eight+ hours of music. that's kind of incredible. you should go.

unless you're of the brooklyn/manhattan stock, in which case you should head down (up?) to the housing works books store for the cd release party [including free, forward-thinking ice cream] for michael hearst's [of the one-of-a-kind one ring zero band] new project songs for ice cream trucks. this is literally and quite amazingly a record with 13 new songs written for ice cream trucks. michael may be the only person on the planet who could pull this off with the proper respect for the traditional canon of ice cream truck music...and a little bit of class...but he's done it. i've been lucky enough to hear the cd, and it's about the sweetest thing you can imagine. no, that's not a pun. and according to the website, the album features all kinds of instruments like the claviola crickets!!

("hello. HELLO! hello. boing sound effect)

Friday, May 18, 2007

who hearts toronto?

well even if you don't love, or yet love toronto, maybe you'll feel more appreciative of the city after hearing this special broadcast - invisible cities: toronto - airing tonight only on the CBC, at 9:05 local time (that's 9:30 NT ) across canada. it's streaming too, so if you're interesting in diving in this page can help you figure out exactly how/when to do that.

according to paolo pietropaolo, one of the producers, "It's part radio documentary, part audio-musical composition, and part audio love-letter to the city of Toronto, combining the voices, sounds and music of the city in an hour-long journey that's meant to allow the listener to achieve a kind of shortcut to intimacy with the city, focusing on sounds that are lost in the din of contemporary life."

invisible cities: toronto is brought to you by the same team (paolo, chris brookes and jowi taylor) who produced one of my favorite radio programs EVER a few years ago -
the wire (nothing to do with the tv show). so i'm betting this program will astound your ears and very well MAY instill a deep love for toronto in your heart. or at least a deep like.

[ i, for one, still remember an amazing veggie hot dog purchased from a hot dog stand at about 1am one morning years ago, in the pouring rain. my crush on the city started then.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

happy birthday studs

here's a very simple happy 95th birthday wish to studs terkel, who is simply one of the most amazing humans, not to mention radio-dedicated humans, on the planet. here he is pictured (click! it gets bigger and more beautiful) at the third coast festival awards ceremony, back in 2002, accepting our lifetime achievement award. which is now called the 'audio luminary award.' which is equally appropriate in studs's case.

for some studs trivia check out this kind of silly web page, which reveals (in a kind of silly font) his favorite drink (gin martini), and some of his favorite musics.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


check out this evolving emotional sound map of milan. according to the handy translator, the text on the homepage reads:

"Buzzbox collects the contribution personal, authentic and lose interested in the customers who address directly to other customers, a model of networking human that produces information and reduces the waste of time and energy. The point of view of who crosses and lives the city and its places come collected and amplified, the single comment become part of the `buzz', a brus├Čo diffused and choral profit to who adventure in the city and are wanted to be have ud of of a collective patrimony of acquaintances.

got it?

my favorite emotion recorded on the map is the one with the man who says: zazazazazazazazaza. i'm not exactly sure what he's trying to express, but i know i've felt that way too. recently.



Saturday, May 05, 2007

sign here

the previous post alluded to the situation at DR (the national danish radio organization), where managment has made the decision to close down the documentary and feature departments. this means that dozens of talented producers (from those just starting promising careers to those who have been making radio for the organization for decades) will no longer be employed as of jan 1, 2008, and that denmark's about to lose a beautiful and important tradition of radiomaking.

having spent the past week at an intense radio conference hosted by these very people, i can tell you that it's nothing less than criminal that they're about to lose their jobs. and given DR's mantra "this is purely a financial decision. it has nothing to do with the quality or value of the work," repeatedly stated from the bowels of their new media house that's grossly over-budget, it's even more revolting.

disappearing funding and federal support for arts and culture is something we're practically accustomed to in the US...but to find it happening over on this side of the ocean is somewhat shocking. and hugely depressing.

what can YOU do?
well you can sign this petition, to protest DR's decision to let go of this incredibly valuable and meaningful element of its radio landscape. small detail - it's in danish, but where to sign's clear enough. ['by' means city and 'stilling' means title or position]
thanks for taking the time.

(pictured above is the petition that was circulated at the conference, and signed by 125 producers from all over europe and beyond.)

update! here's a translation of the first part of the petition, in case you'd like to know more about what you're signing. thanks MUCHLY to pejk:

The unfortunate mess of DR?s (National Danish Radio) economy will mean that DR listeners no longer will be able to hear new montages and radio documentaries on Programme 1 or elsewhere on Danish radio stations.

This is a great loss for the listeners. Who will be missing out on extraordinary radio experiences.

It is also a cultural loss for Danish society, who'll be loosing an entire radio tradition which has been recognized, admired and won prizes all over the world for decades.

It seems absurd to completely dismember this important genre. Especially considering that the programmes are relatively cheap to produce, and have a level of quality that makes them listenable many times, over many years.

It seems random that this genre, which has played such an important role in the history of the radio medium and cultural and intellectual history of Denmark since the 50s, does not figure in the public-service agreement. The same agreement saves the girl choir, the symphony orchestra, the big band and the entertainment orchestra, which to some might seem less central for DR's function and image as a public service institution.

Shutting down the Documentary Zone and Ultrasound would be a radical deterioration of DR and the Danish media landscape in general.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

radio across time zones

was wandering around copenhagen yesterday with two friends who i hadn't seen in a long time. that was enough of a treat in itself... finding the bar built out of stereos in the middle of a park was an added bonus. only one speaker actually transmitted any sound - an edgy but melodic indie/jazz song (but somehow palatable!) i thought for a moment this was all a jet lag induced hallucination, but no...the "landing bar" is very real, and very, very amazing. here's a picture of the back wall.

[update! i later learned this was just a temporary art installation (makes sense, in retrospect.) but this makes the fact that we stumbled upon it even more amazing...]

we also found some swans who must have been performing traditional danish swan dances, as we cheered them on. click on the photo to get a better look.

and all of this adventure was had last night, before the 33rd international features conference even started earlier today, at the danish radio house - DR BYEN. over the course of the day we listened to radio from russia, canada, holland, poland, australia, ireland and denmark, covering topics like songs about abilene, texas, and a boxer who was stabbed to death in the heart. my ears are full and my brain is over stimulated. now it's time for some dinner and a few expensive danish beers. (even the cheap beer's expensive.)

p.s. DR BYEN's a newly built behemoth of a building / media compound (deserves the all caps). it's truly stunning, and unfortunately so over budget in its construction that the danish radio management is closing down their documentary and feature departments / laying off quite a few producers. this is crushing news, and with 125 documentarians having descended from around the came at a strange time (announced last tuesday.) the situation could bode very, very badly for the future of these departments in other countries, and consequently the future of beautiful and important radio works.

sorry to end on such a downer. but i thought you should know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the old organ and the sea

so you've probably caught wind of the ghanaian postal workers cancelling stamps ditty, and we all know that elephants play a mean beethoven, but have you yet witnessed the greatness of the fluba (one of a kind tuba-sized flugel horn), or the exquisite tones of croatia's one-of-a-kind morske orgulje?

i suspect not. and hope you have a good chunk of time to spend at the
oddmusic website, which is devoted to celebrating...well...let's just say it's aptly named.

(the picture's of an aquaggaswack - just as you suspected.)

thanks to nthl for pointing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

moms on the radio

perhaps you've always wanted to honor your dear mother by producing an audio story inspired by or directly about her?

well producer
zak rosen (who keeps this blog) would like to give you just that chance. he's putting together a one-hour special for mother's day, and is looking for a few good 'mom stories' to round out the program. and not only will your story be aired on the radio, it'll be aired in detroit, on WDET. give zak a holler (soon) if you're game.

you should know that he's not able to pay for your story, but i sincerely hope that doesn't stop you from contributing. SHE'S YOUR MOM, FOR CHRISSAKES.

Monday, April 16, 2007


if you live near durham, NC, i hope you'll not pass up the chance to attend a fantastic-sounding event at the center for documentary studies. audio artist/radio producer karen michel has been asking strangers in two geographies - new york and north carolina - three questions: what do you live for? what would you die for? what would you kill for?

find out what people had to say on friday, april 20th, when she presents the answers to these questions at an audio presentation not only kicking off with BBQ, but followed by an evening of music. you can hear an interview about her live/die/kill project here.

and while it sounds like her audio piece is finished, she's still curious to know your answers to these questions. if you're so inclined, send her your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

not far from here

resonance-fm contributor and producer Martin Williams has put together what he describes as 'slightly rickety' website, but I've found it full of extremely solid audio work. You can hear excerpts from dozens of 30-90 minute documentaries, audio collages, radiophonic features, field recordings and interviews. There's everything from 'melancholy dada' to various artists' sonic ideas about 'home' to a hypnotizing radio rendition of Michael Lesy's book wisconsin death trip.

the only slightly rickety thing about the site is that you can't hear MORE of the audio...