Archive for category Radio

Podcast Experiment

One of my fondest desires has been to produce a This American Life or RadioLab, only for free-market and conservative ideas.  Thanks to Stacy Petty, I’ve actually been given a chance to do this.

In one of his own podcast interviews, Dan Carlin of Hardcore History fame says that his goal has been to produce, for radio, a long-form edition of what a newspaper column would look like.  That’s kind of what I’m aiming for here, as well.  Edited, polished, but also using the illustrative and mood-setting background sound that radio give you, but newspapers don’t.

It’s unclear exactly what the format will be going forward, but here’s the first attempt, discussing PERA, the forthcoming State Auditor’s report on an early warning system, and small planes.  It runs 10:30, but I’m hoping to bring future editions in at exactly 10:00.


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CBC Is Just NPR, Eh?

In this long drive through the western provinces and the Yukon, radio is sparse and mostly FM, and I’ve been listening to a lot of CBC.

Basically, it’s NPR with slightly Ontario accents.   The production values of studio and phone interviews are identical.  The intonation, speech patterns, measured tone of voice are cloned.  Even the light-hearted, free-spirited political sketch comedy show (The Irrelevant Show) could be produced by Minnesota Public Radio but performed for a live audience in Alberta.

There’s one woman who hosts a culture show similar to Fresh Air, who sounds as though she grew up listening to Terry Gross and said, “I want to sound like that,” and spent her formative years practicing with a recorder.  There’s another, a news reader, who would easily retire the prize in the annual Korva Coleman Impersonation Contest, which, given the uniformity of both NPR and CBC anchors, might actually be a thing.

The politics are roughly the same – ranging from the center-left to the left, with a little hard-left and center-right thrown in for the appearance of inclusivity.  There’s slightly less emphasis on the racial and ethnic horrors of the past, but the source material is a little poorer there, though sexism real, imagined, and past, gets plenty of airtime.

And in case you were wondering, there’s always time to pick on Israel.  In a segment about whether or not candidates’ families and personal lives were fair game in their campaign ads (not attack ads, mind you, but their own ads), one of the examples was a Conservative candidate who had mentioned his being the child of Holocaust survivors.  This is a riding that’s 22% Jewish.  The ads were eventually pulled, and one of the panelists found that remarkable, since, and I’m paraphrasing, but not much, “up until now, the Tories have pretty much been no-holds-barred in going after the Israel issue with Jewish voters.”  Another show gave an approving nod to a pro-Palestinian version of Birthright Israel, which sends visiting Jewish youth to the West Bank for self-defense shaming.

Of course, from a Canadian point of view, NPR is just the CBC with slightly Midwest accents.  I’m not sure if anyone’s ever been asked, but it’s entirely possible that NPR consciously sees itself as the CBC of the South.  Certainly the CBC was well-established by the time NPR started doing All Things Considered in the 70s.  Also possible, but less likely, is that NPR sees itself as the BBC of the colonies, and ended up in roughly the same place as the CBC, albeit slightly more Americanized.

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Fry, Vocal, Fry

Listening to the reporters on This American Life complain about being criticized for vocal fry makes me wonder why these people ever went into radio in the first place.

Yes, the story is nominally about how mean people can be on the Internet. and the complaint tweets and emails they’re reading are pretty cruel.  And they do seem to focus on younger, women reporters. And they quickly reviewed previous trendy complaints: upspeak and using “like” in place of a comma.

First, growling is going to be more noticeable in sopranos than baritones.  Stop trying to make a disparate impact claim out of what people like and don’t like to hear.

When Ira Glass interviews one young woman producer, who fries, upspeaks, and “like”s her way through the whole conversation, she moans that “people actually have a problem with the way I talk? Seriously?”

Yes, they do.  You’re in radio, for crying out loud. It’s a vocal medium, and your voice is your tool for communicating.  If it’s grating, annoying, or distracting, people aren’t going to be paying attention to what it is that’s so important that you have to say.  It’s why print reporters have editors, and it’s why magazines and newspapers spend all that time worrying about layout, graphics, and fonts.

If you want to be on the air, you need to find a way to speak that doesn’t send people screaming from the room. Or content yourself with being a writer.


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My Very Own Chinese Hacker Story

As told on Grassroots Radio Colorado last night:

This was the picture they hacked:

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So You Don’t Like Toffee?

Who doesn’t like toffee?  Seriously, who doesn’t like Enstrom Toffee?

We don’t generally push products here on View, but State Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino clearly needs some education on the matter, since he thinks that toffee is, “fruitcake of the confectionery world.”

As it happens, in December 2010, I interviewed the current owners of Entrom Toffee, Doug and Jamee Simons, for Backbone Radio, for an hour on retail business.  Here’s the segment; the interview with the Simonses starts at 2:00 in.

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John Batchelor Show

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the John Batchelor Show yesterday, to discuss the ongoing launchpad explosion that are the Obamacare online exchanges.  Since the show was podcast for rebroadcast later in the evening, we chatted a little before and after the segment about the exchanges, and I found Batchelor to be well-read on his subject, serious about it, not given at all to hyperbole or theatrics.  In other words, just as he sounds on the air.

You can listen to my segment below, or at this link, but if you have any sense, you’ll listen to the whole hour.

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Guest-Hosting Backbone Radio this Sunday, February 19

On this Sunday’s action-packed edition of Backbone Radio, we’ll be hearing from David Goldman, who blogs pseudonymously as Spengler at PJMedia and for the Asia Times, on his book  How Civilizations Die,and events in Egypt and Iran as they unfold.

How Civilizations Die - And Why Islam is Dying, Too REM Sleep

We’ll speak with Independence Institute education expert Ben DeGrow about a legislative attempt to open up the teachers’ contract negotiations up to public scrutiny.

Following up on a Backbone Business segment from a year ago, we’ll look at a local programmer who’s brought Google’s smartphone payment software to its knees, and what that means for you.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and tireless defender of American exceptionalism against political Islam, will join us to discuss Somali pirates, Syrian tragedy, and a controversy surrounding the NYPD and his film, “The Third Jihad.”

In our third hour, we’ll be joined by James Bennett, who’ll discuss how Europe’s distresses may be England’s – and the Anglosphere’s – opportunity.

The Anglosphere Challenge

And we’ll preview an upcoming Centennial Institute policy conference on Media and the 2012 Elections with Institute founder and director John Andrews.

In-between, we’ll make time as always to discuss some of the issues of the week.

Please join us this Sunday evening from 5 – 8 PM, on 710 KNUS Denver, and 1460 KZNT Colorado Spring for Backbone Radio.

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Norman Corwin, RIP

On Wednesday, Norman Corwin died.

Most of you probably haven’t heard of him, but he was one of radio’s true poets.  He shouldn’t just be in the Radio Hall of Fame, he should have written everything in it.

Corwin’s best work was somewhere between impressionistic and surrealistic, as in, “On a Note of Triumph,” or the more whimsical, “The Odyssey of Runyon Jones,” for Columbia Workshop.  I remember visiting the Museum of Broadcast Communications about 15 years ago.  I didn’t find much radio by Corwin at the time, but there was a videotape of one of his early 70s TV shows.  It was a lot like his radio: playing with ideas in a middle-brow, Clifton Fadimanesque sort of way.

His most famous piece was “On A Note of Triumph,” produced for VE Day, and heard by about 60 million Americans as a time when there were only 140 million of them.  We used to listen to a lot of old time radio on those cross-country trips, and I remember hearing this one in the car, myself for the first time, my parents probably for the umpteenth.  Here it is.

We can forgive his nods to Joe Stalin.  After all, it was still 1945, the Russians had done the messy work of taking Berlin, and they were on our side.

Corwin also wrote a 1-hour homage to the Bill of Rights, titled, “We Hold These Truths.”  Corwin was a pretty typical mid-century liberal, before the movement had become radicalized.  So while the title derives from the Declaration of Independence, most understood that the Constitution was intended to safeguard our rights, and that the criticisms of it largely revolved around its failure to explicitly include a Bill of Rights.  There’s nothing in there that a Tea Party activist could object to, and much he could cheer.  For instance, his explanation of the 2nd Amendment, in the mouth of an average citizen reading it for the first time:

That means if somebody gets into office and turns sour on the the people that put him there, well he can’t vex us with a standing army he way George did before the war.  No sir, we people of the states, if we got arms, nobody’s going to order us to do things that the majority of the people ain’t voted for.  Least not without a fight.

Charles Kuralt did a one-hour homage to Corwin that I can’t possibly hope to match.  You can hear it here.  It, and the rest of the links here, are well worth your time.

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Slipshod Reporting on Rare Earths & Solar

The Denver Post this morning reports that a lack of rare earths may be inhibiting the domestic solar cell industry.  How this is so, they never quite describe.  There’s no calculation, for instance, of what percent of a solar panel’s production cost comes from rare earths.  Possibly, this is because rare earths aren’t actually used in the production of solar cells.  According to a DOE study on strategic materials, solar cells use indium, tellurium, gallium, and maybe soon, selenium, none of which is in the lathanide series of rare earths.  A briefing by the Rare Earth Industry Trade Association on the importance of rare earths to green energy applications doesn’t mention solar at all.

By coincidence, the New York Times this morning ran a piece on why solar panel manufacturers are relocating to China, and it seems that the reason has nothing to do with rare earths, which aren’t mentioned at all, and everything to do with our willingness to take the place of Germany and Spain in directing massive subsidies to the panels’ production.  And in spite of our increasing mandates on so-called renewable energy as a source of electricity, it’s also not clear that we’ll be willing to force utilities to pay the exorbitant rates necessary to make large solar arrays profitable.

That, not the absence of a local rare earth supply, is what’s threatening a domestic solar industry.

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Another View on Bubbles

One of the topics we didn’t get around to on the air was the topic of today’s bubbles.  Eric Janszen’s article for Harper’s mentions what he thought at the time were a couple of possibilities, China and Alternative Energy/Infrastructure:

There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water. Indeed, the next bubble is already being branded.


Since then, Janszen has backed off on that suggestion, believing that there hasn’t been enough self-generated investment to justify the term, “bubble.”  However, some VCs in the industry, also with Internet experience, beg to differ:

“There will be many decades of bubbles ahead,” he said. “There are people out there trying to outlaw them, particularly the sore losers. But they are accelerators to technology innovation.”

He argued that the history of technology is marked by bubbles of overinvestment, from the PC to the Internet, voice over IP, and others.

The same is happening in global warming. Concerns over global warming have spurred billions of dollars in investment from venture capitalists and government research to create low-polluting alternatives to fossil fuels.

“There is definitely a global warming bubble and one of the ways I know that is because the name Al Gore (is present),” Metcalfe joked. “Al Gore inflated the Internet bubble and now he’s inflating the global warming bubble.”

This was also about two years ago, but Metcalfe repeated the Gore joke at a recent VC conference in Boston, so it’s clear his thinking hasn’t changed on this issue.

The idea of bubbles as accelerators to technology and innovation is probably true, especially if they’re limited to equity bubbles.  (Debt bubbles are much more dangerous to the economy.)  Of course, remember that VCs, especially those who get in and out early, are usually among bubble winners, so there’s the issue of perspective in Metcalfe’s bubble boosterism.

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