Listen: Gulf Coast Blues: The Clarence Williams Story

January 31, 2007

from PRX

Producer: Riverwalk Jazz 

PRX Description: “Born in the Mississippi Delta in the late 1890s, pianist Clarence Williams was Creole and Choctaw Indian. As an adult, he produced and performed on thousands of recordings with artists who became legends ? Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and more ? but he took credit for composing a long list of jazz standards.

Hosted by David Holt and starring The Jim Cullum Jazz Band and special guests Vernel Bagneris and Topsy Chapman, “Gulf Coast Blues: The Clarence Williams Story” chronicles Williams’ life with all of its contradictions. Was he a prolific composer or just a hustler and occasional song thief? “Gulf Coast Blues” reveals that, like the story of New Orleans itself, Clarence Williams is a study in opposites. ”

Listen to the program here 

PRX Review: Dear Skinwalker

January 30, 2007

Producer: KRCB Voice of Youth

Reviewed Taki Telonidis by for PRX (Jan. 27, 2007)

From the first note of music, to the haunting quote at the end, ‘Dear Skinwalker’ is a magnificent piece of radio. This story is so different, that it’s difficult to describe. As the summary states, it’s a letter from a young Native American woman locked up in a detention center written to a spirit creature called Skinwalker. She talks about her troubles, fantasizes about the future, regrets her past, and muses on the wisdom a long-dead Indian chief. The writing is superb, at moments real and gritty, at others surreal and impressionistic. The story flows like a stream of consciousness–a collage of thoughts, sounds, and music that takes unforeseen turns, yet holds together for the most part; only once during a digression about a high school debate club did I feel lost. To experience this piece is to feel like you’ve penetrated the subconscious of this young woman, seen her dreams, and felt her anguish. Congratulations to KRCB and Voice of Youth”

Listen to the program here 

Listen: Coming Home

January 29, 2007

from BBC Radio 4

“Charles Wheeler presents five personal interpretations of what the end of the second world war meant to people in Britain and across the world.”

Listen to the program here


January 26, 2007

Reviewed these two pieces for PRX yesterday and thought you should listen to them.

MARIE’S CRISIS (9:41 minutes)

producer: Kevin T. Allen

” The story of Jim who has been playing piano at the famously infamous Marie’s Crisis for the past 19 years. Trained at an early age by his extremely religious father to embrace music “Soli Deo Glorio” (only for the grace of God), Jim has grown up to form his own, more tolerant, type of church at the local piano bar.”

Listen to the piece here


SIT WITH ME (7:34 minutes)

producer: Salt Institute of Documentary Studies

“Cameron Ledoux’s father is depressed. Because of his illness, his dad can’t work and sleeps at home much of the time. Cameron, age 12, sits down with his dad to address the unspoken.”

Listen to the full piece here

Listen: MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS a radio play from LA Theatre Works

January 25, 2007

from PRX

producer: LA Theatre Works 

“Athol Fugard’s poignant tale of a white boy and his realtionship with his black servants in South Africa.”

“One of theatre’s most acclaimed playwrights finds humor and heart break in the friendship of Harold, a 17-year old white boy in 1950’s South Africa, and the two middle aged black servants who raised him. Racism unexpectedly shatters Harold’s childhood and friendships in this absorbing, affecting coming of age play. Written by Athol Fugard. Directed by Stuart K. Robinson. Starring Leon Addison Brown, Keith David and Bobby Steggart. ”

Listen to the full production here 


January 24, 2007

from PRX

producer: Ben Manilla Productions

“Lawyers are often thought to be hardly better than hired guns, who, in the words of Plato, are paid to “make the weaker argument the stronger” — like the sophists of old. In fact, lawyers are legally and morally bound by stringent codes of ethics. Noted philosopher of law David Luban from Georgetown University is the guest as Philosophy Talk explores the ethical obligations of lawyers to their clients, to the court, and to society at large.”

Listen to the full program here


January 23, 2007


producer: Julie Subrin

Review by John Biewen for PRX (Jan. 7, 2007)

“This is an affecting and nicely drawn story about a story. In the 1990’s a German collector finds himself in possession of a set of letters, dated from the late 1930’s, from a German Jew to the Swedish woman he loves. The two had met and shared a romantic couple of days together and are now separated but are trying to find a way to be together. Needless to say, that’s a problem, given the times.

The collector, Reinhard Kaiser, became obsessed with the love story and took his research beyond the letters; he’s now published a book telling the story of Rudolph and Ingeborg. Through interview tape with Kaiser, narration, and excerpts from the letters (read unusually well by a third voice), Julie Subrin weaves a story that, while not extraordinary in the context of its time, drew me in entirely.

I was momentarily exasperated by Subrin’s decision not to tell us the how the story came out so as not to give away the end of Kaiser’s book. In fact, though, Subrin tells us that what became of Rudolph Kauffman during the war years is “not a happy story” and makes clear that Rudolph and Ingeborg did not get to share the future they dreamed of. We get it.

This is a simple, touching piece of radio that reminds us of the power of the story: one sad story among millions about people far away whom we can’t know, but for some reason we care. ”

Listen to PAPER TRAIL here

PRX Review: LA Theatre Works’s ANOTHER TIME

January 19, 2007

Review by Chris Chambers for PRX (Jan 10, 2007)

These two hour theatre plays are broadcast by many US stations. I would have no problem at all recommending them. They are of the highest quality. The problem will be slotting a two hour whole in to your programming. A Saturday or Sunday afternoon slot? Or perhaps a late evening broadcast? I would suggest that it has to be played in its entirety because, with this play anyway, there is an intensity that shouldn’t be broken. I thought I I would listen to an hour one evening and the rest the following evening because I didn’t start listening until late in to the night. Well, a stupid thought. I listened to it in one sitting.
I like enormously the concept of this. Live, in front of an audience. It gives an added depth. I felt as though I was also present which was great because, living in Amsterdam, I can so rarely go to an English speaking play. I preferred the dynamics of a live broadcast compared to most radio plays which I believe can lose so much vitality in a recording studio.

Why do I only give four stars? Certainly not for the quality of the production. However, the play itself – excellent but not Harwood’s greatest. Actually, I feel a bit churlish not giving five stars but……….


Listen to the full play here

Making Fun and Strange Sounds from Outer Space

January 15, 2007

Making Fun and Strange Sounds from Outer Space

by Irwin Gonshak for The Sound Palette (Jan. 15, 2007)

In the early 1970s, the NYC Board of Education’s radio station WNYE-FM helped to set up In Touch Networks for the blind and handicapped. We won a grant in 1976 from the NYCouncil for the Humanities to do a radio series called, “Liberation for the Handicapped.” I was the writer and producer for the series, and I wrote an essay called “Making Fun” for the press release on the program “Stereotypes” which included original comments from Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Sam Levenson, and Maureen Nolan (handicapped Barnard College student). Here is the essay. But first one aside: I used to walk through the crowded Manhattan streets with the late James R. Jones, Executive Director of In Touch, who was completely blind. When alone, he would walk himself with just his stick to guide him. When he was with me, he’d hold my arm and say, “When I have someone to steer me, I always feel like I’m on vacation.”

Click here to download PDF version of MAKING FUN

In the late 1970s I learned that Scholastic wanted to do an audio series on listening skills for the elementary school grades. Since radio drama is my field, I felt I could easily write a simple radio drama–dealing with the skill: following a sequence of events (just a few characters with a strong story line that goes in a straight line from beginning to end). I wrote “Strange Sounds from Outer Space” which Scholastic accepted and which became the prototype for the series. Incidentally, Hamburger Heaven used to be a fast food chain in Manhattan, which I believe no longer is in business… but still lives on in my radio drama.
Click here to download PDF version of STRANGE SOUNDS FROM OUTER SPACE

Irwin Gonshak can be reached at 

Listen: Getting Raised

January 12, 2007

from PRX

Producer: Jenny Asarnow

PRX Description: “Getting raised isn’t easy. This hour, we hear stories from those who know. Teenagers explain how to deal with in-your-face parents, abusive parents, absent parents and becoming a parent when you’re still in high school. ”

Listen to the full program here