From Houston Public Media which is dedicated to many things, including classical music on the radio, Classical Classroom has a brilliant conceit. The host, Dacia Clay, “has a secret: she knows next to nothing about classical music. But she wants to learn! In each episode of the Classical Classroom, classical music pros give her “homework assignments.” You’ll learn about everything from bel canto aria to the use of leitmotif in the score to Star Wars.” The beauty of this podcast is that it assumes nothing, so explains everything, and yet never, ever talks down to listeners. It’s inventive (check out the Day of the Dead episode) and witty. Dacia is a gem. She’s the perfect proxy for those of us who think often about music, but not necessarily classical music. She asks the right questions, plays great music and forces the truth front he prevention, so that all of it — the history, the theory, the difficulty — makes pleasurable sense. It’s my favorite kind of audio meal — it’s as nutritious as broccoli but tastes like a delicious hunk of cake, chocolate cake. With sprinkles on top.
This is a collective of reporters, documentarians and sound artists dedicated to telling the stories of grassroots activism by women, chiefly in the Pacific Rim. They work out of northern California, but they work with talented people from all over the world. The founder, Stephanie Guyer Stevens is a long term activist and writer, who saw a need and filled it. Women’s stories are wildly undertold, and Stephanie, rather than tell them for women, wanted to make it so that women could tell their stories themselves. Outer Voices is honest, thorough and thoughtful. They are committed to experiential sound, and comprehensive coverage. They take you there and they make you feel it. Don’t expect objective journalism, they are are not he side of truth, and change.
Where Seattle Meets the World. That’s true, but you don’t have to visit Seattle, or even know how to spell Seattle, to find value in the audio work of brilliant founder Jessica Partnow. Like Stephanie Guyer-stevens, Jessica is an audio autodidact, learning in the field with the mic in her hand. She’s brought her audio chops to the interactive present, creating the Gloablist as a multimedia experience. But her audio work remains focused and precise. The voices, the mix, the nuance, the expansive use of time and silence, are all expert and award worthy. If you can’t get to the University of Washington to take her classes, learn from her available work. She’s a master.
I grew up in a sports oriented family. Some of us played, some of watched, some of us cared and some of us clung to the strange and epic narratives of the players. That last bit describes only me, alas. But I’ve been reading SI since elementary school when I found it in the bathroom with MAD Magazine and Ms. I know nothing about the math that determines baseball statistics or why statistics fascinate (I mean, really? Yawn.) I prefer to think of football as a ground war, and basketball as air strikes. But I can’t get enough of the pitcher with Bipolar disorder who takes a pilgrimage to the desert to reconnect with his arm, or the first openly gay player in the NBA who may not actually be that good but was the focus of the draft, or the hockey player who joined a team in Los Angeles (!!!) so he could be near his starlet true love. Some people wait every 4 years for the Olympics to hear the human drama in sports, but I just tune into Hang Up and Listen. The personalities– Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca — are the opposite of Stephanie Guyer-Stevens and Jessica Partnow in the best possible way, THEY NEVER TAKE A BREATH. They don’t give a hoot for silence. Pacing for them means fast, fast, fast. You can’t keep up and you don’t want to, because whatever your ears catch is witty, insightful and true, even when you disagree. They talk about playing sports, they talk about all of it, in jargon I don’t understand, it’s deeply technical, but I don’t care, because it is relentlessly listenable. And by the way, Mike Pesca has my favorite voice this side of Wade Goodwyn, and these guys swear a blue streak which, for me, is consistently reassuring.