Archive for the ‘next big thing’ Category

How to Sound Like Yourself on the Radio

Posted on: December 8th, 2010 by admin No Comments

I think about this question all the time, mostly because I am allergic to the sound of people reading. And that’s what you usually get when you turn on the radio.

This matters to me so much that I spent a lot of time—a crazy amount of time—trying to get The Next Big Thing contributors to sound like themselves. To that end I developed what came to be known as the Method (h/t Lee Strasberg).

I’m grateful I had a chance to demonstrate the Method in front of a live audience this past October at the Third Coast International Audio Festival, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

The panel was called The Script Disappears (audio here). Jane Feltes (of This American Life) and I demonstrated contrasting ways to coach reporters in the delivery of their scripts. Conference-goers watched and listened as we worked with our brave subjects.

The message I got from participants is that there is a deep hunger in the public radio system for more of this kind of thing. So much so that I am in the process of turning The End of the Dial into a training tool, to cover that topic and others as the need arises. Stay tuned.

Today in History

Posted on: October 1st, 2010 by admin 1 Comment

Today is the tenth anniversary of The Next Big Thing’s debut on WNYC.

What’s The Next Big Thing? Here’s how I defined it once a week (most weeks): “It’s a visit to places you didn’t know existed, even though you go by them every day. It’s new ideas in an old medium. The next big thing is going out and finding interesting people and putting them on the radio.”

As it happens, AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, has launched a wiki, called the Sounds of Silence, to commemorate cancelled public radio programs.

And so on this bittersweet anniversary I have made my contribution to that wiki and posted it at The End of the Dial, a site that I hereby revive on this most auspicious of days. Keep checking back from time to time (indeed, why not subscribe to the associated blog’s RSS feed?) to see what happens on this site devoted to the medium formerly known as radio.

Some things to look forward to in the near future at The End of the Dial:

  1. news about the inaugural DOC NYC festival coming up the first weekend in November (I’ll be presenting a listening session of documentary sound work that I curated)
  2. radio and sound art worth listening to
  3. the sound of surprise

Future writing about radio and related matters is hereby migrating over to and I hope you can stop by now and then.

From the Archives

Posted on: August 7th, 2009 by admin No Comments

Dispiriting news about the health of behind-the-scenes music genius Jim Dickinson brings to mind this walk through Greenwich Village with him (click here).

Not That I Condone Violence

Posted on: June 15th, 2009 by admin No Comments

but …

among my major regrets in life, one is that we did not act a little more like the Iranian people after our own presidential disaster in 2000.

I did try to stir up outrage with the hope of organized protest. To this day, I can’t shake the memory of a left-leaning colleague who counseled me, condescendingly, that it was important to “move on.”

Such terrible advice. And hindsight is not required to know it. At the time, even, that line from Yeats replayed itself in my head like a stuck record. I wish the poet were alive today so that I could argue with him: if they truly were the “best,” then they wouldn’t lack all conviction, would they?

As the 2002 midterm elections approached, it was time to vote again, and for the life of me I couldn’t see the point of it. Unless all votes are counted, the exercise is empty.

The weekend before election day, I tried to argue my case to former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. (Click here and then fast forward to 1:39 to skip past the show intro and listen to the interview. Sorry, but WNYC still requires RealPlayer.)

I bring this up again now to set the record straight. The governor characterized my position this way: “I [Dean] didn’t get what I want when I vote, so why should I vote? They’re not really listening to me.”

I can’t remember what happened next in the raw, unedited interview. There are two possibilities. The first is that I wasn’t quick enough on my feet to press the point. The second is that I did press the point but a producer took it out, thinking it unimportant, and I wasn’t hovering closely enough to make sure it was left in.

What needed to be said next was this: “No, Governor. That’s not it at all. Actually, in November of 2000, we didn’t have enough information about George Bush to hate him yet. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about compassionate conservatism. It has nothing to do with what I want. The disaster was that when all the votes were counted, the American people had voted the other way. When all the votes were counted—and this point has never sunk in, perhaps because it’s too horrifying to contemplate—Gore had won not only the popular vote but also the Electoral College. I would shut up about it if Bush had really been the candidate America wanted in 2000.”

Of course, then came the 2004 election, which rendered me speechless. But that’s another matter.

One thing the governor said seems alive again in light of Iranians’ response to their election results. He said: “This is a system that rewards involvement and punishes aloofness.” I hope to have a chance in my lifetime to witness if that is true.