The Next Big Thing has just been slotted locally on KUOW at 8pm Fridays, following the irresistable undertow of This American Life.

The host of The Next Big Thing is Dean Olsher. The show comes from the “new school” public radio tradition that kicked off just before the last Gulf War with the late lamented Heat, a long-format variety show that featured unpredictable and rotating guest hosts, such as Billy Bragg. (Last time I went looking for this show’s traces on the web, I got a goose egg – I’m happy to see it here!)

The wars over NEA funding prompted an on-air farewell from that show, (as I recall, mandatory content guidance was being called for in Congress or something), and then the war happened, which led to the improvised special programming that became Talk of the Nation. One aspect of that early incarnation of the show was that callers were often patched through direct to reporters in the field, truly compelling radio.

Finally, on these themes, I was pretty fascinated by some of the material at Transom, an umbrella site for this kind of documentary radio (as I recall, I heard about it on TAL). Oh look! I’ll be spending part of next week EQ-ing a redlined live tape of a rock band in performance: here’s a handy guide to EQ!

Anyway, I’ve been staying the hell away from the desktop box today, defragging the disks, getting the gear ready for the remastering thing, so I’ve been listening to the radio instead of websurfing and writing.

You know what would be cool? If the CBC would post all the Glenn Gould radio documentaries. But alas.

2 thoughts on “The radio

  1. I hate Talk of the Nation. I don’t find it innovative or interesting – just a bunch of people blathering about their opinions. The worth of such blather is collectively zero: it changes nothing and isn’t even interesting.

    I’ve been listening to a bit more of satellite radio lately. The extremely narrow formats make it slightly disappointing, but there are gems to be discovered. While attempting to do my taxes, I caught the beginning of “Dubliners” by our old friend Mr. Joyce. Much better than “Piano Jazz”, which is what I would have heard on the local NPR.

  2. Oh, I agree, TAL blows (‘cept for Ira and Science Friday). The difference between then and now is that when the bother with the call-ins, it’s just talk radio (yawn). During that first run, they vetted the callers a bit more creatively and the format was:

    host intros reporter-pundit-eyewitness-newsmaker

    reporter-pundit-eyewitness-newsmaker conveys information, briefly

    host asks questions

    host introduces caller to reporter-pundit-eyewitness-newsmaker

    caller questions reporter-pundit-eyewitness-newsmaker

    It was fascinating – and because it was new, there were no evolved coping mechanisms to make sure that real experientail information was minimized. Callers questioning reporters immediately after a reporter had filed a story was fascinating – like comments on weblogs!

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