Monday, February 15, 2010

This American Life...On the Radio

As an avid NPR listener, "This American Life" is one of my all time favorite shows. I realize just how rare this might seem--a 23 year old that loves a "radio program." Tons of my friends give me a hard time for being or at least acting like "an old man." They ask where my paper and my black coffee are. I have them here next to me at this very moment. But really, if you like to listen to (not just veg out and watch) something especially interesting, something intellectually stimulating, and something that is simply entertaining then you should brush aside the supposed stereotypes of NPR listeners or people that "still" listen to the radio or, even worse, a radio program.

Still, some may ask, "Do they even have radio programs anymore?" And I must answer, "Well yes, yes they sure do." And one of those said programs that would be well worth your time is "This American Life" brodcast on NPR every Sunday night at 6pm. If you live in the Atlanta area, it's 90.1 fm "on the dial(as us old-timers say)." This radio show just made its 400th show and they deserve some recognition.

As it pertains to this class, if there is any contemporary media that examines American life, or what it means to be an American, or common national sentiment of the time, or completely random stories about Americans (and trust me the list goes on), than it is this radio program. They present narrative and counter narrative; they examine this crazy relationship we have with technology; they share stories and give examples of the extreme diversity of the US; they encapsulate it all, and they do it so well.

More specifically, last week's program was about several kids that had grown up in suburbia that had stumbled upon an old artifact: an old abandoned house stocked with newspaper clippings, love letters, and all kinds of other things from the American past. The last name of the family that left it behind was named Mason. The Mason's left what seemed like absolutely everything behind and simply abandoned the house. The suburban kids were sure that this house was haunted and that some crazy old man lived there and so on. Come to find out, at least at the end of the story, the family that lived there was, in there time, the modern suburban family--not much different than the kids that stumbled upon it in the first place. And this suburbia was, as our book we are reading in class asserts, one from much earlier than the 1950s!

So all my radio listening that keeps me away from my school work, at times, actually met that work somewhere in the middle! And truly, tune in to "This American Life" next Sunday, kids young and old love it.

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