Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Intrepid Engineering

A listener recently told us that his favorite thing to do on a cold winter morning is to stay in bed and listen to VPR on his alarm much so that he had to change the station to something less appealing so that he would actually get up and go to work!

Next time you're all cozy and warm and enjoying VPR, I hope you'll send good thoughts to our crack engineers, who work tirelessly throughout the year to keep VPR and VPR Classical on the air. Here's a picture of Eli from Prescott Towers on Mt. Equinox last week, helping install a new FM antenna for VPR Classical at 95.1 WVTQ, which broadcasts from Sunderland/Manchester.  Brrr!

Mike said: "Temps were in the low teens with some wind at the time.  It was an interesting trip up the mountain. Brian (Marshall) and I got almost all the way to the top only to get the tracked ATV totally stuck in a rather large snow drift. We ended up having to winch the ATV through the drift. Fun! 

We were able to test the new transmitter in analog mode for a minute or so into the new antenna, so progress is being made."

You'll find more photos of the work on WVTQ at our Flickr site!

Happy new year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best ____ of 2008, Pubradio-Style

One of my very favorite things about December are all of those year-end "best of" lists -everywhere you turn, there are tidy bundles of of the best music, movies, TV shows, books, gadgets, and yes, even best public radio moments of the year. 

I find these lists not only to be fun to explore, but fantastically redemptive.  I get a second chance to catch up on all the news and culture I've missed or neglected throughout the year. It's like A Christmas Carol for the modern media junkie. 

While I recognize the irony in creating a list of lists, here are links to best-of lists from NPR and VPR this holiday season. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best of Public Radio 2008

This Saturday, December 27th, VPR will air The Best of Public Radio. This is the first year this program is being offered and VPR is exited to give listeners a look back at 2008. And just so you’re not surprised, the program will also give listeners a chance to make a gift to VPR. Yes, it’s a fundraising program, and here’s why...

Vermont Public Radio is seeing underwriting support decline for the first time in its history. Here we are near the end of December, with underwriting revenue of $140,000 this month compared to $170,000 last December, nearly a 20% decline. Businesses are having a hard time keeping their doors open, never mind having their business heard on Morning Edition.

We receive about one third of our annual revenue from business underwriting, nearly $2M of VPR’s $6.5M budget. As business support continues to decline, we’re looking at other ways to raise the money needed to continue to cover the news, pay our share for NPR programs, and broadcast VPR Classical. We’re cutting costs, by nearly 10% so far, but we’re also trying new approaches like the “Best of Public Radio” end of year fundraiser that offers listeners an opportunity to keep VPR strong for 2009. I hope you’ll listen in and let me know what you think.

Robin Turnau
Vice President for Development
Vermont Public Radio

Stop and Listen

Today I was doing the usual morning things to get ready for the show (preparing the weather - as if anyone CAN do that!, pulling CDs, reading through the day's news...) when the familiar sounds of Willem Lange's perennial favorite, “Favor Johnson” came through the radio. I was immediately drawn into the nostalgic world of Hercules the Hound, drifting smoke through the falling snow, and soup cans filled with fruitcake. I stopped what I had been doing to sit for a moment and listen - just listen, undistracted - to the rest of it.

When I'm asked, 'how do you choose programming?' it's experiences like this I recall. Is it meaningful, or relevant? Do I care about it? Can I learn something? Does it make me think, or feel something extraordinary? When the answer is 'yes', the choice is made for me. It's that easy.

Whatever else your holiday plans may include I hope that the hand-picked sounds and stories you find on VPR and VPR Classical help to make your experience that much more special. To paraphrase Willem Lange, "it's just our way of saying 'Merry Christmas'!"

Best wishes for the holidays and New Year from all of us at VPR!

Cheryl Willoughby
Interim Director of Programming

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Scoop on School Closings

Remember when snowy mornings meant sleeping in and hot chocolate? For most of us they're now more about soggy pant legs and a long commute, but we still want to you to be warm and safe. That's why at VPR we post school closings on our website, so you don't travel unecessarily in bad weather.

Some listeners have asked us if we could deliver this in a different way, like reading the complete list on the air. VPR is a statewide network, and all of our stations are simulcast from our main studios in Colchester. With well over 1,000 schools in the VPR listening area, even if it took the announcer just 5 seconds to read each announcement it would nearly 90 minutes to read them all! Even if only half the schools were closed or late, it would still take 45 minutes. This is why we must rely on to convey this information.

We've also been asked about providing an RSS feed of school closings. Since the list at our website is pulled directly from the Vermont Association of Broadcasters' database, at this time we are not able to provide an RSS feed or make any other changes to the information as it comes in.

We do take care to provide an overview of the counties affected on the air throughout Morning Edition.

Technology is ever-evolving, and we'll continue exploring better ways of getting you school closing information quickly and accurately. In the meantime, bookmark our school closings page, bundle up, and enjoy the snow!

Michelle Jeffery
Communications Producer

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who's Right?

Ken in Newbury is a sustaining member of VPR who asks.... "Another sustaining member believes that VPR sends an annual gift to
such members. I believe that the gift received in the first year of a sustaining membership is the last. Who is right?

Thanks to both of you for supporting VPR! As a sustaining member, you may request a thank-you gift every year on the anniversary of your pledge. Also, sustaining members are automatically entered in all of VPR's drawings. As a sustaining member, you help VPR save on mailing costs and help keep our membership drives as short as possible. To learn more about sustaining membership and sign up, click here.

As of today - 3,861 sustaining members help make great public radio happen on VPR!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NPR's Senior Vice President for News on recent cuts

National Public Radio announced Wednesday that it will cancel two programs and lay off 64 staff members -- its first staff cuts in 25 years. Ellen Weiss, NPR's senior vice president for news, discusses the cuts and the recession's worsening effects on the media. Click here for a transcript of her interview with PBS Online NewsHour.
Click here for a transcript of her interview with PBS Online NewsHour

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NPR Cuts Jobs and Programs; VPR's Financial Picture

It’s clear that public radio is not immune from the economic downturn…NPR announced a major cutback this week, reducing its workforce by 7%, through a layoff of 64 employees due to the weakening economy. It’s also cancelling two programs: Day to Day, and News and Notes.

Day to Day is broadcast on VPR weekdays from 2-3 p.m. Although the program won't end for a few months, we’ll start a process of looking for a replacement in our news lineup that provides the same level of national and global perspective during those hours.

The layoffs at NPR came because of a decline in national underwriting revenue and foundation support that makes up about a third of NPR’s $158 million budget. Member station fees make up about half of NPR’s revenues. Here is a link to NPR’s press release, and a story by NPR’s David Folkenflik on All Things Considered.

And the economy has affected VPR as well. We ended the 2008 fiscal year on budget, and had a very successful fundraiser in October to begin FY 2009. But there have been some warning signs: the average membership pledge during the last drive was less than in previous years. And for the first time in a decade, revenue from business underwriting declined by about 4%. Three months into our fiscal year, those same trends appear to be continuing. As a result, we’ve revised our revenue projections downward by more than $400,000.

We’re looking carefully at all areas of VPR’s budget to make up for the projected shortfall. I’ve put a hold on any vacant full and part-time positions, and everyone is looking at other ways we can reduce expenses this year.

No one knows how much worse the economy will get, but I think VPR is in relatively good shape to weather this storm. We have strong programming, a talented staff, and lots and lots of loyal listeners across this region. We know you’re counting on VPR and NPR to keep you informed about the economy and all the news of the world. I want to assure you that we will continue doing just that, while being prudent and creative with our resources.

Mark Vogelzang
VPR President

Live Jazz a hit on VPR

VPR recieved many comments about the live jazz on George Thomas' show on December 10th. 

On listener wrote: " Loved your live program....took my winter blues away...and Ellen Powell was GREAT as was her guitarist...will go to Leunigs on Thursday night in Jan to hear in your laid back style..will continue my membership because of this performance...thanks."

I'm glad you connected with last night's show. It's always a treat to have live music and the quiet melodic sound fit my mood too. Do introduce yourself to Ellen Powell when you see her live, she'll
be happy to hear you enjoyed her performance with Geoff Kim.

Thanks for listening & writing,
George Thomas

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stream VPR and VPR Classical on your iPhone and iPod Touch

In October, I wrote a blog post to address the question from listeners as to whether or not they could listen to VPR and VPR Classical on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The answer I gave then was basically "coming soon". Well, that day has arrived.

Last week, American Public Media launched the Public Radio Tuner. This is a FREE application that allows anyone to listen to the LIVE streams of VPR and VPR Classical on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Vermont Public Radio is just one of almost 200 public radio stations participating in this project (the list is growing), so you'll find many other stations in the directory in addition to VPR. Click here for information on how to get the Public Radio Tuner »

Some of you may be wondering why is this useful, given that the iPhone isn't even available in Vermont yet. Well, it looks like the iPhone may (finally) be on the way to Vermont. But even though it's not officially here, lots of folks have the iPod Touch and many have even figured out ways to have working iPhones in Vermont. For the latest on the iPhone coming to Vermont, check out this recent post on the 7Days blog "Blurt".

If you have an iPhone or Touch, I hope you give the Public Radio Tuner a try and let us know how it works for you. If you've got any feedback - positive or negative - contact APM directly, here, or contact me at Vermont Public Radio.

Thanks for listening,

Jonathan Butler

Vermont Author on Vermont Edition

A listener writes...

"Dear Old VPR
Enjoyed hearing about author Bill Schubart and his book "The Lamoille
Stories" on VT Edition? How do I get a hold of Bill's stories?"
- Chris, Lyme, NH"

We did have Bill Schubart on Vermont Edition on 11/26 to share his new book, "Lamoille Stories: Uncle Benoit's Wake and Other Tales from Vermont." I think you can find the book at local bookstores and online. Click here for a link to Bill Schubart's web site for more information.

Patti Daniels

PS: Click here for a link to the audio of the interview with Bill Schubart.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't Talk So Fast!

A fan of Exploring Music (7pm weeknights on VPR Classical) asks.....

"I hear the name of composers, conductors or musicians and the names flow off the lips of announcer on Exploring Music on VPR Classical, BUT you have no idea how the name is spelt. And if you want to name for music by the funny sounding name you have no idea where to look."

Exploring Music's website contains cue sheets for each program. They're
mainly used on our end, to verify that the correct program is airing, but
you can check them out as well. They contain all the information you

Hope that helps!

Joe Goetz
VPR Classical

Simple Gifts

At the end of Willem Lang's commentary "Simple Gifts," the Shaker song "'twas a gift to be simple" was played. It was simply beautiful. What was the singer's name and the album it was from?

The version of "Simple Gifts" you heard was by the cellist Yo Yo Ma with
vocals by Allison Krauss.

You can find it on the CD "Classic Yo Yo".

I hope you enjoyed it.

Also, click here to hear Willem's commentary.

Thanks for listening!
Mitch Wertlieb

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why doesn't online audio synch with my radio?

I listener recently asked: “I want to know why the sound from my computer
is not insync with the radio station? I was hoping to augment my little radio
with the sound from my computer. Not possible?”

The broadcast audio and the streaming audio will never be in synch - our
audio signal is sent to our transmitters on dedicated links which have
very low delay. Web streams are sent over the public Internet and,
depending upon how may networks and routers they must pass through
before they reach you computer, they can be delayed by anywhere from 1
to 2 minutes compared to the broadcast audio. The broadcast audio is
only slightly delayed in it's trip to the transmitter (8 seconds on the
analog side to match the delay inherent in HD radio), and then from the
transmitter to your radio. But the delay will never be as long as it is
for the audio streaming over the Internet!

Hope this helps answer your question!

Thanks for listening -

Rich Parker, GSEC
Director of Engineering
Vermont Public Radio

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Neal Charnoff complements All Things Consdered with his love of music.

All Things Considered host Neal Charnoff was VPR's jazz host and always has a stack of CDs on his desk. His music 'buttons' in between the stories on All Things Considered often have a humorous angle....

"I love being able to connect the music to the story, either thematically, or literally. Sometimes the connection is subtle, sometimes more obvious. I trust public radio listeners to pick up on the connection, without me having to spell it out.

For example, during the election, I would occasionally use an instrumental version of Tears For Fears "Everybody Wants To Rule the World". Of course not everyone knows that song, but I felt enough people would recognize it to get the joke.

Another example is a story Steve Zind did on turkey calling. Jazzman Clark Terry is fond off scat-singing gibberish, and it sounds a bit like turkey calling, so it was a funny way to come out of the story.

Of course it's important to gauge the tone of the stories or commentaries you'll be coming out of. I try to keep a library of music that would fit any occasion, sad or happy. Commentator Mike Martin often writes about French issues, so I have some accordian music to go with his essays. For Willem Lange, I tend to go with folksy guitar music.

Sometimes it's a communal effort. If we have a story about trains, we'll run around the building asking people what their favorite train songs are.

We're always on a deadline, and I don't always find the right piece of music in time. But when the process works, it really adds a dimension to our news stories. I think the connection between music and story-telling is part of what makes the public radio experience so satisfying. "

Neal Charnoff

Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb reveals his inspiration for musical moments

Every day, VPR receives at least one email that reads something like this, "Right before 8 o'clock this morning, I heard this great piece of music. Can you tell me what that was?" Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb explains...

"I have no shame admitting that my origins in radio stem from a stint as a late-night DJ for my college radio station, and to this day I have a real passion for all kinds of music. As a journalist and Morning Edition host, I don’t think my passions for news and music must always be mutually exclusive. When I look at the stories, interviews, and commentaries we have coming up on Morning Edition each day, a little trigger will sometimes go off, and that DJ voice inside my head says “Hey, wouldn’t this or that song be a nice complement coming out of this story?”

I remember one of our commentators once voicing a thoughtful essay about how important it is for hikers to remember that sedge grass on some of Vermont’s mountaintops is very sensitive and vulnerable to being trampled on by less-than-aware visitors, so following that piece I played a snippet of the Elvis Costello song “You Better Watch Your Step.”

Many other times I try to weave some appropriate acoustic guitar music or a contemplative jazz piece after a story to enhance and reflect on the meaning of what we’ve just heard. But most of the time, for the local breaks in the show I just like to play bits of some of my favorite music. It’s the same as the music I listen to at home or on long road trips in the car.

This has led to a very pleasant outpouring of correspondence from listeners who share my love for the music of the late great Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, as well as music by Vermont’s own Phish, Guagua, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. You’re also likely to hear a healthy dose of jazz by McCoy Tyner, and funk by bands like Soulive and The Meters.

The news can often be difficult to take, and sometimes music—even in brief excerpts—can provide a kind of respite to remind us of one of the great joys of life that’s universally shared. I’m grateful that VPR allows me the opportunity to express my musical tastes, and that so many VPR listeners have responded and shared their own as well."

Mitch Wertlieb

NPR's new CEO and new building initiative

I've just concluded my final set of meetings after 7 years as a member of the NPR Board of Directors, and wanted to share my impressions on two major initiatives underway. The first is the recent announcement of the selection of a new President and CEO - a top priority for any board. Vivian Schiller (right), currently Senior Vice President and General Manager at the NY, was hired by the Board on Nov. 11. (Story and photo from NPR here and an article from the Washington Post here; picture courtesy of NPR).

She's leaving the Times in December, and will start at NPR on January 5th, taking over for Dennis Haarsager, who has been interim CEO since last March. Vivian has some Vermont connections - she completed her Masters degree at Middlebury from 1983-85 in Russian language - so we're eager to have her come back to the state and visit VPR as an NPR member station.

The Board's committee made a thorough and very rigorous search with a wonderful team from SpencerStuart, and we had a large number of highly qualified candidates for the job, which speaks to the leadership role that NPR now has in US journalism and broadcasting, and the future that we have in new media and online.

My early personal impressions of Vivian Schiller are extremely positive - a great communicator, solid journalistic and media credentials, and keen understanding of the role that we have in our communities. She's going to be a champion for stations, I believe, and for the mission of NPR in this country. In my short visits with her I was taken with her solid, humble approach to the work, and good interpersonal skills. Is she perfect? Of course not... there is no major gift fundraising experience on a national scale, and this is her first CEO position in a public service organization. But my prediction - she'll shine in this role!

The other NPR initiative is the new building project. NPR staff and board have been working hard for two years (and more) on planning for moving out of 635 Mass. Ave, and into something new. The cost of keeping our current headquarters for the future is not really feasible with over 800 employees, and with that rational, have been investigating properties in the DC region. In the last year, we purchased a piece of land north of the Capitol and Union Station, and that property will be developed into the new home of NPR by 2013. The Board has a very strong architectural and development team, and some exciting preliminary designs.

Also from the national desk, the difficult economic situation is affecting NPR for this fiscal year, with a decline in national underwriting, and fewer dollars from investments. As a result, the Board has been advised that NPR will significantly reduce revenue projections for '09, and work to manage the finances appropriately while protecting and focusing on essential news gathering and the core mission of NPR for the future. I think there will be some difficult decisions ahead for NPR.

Here at Vermont Public Radio, we have some of the same concerns about the weakening economy, and the decline in underwriting. In future posts, I'll have more on the revenue and expense portions of VPR's budget, but for now, it's worthwhile to remind you that during this Thanksgiving time, we have much to be thankful for, including a completed endowment campaign, a solid base of support in our membership, and the important work that all the good folks at VPR are doing to advance the work of public radio in our communities!

Mark Vogelzang
President and GM
Vermont Public Radio

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Telling the Farm Family Story

Coaxing a long line of slow-moving cows down their path, pitching hay near the roof beams of an old barn on a blistering summer day until your nostrils fill with dust, smelling the distant sweet odor of corn silage on a September afternoon, feeling the breeze off a long field of grass... those are just a few memories that generations of farm families share almost instinctively.

From those few images spring many others for those who haven't grown up on farms... pasture views, long expanses of land that people imagine being perfect for a house site, cows in a meadow, turkeys amid the stubble of a corn field, and crooked picturesque barns that keep standing despite a lack of attention.

The people behind the sounds and sights that make up the agricultural landscape in the Northeast Kingdom are the topic of this week’s Farm Families documentary series here at VPR. You might have thought that the story of agriculture in Vermont has been told. Not so, though, especially in this part of Caledonia County.

Charlotte Albright spent months visiting and getting to know the people who live on six multi-generational farms to explore just how the future of agriculture hangs in the balance. In this series, she touched the past, the present and, in some ways, the future.

There are many ways into this series. The stories air during Morning Edition at 7:50am and during All Things Considered at 4:50pm. Or you can listen online or read the text. The stories are sound-rich portraits that characterize the farm family dilemma from various points of view.

But don't miss the online audio slideshow. You can hear the behind-the-scenes narrative of how the project came together and see Herb Swanson's photos of the farm families who were interviewed.

Or maybe this entry brings to mind a story of your own. Tell us online; we’ll post your own farm family story or essay.

By telling these stories, VPR hopes to help you to find your own connection to the family farm and to examine how its preservation or disappearance affects you.

John Van Hoesen
VPR Vice President for News

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Timelessness of Great Music

Yesterday morning the buzz started early. As our music guests arrived and began warming up in the performance studio, word made its way around quickly and very soon a cluster of staff began gathering outside the studio to make some visual connection with the glorious sound leaking out. It was obvious we were in for a very special experience. The performers were "Asteria"; soprano Sylvia Rhyne and her partner, tenor/lutenist Eric Redlinger. They went on the air at 11 with Walter Parker, and for the next hour they shared timeless songs of human expression, about love, and yearning, and life destiny. And for just that hour, the clock melted away completely, the walls around the performance studio disappeared, and the music transported us to a place far away from our 21st century world. That's the power of music.

Again I find myself so grateful to our generous listeners for making these unforgettable experiences possible! Thank you! [You can revisit yesterday's performance here:
Asteria Live on VPR]

- Cheryl Willoughby

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey - Remembering Carruth

I came to Hayden Carruth in the same way many people probably have: a friend shared with me Carruth's cantankerously hilarious Regarding Chainsaws” , and that was it. (Who knew a poem could be written about something like that? "The first chainsaw I owned was years ago, an old yellow McCulloch that wouldn't start....") So it began. The poem itself, and, my love of Carruth's powerful ability to speak to the spirit of the people and everyday experiences of the rural life he lived. That was many years before I found out I would be living here. Carruth came to Burlington for a reading in the autumn of 2004, very soon after I had moved to Vermont. Attending his reading was my first social outing as a ‘new’ Vermonter. (Though of course the first rule of BEING a Vermonter is knowing there really isn’t such a thing as being a new one). Everything seemed to align as he took the stage on that cold afternoon. The auditorium filled with wool scarves and thick boots and plaid jackets and just the kind of fortified ‘North Winter’ atmosphere that permeates his poems. And, yes, he finished the reading with “Regarding Chainsaws” – he said it himself, how could he not?

Hayden Carruth died in September. This Sunday evening at 7:30 VPR offers a remembrance of the poet in a special project I’ve been very pleased to work on with a fellow Carruth fan, Betty Smith. I hope you’ll join the remembrance as we share a piece of supermarket pie, rev up the McCulloch, and raise a glass of whiskey in “A Tribute to Hayden Carruth”! [You can also listen at VPR.NET: Carruth Tribute ]

Cheryl Willoughby
VPR's Interim Director of Programming

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sunsets and Radio: Bringing Us Together

Who says November in Vermont is bleak and colorless? Probably no one who ever caught one of our signature stunning autumn sunsets! In a time when technology can occasionally work to isolate people it's comforting to be able to still have a shared human experience like a sunset that simply stops you in your tracks. Radio is like that too. Last evening's sunset pyrotechnics were followed by the Will Patton Gypsy Jazz Ensemble's red-hot performance at 8 on VPR. Could it get any better than this? [If you missed the show, you can listen here: Will Patton Live on VPR ]

Cheryl Willoughby
VPR Interim Director of Programming (and fan of great sunsets and swingin' gypsy jazz!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VPR Vice President of News John Van Hoesen draws back the curtain on how Election Day plays out behind the scenes today at VPR

It’s exciting for us all to see months and months of news coverage come to a conclusion with the election. VPR's investment in public service has included many news stories, feature stories, interviews, Vermont Edition programs, special coverage with VPR debates, online news and features, slide shows, and commentaries. The candidates have been in our studios and the voters have been on our air.

So today, VPR news staffers are out with the voters and the candidates on the last day, pulling together the final pieces of information that will conclude our election coverage. Here's a sampler of what this looks like:

A nice feature story on elections past by Steve Zind started the day this morning, adding a warm touch to the importance of voting. Right now, eight reporters are gathering audio from voters all over the state that we will use in the course of the day and tonight during our special coverage. Listen for our Election Day update at (Bennington started voting at 5 a.m.) and on Vermont Edition, Jane discusses voting rules and laws (a neutral topic for this day) and we'll have a nice piece on preparations at the polling place. We'll follow-up again in the evening newscast.

Then we'll be ready for our live coverage at 7 p.m. Veteran journalist Steve Delaney will be our host tonight during the hour and he'll be joined by Hamilton Davis, a former editor of the Free Press, who has also covered national politics. He is also known for an investigative series on Vermont's health care system that aired on WCAX. Steve will guide us through the night with the first hour at 7. And then VPR will join NPR's special coverage for the evening, through 3 a.m. VPR will be back through the night at 20 after and 50 after the hour with election updates. And we'll be taking listener calls.

You'll hear Steve speak to Bob Kinzel, who will be covering the Republican side of the election. Bob will be live from the Capitol Plaza hotel in Montpelier. Bob will capture speeches by Governor Douglas, Lt. Gov. Dubie and others as they occur.

John Dillon will be at the Democratic headquarters in downtown Burlington. John is hoping to get a few moments with Sen. Leahy if possible. If the Democrats are in the White House and there are more Democrats in the Senate, Leahy's future will be a big story. You’ll also hear from Gaye Symington and Peter Welch.

Steve Zind will be with the independents today, where Anthony Pollina will be a big story. Nina Keck will be reporting from VPR's new studio at PEG-TV, the public access channel in Rutland's Howe Center.

During the night, we'll be looking at the results of six bellwether towns that VPR has analyzed over past years because they mirror the statewide election results. Those towns are Bolton, Bethel, Randolph, Cambridge, Jericho and Bristol. Lynne McCrea has been working with volunteers to make sure we can get those results in as soon as possible. We are aware, though, that if clerks have to count a lot of ballots manually, it could be a longer than usual night.

You might wonder where we get our primary numbers for election night. We are using the AP Vote Count system, which is an online system that updates town-by-town numbers for all the Vermont towns and cities in the races for president, Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor of accounts, state House seats, and state Senate seats.

Several computers are set up here in Election Central at VPR’s Colchester studios. It serves as a funnel of information to Steve on the air – and to Check out our special online election pages with results, tape, and photos. Check out our great online look!! Plus, we have the wonderful NPR election map!

VPR’s Vermont Edition producer, Patti Daniels will be in master control for the night coordinating the many aspects of the on-air results. Ross Sneyd will coordinating our behind the scenes election gathering and looking for the right moment to get one of our reporters live on the air. (Patti and Ross have been working for quite a few weeks on many of these behind the scenes details.)

Then, after this is all over, we have a whole set of election stories and audio to get ready for Wednesday morning! We usually finish up somewhere between midnight and the early hours of the morning.

MitchWertlieb and Morning Edition producer Melody Bodette will pepper the the morning with results, starting at 6 a.m. You'll hear all the news stories during the newscasts. Plus, we are trying to have an interview with the governor-elect first thing in the morning!

There are big races in New Hampshire and New York, which we will hear about in the course of the election coverage as well.

When Vermont Edition rolls around again tomorrow at noon, we will review all the results and discuss what it all means. We'll discuss the presidential results, the US Senate results, and the Vermont results. This show is still being planned and we'll be going with the flow to some degree depending on the outcomes.

Thanks to to everyone here at VPR for even more behind the scenes work to get this important news coverage on the air.

Have a great Election Day!

John Van Hoesen
Vice President of News

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Night 2008

Well, the 2008 election is finally upon us. It's a little hard to believe - after all, the 2008 campaign began more than 20 months ago.

Remember to vote tomorrow, and then stay tuned throughout the night to VPR and for news and results you can trust, analysis that makes you think and meaningful discussion of the issues.

At 7, VPR's Steve Delaney hosts reports from around the region, with Hamilton Davis providing analysis. At 8 p.m., we'll join NPR's live coverage, with regional updates throughout the evening.

Visit Campaign '08 for Election Results and Analysis »

Friday, October 31, 2008

Can I listen to VPR and VPR Classical on my iPhone?

I'm asked this question more and more lately and the answer is yes (if you want to pay $5.99) and almost (if you want to get it for free). First, the free solution.

VPR is part of a public radio initiative, spearheaded by American Public Media, to launch the Public Radio Tuner. The Public Radio Tuner will allow anyone to listen to the participating public radio streams via the iPhone and iPod Touch, including VPR and VPR Classical. This iPhone application will be FREE and available via the iTunes Store. It's not yet ready, but we expect it to be released in just a few weeks. We'll let listeners know once it's available.

If you can't wait a few weeks, there are already applications in the iTunes store that will allow you to listen to any online streams via the iPhone and iPod Touch. They aren't free, and I can't vouch for them, but they're available for about $6 and I've heard they work well. Search the iTunes Store for 'internet radio tuners' and you should have some luck.

If you have any questions about all the ways you can listen to VPR and VPR Classical, send us an email. Once the Public Radio Tuner is available we'd love to hear your feedback on that, too.

Jonathan Butler
Online Manager
Vermont Public Radio

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jamming at Champlain College

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the VPR table at the Vermont 3.0 Creative-Tech Career Jam last Saturday. It was a blast to meet so many enthusiastic listeners and talk with you about career opportunities at VPR. This is an exciting event that we'll continue to attend.

Until the next Jam, check out this video postcard by Seven Days on the Jam, and perspectives on Vermont becoming a creative-tech hotbed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We do this every day... with your support!

It's early Friday afternoon and I've been listening to the radio all morning, switching between VPR and VPR Classical. More than once I've had to remind myself what I'm NOT hearing today: the membership drive! Thanks to more than 7,000 VPR listeners who contributed over the last week or so, we were able to end the drive a whole day early and wrap it up very successfully yesterday evening.

But even on a day like today, when it's 'business as usual' at VPR, it's far from usual: Walter Parker is playing Beethoven's 6th Symphony on VPR Classical, even as VPR's "On Point" features Sheila Lukins talking about America's changing cuisine. And earlier this morning, at the same time I was on the air playing music from the Boston Camerata (they'll be here in concert over the weekend), Mitch was in the nearby studio talking about the falling cost of heating oil, and the gubenatorial campaign. We do this every day. And yet it's unusual because VPR has the incredible, constant support of its listenership behind BOTH of our two unified yet distinct radio services. Thank you for helping us to serve you better. VPR's listeners are simply the best anywhere!

Cheryl Willoughby
Interim Director of Programming

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pictures from a VPR Membership Drive

We're less than $100,000 away from meeting VPR's overall membership drive goal of $560,000.

In addition to raising the money needed to pay for programming, membership drives are a terrific touchstone. It's an opportunity to really step back and think about what public radio means to us, and hear from listeners what it means to them.

For this reason, membership drives can actually be quite fun. We've been taking pictures during the drive and I thought I'd share them with you. Check out our drive photo album here.

There has been a truly remarkable outpouring of support over the last week, and it is both humbling and reassuring to see how important a role VPR's service plays in this region. Thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

VPR Connecting the (Red Sox) Community

A mere few hours after the Boston Red Sox made the biggest postseason comeback in 79 years, overcoming a 7-0 deficit to win 8-7, forcing a Game 6 in the American League Championship Series, Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb lamented on the air about how he had given up and gone to bed. It wasn't until I popped my head into the studio at 8 a.m. that Mitch found someone who had stayed up to see the incredible rally. He was so impressed that he reported this on the air.

An hour later, Mitch sends me this email:

"I just got a phone call from Stu Curry, a 57-year old listener from Chester. He heard me mention that I had "finally found a Red Sox fan who stayed up to watch the entire historic Red Sox comeback victory over the Rays last night...VPR's own Michelle Jeffery watched the whole game...and never gave up hope." Stu wanted me to know that he too kept believing and also stayed tuned to the entire game, and was witness to the 8-run, come-from-behind victory that occurred after the Sox were down 7-0 in the 7th inning, facing elimination from the playoffs.

Stu was delighted that VPR covered the story so enthusiastically and related many of his own Red Sox memories, including live attendance at notorious Sox losses like the Buck Dent home run in the 1-game playoff against the Yankees in 1978, and the Aaron Boone home run off Tim Wakefield in the 2003 ALCS that also had the Yankees breaking Red Sox' fans hearts.

But Stu wanted me to know he was also at Fenway Park for game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees in 2004 when Dave Roberts stole second against Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th and was brought home by Bill Mueller's single...all of which led to Big Papi's 12th-inning game winning HR and the eventual first-time-in-baseball history that a team overcame a 3-0 series deficit to win a playoff in 7 games.

What a great example of a VPR listener reacting to and fostering a moment of connection, wanting to relate his own story to one he heard on VPR, and appreciating the enthusiasm in reporting a story he also cares about passionately. It's really what public radio does best."

During membership drives we're always looking for ways to describe how public radio connects us to one another. Thanks, Stu and Mitch, for demonstrating this so beautifully.

Playoffs + Pledge Drives = Poetry

So, here's the thing: if we're very lucky, Red Sox Nation's VPR Chapter gets to cheer on our beloved team in the playoffs while simultaneously working long hours to put on VPR's October membership drive. Over the years, we've found that writing baseball haikus to one another helps to clear our minds of worrying about the Sox so that we can focus on the drive. A few highlights from yesterday:

Mitch Wertlieb, Morning Edition Host:
The Dice-K readies
Red Sox fate in the balance
May he pitch a gem

Joe Goetz, VPR Classical Host:
We've done it before
Gotta keep that faith, baby
Ha, yeah, sure, okay....

Fred Child, Performance Today Host (at RSN's American Public Media HQ):
The Rays had their fun
Tonight their hubris will fall
Fooled by gyroballs

Please, no more meatballs
I prefer champagne instead
Down 3-1? No prob.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

But was Frost a philanthropist?

VPR Commentator Philip Baruth
VPR's recent series about Robert Frost was a favorite with many listeners. But was Frost a philanthropist? VPR Commentator Philip Baruth produced this tongue in cheek story about Frost and public radio.

Click here to listen to Philip Baruth's faux-take on Frost.

Franny Bastian,
Promotions Producer
Vermont Public Radio

Monday, October 13, 2008

Behind the Scenes of a Live Performance at VPR

Walter Parker hosted not one, but two live classical performances here at Vermont Public Radio studios last Friday - the first by Boston-based ensemble A Far Cry with flutist Karen Kevra, and in the second by cellist Allison Eldredge and pianist Yoshie Akimoto. If you missed them or just want to hear them again, click here to listen online and see photos.

The telltale sign that you're hearing a perfectly engineered live performance is, well...nothing. The listener notices nothing except for seamless, clear, perfectly balanced, beautiful music. But it takes hours of preparation to pull off a live performance (not to mention two in one day!). We think no one does it better than our own Sam Sanders, one of our production engineers.

Prep work starts well in advance of the performance when Sam sets up the performance studio for the guests. Musicians normally arrive at least an hour before the performance to tune up and do a sound check.

Walter and Sam listen from the control room next door to make sure the sound is just right. If anything needs tweaking, Sam works with the musicians to shift their positions so that everything is perfect for air time.

Listen and enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

VPR and VPR Classical guests, together

You never know who you'll run into when you visit the studios of Vermont Public Radio.

Pictured below are Vermont Congressman Peter Welch (far right), guest on today's Vermont Edition on VPR, talking with members of the Boston-based string ensemble A Far Cry, fresh from their live performance on Classical with Walter Parker on VPR Classical.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Interactive map: Audio Postcards from Vermont Towns

VPR News has an ongoing project to create Audio Postcards from Vermont Towns. For example, here's the Audio Postcard from the state capital, Montpelier.

So far we've covered 27 cities and towns and now they're all plotted on an interactive Google Map. From the map, you can see all of the towns and click right through to the Audio Postcards.

Is your town not on the map? Send us an email and tell us what makes your town special and who we should talk to when we're there.

Visit for more about this Special Series: Audio Postcards from Vermont Towns.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mark Vogelzang Takes Your Questions

Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. for Reactionline with VPR President Mark Vogelzang. He'll take your questions and comments about VPR and VPR Classical. If you'd like to ask your question in advance, click here.

Hope you can tune in! If not, the program will be available online after the broadcast here.

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

VPR Classical Goes on the air in the NEK

I'm thrilled to report that our newest VPR Classical station WVTI 106.9 is now broadcasting from the Island Pond/Brighton area. The station went on the air just before 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon and is the first analog VPR Classical station to serve the Northeast Kingdom.

Because WVTI uses a directional antenna, the FCC requires that we operate at 50% power for up to 10 days so that they can verify that there are no interference problems with the new pattern. Once we receive notification from them we will increase to full power. Also, as with any new transmitter there will inevitably be some testing and tweaking of the new frequency, so don't worry if the station goes on and off the air intermittently over the next couple of weeks.

Here's the coverage map - we hope you'll tune in and let us know how it sounds! Find out other ways to hear VPR Classical at our website.

Wondering just what happens up there to make the magic of radio happen? Check out these photos, taken by our engineering crew.

And if you have the stomach for it, take a virtual ride with our intrepid broadcast engineer Mike Seguin as he drives to the summit of Paradis Mountain, where the transmitter is located:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Weekend Schedule Tweaks

It's been almost a year since Vermont Public Radio split its programming into two distinct services: VPR and VPR Classical. In that time, we've heard from literally thousands of listeners with cheers and jeers, as well as suggestions, requests, and questions. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, we are so honored that so many of you care deeply enough about your public radio station to take the time to let us know what you think.

And we work hard to do our best by our listeners. As a result of your comments over the last year, we're making a few tweaks to our weekend lineup beginning this Saturday. Here they are, in short:


12-1pm: The Splendid Table (moved from 3pm)
1-2pm: Marketplace Money (moved from 4pm)
2-4pm: World Cafe (moved from noon)
4-5pm: The Sound of Young America (moved from 6pm Sunday)


6-7pm: This American Life (moved from 2pm Sunday)

Check out our full schedules for VPR and VPR Classical (and even print out a handy PDF schedule grid) at

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Terrific Way to be Stuck in Vermont

Thank you to everyone who attended our listener picnic last weekend at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge. The weather was perfect, the horses magnificent, the music fantastic...and then there's you! It is a joy and a real honor to meet and speak with our loyal listeners. You always tell us that you love being able to put faces to voices you hear on the radio - well, the same goes for us. We love meeting the people who power public radio in this state.

For a true taste of the day, check out this video postcard of the picnic. It was produced by Eva Sollberger of Seven Days' Stuck in Vermont video blog:

Also, visit our website for tons of photos and the audio of Jane Lindholm's interview with On Point Host Tom Ashbrook. If you have photos, we hope you'll add them to our Flickr group!

Friday, September 19, 2008

VPR and VPR Classical on your Internet/Wi-Fi Radio

A number of listeners have emailed recently with questions about Internet Radios (aka Wi-Fi Radio). If you've never heard of it, internet radios are just "radios" that very conveniently play online streams. It's just like streaming a radio station on iTunes or Windows Media Player except you're using a small radio, not a computer.

The most common question from listeners has to do with errors in the station frequencies or listings. One listener looked up WNCH 88.1FM expecting to hear VPR Classical, but heard VPR instead. Our President & General Manager Mark Vogelzang was using an Internet Radio and he could only find a low-bandwidth option for VPR Classical and not the high-bandwidth stream. These sorts of errors are common right now (since this is a new technology). The reason is that these radios look up database directories to find the streams and these listings are prone to errors. The good news is that many wi-fi radio manufacturers provide easy-to-use websites that let you correct errors and add new listings to the directory.

Which leads to the next question: how can I add VPR and VPR Classical if I don't find it in my Wi-Fi Radio? This varies among the different radios, but every brand has some way of adding your own favorites if you don't find it in their lists. To do that, you'll need these web URLs for the streams:

VPR high-bandwidth:
VPR low-bandwidth:
VPR Classical high-bandwidth:
VPR Classical low-bandwidth:

If you have questions or feedback about Wi-Fi Radio, send them along.

Jonathan Butler
Online Manager
Vermont Public Radio

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What happened to All Things Considered on Sunday?

You were probably surprised to have heard Marketplace Money in place of All Things Considered last Sunday evening. That's because the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS), the system NPR uses to get audio from there to VPR, suffered a complete outage of its audio distribution service just before 4 p.m. as the result of a tripped circuit breaker in the power supply chain.

Due to the severity of the outage and some unanticipated problems in transferring operations to the back-up operations center, All Things Considered did not reach VPR, and thanks to the quick response by our board operators, we were able to put on Marketplace Money in its place.

While outages like these are never ideal, technical problems are an occasional part of broadcasting - it's just the nature of an industry that relies heavily on technology. Sometimes, if we're lucky, it becomes a blessing in disguise. As a result of this outage, NPR is working to improve its backup and response plan in the event that this happens again, in order to maintain service with minimal interruption.

VPR is evaluating its backup plan as well by working to keep a ready supply of programming that may be aired in the event that an audio feed from NPR is unavailable. We're also working to improve our communications about such outages to you, our listeners, so we can keep you in the loop as well.