Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Sounds and Stories of 2009

In the news business, we often take a little time at the end of a year to look back at what made news over the previous 12 months. It's always surprising how much material there was in a typical year.

At VPR News, we've tried over the years to package some of the highlights in a year-end package for our listeners.

This year, we decided to devote a full hour to the subject. We discovered there was an awful lot of interesting, quirky, meaningful, funny, sad and memorable material to choose from.

It wasn't easy deciding what to include -- and what to leave out. But we've made the choices and, this Thursday at noon and Friday at 7, host Neal Charnoff takes on a review of The Sounds and Stories of 2009.

From all of us here at VPR, thank you for a remarkable 2009, and we look forward to serving you in 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Say It With Pizza

Did you know, pizza is the #1 Christmas Eve lunchtime choice at radio stations around the country? True story! A little pepperoni, a few green peppers and onions and a bunch of black olives can work wonders to replenish the spirit and keep the staff running in top form right through the end of the year.

What else could we do today at VPR but keep up our end of this time-honored tradition? As Willem Lange was telling stories of a New England Christmas on VPR, and VPR Classical was serenading the lunch hour with Handel's Messiah - the few staffers and volunteers in the building took a break. We swapped favorite Christmas carols, shared holiday plans with each other, and enjoyed two large, fully loaded pies.

Holidays are all about traditions. From favorite recipes and tree ornaments, to the colors we wear and the songs we sing. As a public radio station we're glad you're part of our tradition. Thank you for all you do to support Vermont Public Radio. Cheers to you, the New Year, and...many more pizza dates!

See VPR's holiday page for recipes and vintage staff photos, and please send us yours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where Is "Classics For Kids"?

No worries, your VPR Classical hosts may be taking a little time off for the holidays but you don't have to miss Classics for Kids!

On Christmas day and New Year's day you'll be able to hear Classics for Kids at a special time: 1:54pm, just before Performance Today.

Kids will then return to its normal time starting on Friday, January 8th.

Best wishes for a lovely new year, and thank you from all of us here for making great programming possible every day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

VPR's Annual Holiday Concert

This year we were very pleased to invite Constance Price, the Essex Children's Choir, and members of the VPR Broadcasters Club & Producers Circle to our annual holiday concert at the Elley-Long Music Center. Cheers, from all of us at VPR!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

VPR Classical Campaign for Addison County a SUCCESS!

VPR’s headquarters are usually a fairly reserved place, but this afternoon there was quite a bit of whooping and hollering in the main hallway when VPR’s Manager of Major Giving, Retta Huttlinger, told me that the VPR Classical Campaign for Addison County had met the goal of $346,000!

We were under $5,000 to go at the beginning of the week, and we weren’t sure we would make the goal by the end of the month. Thankfully, several gifts came in over the last several days that put us where we needed to be for the $10,000 Vermont Community Foundation challenge to end the campaign successfully. Many thanks to the VCF, and to every donor who contributed to the campaign! It’s wonderful to have such a generous outpouring of support for classical music on the radio dial.

Now that winter is upon us, it’s not possible for our engineering team to do their work safely to get the station on the air in the next several months. But, the equipment is ordered and as soon as the snow clears in the spring, and there’s easy access to Chipman Hill in Middlebury where the station will be situated, WOXM- 90.1 FM VPR Classical will make its debut!

This campaign was a success thanks to an energetic group of community volunteers who forged ahead despite the interesting challenges that the economy provided. Special thanks to Bonnie McCardell and her husband John (a member of the VPR Board of Directors) who lead the effort tirelessly and who deserve a big round of applause for their efforts to bring VPR Classical to Addison County. Well done, and thank you!

4 o'Clock And All Is Well....

VPR's Colchester studio has a clear view to the west. I am one of those people who has a very difficult time with the lack of daylight that befalls us each December. But sometimes, a 4 p.m. sunset is not so bad, because it allowed me to capture this.

(I did, however, forget my coat and ran back inside very fast. Brrrr!).

May We Help You?

Fact: New Year's eve is two weeks from today.

If that's not enough to induce a momentary jolt of reality, then consider what else that means: Christmas Eve is ONE week away.

So, what do you think? No pressure, but maybe it's time to get that gift list together?

Your VPR music team is here to help with a few suggestions of our favorite music and books from the past year. From sublime opera to classic New Orleans-style piano, and comprehensive Woody Guthrie - you can't go wrong here.

The end of 2009 is also giving list-happy music fans occasion to begin making their picks for "best of the decade". Both and the UK's Guardian have turned their sites on Vermont (!) for their choice; the Belizean singer/songwriter Andy Palacio's release Wátina (I Cry Out) was released in 2007 on the Charlotte-based Cumbancha world music label and it's been cited in several recent articles as one of the decade's best. You'll be able to hear more about that on the December 29th Vermont Edition in the show celebrating world music.

What's your favorite recording of the year, or decade? You can check in with your choices on Vermont Edition's annual Music Show conversation page, and best wishes in finding just the right gifts for the special people in your life this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bob Kinzel Goes Viral

From John Van Hoesen, VPR's vice president for news and programming:

"Sometimes, the digital age can be so cool.

Yesterday, for example, Bob Kinzel, who's been writing about health care reform for many years, decided not long after our morning news meeting that he would try to reach Howard Dean to get his reaction on the progress of health care reform in Washington. So let's first honor the tradition of analog, because the idea started in Bob's head! But next, Bob shot an email off to Dean and got a positive response.

So in the noon hour, Bob was on the phone to Dean, who was on his mobile phone in Puerto Rico. And in his news-making way, Dean said to Bob and Bob recorded the following:

"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. And, honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill and go back to the House and start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill."

So Bob began to organize his story for VPR. Meanwhile, a blogger at the Washington Post had heard that Dean had talked to VPR about health care and got on the phone to Bob to find out just what was up and Bob confirmed the quote. In minutes, the digital world was alive with blogs and tweets about VPR's news in the making. Bob also began work on a story for NPR's newscast and we provided the information to Mara Liasson for her interview with Robert Siegel during All Things Considered.

VPR posted the text of the story online and the whole piece aired in our 5:50 p.m. newscast.

In the meantime, the big news organizations were at our digital door, all wanting instantaneous audio for their own news programs. I don't think we've had so many emails and phone calls in such a short period of time.

In the end, dozens and dozens of blogs repeated the news, page after page of them on Google, and news organizations were posting on their sites, entry after entry.

In addition to hearing this story on VPR or seeing it online, you may have heard VPR's audio on CNN, The Today Show, MSNBC or ABC.

And so far, thanks to our digital analytics, we can tell you that Bob's story was the fourth most-viewed story on in 2009. The Crown Point Bridge is still leading this category!

It's a fast world but, as always for all of us here at VPR, as cool as the digital age is, it's the coolest when we can provide meaning to something that's important to you. "

Monday, December 14, 2009

VPR Classical is Coming to Addison County!

Over the last several months, VPR volunteers have been working hard to raise the necessary funds to bring VPR Classical to Addison County. We’re very close, with less than $5,000 to go! With your help, we can reach our goal by December 31st.

We started in March with a goal of $346,000 to build a new full-power transmitter at 90.1 FM. When it’s on the air, this new signal will broadcast VPR Classical to more than 83,000 people over an area that stretches from Vergennes to Brandon and from Port Henry, NY to the Green Mountains. VPR engineers can begin work in the spring and – if all goes well – we’ll have WOXM 90.1 FM on the air by early summer at the latest.

Many thanks to the generous individuals and businesses that have helped us out along the way.

We’re asking classical music lovers to give what you can to help expand the reach of VPR Classical. Your tax deductible contribution today will help bring VPR Classical to Addison County in 2010. Please call Retta Huttlinger at 800-639-2192. Thanks!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Celebrating Grace Paley

Family and friends of author Grace Paley are celebrating her life and writings Friday. She was born in the Bronx on December 11, 1922, but later made her home in Thetford, Vermont. She passed away two years ago at the age of 84.

Today on Vermont Edition, you'll hear a 1998 recording of Paley reading "The Loudest Voice". First published in 1959, "The Loudest Voice" is told by Shirley Abramowitz, a little Jewish girl in the 1930's who remembers her childhood as a place where “every window is a mother's mouth bidding the street shut up” and where her own voice is always the loudest.

Shirley is called upon to narrate her school's Christmas play, a situation that prompts some pretty interesting conversations. The characters, humor and insight are classic Paley and a wonderful holiday story.

Listen at noon or at 7 to Vermont Edition. You can post your own reflections on Paley's life and work here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Your Wish Come True

You're in the car, cooking dinner, or getting ready for bed. As usual, VPR Classical is on. A melody catches your ear and captures your heart. You MUST know what it is! But alas, you don't catch the composer or artist. Is the name of that sweet piece you'd love to hear again lost forever? Thankfully, the answer is no.

The new and improved VPR Classical Playlist is now available at All you have to know is the day and time you heard the piece. You can look back at what you've heard today, yesterday, last week - even last month, 24 hours a day. You'll find all the information you need, including a link to ArchivMusic to purchase the CD if you wish.

Please let us know how the VPR Classical playlist works for you. And, as always, we love to receive your comments and requests.

P.S. Remember, copyright restrictions prevent us from publishing playlists before the music is played.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

185 down, 66 to go

That's the count in my quest to visit all 251 of Vermont's cities and towns and become a fully vetted member of the 251 Club.

My most-recent trek took me through the southern tier of the state, where I visited Bennington, Pownal, Stamford, Readsboro, Whitingham, Wilmington, Searsburg, Jacksonville and Woodford. Time and again, I'm amazed at how many lovely towns there are in this state. And I'm agog at finding places and facts that I'd never heard of before.

This trip introduced me to Brigham Young's birthplace in Whitingham (yes, both Young and Joseph Smith (Royalton) were born in Vermont), the Museum of Black WWII History and the Green Mountain Racetrack, both in Pownal. I've wanted to visit Readsboro ever since listening to Susan Keese's audio postcard about the town's inhabitants who were drawn there because of its similarity to the Tyrolean Alps of northern Italy. It didn't disappoint. And I loved stopping into Old Bennington to see the Congregational Church, the Bennington Battle Monument and the site of the Catamount Tavern.

My dilemma now is how quickly I want to reach 251. I think it's so much better to take it slowly and savor each stop along the way.

[Editor's Note: Listen to the entire series of Audio Postcards from Vermont Towns at]

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Starburst Were Harmed in the Making of this Documentary (well, not that many...)

On Tuesday evening, VPR will air "States of Marriage," a documentary examining how several states have approached legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. VPR's Patti Daniels shared her experience producing this project:

Most mornings last week I came in to work thinking, ‘this might be the final day of production and we’re done!’ But today it’s official – VPR’s documentary on same-sex marriage airs tomorrow evening and we’re ready to go. Our crack production engineer Chris Albertine and I will finalize a few details this afternoon, but right now I have a few minutes to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the final stage of producing a radio documentary.

We’ve logged many hours over the past few weeks in an editing suite working to finalize the elements of this broadcast. This is the detail work, tinkering around the edges. We stare at a computer screen with row upon row of audio files as Chris engineers the sound to make it just right.

The bigger part of the challenge has already been overcome by now. We started in the spring with one big question: how to tell the story of so many different states finding their own approach to the question of same-sex marriage? Our initial research generated a multitude of possible directions. Over the summer Jane Lindholm and I recorded at least 20 interviews, some of them lasting hours, with key political and advocacy leaders in five states. In addition to that, we combed through hours of archival sound to document the events that unfolded in Vermont and elsewhere. All of those dozens of hours of tape needed to be transcribed, prioritized, and developed into a cohesive, compelling story... all in just 51 minutes. Throughout the project, we wrestled with journalistic questions of balance, interpretation, and historical record.

And now, Chris and I are down to the nitty gritty: fueled by coffee and Starburst candies, we fixate on mere seconds of audio: should the music fade in more gently here? Where can we shave off seconds to meet the time limit? Do we have another take of that voice track? Can we get more cowbell? (Just kidding about the cowbell...)

You can learn more about States of Marriage at I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

-- Patti Daniels, producer, “States of Marriage: The Debate Over Gay Rights”

Friday, December 4, 2009

Live Music In The House

What's better than a live music event in the performance studio? Two.

Robert DeCormier and Counterpoint stopped by last night for a dress rehearsal, in advance of their concerts next weekend:You can listen to VPR Classical next Wednesday morning at 11 for a sneak preview of Counterpoint's upcoming holiday concerts.

Today we're pleased to welcome Ensemble Liber to the studios! They're in concert tonight at 7:30 as part of the UVM Lane Series, and they're warming up as I write this for an 11am live recital with Walter Parker, starting in around 10 minutes:I haven't seen their set list but as I was taking pictures in the studio I caught a few bars of Hugo Distler, a few bars of Tomas Luis de's going to be a special performance, I can tell already.

Also coming up next Wednesday evening, local bassist (and poet, and photographer...) Ellen Powell stops by for conversation and music in Jazz with George Thomas, starting at 9pm. You can hear these, and many other, live performances after broadcast: visit the Live Performances page at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

VPR's prEview E-Newsletter for December 2, 2009

Ask me what my favorite time of year is in Vermont, and I’ll respond like a kid in a candy store. At the sight of the first snow, winter is the most miraculous thing that’s ever happened. But by February, it’s all about ANY sign of life under the melting snow. In August…well, we all know nothing can top August in Vermont. Ooh! Ooh! Until October, that is.

If you think that’s bad, don’t even try to ask me to pick a favorite public radio program. I can’t even pick a favorite from this edition of prEview. Before you call me wishy-washy, I dare you to try! Read on for more about “States of Marriage,” VPR’s documentary that examines the path to same-sex marriage in Vermont – and around the country. Plus, share your favorite music of 2009 for Vermont Edition’s annual music show, and a recipe for ginger tea to ward off oncoming colds.

Documentary: States of Marriage
Tuesday, December 8, 7 p.m., and Saturday, December 12, 4 p.m.
Ten years ago this month, the Vermont Supreme Court set in motion a historic change in the legal status of gay and lesbian couples. VPR examines how Vermont's civil unions law was a precedent for same-sex marriage in other states, and how the political fight over marriage has been waged across the country. Learn more online here.

Specials: Climate and Copenhagen
Wednesday and Thursday, December 2-3 on VPR
World leaders meet next week in Copenhagen to find ways to stave off the effects of climate change. Listen to Vermont Edition today at noon for a discussion about the connection between weather and climate change with VPR’s Eye on the Sky meteorologists. Then, listen tomorrow at 8 for “The Climate Race,” a special documentary from Marketplace.

Vermont Edition: Annual Music Show
Thursday, December 17, noon on VPR
2009 has been a great year in music, and Vermont Edition's Annual Music Show is a chance to share your favorites with VPR listeners. Jane Lindholm and Bob Kinzel co-host our annual audio tour of great tunes, noteworthy artists and albums that deserve a second, third, or fifteenth listen. Visit our website to share your music picks for 2009.

Live Classical Performance: Ensemble Liber
Friday, December 4, 11 a.m. on VPR Classical
Walter Parker welcomes Ensemble Liber, a vocal quartet specializing in medieval and renaissance music, to VPR’s performance studio for a live performance. They preview their upcoming Lane Series concert of old and new seasonal music.

Classical Performance: Counterpoint
Wednesday, December 9, 11 a.m. on VPR Classical
Listen for an in-studio performance by Vermont's professional vocal ensemble Counterpoint, led by Robert DeCormier. They’ll preview their upcoming concerts celebrating the winter solstice and talk with Walter Parker.

Live Jazz Performance: Ellen Powell
Wednesday, December 9, 9 p.m. on VPR
George Thomas welcomes Vermont musicians Ellen Powell, Thomas Cleary, and Steve Wienert
to VPR for a live performance next Wednesday. They'll improvise on a mixture of standards and originals, and we’ll discuss the state of jazz in Vermont. Learn more online here.

Holiday Programming
Beginning December 11 on VPR and VPR Classical
VPR has many gifts for you to unwrap this holiday season. From Willem Lange’s rendition of “A Christmas Carol” to the harmonies of Counterpoint, our holiday program schedule celebrates the many traditions of the season. Visit our website to find out when your favorites are on the air, and best wishes from all of us at VPR.

VPR Cooks: Ginger Tea
Every time someone sneezes or coughs at the office these days, it’s followed by an emphatic disclaimer: “It’s not the flu! I swear! It’s allergies! It’s just a cold!” So far we’ve been lucky, but it never hurts to have a special concoction to (we hope!) ward off illness. VPR volunteer Eugenia Saganich shared this recipe for ginger “tea” to do just that.

Want to get prEview via email? Sign up here!

The Eye on the Sky Guys on Climate Change

From Vermont Edition Editor Steve Zind:

We hear a great deal about climate change globally, but we're curious how these changes are affecting our region. So we've asked VPR's Eye on the Sky meteorologists Mark Breen and Steve Maleski of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium to talk to us about the long term trends they're seeing in New England's weather - and help us understand if any of the changes we observe from our windows, like seasonal variations and migratory habits of New England birds are related to global climate trends.

It'll be interesting to hear their take, too, on the renewed
debate over climate change research and find out, in their view, what conclusions we can have confidence in and what questions remain.

VPR continues its coverage of the issue tomorrow night at 8 with a special documentary from Marketplace, The Climate Race. We hope you'll join the conversation!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mitch Wertlieb Abducted by Aliens!

Where in the world is VPR's Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb? In answer to the question posed by several listeners, Mitch sends this message: "I'm doing great and can't wait to be back!"

Mitch had hip replacement surgery in November. You may say "What? Mitch is too young for that!" Mitch is proof you're never too young to have hip problems. After many years of arthritic pain, he finally decided to go under the knife. When his daughter Gretchen started walking, it became clear that hip replacement was the only way Mitch could keep up with her.

He'll be filing a report on the experience when he gets back. You can leave your comments and wishes below.

In the meantime, many thanks to Peter Biello for waking up to that early alarm and keeping VPR listeners informed during Morning Edition.

Franny Bastian
Senior Producer

Monday, November 23, 2009

National Week of Listening

The second annual National Day of Listening is Friday, November 27th. This public radio campaign was created by the producers of StoryCorps to encourage all of us to create our own 'oral history'. Perhaps you caught Scott Simon's interview Saturday with his six year old adopted daughter or Danial Schorr talking with his son about living through the Great Depression. You'll hear more on NPR this week.

Here at VPR, we decided to turn it into a National Week of Listening and we hope that you'll join in. VPR Commentators were invited to get the ball rolling by sharing family stories that have been passed down through the generations. They jumped at the opportunity, and the stories they share with us this week are a delight: circus elephants grazing in a Vermont field, a Christmas tree cut in half and nailed to the wall, and the capture of a Confederate commander by the seat of his pants. Listen mornings at @7:55 and evenings at 5:55 and follow the series online.

Participating in the National Day of Listening is easy. Reserve time with someone important to you and sit down for a chat. If you have the equipment, record your interview and save it for others to hear. We hope you'll summarize your experience and share it with the VPR Community here.

Best wishes for the holiday from all of us at VPR - and happy listening!

Franny Bastian

We have another pro football team to support

For about half of the state of Vermont, Montreal is closer than Foxborough, Mass. So during football season, the New England Patriots don't have to be the only option for your football focus.

The Montreal Alouettes play in the Canadian Football League (CFL, or LCF in Quebec). I usually go to two games each season. The Als play most of their home games at quaint Percival Molson Stadium on the campus of McGill University. The team sells out every game in this 20,000-seat stadium that sits on a hill above downtown Montreal. For playoff games and some late-season contests, they dust off Olympic Stadium, former home of the Expos.

I made the trip to the Big O for the Eastern Final Sunday against the British Columbia Lions. As luck would have it, both Als' games I saw this year were against BC (there are, after all, only 8 teams in the CFL). Montreal posted the league's best record this season (15-3) and by virtue of Sunday's 56-18 victor over the Lions, they'll be heading back to the Grey Cup - Canada's equivalent of our Super Bowl.

Last year, I attended my first Grey Cup at which the Als lost at Olympic Stadium to the Calgary Stampeders. This coming Sunday, they'll play in Calgary for the title against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (quite possibly the longest team name in sports this side of German soccer team Borussia Moechengladbach).

So Vermonters, our other professional football team (not to slight all the semi-professional teams in the state) could use your support this Sunday as they go for their first CFL championship since 2002.

(Editor's note: Still want more football? Check out these pics from Castleton State's new football team and listen to the report here.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Diamond Dust

Listeners in the Thetford/Fairlee area have reported seeing diamond dust - what looks like diamonds in the sky above a river or pond.

Chris Bouchard at the Fairbanks Museum replies: "I think that what you saw can be attributed to an exceptionally thick frost. I think being close to a large body of water made the frost even thicker, as the water is still relatively warm this time of the year, which led the water to steam away lots of extra water vapor, which was then converted over into the hearty frost in the chilly air. I suspect the floating particles you saw might have been caused by a light breeze shattering the fragile crystals on trees, causing then to gently fall to the ground. During very cold air outbreaks in the winter, we can get fog that develops very tiny ice crystals, which we call diamond dust. Typically this only happens when it is well below zero, which is why I suspect you saw a similar, but different phenomenon!"

Let us know if you see diamond dust on these frosty mornings!

VPR's prEview E-Newsletter, November 18

When we get together for the holidays, conversation usually comes around to my parents telling stories about their courtship. One of my favorites is how they used to call each set of parents to find out who was cooking the best dinner on any given night, and invite themselves over. Since both of their mothers were excellent cooks – my father’s for traditional meat and potatoes, my mother’s for Italian specialties – they often ended up having dinner twice! It’s just one of the reasons my parents are my heroes.

I’m taking a page from their book this Thanksgiving and having three different holiday dinners. To help keep things interesting and disaster-free, I’ll be listening to Turkey Confidential on Thanksgiving morning for ideas, advice and real-time turkey triage from the folks at The Splendid Table. There’s more about Turkey Confidential in this edition of prEview. Plus, VPR commentators share their own family stories in advance of the National Day of Listening. Plus, in VPR Cooks, Cheryl Willoughby shares a favorite Thanksgiving recipe that has nothing to do with a traditional turkey dinner.

Michelle Jeffery

Turkey Confidential
Thanksgiving Day, 11 a.m. on VPR
On the day even non-cooks are busy in the kitchen, Lynne Rossetto Kasper and the rest of the folks at The Splendid Table will take your culinary questions and turkey triage. You can call in during the program at 1-800-537-5252, join a live chat, or ask your question online. Visit the Turkey Confidential website for more information, recipes, and to share pictures and stories of your Thanksgiving successes and disasters.

VPR Cooks: Non-Traditional Thanksgiving?
In Cheryl Willoughby’s house, Thanksgiving dinner does not include turkey, mashed potatoes, or even cranberry sauce. Instead, she prepares a complex, special meal of some particular ethnicity. Indian cuisine (that's South Asian Indian, not Native American) is her favorite. Visit our website for her recipe for Sambhara (Gujerati-style cabbage with carrots).

National Day of Listening
November 23-27 at 7:55 and 5:55 on VPR
We hope you’ll join us for the second annual National Day of Listening. Listen all next week as VPR commentators share their families’ treasured stories. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving, set aside some time to have a conversation with someone important to you. Interview a relative, friend, or mentor. You’ll find more information and pointers at our website.

NPR: What We’re Reading
NPR covers a lot of books every week. Among them, there are always a handful of standouts — the shortlist, the books with buzz. "What We're Reading" brings you the NPR book team’s picks of the most interesting new fiction and nonfiction releases, along with candid comments from reporters, hosts and staffers.

Vermont Edition: Doug Racine
Friday, November 20, noon on VPR
The 2010 gubernatorial election is a year away, but several democratic candidates have already announced their intention to run. This Friday, we continue our series of candidate interviews when we’ll be joined by Chittenden County State Senator Doug Racine. Email your question for Sen. Racine to Check out VPR’s coverage of the 2010 gubernatorial election here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Non-Traditional - Or Is It?

Not everyone loves the turkey, stuffing, cranberry jellies and slivered almond green bean casseroles that typify the culinary fare of Thanksgiving. In the diverse spirit of this country's cross-continental, multicutural heritage - one could ask how representative those dishes are of America, anyway?

In my house, we've moved away from turkey for the holiday meal. For many years now I've enjoyed taking the extra time the day offers to leisurely prepare a special meal of some particular ethnicity. It purely comes down to food preference rather than philosophy. Indian cuisine (that's South Asian Indian, not Native American) for its wide range of flavors, spice intensity, and cool/hot sensations has proven to be the favorite. With the hours of preparation and careful cooking it requires, we can usually plan on the holiday meal to be ready in the early evening. The result MORE than makes the anticipation worthwhile!

By around 6pm or so, my much-loved marble mortar and pestle (stained green from the jalapeno mint chutney) is resting on the counter, its work done at last for the day - and the numerous little bowls (I use my Chinese condiment dishes) that hold everything from chopped coriander, hand-ground cumin and cloves and turmeric and cardamom seeds are all emptied out, these ingredients having found a home aromatically simmering away in everything from Chicken Tikka Masala to spicy cauliflower (Phool Gobi aur Aloo Ki Bhaji) and handmade flatbreads (Naan).

Also non-traditional is the source of the many interesting, colorful dishes at my Thanksgiving banquet. My secret is not in time-tested recipes that have been handed down from (Scandinavian!) relatives - it's a dog-eared, broken-binding book I stumbled upon many years ago at a secondhand bookstore in Denver. As reliably as any family member, the stories it tells and secrets it has shared over the years now make Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking another welcome and familiar guest at our annual Thanksgiving dinner table.

Each family has its own reasons for making the food it does during the holidays. The important thing is to do what you do for a reason, and enjoy the results - whatever they are - together.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at VPR! Whether it's turkey or from Turkey, may you enjoy a beautiful meal with enough to share with friends and loved ones, and maybe even have a little left over to enjoy again (and again) over the weekend.

Me? I'm waiting (not very patiently) for that second helping of honeyed pistachios and Gujerati cabbage/carrot salad with toasted black mustard seeds. You'll find the recipe for Sambhara here, as part of our VPR Cooks series. Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bob Kinzel Is Distinguished

The Vermont Association of Broadcasters recognized VPR's Bob Kinzel this week for something we've recognized a long time: his distinguished service.

Bob's been reporting the news from Montpelier since 1977 -- after a stint at WJOY in the Burlington area, where he was hired by VPR's own Joel Najman. For years, Bob operated the Vermont News Service. His stories were heard on radio stations around the state. Bob eventually started hosting call-in programs on VPR and joined the staff full-time in 2002. He's recognized in Montpelier as the dean of the Statehouse reporting corps.

Bob was one of two long-time radio journalists honored by the association with the distinguished service award. The other was Tim Johnson of WTSA in Brattleboro, who's been reporting from Windham County since 1973.

The VAB inducted two people into the Vermont Broadcasters Hall of Fame, including Marselis Parsons, the longtime WCAX-TV anchor who recently retired. The other was Belva Keyworth, a broadcasting pioneer who died in 2004. She owned WBTN AM and FM for nearly 50 years. VPR now broadcasts on WBTN-FM in Bennington, fullfilling Keyworth's vision to maintain the station as a community resource.

Our colleague in public broadcasting, Ann Curran of Vermont Public Television, was honored by the VAB as Broadcaster of the Year for her work in helping television stations in Vermont convert to digital transmission.

Community service awards went to Ray Kimball, general manager of WCFR in Springfield, WKOL-FM in Burlington, and Nassau Broadcasting’s WWFY-FM, WORK-FM, WSNO-AM, WMOO-FM and WIKE-AM.

Congratulations to Bob and the many other fine honorees!

Friday, November 6, 2009

On a Curiosity Bender

It’s been almost five years since we first heard about this crazy new program from WNYC in New York, Radio Lab. I still remember the first time it was explained to me: “Radio Lab is an investigation. They take One Big Idea and explore the science and culture behind it. It’s a patchwork of people, sounds, music, stories, and experiences.”

Oh, well that explains it. Wait….no it doesn’t. I still had no idea what I was in for. But the first time I listened, I was hooked.

But five years and countless episodes later, I still can’t really explain it any better than that. That’s because Radio Lab is all about sound. And you really have to hear it to get it. If you’re a fan of the show, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat. Either way, I hope you’ll tune in for Radio Lab on beginning this Saturday at 4 p.m., through December 5. The big ideas examined in this new season include afterlife, stochasticity, parasites, the “new normal,” and numbers.

Learn more about the series here, and please let us know what you think!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Classical Music Coming to Addison County

I’m pleased to report that we’ve made significant progress on our campaign to bring VPR Classical to Addison County!

We started early this year with $346,000 needed to build a new full-power transmitter at 90.1 FM I am happy to report that we have only $22,000 left to raise before the Vermont Community Foundation will provide the last $10,000. We are so close that we will soon order the broadcast equipment needed to build the station, with the hope of beginning construction in the spring and broadcasting VPR Classical within weeks of that.

Once it’s on the air, the new signal will broadcast VPR Classical to a population of more than 83,000 in an area that stretches from Vergennes to Brandon, and from Port Henry, NY east to the Green Mountains.

I hope you’ll join me for a reception at the Lodge at Otter Creek in Middlebury next Wednesday, November 11. The evening features a performance by pianist Diana Fanning and cellist Dieuwke Davydov (left). And you can learn more about the expansion of VPR Classical. Please RSVP by calling us at 1-800-639-2192.

You can read more about the expansion of VPR Classical here, and click here for a coverage map of 90.1.

Hope to see you there! And please feel free to contact me anytime to learn more about the campaign and how you can help.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

prEview: All Cakes Considered, Radio Lab, Gordon Stone

At home, at work, at roller derby, and anywhere else I go, everyone seems to be fighting illness over the last couple of weeks. I’ve managed to avoid getting sick so far, but I’m not taking any chances…which is why I bring you this edition of prEview largely written from my couch.

In between frequent naps and cups of tea, I’m catching up on my podcasts of This American Life, Vermont Edition, and Radio Lab. I even dug up Jean Ferguson’s recipe for spicy chicken soup in VPR Cooks. It all keeps me connected with the world even when I’m trying to lay low. Read on to learn more about Lilly Ledbetter’s recent speech at Vermont Technical College, the new season of Radio Lab, and a recipe for sweet potato pound cake – tested and approved by NPR’s All Things Considered staff.

PS: This week two of Vermont’s highest-ranked political leaders join Bob Kinzel on Vermont Edition. Today, Gov. Jim Douglas will be on the show, and tomorrow, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Send your questions to, and listen at noon and 7 p.m.

Radio Lab Returns
Saturdays through December 5, 4 p.m.
Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich return to VPR beginning this weekend with five new episodes of Radio Lab, taking a big idea and following it wherever their creativity takes them, uncovering hidden connections and challenging your curiosity at every turn. This season they examine the topics of stochasticity, afterlife, parasites, the “new normal,” and numbers. Learn more, subscribe to the podcast and browse the new episodes here.

VPR Presents: Lilly Ledbetter
Online at
When Lilly Ledbetter learned her male coworkers were paid more for doing equal work, she filed a complaint and began a wage discrimination debate that landed in the Supreme Court. Now an advocate for pay equity, Ledbetter became the inspiration for the first bill President Obama signed into law. Ledbetter appeared at Vermont Technical College with Senator Patrick Leahy on Saturday, October 17th. Download her talk here.

Live from the Performance Studio: Pianist Di Wu
Thursday, November 5, 11 a.m.
Walter Parker welcomes pianist Di Wu for a live performance. She was a medalist at the most recent Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and will perform solo and with the Burlington Chamber Orchestra as part of the UVM Lane Series this weekend.

VPR Cooks: A Year of Cakes at NPR
Almost every Monday, All Things Considered producer Melissa Gray dashes off an e-mail that reads something like this: "Up front we've got sweet potato pound cake, still warm. Dig in, don't be shy." Her adventures in baking, and the staff's adventures in eating what she created, are recounted in a new cookbook called All Cakes Considered: A Year's Worth of Weekly Recipes Tasted, Tested, and Approved by the Staff of All Things Considered. You’ll find that recipe for sweet potato pound cake online here.

Gordon Stone Performs Live on Vermont Edition
Wednesday, November 11, noon and 7 p.m.
Local banjo and pedal steel guitar player Gordon Stone is a legend in the Vermont music scene. He's known for his bluegrass and jam-band music, played on a couple of instrumental Phish albums, and taught kids in the Washington West Supervisory Union the love of guitar, bass, banjo, and pedal steel. He’ll perform live and talk with VPR's Jane Lindholm.

Marketplace Money: Financial Futures
Marketplace Money has been exploring questions about kids and money. What should parents be teaching their kids about money, and when is the right time to start? Listen for a special episode next Saturday, November 14, and visit the show’s website for additional resources for talking to your kids about money.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

VPR Classical Now Available on Rutland's PEGTV

We are excited to announce that VPR Classical is now available in the evening and overnight to cable customers in the Rutland area!

Cable subscribers can listen to VPR Classical overnight on PEGTV Channel 20 during the overnight and morning hours between 11 p.m and 9 a.m. It can also be heard at other times throughout the day when the station is broadcasting its Bulletin Board. You'll find the full schedule here.

The PEGTV service creates one more way to hear VPR Classical in an area that cannot yet receive the service via analog radio. Securing new radio frequencies can be a long and complex process, so in the meantime we're also working to find creative solutions to make VPR Classical more widely available. VPR Classical is also available in Rutland via streaming at, and using an HD radio at 88.7-HD2.

PEGTV is Rutland’s community access television network, reaching 15,000 cable subscribers on channels 15, 20 and 21 throughout Rutland County.

If you live in the Rutland area we hope you'll check it out and let us know what you think!


Things get downright spooky at Vermont Public Radio for Halloween. Friday evening on VPR, put down your torch and pitchfork and join the Capitol Steps for Politics Takes a Holiday. They'll musically skewer everything left, right and wrong with the country today!

At 10, George 'Spooky Jazz' Thomas will have you under his spell 'til midnight.

VPR Classical presents eerie offerings throughout the day, including “Son of Frankenstein.”

Saturday at 4, Radio Lab revisits War of the Worlds.

At 8, treat yourself as well as your trick or treaters to a Halloween "spooktacular" on Joel Najman's My Place.

You can learn more about our Halloween tricks and treats online here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


VPR finished its membership drive on Monday morning, surpassing our goal of $600,000. And, just as importantly, $25,000 will be donated to the CVPS Shareheat and Warmth programs thanks to our partnership with Chittenden Bank.

Our generous listeners help make Vermont Public Radio one of the strongest and most successful in the country. Thank you for your support and helping to keep families in crisis warm this winter!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Make Chocolate Cake in your VPR Artist Mug

Most of my mornings at VPR begin routinely enough: pour coffee, put lunch in refrigerator, check email, make to-do list. But this morning I had a much more exciting mission: chocolate cake! One morning during our current membership drive, long-time volunteer Thea Platt told us how she uses her VPR artist mugs to make a quick and easy chocolate cake in her microwave.

I don't really need another vice or temptation, particularly not one this quick and easy, but I just had to see this for myself. I was all set to try it out last night as I had all the ingredients at home, but ironically I couldn't find a VPR mug in my cupboard (I keep them on a shelf near my desk)! So, I measured out the ingredients and brought them to the office this morning.

You can find a printable version of the recipe here, or read on for a photographic tutorial!

1. In VPR Artist Mug, combine dry ingredients - 4 Tbsp. cake flour, 4 Tbsp. sugar, and 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Mix well.

2. Add one egg, stir to combine.

3. Add 3 Tbsp. milk and 3 Tbsp. oil, and mix well.

4. Add 3 (or more!) Tbsp. chocolate chips and a splash of vanilla extract. Mix again.

The batter will look something like this (depending on mug, of course).

5. Place mug in microwave and zap on high for three minutes.

6. Do not panic if the cake puffs up over the mug. This is normal.

7. Instead, wait in anticipation with your friends or family (left to right: me, VPR's Peter Biello, volunteers Sarah and Kelly King).

8. Let cool slightly and remove from microwave. Tip cake out onto a plate and enjoy. If you're very virtuous, share it with a friend, colleague, or loved one.

Just another great reason to support VPR! Thank you so much for your support! Thanks also to Thea for sharing this recipe with us, and thanks to volunteer Eugenia Saganich for bringing it to our attention!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Congratulations, Nina!

VPR's Nina Keck was in New York City last week to accept her national Edward R. Murrow Award for her story about the final exam for an oxen driving class. Below, Nina is with NPR's Melissa Block and Frank Langfit. Listen to her Murrow Award winning story, Final Exam with a Twist. Congratulations, Nina!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mount Mansfield Update

As we noted in a blog post a few weeks ago, our WVPS transmitter at 107.9 has been operating at greatly reduced power while we moved our equipment to a new building on Mt. Mansfield. We are thrilled to say that the move is complete, and 107.9 is broadcasting at full power once again.

The work took a bit longer due to some unexpected setbacks, and so a special thanks to all of you whose reception has been limited over the last couple of weeks.

Tower work is difficult even under perfect conditions, but the early onset of winter last week made the move all the more treacherous. Thanks to our engineers and our engineering contractor Dave Groth, his crew, and the tower riggers who worked over the weekend on the transmission lines under icy conditions outdoors.

There will be one more brief period of low power operation this afternoon (Monday) for some follow up work, but after that things should return to normal operation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warm Hearts, Warm Homes

Our latest VPR Artist Mug is called “Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” by Jayne Shoup of Middlesex. Depicting warm light flooding from a cozy home on a snowy night, it’s in honor of our partnership with Chittenden Bank and the CVPS Shareheat and Warmth programs.

Jayne wrote about the process of coming up with the art for this mug at her blog. You can read about it here.

And of course, to get your own mug - sure to warm your heart and home - visit our website and pledge $80. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Support VPR & Share the Warmth

Imagine yourself having no money in the bank - and the fuel gauge on your furnace is almost on empty. The forecast calls for cold and snow and you don’t know how you’ll keep your family warm.

Thousands of Vermont families find themselves in situations like this every winter. Some have used up their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allocation, some don’t qualify for assistance. Add to the mix a trip to the doctor, a car repair, or a reduction in work hours and the family is thrown into financial crisis.

That’s where Warmth and CVPS Shareheat come in. These programs provide the safety net for families who have no where else to turn. Last year, these programs helped more than 5500 families avoid a heating crisis by providing money for fuel and furnace repairs.

VPR has partnered with Chittenden Bank during our fall membership drive to help keep the heat on this winter. With every pledge to VPR, Chittenden Bank will make a donation to Warmth and CVPS Shareheat.

Your contribution to VPR today benefits you, VPR and our community. Your pledge helps pay for the programming you enjoy every day, supports VPR as an independent source of news and culture for our region, and helps a Vermont family stay warm this winter.

You can learn more and make your pledge here.
Thanks for supporting VPR and sharing the warmth!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Support VPR and Win $1,000 at Small Dog Electronics

Today is Web Tuesday, where we'll try to raise as much money as we can before the on-air part of our membership drive begins tomorrow.

If your membership is up, or if you've never given to VPR before, or you’re just wanting to show VPR some love, I hope you'll make Web Tuesday a success by pledging online right now.

Web days have become a great way for VPR to get a jump start on its membership drive without interrupting programming like an on-air membership drive. Plus, giving online is easy, fast, and secure, and it saves VPR resources to boot.

Now if that's not reason enough to pledge today, perhaps we can entice you to participate in Web Tuesday with a special drawing. When you pledge today you'll be entered to win a $1,000 gift certificate to Small Dog Electronics to use in their store or online. You'll also be entered into ALL of the prize drawings for the rest of this membership drive - you can check them out online here.

As always, it's not the amount of your pledge - it's the fact you pledge. Thank you so very much for your support.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VPR's prEview E-Newsletter for October 7, 2009

What I like most about living in Vermont is that we always seem to be on the verge of…something. No sooner do we lament the cold and lonely grill than we rediscover the joy of soup. I don’t wake up as easily in the dark, but the cool air allows me to sleep more soundly. And not long after that final swim…say, is that snow up there on the mountain? My friend teases that I’m not happy unless I am working on a project. Living here helps satisfy that constant need for change and evolution.

It’s also the reason I love VPR, where there is always more news and music to explore. In this edition of prEview, meet Captain Richard Phillips, the merchant marine held hostage by Somali pirates and dramatically rescued earlier this year. He’ll join us on Vermont Edition next week. Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe joins George Thomas on VPR, and you can hear the debut performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new conductor on VPR Classical. Plus, in VPR Cooks, Ross Sneyd shares his recipe for apple-cranberry quick bread.

Michelle Jeffery


Vermont Edition: Photographing Vermont
Today, noon and 7 p.m.
Fall is the perfect time in Vermont to get outside with your camera to capture mountains against a stormy sky, that one perfect orange leaf or the sight of your children running for the bus. Listen today for a discussion about photogaphing Vermont. If you have questions, or great Vermont photos, send them to And check out our Vermont photo gallery here!

Vermont Edition: UVM President Dan Fogel
Friday, October 9, noon and 7 p.m.
Listen Friday for a discussion about UVM with school president Dan Fogel. After a tough year of budget cuts at the University of Vermont, we'll talk about how this school year is going, and what lies ahead for fiscal year 2010.

Vermont Edition: Captain Richard Phillips
Thursday, October 15, noon and 7 p.m.
When Underhill resident Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage by Somali pirates, his story captured the world’s attention. Since his release in April, he’s spent much of his time back home, and now he’s written a book about his experience. Capt. Phillips and his neighbor and fellow Merchant Marine, Michael Willard, join us to talk about the life and risks of a career in the Merchant Marines.


Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe
Thursday, October 8, 9 p.m.
George Thomas welcomes Ben Jaffe of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to VPR Studios Thursday. Ben Jaffe's father started Preservation Hall in 1961 as a place for the older, original generations of jazz musicians to play. He’ll discuss the state of jazz, New Orleans, and the band’s upcoming benefit for the Vermont Foodbank.

In Concert @8: LA Philharmonic’s Gustavo Dudamel

Monday, October 12, 8 p.m.
Listen for the energetic young conductor Gustavo Dudamel making his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's new maestro, next Monday during In Concert @8 on VPR Classical. Dudamel is known for teaching music to Venezuala’s poorest children – starting as young as 2! Don't miss one of the most anticipated classical events of the season!


VPR Cooks: Apple-Cranberry Quick Bread

For the last two weeks, delicious, dense, seeded bread has been showing up in the VPR kitchen for all to share. When one colleague started asking around about it, everyone else chimed in, some even offering to trade for the recipe. The bread was actually purchased from a baker at the Burlington farmer’s market, but VPR’s Ross Sneyd still handed over this recipe for “embarrassingly easy” apple-cranberry quick bread.

Vermont 3.0 Innovation Jam
Monday, October 26
The Vermont 3.0 Innovation Jam takes place Monday, October 26th at the Sheraton in South Burlington. It’s a showcase of Vermont's creative technology companies and features demonstrations, start-up help, and career advice from local entrepreneurs and CEOs. Learn more online here, and don’t forget to come by the VPR table to say hello!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Transmitter Move: It's Kind of Like This....

VPR's Rich Parker on our 107.9 transmitter move: "It's kinda like this....a farmer was going to town with a fox, a goose and a sack of corn. When he came to a stream, he had to cross in a tiny boat, and could only take across one thing at a time. How does he get them all safely over the stream?"

Thanks for your patience. We'll be at low power off and on for the next 8-10 days, but the result will be a more reliable signal!

Click here to learn more about this move. If your reception is affected, try listening online using VPR's Audio Player.

Monday, September 28, 2009

VPR Newsroom Visitors

Although VPR's news team has grown exponentially since 2001, the VPR newsroom remains one of the least-traveled parts of our main studios here in Colchester. Located upstairs from the rest of VPR's offices, it's not part of the main tour and even out of the way for most other staffers, although though we're always told we're welcome upstairs anytime. The Vermont Edition crew has even thrown parties (complete with invitations and snacks!) in order to lure colleagues to check out the space.

Today, however, we were thrilled to welcome a journalism class from Mount Mansfield Union High School for a tour of VPR, including the seldom-seen but always-heard newsroom. News Editor Ross Sneyd answered questions about news and radio from these future journalists, and they got a glimpse of the kind of place they might work someday.