Friday, May 28, 2010

Bill Lee Can Still Bring It

Spend five minutes with former major league pitcher Bill Lee and you'll re-capture the love of the game that you had when you were 8 years old. He still has that youthful enthusiasm for baseball. Bill stopped by VPR this week to tape a segment for Vermont Edition on how to throw the curve ball. It will be part of an ongoing series airing over the next few months called Summer 101.

Bill, who calls Craftsbury Common home, is affable, intelligent and funny. And is still in great shape. He took a group of VPR staff members out to the parade ground at Fort Ethan Allen to school us on the fine art of pitching. Clad in t-shirt, shorts and Birkenstocks, Bill was like Socrates teaching at the Agora, passing on pearls of wisdom on the proper mechanics of throwing the curve and on setting up hitters for the hook.

The Spaceman can still throw his fastball in the high 70s and mixes it with the curve, a knuckler, a circle change, the Leephus (or Space Ball) and a running commentary on how to fool hitters.

If you'd like to rub elbows with another of baseball's greatest (fans), hop on the bus for VPR's trip to Fenway on July 31. VPR Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb can't teach you to deliver a nasty curve, but he can prep you on delivering a major league sports report. Learn more about the trip by clicking here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Live Coverage Of President Obama's Safety Review

VPR will carry a live news conference by President Obama today beginning at 12:40. He'll release the White House's 30-day safety review of deep water drilling and take questions about the Gulf oil spill and his administration’s response to the disaster.

Join Host David Greene along with Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving and Environment Correspondent Elizabeth Shogren, Environment Correspondent. Coverage is expected to start around 12:45. Click here to browse all of NPR's coverage on the Gulf oil spill, and listen this afternoon to VPR for live coverage of Obama's safety review.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Win Tickets To The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

VPR is giving away tickets to some of the hottest acts coming to this year's Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, including Allen Toussaint, Sonny Rollins, Sharon Jones, and Arturo Sandoval!

Learn more and enter to win here. The entry deadline is Wednesday, June 2 at noon!

Don't forget to check the VPR Jazz Fest Blog for more about the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival - video, photos, reflections, and more!

(Photo courtesy of

Monday, May 24, 2010

VPR News Link, A Broadcast Companion

Have you ever wished you could capture the best news stories, feature stories and the main points from the interviews on Vermont Public Radio really quickly and in one place?

As a loyal listener we know your radio is always on and that you never miss a newscast...right? Even still, many VPR fans have been asking us for a comprehensive round-up of the news to browse via email.

You know where this is going, right? Now you can!

When VPR News Link began last week, it was so fulfilling to have a capsule of these top stories arrive in my inbox. In just one News Link email, I had an "at-a-glance" of the day. Nina Keck told us about the spread of (ugh) bedbugs in Vermont, John Dillon reported on the effect of climate change on Lake Champlain, Jane Lindholm gave us a close look at 14 Superfund sites, there was a profile of Sterling College from Charlotte Albright, and Cheryl Hanna had commentary and advice for aspiring Supreme Court judges.

On another day, I enjoyed Mitch's interview on baseball cards during Morning Edition, but I was getting a cup of coffee when Susan Keese's feature on the circus on Brattleboro aired, so News Link was my reminder that I didn't want to miss that story and it also gave me the summary. News Link is like having a conversation at the water cooler every single day!

Sign up for VPR News Link here!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

VPR prEview: How To Clean Your Desk, VPR Classical In Randolph, Maple Shortbread

I don’t know if it comes with age or if it’s the result of moving too many times, but recently I’ve been ruthlessly weeding out my material possessions. Books went to VPR volunteers to rummage through during the recent membership drive, clothes went to Goodwill. If only I could translate this new ethos to my desk here at VPR, I would be all set!

That’s why on Memorial Day I’ll be listening to “Clearing Your Desk & Your Mind,” a program about finding respite from the chaos of emails, cell phones and in-boxes and focusing in today's world. You’ll learn more in this edition of prEview. You can also sign up to receive daily VPR headlines by email with News Link, and in VPR Cooks, a recipe for maple shortbread cookies made for VPR by some very dedicated listeners.

Continue reading prEview here...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dining in Egypt with Chris Wren

Commentator Chris Wren will lead VPR's Tour of Egypt in September. He spent three years as Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times. Chris loved the cuisine there and he shares some of his favorite Egyptian dishes with us.

"My favorite is falafel - mashed chickpeas fried into fritters and stuffed into puffy country bread with condiments like yoghurt and spices. I ate them almost every day for lunch. I would buy them hot from street vendors and gobble my falafel down before I got back to the bureau because I couldn't wait.

"On this tour, we'll find the best falafel in a clean, sit-down restaurant where we can sip black Arab coffee from small cups while we watch the passing parade of exotic folks going about their lives.

"Roast chicken and lamb are very much part of the Egyptian cuisine, as are fish and shrimp from the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Egyptians prepare fragrant stews packed with fresh vegetables, and the tastiest lentil soup. Of course, popular Middle East finger food like fresh humus will be available, scooped up with hot bread or pancakes from a griddle. There will also be specialties to sample as we cruise along the Nile and in Upper Egypt."

You can learn more about VPR's Tour of Egypt and download a brochure by clicking here.

WVPR 89.5 Work Is Almost Complete

Work continues this week on our WVPR 89.5 transmitter on Mt. Ascutney. The antenna sustained some significant damage earlier this year due to falling ice. In order to repair it, we needed to have the entire antenna assembly removed from the tower and sent back to the manufacturer (in Maine) to be repaired.

Today and tomorrow, weather-permitting, engineers will be climbing the tower to take down the backup antenna we've been broadcasting on and installing the repaired (and structurally reinforced) antenna. As a result, WVPR 89.5 and WNCH 88.1 will be off the air or at low power during the work to ensure the safety of our engineers.

Once the antenna is installed, reception should return to normal without further interruptions. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we address these complicated and unexpected technical challenges, and we will keep you posted if anything changes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Moth Radio Hour Returns To VPR!

I first discovered The Moth when Ira Glass used a Moth story on This American Life. It was such a good story that I decided to learn more at the Moth's website.

It was love at first listen. I found stories about all sorts of subjects, told live and unencumbered by too much editing or time limits. The raw emotion in the storytellers’ voices was striking. For hours, I listened to story after story.

VPR has good news for Moth addicts like me. For the next four Saturdays, The Moth Radio Hour returns to VPR. These four episodes feature some of the best stories I’ve heard on The Moth. And that’s saying something.

One woman tells a story about her father’s death (an unusual story because it’s hilarious). There’s a sad story about a firefighter who finds himself lashing out at a woman whose children he tried to rescue. And a woman who moves to France finds a ghost living in her new Parisian apartment.

And there are many, many more. So tune in Saturday at 4 o’clock!

VPR Community Gathering in Randolph

After years of waiting, VPR Classical is coming to Orange County this summer. A few months ago Vermont Public Radio entered into a purchase agreement to buy WCVR 102.1 FM, based in Randolph, and the FCC recently gave the agreement a thumbs up. The closing will take place in late June, and we’ll be on the air soon after that.

This new frequency will bring VPR Classical to a large swath of central Vermont centered around Randolph, from Northfield south to Woodstock, from Route 100 in the west almost to I-91 in the east. The station will reach a population of approximately 93,000.

I’ll be in Randolph at Chandler Music Hall on Friday, May 21st at 4:00, and I hope you can join me to learn more about this major expansion of VPR Classical. You could make an evening out of it by also attending that night’s performance at Chandler, The Next Generation, which features outstanding young musicians.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on VPR Classical, VPR, and public radio in general. Hope to see you there!

If you can't make the event, we'll be holding additional community gatherings in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for details!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Yesterday we asked our many Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers to use social media to broadcast their support of VPR and to encourage their Friends and Followers to do the same. We got a lot of great listener response and we even thanked many of the Tweeters on-air during the membership drive.

VPR listener Liz Schlegel was inspired by the call and went above and beyond by Tweeting her top 10 9 reasons that she loves VPR:
  1. Because #VPR brings me audio postcards of towns all over Vermont (especially ones I haven't visited yet!) #whyIloveVPR
  2. Because the #VPR personalities are so distinctive and fun - from Ross Sneyd to Jane Lindholm, I feel like I really know them! #whyIloveVPR
  3. Because #VPR is the way I get Marketplace, Click & Clack, Wait, Wait DTM - my access to shows I have loved for many years #whyIloveVPR
  4. Because #VPR has introduced me to new radio shows I didn't know I needed: RadioLab, The Moth, Spark! and Planet Money #whyIloveVPR
  5. Because #VPR makes every drive just fly by - no matter what road I travel in VT, VPR is there with me! #whyIloveVPR
  6. Because #VPR engages online, on the air and in person - they show up! I love to see all the ways VPR tells us what's happening. #whyIloveVPR
  7. Because #VPR Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb is a Red Sox fan. #whyIloveVPR
  8. Is that 10 reasons? Because #VPR has great friends and partners, and does such a good job of connecting VTers. #whyIloveVPR
  9. Okay, here's the #1 reason #whyIloveVPR: Because I love public radio! And I love Vermont! They're like peanut butter & chocolate!
On-air and Online, VPR is here because of listener support. Thanks to Liz and everyone for all the ways you enthusiastically support VPR - by listening, volunteering, pledging, and spreading the word:

Tell your Facebook friends that you Support VPR!

Tell your Twitter followers that you Support VPR!

Jonathan Butler
Online Manager, VPR

PS. What is #whyIloveVPR? It's a Twitter hashtag. A hashtag is like a label that facilitates conversations on Twitter. For example, we use the #VPR hashtag so listeners can find and share Tweets about VPR; people who live in Burlington, VT use the #btv hashtag to share Tweets about goings-on in Burlington. For more on hashtags, see Wikipedia, of course.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Piecing Together Memories With StoryCorps And The Shelburne Museum

VPR Commentary Series Producer Betty Smith shared some behind-the-scenes thoughts about this week's special series, Piecing Together Memories. It features elder Vermonters speaking with one another about their fondest recollections, and about the memories they've begun to lose. These interviews were recorded by StoryCorps, and are included in an exhibit at the Shelburne Museum this summer called Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece. The exhibit includes the interviews, photos and quilts made by people who have dealt with Alzheimer's Disease.

For the past few weeks, I've been part of an ambitious project combining the resources of three impressive organizations: The Shelburne Museum, StoryCorps and VPR. It all started when the Museum learned that it would host the nationwide traveling quilt exhibit called "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece By Piece" that contains 52 quilts - each interpreting Alzheimer's in some way. The concept was inspired and the quilt's graphic images are powerful - to say the least.

As museum staff began brainstorming other exhibition elements to accompany the quilts, someone mentioned hearing segments of StoryCorps' Memory Loss Initiative on NPR's Morning Edition - in which people affected by memory loss shared stories with friends and loved ones. Initially, the idea was to invite StoryCorps to set up a recording booth in the exhibit itself to record visitor stories and comments, but it quickly grew into something more complex - and challenging.

So last January, StoryCorps' Memory Loss Initiative came to the Arbors and Wake Robin in Shelburne, and Project Independence in Middlebury, to record a number of interviews - each one about 45 minutes long. The goal was to select and edit several excerpts to feature at listening stations in the exhibit. Would VPR undertake the editing and consider airing some of the results? The answer was yes.

Ten of these interviews were selected by StoryCorps staff and sent to VPR for editing five excerpts down to a length suitable for possible broadcast and listening stations in the museum exhibit - two or three minutes at most. I got the assignment, and I must say it's been intense. The production process was a little like panning for gold: seeing a glimmer, then finding and polishing an important nugget. It's been very moving. The stories are personal, the atmosphere intimate, and the details range from funny to profound.

And in the end, it feels deeply satisfying. I believe that these stories, with their emotional content, will provide an effective complement to the artistic images in the museum exhibit, yet powerful enough to stand alone on the air in Piecing Together Memories.

At least, I hope so. I look forward to hearing what you and museum visitors think.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

prEview: The Moth Returns, No-Knead Bread, StoryCorps In Shelburne

Has this ever happened to you? You start telling a story when suddenly, you realize it’s not very good. It’s too late to just stop, so you forge ahead, only by then you’re completely distracted and self-conscious, which makes matters even worse.

Here at VPR we fancy ourselves storytelling experts (on the radio, at least!), so I humbly suggest that the next time this happens, try channeling your inner Susan Stamberg or Dick Gordon.

We’re celebrating stories that matter this month on VPR, and what better way to kick it off than with a new season of The Moth Radio Hour? You’ll learn more in this edition of prEview. Plus, there’s still room on the bus for VPR’s trip to Fenway Park, and in VPR Cooks, Patti Daniels shares a recipe for no-knead bread.

Michelle Jeffery

P.S. We are in the midst of our May membership drive. When you pledge to VPR today, you’ll be entered into all of the drawings during this drive: airline tickets, $3,000 gift certificate for the Outdoor Gear Exchange, or a luxury getaway to Montreal! Click here to pledge, or call 1-800-639-6391, and thanks!

Continue reading this edition of prEview...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match!

Some things are just natural matches for one another: peanut butter and chocolate, Simon and Garfunkel, Click and Clack.

And, as our membership drive draws near, I want to remind you of another match-up that has special importance: VPR and you.

We are asking you and fellow listeners to be matchmakers for VPR. We’re pooling your pre-drive contributions into a Member Match Fund. We'll use the fund to challenge other listeners to give during the upcoming membership drive. So far, listeners have pledged $55,000 to VPR’s Member Match Fund, and we're counting on you to help us reach our goal of $60,000 by midnight tonight!

The larger we can grow the VPR Member Match Fund, the shorter we can make our on-air fundraising! There are other benefits too: every dollar you give helps deliver the stories that matter most to you on VPR and NPR, you will be entered in all the drawings held during the drive, and…did I mention a shorter membership drive?

Please contribute online right now, before the drive begins. Thank you so much!