Tuesday, August 31, 2010


(From left to right: Walter, Sandra, Sylvia, Cheryl, Leane and Barbara)

One October Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago, I was on the air with Peter Fox Smith during the Saturday Afternoon at the Opera membership drive. We were enjoying some Jussi Bjoerling and reviewing incoming pledge forms together when I remember Peter's eyes fixing on one of the pages, making him smile and exclaim "SYLvia"!

Sylvia's name was familiar to Peter from her long standing as a VPR opera supporter. I realized Sylvia and I were from the same town, so when I read her name on the air I mentioned that we should get together some Saturday and listen to the opera together. About a month later we did just that, and it was the beginning of a good friendship.

This past Tuesday afternoon Sylvia brought three friends to VPR to spend some time learning about VPR Classical and chatting with Walter Parker, Joe Goetz and me. We enjoyed the comfort of air conditioning together (on a humid 90+ degree afternoon!) and shared an interesting conversation that ranged from modern music to VPR's live performances and the future of radio.

On some level, on-air hosts always know they are potentially talking to hundreds of people every time they go on the air. But it can still feel isolated sometimes in that studio, where a single mic and the blinking lights of the equipment are the only immediate company. We always love to meet the real people behind the thoughtful e-mails, calls and comments that arrive each day in reassurance that there is an attentive, responsive audience beyond those studio walls.

Thanks to Sylvia, Sandra, Leane and Barbara for visiting on Tuesday. If you'd like to come in for a tour, give us a call (800-639-2192) and let us know when you can stop by. And if you're a little shy like most of the radio folks I know (it's true!), you can always take the virtual tour.

By the way, it's a special day tomorrow at VPR Classical for Jussi Bjoerling fans - be sure to listen in to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera for our special annual tribute to the Swedish tenor.

Report From Afghanistan: Soldier's Advice

VPR's Steve Zind will spend three weeks in Afghanistan, covering some of the 1,500 members of the Vermont National Guard who are deployed there. He'll provide a close-up view of the Guard's mission and how things are going from their perspective. In addition to filing reports for broadcast on VPR, he'll be posting photos and a reporter's journal about his experiences on this page.

If you have suggestions for stories he might do when he's with the Guard, or questions you'd like them to answer about their mission; or if you have friends or family serving in Afghanistan, feel free to send him an email at ReportFromAfghanistan@gmail.com.

The following is re-posted at the VPR Blog from Steve Zind's Reporter's Journal. Follow Steve's blog and reporting from the region in VPR's Report From Afghanistan.

Soldier's Advice

In advance of my departure, I’ve been pestering people I know who’ve been to Afghanistan with all sorts of questions.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I need to take, beyond the recording equipment and the protective gear the military requires.

Toward that end, I’ve been corresponding with VPR commentator Larry Doane. As a guard captain in Afghanistan, he commands a unit that’s moved around a lot during the deployment.

With his permission, I’m posting below a recent email he sent, offering advice on what to bring and his matter-of-fact description of what to prepare for. I think it’ll give you a feel for the day to day life of a Vermont Guard soldier in Afghanistan.

Steve Zind

Larry writes,

“Weather wise it is hot as all get out during the day and pretty cold at night. Up to around 100 degrees during the day, drops to about 60-70 at night which feels pretty chilly after the heat of the day. Very windy, when it rains it really rains. Lightweight rain gear will be welcome if that happens. Good boots are an absolute must. You will be living out of them and the terrain here can be very rocky. A very stiff sole, but not absolutely rigid, will be good. Just make sure they're broken in before you get here!

“Laundry takes about 4-5 days to turn around here…Many of us just use a bucket and soap to keep our stuff clean. I wouldn't worry about [cutting down on] your clothing too much. If you err on anything, bring plenty of socks. Bring a good set of shower shoes…The walk to the showers is usually over a gravel parking lot. Or you could just wear your boots to the shower and change there, but I'd avoid bare feet at all costs in our latrines.

“I'm not sure if you've been over here before or other high altitude trips. We're at about 5,000 feet and it only goes up from here. Showing up in the best cardiovascular shape you can, will make a world of difference in acclimating and avoiding feeling like crap for the first week you're here. The jet lag will be tough enough to deal with.

“Finally, and no one wants to talk about this part: It's a no kidding shooting war around here no matter what you might hear. Make sure you bring gear that you've tried out and fits and you're comfortable with. I know you were buying a vest and a helmet. Please also bring eye protection and fire resistant gloves."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Covering the Primary

Vermont moved up the date of the primary election. But it still seems like it’s been a long time coming, doesn’t it?

Just think about it. Five Democrats running for Governor (pictured at left during their live debate last week on VPR). Two apiece competing for Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State. There’s a pair of Republicans going for Lieutenant Governor and two more in the Secretary of State’s race.

Plus there’s a contest among three Republicans who want to challenge Rep. Peter Welch. And there’s a fellow Democrat who’s challenging Sen. Patrick Leahy.

For news junkies, an election doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

VPR News is hoping to help fill your news junkie appetite this week. We’ll update you on Monday with all of the last-minute election preparations during our newscasts in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. (Need a schedule of when our newscasts air? Check it out here.)

Next Tuesday on primary day itself, we’ll keep you posted throughout the day in our newscasts and online about anything that comes up. And then it’ll be the long wait for the votes to be counted.

This is a primary, so it’ll take a long time to tally it all. We’ll air brief newscasts at 9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday so listeners will know everything we know. And we’ll post summaries online of the vote count as it comes in.

Finally, tune in to Morning Edition on Wednesday for the results (if all the races are decided by then!) And at noon we’ll have a reporters’ roundtable on Vermont Edition to analyze the outcome.

Oh, right. And then get ready to do it all over again for November!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's The Economy, Saturday (at 4)!

My favorite stories from VPR and NPR over the past few years have been about the economy. I've learned quite a bit, including how the mortgage market works, what derivatives are, and how it's possible to be "underwater" in your house without an actual flood. Very enlightening!

That's why I'm a big fan of the next two episodes of The VPR Saturday Special. Hosted by Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace, "The Next Economy" and "Living Digitally" feature some of the brightest ideas from the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival.

"The Next Economy" (Saturday, August 21st at 4 o'clock) features an examination of what the economy needs to look like if we're interested in a sustainable recovery. You'll hear a lecture by Richard Florida, who wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, and a discussion of where our national debt might take us (hint: nowhere good).

"Living Digitally" (Saturday, August 28th at 4 o'clock) will look into how technology is reshaping our lives and interactions. What's the future of our digital world?

Listen Saturdays at 4 to find out!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Join Us At The VPR Listener Picnic, Saturday Sept 11!

This year's Listener Picnic will be back at Billings Farm and Museum on Saturday, September 11, rain or shine, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The museum will be open free to the public and the Teago Fire Department will be throwing their benefit cook out on the premises.

Our special guest will be NPR reporter David Folkenflik. VPR Morning Edition host, Mitch Wertlieb, will interview David about the inside story on covering the media for NPR in New York.

We'll also enjoy live music by Dave Keller Band, Twist of the Wrist, featuring All the Traditions Host Robert Resnik, and Maple Jam, sweet a cappella jazz.

A big thanks to Monster.com for sponsoring this year's picnic. For directions visit the Billings Farm website. See you on the 11th!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Save The Date: The VPR Listener Picnic!

Join VPR at this year's listener picnic at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock on September 11th. David Folkenflik will share his experiences as NPR’s media correspondent, and you'll hear live music by Twist of the Wrist and Maple Jam. The Teago Volunteer Fire Department will be there with great food.

Thanks to Monster.com for sponsoring the listener picnic. Admission to the event is free; food sales benefit the Teago Volunteer Fire Department.

We look forward to meeting you - see you in Woodstock!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

VPR Staff Meets With NPR's Vivian Schiller

This afternoon the VPR Staff had the opportunity to sit down with NPR President Vivian Schiller. We discussed everything from newscasts to NPR's future to her own listening habits. She was also Jane Lindholm's guest today on Vermont Edition. Listen this evening at 7, or download the program here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PrEview: NPR President Vivian Schiller in Vermont, Blueberry Pancakes, Star Gazing

I haven’t taken a summer vacation yet, but last week I realized that my restlessness had more to do with my desire to break from routine than the need to actually leave town. The result? Over the last week, I started learning to play guitar, experimented with a digital SLR camera, took a mountain biking clinic, studied the reproductive habits of corn, and made delicious use of 14 pounds of freshly-picked blueberries.

I hope this issue of prEview inspires you to do the same. Might I humbly sugest taking your radio outside to identify stars and constellations during tonight’s Eye on the Sky Star Gazing Party, or asking a question of NPR President Vivian Schiller when she’s on Vermont Edition tomorrow. And because you’ll need your strength for all the out-of-the-ordinary fun you’ll be having, try out my recipe for blueberry-ricotta pancakes.

Michelle Jeffery

PS: Save the date for VPR’s Listener Picnic, Saturday, September 11th at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock. Meet NPR Media Correspondent David Folkenflik and hear music by Twist of the Wrist, Maple Jam and the Dave Keller Band.

Continue reading this week's prEview.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fire Up The Fluxtimator, Scotty!

The Eye on the Sky Star Gazing Party is set for 9 o’clock Wednesday night on VPR. The rain date is Thursday, but as of this writing it looks like clear skies for Wednesday.

Mark Breen, Director of the Planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum, will guide you across the night sky, identifying stars, planets and constellations. Together with your host Mitch Wertlieb, you’ll learn how to orient yourself to the sky, some astronomical lore, and how to catch the best view of meteor showers.

If you’re in a dark, rural area, just turn off the lights and go out on your deck or back yard. If you’re in brightly lit city, scope out a location in a nearby community with fewer city lights.

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks this week. To predict the frequency of meteors you might see in your area, download NASA’s Fluxtimator.

You’ll find links to an interactive star chart, photos of the Perseids, and more star gazing resources at the Fairbanks Museum Night Sky site.

The Eye on the Sky Star Gazing Party is a collaboration of VPR and the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, which is now offering planetarium shows every day.

You can email your questions for Mark ahead of time to community@vpr.net. Or call in during the program 1-800-639-2211.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Leahy/Freilich Debate

(Pictured: Vermont Edition staff and camera crews from Fox 44 and WPTZ in the VPR Studios for the Leahy/Freilich Debate)

This week, VPR hosted the only debate that the two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates will have this primary season. Incumbent Patrick Leahy agreed to one debate with challenger Dan Freilich.

The candidates answered questions from moderator Jane Lindholm on policy in Afghanistan, energy policy, dairy price stabilization, and the impact of the economic stimulus program. For most of the live debate, the candidates challenged each other directly with questions on health care reform, Iraq, job creation and the politics of the campaign. The final round of questions came from listeners, including questions on the affordability of college, immigration policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Leahy participated in the debate from Washington, D.C., where the Senate is debating the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Leahy was in a radio studio at the Democratic National Committee and Freilich was in VPR’s Colchester studio with Lindholm.

About 40,000 people tune in to Vermont Edition each week. VPR’s debate series continues in Vermont Edition, leading up to the August 24th Primary Election. Visit VPR's Campaign 2010 Page for debates, candidate interviews, and news from the primary season and general election.

Patti Daniels
Senior producer, Vermont Edition

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

VPR Wins Daysie Award For Best Radio Station

Thank you, listeners! VPR has been honored with a Seven Daysie award for Best Radio Station for the third year in a row! Each year readers of the Burlington-based weekly paper Seven Days vote for their favorite restaurants, artists, stores, festivals, journalists, media and more in Vermont.

We're honored to be the top pick once again this year. It is an honor to do what we do, and your support and desire for quality programming makes it all possible. Congratulations to all the winners! You can see a full list of Daysies winners here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Love That Dirty Water....

VPR is 3-0! We had a blast last Saturday as Mitch Wertlieb, Ric Cengeri, and I traveled to Boston for VPR's 3rd trip to Fenway park with a great group of VPR listeners. We took a tour of the storied ballpark, feasted on hot dogs, and watched the Sox take on the Detroit Tigers.

I'm usually a very optimistic Sox fan (unlike Mitch - see his recap of last year's game here), but when we were down 4-0 early in the game and kept leaving men on base, I got a little discouraged. Oddly enough, Mitch was the one who kept saying "Be patient, they can do it."

They managed to come back to make it 4-2 by the bottom of the 9th inning. Tigers pitcher Phil Coke loaded the bases by intentionally walking Kevin Youkilis with one out, bringing David "Big Papi" Ortiz to the plate. Papi hit a double that looked (and sounded) something like this (the hit is around 2:15):

Since everyone was jumping up and down and I'm not all that tall, I didn't even realize they'd won it until I heard the unmistakable opening riff of "Dirty Water" - "buhmp buhmp buhmp, buhmp bah-dump." It was the first walk-off win I've ever seen at Fenway! My favorite part by far was watching Mitch jump up and down screaming and clapping, as if he were 10 years old all over again.

What a day! Great company, great weather, and topped off by a great come-from-behind walk off win. It doesn't get much better than that! VPR is now 3-0 with our trips to Fenway. Hmm...maybe they should have VPR listeners at every game! Check out our photos from the day below.