Thursday, June 30, 2011

Studs On The Radio

"Working With Studs" will air at 7 p.m. July4th on VPR.

In all honesty, when I saw the name of this program, I thought it might be some ironic piece about beautiful radio hosts whose faces are never seen.

It didn't take me long to find out that Studs is a singular proper noun. "Studs" is the name everyone called Louis Terkel. Studs Terkel, I learned, is THE original iconic radio voice of Chicago.

I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of him before! Talk about long running shows, The Studs Terkel Program aired on 98.7 WFMT Chicago five days a week from 1952 - 1997. He's known for preserving the oral history of the American working class, in their own words.

Studs' energetic voice is nothing short of inspirational. His charisma and curiosity brought out the truth people didn't even know they had in them until they were interviewed by Studs.

Our own Walter Parker interviewed Studs Terkel in 2005 to promote his book, And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey. And after his passing in 2008, Commentator Bill Mares recalled his experience with Studs Terkel.

Tune in Monday night at 7 for "Working With Studs," a remembrance told in a seamless blend of documentary and reminiscence by a crew of Stud's co-workers paired with previously unheard tapes of Studs himself.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Young Radio Players Take Over VPR Studios

This week, VPR is teaming with enthusiasm from young writers and performers.

The Flynn Center's summer camp program has taken over VPR's Performance Studio. Camp is all week and creativity is in the air. Walking down the hall, you can hear experimental noises creeping out of an open door.

Evidence of their creativity is apparent in the elaborate brainstorm maps posted along the walls. Other evidence of burgeoning brilliance includes: toys, instruments, mysteriously bulging bags and a variety of props.

This crew is here for the week to write, rehearse, and perform a dramatic classic radio play. They are learning how to construct sounds and use their voices in clever ways to tell a story and create a picture with audio. These talented kids are learning from one another and from their instructor; singer, songwriter and performing artist, Jon Gailmor.

Camp culminates with a live performance of their original radio program recorded by VPR's audio engineer Sam Sanders. At the end of the week each child will go home with a CD of their performance.

VPR News Wins Three PRNDI Awards

I had the honor over the weekend to accept three from our peers in public radio at the annual conference of Public Radio News Directors Inc.

VPR competes in the large station category for PRNDI and won two first-place awards and one second.

Jane Lindholm won first in the Use Of Sound category for one of the Summer School pieces on Vermont Edition. Jane taught us how to milk a cow. There's nothing like hearing the milk hit the bottom of the pail or the cows bellowing to sonically take you to the barn.

Commentator Madeleine Kunin took a first for her commentary "Requiem." She told of hearing a performance of Verdi's Requiem in Burlington on the anniversary of a similar performance at the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp outside Prague. I won't give away the ending, except to say it's worth listening to this poignant piece.

And, finally, VPR News took a second place for spot news coverage of the 2010 election when Brian Dubie conceded in the governor's race.

These awards may have been won by individuals, but they represent the hard work of the entire team of reporters, producers and hosts who bring you VPR News every day. And we hope they also demonstrate how valuable our listeners' support is in producing meaningful reporting.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Performance Studio Is Heating Up For Summertime

From VPR Classical Host Joe Goetz:

As the summer music festival season begins, the VPR Performance Studio is heating up. Today marked the first summer music festival appearance on VPR Classical, as Walter Parker welcomed musicians from the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival to share a preview of their upcoming season. Pianist Paul Orgel shined in two performances: Francis Poulenc’s Violin Sonata, where he was joined by Kevin Lawrence, and the first two movements of Beethoven’s C Major Cello Sonata, Op. 102, No. 1, in collaboration with cellist John Dunlop.

If you missed it, you can listen to the performance again here.

There’s more live music on VPR Classical tomorrow morning, when Walter welcomes the new 802 Quartet to the Performance Studio at 11 a.m.

(Photo from this morning's performance. From left to right: Kevin Lawrence, Paul Orgel, Walter Parker, John Dunlop)

Book It: Time for the Vermont Edition Summer Reading Show

I am the luckiest substitute host ever! Seems every time Jane Lindholm goes on vacation, I get to fill in for one of the Vermont Edition reading shows, and I admit to having a special fondness for them because, well, I love to read...and to hear what others are reading so I can get a lead on that next great book!

This Friday we're celebrating the summer reading season with a terrific panel of guests including Linda Ramsdell, owner of The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, and Bennington College Librarian Oceana Wilson, who won the 2009 national "I Love My Librarian" award, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Times.

And of course we'd love to hear your suggestions. Whether it's novels, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, science, even the back of a cereal box you found especially compelling, add your favorites here. I've already listed my recommendations, so hop to it...summer may have only just started, but it's short!

We'll also take your phone calls during the program this Friday at noon. You can catch a rebroadcast that evening at 7.

So forget all that nonsense you hear about "no one reads" anymore...prove that books are alive and well and being devoured by readers like you, by contributing to the annual Summer Reading Show on VPR!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Improved VPR Classical Signal in Central Vermont

Update for Tuesday, June 28: WVXR 102.1 FM is up to full power as of 3 this afternoon! Thank you for your patience as we finished this big project. I hope you'll try it out and let us know how it sounds!

We have great news for classical music fans in Central Vermont! Engineers are getting ready to replace the antenna for WVXR 102.1 FM in Randolph, which will allow us to broadcast the station consistently at full power. This upgrade will result in a stronger, higher-quality signal for more of the WVXR coverage area.

VPR Classical went on the air in Central Vermont last fall, but due to significant problems with the antenna, we have not been able to broadcast consistently at full power.

As long as the weather holds out, work will begin Monday, June 27 and will take 1-2 days to complete. For the safety of the tower crew we’ll need to take the station off the air during that time, but when it returns it will be a more robust signal than before.

WVXR reaches about 92,000 Vermonters across a large swath of central Vermont including the communities of Randolph, Bethel, Brookfield, Tunbridge, Sharon, Barnard, Woodstock, Royalton, Chelsea, Barre, and more.

We look forward to improving our service to you with this critical upgrade!

Visit the new VPR Classical Homepage

Today we launched a new VPR Classical Homepage at with new content, features, and design.

At the top of the page, you'll find the controls to Listen Online, view Today's Playlist, and contact the VPR Classical hosts. You'll also find the program On Now and On Next, and the current piece playing on-air (when it's available). We've also made it easier than ever to find the featured content, such as upcoming Live Performances, Musical Conversations, local Classical Events, and, of course, your favorite VPR Classical Hosts.

In the lower half of the page we've added a lot more content from the world of classical music, including the latest from the NPR Classical Blog "Deceptive Cadence", Classics In Concert from NPR Music, the most recent classical posts from the VPR Blog, and the latest classical posts on the VPR Facebook Page.

Finally, we placed the link to "Share Requests & Comments" right at the top of the page. We hope you'll continue to use that link to share your feedback with hosts about the programming and the music, to send them your musical requests, and to tell us what you think of the new VPR Classical Homepage.

Thanks for listening to VPR Classical!

The VPR Saturday Special goes to "The Promised Land"

Majora Carter hosts a new series from American Public Media; The same public radio organization that brings you the hits such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and The Splendid Table.

The Promised Land delivers the stories of passionate men, women, and young people who are changing their communities with innovative thinking and tireless effort after hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

The first episode features Dr. Kyshun Webster, founder and executive director of Operation Reach, an extensive family of programs for kids throughout the Gulf South.

Kyshun grew up in the St. Bernard Projects in New Orleans where, at the age of six, he saw his uncle murdered. He started struggling in school and was held back in the first grade. Thus began a lifelong makeover for Kyshun, who now holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. At the age of 12, he started a lending library out of his parents' garage, which grew into a "home for homework" after-school tutoring program.

He fought back to transform his own life and now inspires the lives of other disadvantaged youth. And because of the endless need among neighborhood kids and Kyshun’s sheer determination, he now oversees what he calls a “cradle to career” program for youth that extends to three states in the Gulf South.

Kyshun's Operation Reach runs (to name a few) a full-time child development center; the Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, where kids recycle cooking oil for use as environmentally friendly fuel; and the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps, with camps that teach young people philanthropic skills. The kids annually award $50,000 in grants to other youth-lead projects.

Future episodes spotlight community gardens, coastal oil clean-up, rebounding fishing communities, and empowered women.

Listen Saturdays at 4pm for The Promised Land.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pick Us! Pick Us! Pick Us!

It's time to pick the Daysies again! The Seven Daysies, that is. Each year, readers of the Burlington-based Seven Days weekly paper pick their favorite "best" restaurants, artists, stores, festivals, journalists, politicians in the area where Seven Days is delivered.

Vermont Public Radio has won Best Radio Station every year since 2008, and we hope you'll help us get there again! Visit the Seven Days website to cast your vote.

And if we can get in one more shameless plug here - last year meteorologist Tom Messner of WPTZ won his EIGHTH Daysie Award. We're not saying we don't love that smile, but how about showing some love for perennial runners-up Eye On The Sky?

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

VPR Wins Three National Edward R. Murrow Awards

We were thrilled to learn today that Steve Zind and VPR's news and programming team has been honored with three 2011 national Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in electronic journalism.

VPR was recognized for the documentary “Afghanistan’s Other War,” use of sound in a report on night patrol with the Vermont National Guard and the Afghan National Police, and for the writing in An Appreciation of the Cluster Fly.

The Murrow Awards are presented by the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA). VPR won three of 13 national awards in the small market radio category. Earlier this year, VPR was recognized with six regional Murrow Awards for outstanding news coverage. The award will be presented to VPR during a ceremony in New York City in October. A full listing of national Murrow Award winners is available here.
Afghanistan’s Other War was produced by John Van Hoesen. Lynne McCrea produced the night patrol story. Zind’s reporting from Afghanistan was made possible by the VPR Journalism Fund, which covered the expenses associated with the coverage.

Congratulations to Steve and the VPR News team! And thank you for making VPR your source for essential, trusted, and in-depth news and information.

Live Q & A with Charlie Nardozzi June 21st on Facebook

The Garden Party has returned!

Join the Vermont Garden Journal on Facebook for a live question and answer session with horticulturist Charlie Nardozzi. That’s coming up on the first day of summer, June 21st from 4-5pm.

Our first Facebook Q&A with Charlie was such a hit in May, we are bringing him back to answer more of your questions.

The warm weather has got us out digging in the dirt, but it appears we’ve got some company in the garden as well. We’ve heard about bunnies in Rutland, voles in Jericho, and beetles across the region. Have you had unwelcome guests in your garden that just won’t go away?

Here at Vermont Garden Journal headquarters we’ve been hearing from gardeners. Both expert and amateur horticulturists are sharing their garden’s disposition, whether it is bliss or burden. We’ve heard from determined, defiant, blighted, and just plain sad tomatoes in our area. If you or your garden need a pep talk or professional advice, get your questions ready for the Facebook Live Q&A with Charlie.

Log onto Facebook, Tuesday, June 21st at 4pm for our one-hour live question and answer session with Charlie Nardozzi and The Vermont Garden Journal.

Friday, June 10, 2011

From The Jazz Fest: Cancellation Tonight

A last-minute note from the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival this afternoon:


Posted on June 10, 2011

We regret to inform you that tonight’s performance has been cancelled. Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band featuring Terence Blanchard are unable to arrive here in Burlington due to travel complications.

The Meet-the-Artist session with Bob Blumenthal scheduled for 6:30 is also cancelled.

All tickets will be refunded to the original method of purchase. Please allow one week for refunds to be processed. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Flynn Tix box office at 802-86-FLYNN.

We apologize for the cancellation and we sincerely hope you’ll join us at future Burlington Discover Jazz Festival events.

Please note: The Vermont All State Jazz Ensemble will play on the Church Street Marketplace stage in front of City Hall from 8-9 pm.


VPR Cooks: Our Winning Potluck Recipes

We recently had a potluck barbecue at VPR to welcome summer. Many of us prepared our favorite side dishes to share with the staff. We're a bunch of over-achievers around here, so naturally we decided to make it a contest. While everything was delicious, we voted on our favorites and sharing the winning recipes with you. What's your favorite summer side dish?

Best Side Dish: Gail England's Miniature Stuffed Peppers

20 Peppadew peppers from South Africa - sweet & spicy
1 small can tuna - finely flaked
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp mayonnaise to moisten

Finely chop:
1 tsp parsley
1 Tbsp lovage, celery, or celeriac
3 wild violet leaves
1 Tbsp wild clover leaves
dash of salt & freshly ground pepper

Mix all together and stuff in the peppers. Adding wild edibles adds subtle flavor and lots of nutritional value. Naturally, only use plants that you know well and are unmistakable!

You can also try stuffing the peppers with fresh breadcrumbs or cooked millet, parmesan cheese, freshly chopped basil and oregano, a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt & pepper, or any other combination that suits your fancy.

Best Dessert: Jonathan Butler's Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

Jonathan says: This is the easiest recipe ever. I'd like to tell you it was Grandma's ol' family recipe handed down through the years, but I got it from a Google search and a few clicks. Check out the comments. I followed some of their tips (like mix the sugar and graham together before blending, maybe use more chocolate and less butter in the topping, etc.). Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Missing From the Jazz Fest

I just got off the phone with VPR's Jazz Host, George Thomas. He asked me to let you all know how bummed he is to be missing the Jazz Fest - both on the town and on the air. He has been under the weather and will be staying under cover for at least one more day. George had great plans to play music from artists at the Jazz Fest and offer his own commentary. He'll likely cook up a Jazz Fest in review next week. In the meantime, Bob Parlocha - a veteran DJ and professional sax player - is filling in.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Catherine Russell Comes To Burlington!

During her set this evening at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, singer Catherine Russell quoted her mother, who said: "There are only two kinds of music: good and bad."

Of these two categories, I'd have to say Catherine Russell falls into the "good" category. Though "good" seems to me like an understatement!

I became a fan of Catherine Russell by listening to her on Jazz with George Thomas on VPR. One night, George played her rendition of the Harold Arlen song, "As Long As I Live." I hunted down the album, Inside This Heart of Mine, and it's filled with standards that Russell made new again with her powerful, sultry voice.

Her performance tonight included songs from that album, but perhaps the highlight for me were the songs I hadn't heard before. Those included Jackie Wilson's "I'll Be Satisfied," Bessie Smith's "Kitchen Man," Dinah Washington's "My Man's An Undertaker," and a version of The Grateful Dead's "New Speedway Boogie" that would've made Mitch Wertlieb proud. Overall, it was a nice mix of jazzy and bluesy tunes, accompanied by piano, bass, guitar and banjo.

Well done, Catherine Russell, and thanks for visiting Vermont!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jazz Comes To Town

The 28th annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival officially kicks off tonight at The Flynn with "Bitches Brew Revisited", and once again VPR staff will be on the scene.

VPR Classical Director Cheryl Willoughby and VPR jazz host George Thomas dropped by Vermont Edition to share their thoughts on the festival, including the acts they're most looking forward to seeing and hearing. George is particularly looking forward to hearing Italian vocalist Roberta Gambarini, while Cheryl is excited about the appearance of Myra Melford and the Be Bread Sextet (just to name a couple). Interviewer Steve Zind shared that he's a fan of Catherine Russell, who he discovered listening NPR.

It's not all about the headliners and national acts, though. There are tons of local musicians performing 'Round Town, from accomplished local musicians to high school jazz bands. As Cheryl said, "some of the best stuff that happens at the festival is the stuff that's not on the calendar... memorable moments happen after hours when somebody wanders in with a saxophone, and someone else has a guitar, and the next thing you know there's an impromptu jazz session happening with a bunch of local folks."

As we have the past few years, we'll share the occasional blog posts and photos from the festival: check back here at the VPR Blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

And of course, for the best jazz throughout the festival and year-round, listen to George Thomas weeknights on VPR.

(pictured: Jennifer Hartswick, Anthony Santor, and Nic Cassarino perform at the opening reception at Halvorson's in Burlington, VT)