Friday, October 28, 2011

No Spooky Cliches

We've been eating candy corn all week at our Colchester Studios. There are orange bits stuck in our teeth, but the sugar buzz has certainly boosted productivity!

We'll spare you great classic lines such as "VPR is Scaring Up Some Spooky Tricks And Treats For Your Halloween Weekend". Just the facts, ma'am:

Saturday at 8pm: Joel Najman invites you to a Halloween Party of new and known classics on My Place. Do you remember the words to Monster Mash?

1-4: 50 Hillbillies in a Haunted House! Robert Resnik previews live music throughout the region on All the Traditions.

Monday 9am - 7pm: Walter Parker and Joe Goetz reveal their dark side on VPR Classical. By the way, if you missed Naomi Lewin's annual Dracula performance on Classics for Kids, you can listen here.

Monday 6pm: Capitol Steps Halloween Edition. Did you know The Capitol Steps bond rating is higher than the US Government? Enjoy music and comedic relief from the headlines.

Monday 8pm: Radiolab takes us to the front lines of War of the Worlds. A fascinating analysis of what really happened during the iconic broadcast. This special edition of Radiolab was recorded live at the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul. (The World returns Tuesday evening)

Monday 9pm: Turn off the porch light and and enjoy the rest of the evening listening to Jazz with George Thomas. George always surprises us with his holiday selections. requests!

Best wishes for a fun and safe Halloween from all of us at VPR.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's The VPR Android App?

We knew when we launched the VPR iPhone App the first question we'd receive from listeners would be "what about the Android?" Well, you haven't disappointed. On Facebook, Twitter, email, and in person, listeners have asked why we launched an iPhone App but no equivalent Android App.

Since this is our first mobile App, we wanted to choose just one platform (iOS or Android), go through the process, learn a lot of lessons (about the audience, supporting the App, the expense, etc.), and then expand from there. To us, it made more sense to achieve success with one App before trying to support multiple Apps. After all, it's not just about developing and launching the App: once it's launched, it must be fixed when there are issues, updated when there are changes to the OS, and enhanced with new features as listeners' habits and expectations evolve. It's an ongoing commitment and service, not just a one-and-done build.

So why the iPhone, especially when there are more Android smartphones on the market than iPhones? The first reason is that we've received more requests from iPhone users than Droid users, and our web-analytics back this up: we have more visitors using iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) than we do using Android (or Blackberry). It's true that Android is growing fast and has more users, but our web metrics and requests from listeners still pointed us to the iOS.

The other factor is that because Android is open, it's used by many manufacturers, each with their own modified versions. We've learned from other stations and App developers that it's a real challenge to keep up with the differences among all these permutations. It's not impossible, of course, it's just more of a challenge. iOS is not open and is controlled closely by Apple, which isn't great for a lot of reasons, but it does make iOS a lot more stable and straightforward to develop for and support.

The VPR iPhone App was developed with our partners at PRX, the outfit behind many other public radio Apps. In May they blogged about "Why There's No Public Radio Player For Android Yet", any many of our arguments echo theirs. That post is definitely worth a read.

We will continue to expand our mobile offerings and we are talking to PRX about developing a Droid App as well. In the meantime, the NPR Android App provides a great way to stream VPR and VPR Classical on your Android smartphone.

Thanks for listening. If you've tried the VPR iPhone App, or if want a VPR Droid App, we'd love to hear from you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lisa Simeone And Activism (Updated)

Several listeners have asked VPR for more information on the stories in the news this week about the NPR-distributed World of Opera program and its host Lisa Simeone. VPR does not broadcast World of Opera because we have our own locally-produced program with Peter Fox Smith. VPR also carries opera broadcasts from the WFMT network.

Earlier this week, Lisa Simeone came under scrutiny as an organizer of the Occupy D.C. movement. Her program, produced by WDAV in North Carolina, is distributed by NPR to more than 30 radio stations across the country. Simeone was also host of the documentary program, Soundprint, which is also not part of the VPR lineup. VPR Classical does broadcast the Chicago Symphony on Thursday evenings, which is hosted by Simeone.

There have been inaccuracies in the reporting of this story. First, Simeone continues in her position as host of World of Opera, a decision made solely by WDAV. Also, NPR had no role in the decision made by the managers of Soundprint to end its relationship with Simeone as the program's host, nor did NPR have contact with the management of the program prior to their decision.

NPR maintains a strict code of ethics to maintain its integrity as a news organization. Many stations and independent producers, including VPR and the producers of Soundprint, have adopted NPR's code of ethics or adopted their own to preserve neutrality and trust in the news. To provide transparency, the codes are public and widely distributed.

The NPR code has a restriction on participating in political activities because it’s a news network and needs to remain neutral. The debate is whether the same ethics should apply to Simeone, who is a freelance host. Do all distributed programs, regardless of their content, reflect on a network’s identity? If a group of hosts were involved in political activities of one kind or another, would listeners begin to associate those politics with the network?

Update: On Friday, we learned that NPR has decided to cease distribution of World of Opera. However, the program's distribution will be handled by WDAV, the station that produces the show. On their blog, WDAV assures that listeners to the over 60 stations that broadcast World of Opera, will not experience any interruption of the program. Here are the details from the story on NPR's news blog, The Two-Way:

Dana Davis Rehm, senior vice president for communications for NPR, said the decision to change the arrangement came "from different views about the role of a program host." She said NPR believes hosts "represent NPR regardless of the type of program they host." As such, they are barred from any political activity.

Although Lisa Simeone is not an NPR employee, NPR has taken the position that hosts of any programs they produce or distribute are highly visible public figures that by default, serve as representatives of NPR. As such, these hosts cannot serve as both the voice of that program and the voice of an activist movement without jeopardizing the trust listeners put in NPR to serve as an impartial provider of news and information.

It’s an important and complicated discussion, and we welcome your thoughts and comments. To make comments directly to NPR, please call 202-513-3232, or send an email by going to

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bob Kinzel and The Barn Band Release "The Spirit Of Vermont"

You know VPR Reporter Bob Kinzel for his outstanding coverage of the Statehouse and Vermont's political scene. But did you know that he's also an accomplished musician? His band, The Barn Band, recently released an original song to raise money for Irene recovery. Jane Lindholm spoke with Bob about the song on today's Vermont Edition. Check out the full video of "The Spirit of Vermont" and its lyrics below.

The Spirit of Vermont

Mother Nature
Do what you want
You can’t break
The spirit of Vermont.

Try anything,
Take your best shot,
You can’t break
The spirit of Vermont.

Big rains came
Flooded our land,
We joined together,
We took a stand.

Folks in Waterbury,
All gathered round,
Went door to door,
Rebuilding the town.


Roads got washed out,
Soon it was clear,
Rochester to Rutland,
You can’t get there from here.

Some folks lost all,
But all lent a hand,
From mucking the floors
To clearing the land.


Now the sun is shining
There’s lots to be done,
Down in Wilmington,
It’s already begun.

We’ll end up stronger
Than we did at the start,
We helped each other,
With our hands and our hearts.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do You Listen To VPR In The Shower?

Sing along to the Morning Edition theme music? Do a victory dance when the Eye on the Sky forecast is for sunshine? It's okay - so do we. Then we wondered what would happen if VPR literally was with you in the morning - check out this video below!

This morning we're giving away 20 Sangean waterproof radios so you can listen in the shower and never miss a minute of VPR or VPR Classical - all you have to do is make a pledge to be entered to win. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Suggestions From This Morning's Membership Drive

I was up early this morning with Mitch Wertlieb, Jonathan Butler, and Peter Biello asking our loyal listeners to support VPR with a financial contribution. To sweeten the deal, we were giving away a $1,000 gift certificate to Northshire Bookstore at 9 a.m.

It didn't take long for us to begin making recommendations for books the lucky winner could buy when he or she won the drawing - and congratulations to Margaret A. Johnson of Hanover, NH, who is the winner!

If you didn't win, no worries - there are more drawings ahead this week. Below is a list of the books we recommended this morning. Enjoy!

Busy Monsters, William Giraldi
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
River Town, Peter Hessler
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
Splendid Table How to Eat Weekends, Lynne Rosetto Kasper
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

Friday, October 14, 2011

Public Post: Issues That Matter In Your Community

More than a month after many Vermont communities were torn apart by Tropical Storm Irene, a natural disaster that demonstrated the need for quality, local journalism, VPR is upgrading its new online service Public Post.

This service provides a new way to glean the inner workings of a city or town with online access to government minutes. Since Public Post launched in August, VPR’s reporting from those primary sources has unearthed a number of stories – from the dredging of a river in Middlebury to efforts in Richmond and other communities to expedite building permitting.

VPR’s Public Post presents digital versions of the latest minutes from more than 50 cities and towns, displaying them across the top of the page. While the new website surfaces those stories from the minutes, it also gives nearly equal weight to what we’re calling “Your Reports,” listener comments and announcements.

Browse the minutes, read and listen to our stories on Public Post, and join the discussion: Engage with the broader Vermont community at, or message us on Facebook or Twitter. Want to post the records from your council and select board? Send us an email at

Vermont Public Radio is committed to the local government beat, and we hope this new version of Public Post reflects that pledge. We hope you will participate in Public Post online or simply by reading and listening. Thank you for your civic engagement, unbridled enthusiasm and continued support.

Kirk Carapezza
Online Editor/Reporter

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Announcing The Moth in Vermont Lineup

Just a little over a week until The Moth Mainstage makes its debut in Vermont! We can't wait to see The Moth’s signature true stories told live without notes to Burlington’s Flynn Center on October 22. You can get your tickets online here!

The theme of the night will be "Building A Bridge: Stories from Both Sides.” Our lineup features Vermonter and Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me regular Tom Bodett, Vermont author Jamaica Kincaid, Moth regulars Brian Finkelstein and Boris Timanovsky, and filmmaker Ellie Lee. Check out a story by Boris below!

Our host will be comedian Rudy Rush, who has appeared with Dave Chapelle and Martin Lawrence, and on The Late Show with David Letterman and Def Comedy Jam.

Plus, The Moth Radio Hour returns to VPR with five new episodes this Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

VPR and PH International want to thank our generous sponsors for this event (at left). See you at the Flynn on the 22nd!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

VPR Receives Three National Edward R. Murrow Awards

Vermont Public Radio was honored with three national Edward R. Murrow Awards for its news coverage Monday evening at the Radio Television Digital News Association dinner in New York. John Van Hoesen, VPR's vice president of news and programming, and Senior Reporter Steve Zind attended the event. Steve sent along his thoughts about the evening:

Monday’s drive south took us through some beautiful peak foliage in Windham County and Western Massachusetts – quite a contrast to the view of warehouses that dominated the last leg of the trip on the train ride into the city. This was the 41st year of the Murrow Awards and 62 different news organizations were honored, from local radio and television stations to national networks and worldwide news services. As each award was presented, an audio sampling of the winning entry was played. It was fascinating to hear the range of stories and get a sense of the issues in play in other parts of the country. VPR’s three awards were for best documentary, best use of sound and writing.

A highlight of the evening for me was seeing former CBS reporter Richard C. Hottelet receive a distinguished service award. He’s someone I remember from childhood. Hottelet, who’s 93, worked with Murrow and covered WWII, providing the first eyewitness reports of the Normandy landing. He received a standing ovation when he went to the podium. When there was a problem playing audio from one of his old reports, he quipped, “Oh, it wasn’t that good, anyway.”

I sat next to NPR’s Boston-based reporter Chris Arnold, whose coverage of the home foreclosure mess was an award winner. It was interesting to talk with him about stories he’s working on.
It was really an honor to be in the company of so many dedicated news people from old veterans like Richard Hottelet to young reporters like Chris who are so enthusiastic about the work they’re doing, and excited about all the changes happening in our profession.

Top Photo Caption: Steve Zind, NPR Interim CEO Joyce Slocum, and John Van Hoesen
Bottom Photo Caption: Steve Zind accepts VPR's National Edward R. Murrow Award

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Piano Jazz's Marion McPartland Retires

Marion McPartland, whose Piano Jazz program VPR has carried on Friday nights for many years, has retired. McPartland hosted her show for 31 years and was known for her improvisational skills in both music and conversation.

While no more shows are being produced, Marion is staying on to guide the Piano Jazz digital archive project and educational website. You can celebrate Piano Jazz's legacy with 30 favorite moments from NPR Music here.

She has big shoes to fill, but I am pleased to let you know that I'll be hosting jazz for an extra hour on Friday evenings beginning this Friday. I hope you'll join me beginning at 9 p.m. To suggest music or send your thoughts, visit

Marion McPartland Photo by RJ Capak

Enter To Win An iPad2 From VPR

Vermont Public Radio’s October membership drive begins soon, but right now
is an especially good time to show your support by pledging to VPR.


Because when you pledge before the drive begins, you'll be entered to win a 16GB Apple iPad 2, thanks to our friends at Small Dog Electronics.

The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original. With wi-fi and 16GB of storage you can browse the web, check e-mail, read the news, e-books, and magazines, and of course, listen to your favorite public radio station using the new VPR App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch!

(Go ahead, play Angry Birds, too...we won't tell).

And when you pledge, you’ll feel good knowing you did your part to pay for the stories that move you.

The deadline to enter the drawing is Wednesday, October 12th. Listen to VPR on Thursday morning when we’ll announce the winner.

Support VPR and enter the drawing online here.

If you’re a sustaining member or have already made a gift or pledge in
advance of our fall membership drive, no worries - you’re already entered in
this drawing.

Thanks in advance for your support and good luck!

Contest Rules