Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Faces: Meet Kirk Carapezza

Meet Online Editor/Reporter Kirk Carapezza. Kirk reports and edits stories for VPR News and at and oversees Public Post, VPR's online resource for searching municipal meeting minutes and sharing local news from Vermont cities and towns.

Q: We understand you are the originator of a not-so-secret VPR handshake.
It’s true. The (un)official VPR Handshake is called the Ham-and-Cheese. Legend has it that a couple of awkward fist-bumps and misfired high-fives in the Fenway Park bleachers led to what some say is the most satisfying handshake of all time, as VPR's Michelle Jeffery and Brendan Kinney demonstrate here.

This handshake's popularity is steadily growing. Franny Bastian deserves credit for making it official, though. She delivered the first one during a staff meeting earlier this week.

Q: Do you have a public radio role model? Who, and why?John Burnett for his courageous reporting and use of sound from the border; Daniel Zwerdling for exposing the hidden wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Nina Totenberg for her ability to distil even the most complicated questions facing our country and Mike Pesca for his sense of humor, his writing and delivery style. I find that any of their stories can stop you in your tracks and make you stare at the radio as they bring you places you otherwise would not go.

Q: Are the Red Sox going to win their division this year?
It’s early, but this team isn’t showing us very much grit out of the gate. I try to remember that the Minnesota Twins started 2-9 and still went on to win the 1991 World Series. Still, after last season's historic collapse, I’ve told myself that I won’t watch Sox games on TV. Instead, I’ve been listening on the radio.

For now, I’m adopting former General Manager Lou Gorman’s perspective. Gorman approached baseball with a certain fatalism. Responding to reporters about whether the team would reach an agreement with Roger Clemens, he said “The sun will rise, the sun will set, and I’ll have lunch.”

So in a way, sure, this team could win the AL East. But in another, more accurate way, they’ll probably finish fourth behind the Yanks, Rays and Jays.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Special Program: The Hunt For Oil

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster off the Gulf of Mexico, big questions remain: Where did all that oil go? Is the seafood safe to eat? And, with gas prices now at $4.00 a gallon, is America running out of oil?

Veteran journalist Alex Chadwick is on a mission to cover the aftermath of the spill and also the story underneath the oil: the story of energy.

Energy is an enormous part of our everyday life, but apart from knowing how much our heating bill is and what it takes to fill the gas tank, most of us may not understand the science behind it.

Chadwick points us to The Public Radio Energy Project, where "the more you know about energy science, the more you’ll want to do something."

"The Hunt for Oil: Risks and Rewards," looks at energy science, how leaky oil pipelines are affecting neighborhoods and what really determines the cost at your local gas pump.

Check out the Energy Journal for more information, photos, resources and conversation about America's energy future.

"The Hunt for Oil" marks the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as Earth Day. Listen Monday morning at 9, then share your comments at

Friday Faces: Meet Brian Jones

Meet Corporate Support Specialist Brian Jones. Brian works with our development and programming teams to monitor and schedule underwriting credits and promotional announcements you hear on VPR.

Q: Do you have a public radio role model? Who, and why?

A: I'm a huge Garrison Keillor fan. I've attended two performances of A Prairie Home Companion, and over the years the program has turned me on to some of my favorite musicians, authors and humorists. Keillor is such a great writer, too!

Q: What are you listening to/reading/watching right now?

I'm hooked on podcasts. I've subscribed to public radio podcasts like The Splendid Table and This American Life for years, but have also gotten into video podcasts lately. I'm currently watching The Totally Rad Show and Lifehacker video podcasts.

Q: What are your plans for this weekend?

A: If we get much rain it's likely that I'll be looking for things to do inside. I might spend Saturday morning looking through cookbooks, and then make some interesting food while playing old DVDs. My girlfriend is finally returning today after being out of town for two weeks, so it will be nice to have the chance to catch up with her and hear about her trip.

Q: There's no shortage of cooks at VPR. What was the last delicious thing you made, and would you share the recipe?

A: I love to grill, so a recent Jamaican jerk chicken dinner stands out in my mind. I adapted it from a recipe I printed out years and years ago, probably right around the time Al Gore was turning on the internet for the first time. It was really good!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar

Combine ingredients and process in a blender or food processor. Marinade chicken for at least four hours (and up to twenty-four hours) before grilling. Grill using indirect heat until chicken is cooked through.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Faces: Meet Mary Williams

Meet Producer/Announcer Mary Williams. She's the friendly voice you hear most weekday mornings on VPR News!

Q: What are you up to this weekend?
A: My weekend plans include such glamorous activities as finishing filing my taxes. I’m also going for a nice long run with my sister-in-law and then making a big breakfast for my family. Plus, if I get my way, I’ll actually sit down on the couch to finish Beautiful Boy. I’ve been meaning to read it and Neal Charnoff’s interview last week with author, David Sheff, spurred me on.

Q: Who is your public radio role model?
A: I’m always impressed with the female journalists of NPR, especially those covering difficult situations and witnessing history-in-the-making in every corner of the world. And I must count the reporters on the VPR news staff among my role models. The reporting is absolutely top-notch. Then, of course, for entirely personal reasons, I have a ridiculous radio crush on Craig Windham. He can read me the NPR news headlines anytime.

Q: In addition to your work at VPR, you also own and operate Good Girls Vegan Bakery. Will you share a favorite vegan recipe with us?
A: Here’s a super-easy recipe for chickpea flour pizza from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook. This would be a perfect "Meatless Monday" meal and it’s also gluten-free.

Chickpea Flour Pizza

2/3 cup chickpea flour (also called besan or garbanzo-fava flour; I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 cup of water
pinch of sea salt
olive oil

Whisk the flour, water and salt together, making sure to whisk out any lumps. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.

Heat up a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop (cast iron works great for this).

Meanwhile, turn on your oven’s broiler. When the skillet is hot, add oil and pour in batter and let set, about four minutes.

Next comes the fun part! Add whatever combinations you and your family love: Tomato and fresh basil or chili powder and sliced avocado or onion and sage leaves… The possibilities are endless. After you add the toppings, drizzle a bit more oil over the top and slide the skillet under the broiler for a bit. Don’t walk away! It won’t take long…

To serve, slice it as you would a pizza and add a nice bed of greens on top or on the side.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meet The NEW Fairbanks Planetarium

Catch this sneak peek of the new digital planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury. The Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium opens this weekend. It replaces the original 1961 model, which seated 45 people on wooden benches under a 24 foot domed ceiling.

Lyman Spitzer Jr., (1914-1997) a member of the Canaday family, was one of the 20th century's leading theoretical physicists. An astronomer, founding director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and an early proponent of space-based optical telescopes.

VPR’s Neal Charnoff and videographer John Billingsley visited the Fairbanks on Wednesday. Listen for Neal’s report Friday afternoon at 5:30.

Learn more about the grand opening at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium.

Survey: What Are Your Media Habits?

Results from the 2010 Survey

Update 4/13/12: We have reached our maximum number of responses to the survey! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to share your feedback.

As a Vermont Public Radio listener, you're probably aware that we've been working hard for the past couple of years to stay ahead of rapid changes in the radio landscape. I'm writing now to ask for your feedback. Our goal is to continue to provide the news, information, music, and conversation you want in the way that you want it, so I'm inviting you to share your input about technology in our annual survey.

We'd like you to tell us how you use your conventional radio, Facebook, iPods, smartphones, tablets, streaming and the Web to stay connected to entertainment, news, and updates from VPR and other sources. Whether you use all these devices/platforms or not, we value your opinion.

Your responses will be kept completely confidential, and we will never share your personal information with anyone. We'll only use the information you provide to enhance our service.

It’s a fairly long survey, but your input is important to help us determine where to allocate resources.

Thanks in advance for your time and for your support of VPR.

Jonathan Butler
Director of Digital Services

Regional Murrows For VPR News

We're happy to report that VPR News was honored with seven New England regional Edward R. Murrow awards today by the Radio Television Digital News Association. RTDNA recognizes radio stations in 14 different categories.

VPR was recognized for a wide variety of work, from our coverage of Tropical Storm Irene to our popular Summer School series on Vermont Edition. It is bittersweet to win an award for the coverage of the devastating floods caused by Irene. But the recognition reinforces our conviction that our reporting provided an important public service.

Here's a rundown of the categories where VPR News won a Murrow:

-- News Series: UVM At A Crossroads.

-- Breaking News: A series of stories in the days after Tropical Storm Irene hit.

-- Sports: In Stowe, Glory Days Live On.

-- Documentary: The Irene Effect.

-- Use of Sound: Summer School: How To Call An Auction.

-- Newscast: Morning Edition newscast at 7:34 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2011.

-- Writing: The Theremin: More Than A Musical Gimmick.

VPR's regional winners will now be entered in RTDNA's national awards contest. Those results will be released later in the year.

We also want to offer our congratulations to our television colleagues at WCAX-TV. Channel 3 was honored with three Murrow awards, for its coverage of Irene, as well as an investigative report on homeless encampments.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Red Sox Horror Show

Starter Josh Beckett, right, gives up the baseball to manager Bobby Valentine, left, in the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday in Detroit. Beckett was relieved after giving up back-to-back home runs. (AP/Duane Burleson)

VPR’s Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb is known for his early morning rants — err sports reports. Here’s his Monday morning take on the sluggish start for the 2012 Red Sox:

There was a time in my life when I kind of appreciated horror movies. I didn’t necessarily enjoy being jolted with spasms of fright by the scary films of my youth — “Halloween,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Friday the 13th” franchise — but there was a certain sensation one got of — accomplishment, I guess — for getting through those films and their worst moments that made it somewhat worthwhile.

But this much I know about those kinds of movies: the sequels had no redeeming value whatsoever. They were still occasionally scary, but they were decidedly dumber, less and less artful in presentation, and ultimately, just getting through them felt less like an accomplishment and more like a serious waste of time.

Point being that the Boston Red Sox 2012 season — merely a week old but with memories still fresh from last summer’s historic collapse – is already taking on the feel of one of the throwaway Halloween sequels — let’s say Halloween 4: the “Return of Michael Myers.”

Here are the gory details in quick summation for those lucky enough to have missed the Red Sox third straight loss to the Tigers yesterday: Starter Clay Buchholz was terrible — gave up seven runs. The Sox were down early 4-0, fought back to go up 10-7 into the bottom of the ninth, but then de facto closer Alfredo Aceves —who’s upset he wasn’t named a starter, and maybe he has a point because he certainly was no closer – gave up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera to tie the game at 10. But then in the 11th inning the Red Sox got two more runs to go up 12-10. Happy ending, right? Wrong — because in the bottom of the 11th Mark Melancon gave up a game-winning walk off three-run homer to Alex Avila and the Sox lost, 13-12.

You can listen to Mitch's report here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Faces: Meet Heather Dieringer

Meet Heather Dieringer, VPR's administrative assistant. She's our key administrative liaison to VPR's Board of Directors, supports our day-to-day administrative operations, and is probably the most organized person at VPR!

Q: What are your plans for this weekend?
A: This weekend I'm going to be celebrating Easter (casually rather than formally) with good friends, and with any weather luck I'll be going for my first bike ride of the season.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I recently picked up a beautiful book I got for Christmas called Une Semaine De Bonte by Max Ernst, and I'm usually reading some combination of the latest issue of The Believer, Zoetrope, and Juxtapose magazines.

Q: If you could have lunch with any public radio person, who would it be?
A: I would have brunch (better than lunch) with Radiolab's Robert Krulwich because he always seems stuck on the same parts of a complex subject that I get stuck on. I find myself constantly thinking "My question exactly, Robert!" If Robert could just review for me all of the behind-the-scenes learning he's done with Brian Greene, I feel confident that I'd see the world entirely differently.

Sunday Jazz at Brandon Music

You hear rumors that jazz doesn't have an audience, but then a new jazz series appears in Brandon and refreshes one's faith in people and great music. This Sunday series is organized by saxophonist Jonathan Lorentz (pictured) and is the newest of three jazz locations that he curates, including Mondays & Thursdays in Laconia, and Tuesdays in Nashua, New Hampshire.

All shows are at 7 p.m. at Brandon Music. The schedule includes:

04.08 John Funkhouser, Acclaimed Boston Pianist

04.15 Charlie Hilbert, Traveling Bluesman

04.22 Chris Bakriges, Romantic Vermont Pianist

04.29 Trio Balkan Strings Guitar Family from Serbia

05.06 Jonathan Lorentz Anthony Santor & Gabe Jarrett, Modern Jazz

05.13 Gerry Beaudoin, Straight-Ahead Jazz Guitar

05.20 Benny Sharoni, Master Saxophonist

05.27 Sharon Jones,
Swinging Vocals

06.03 Judi Silvano, Celebrated Vocal Artist

06.10 Michael-Louis Smith, NYC Jazz Guitarist

06.17 The Soul of a Man Rhythm, Blues & Jazz

06.24 Harvey Sorgen, Adventurous Drummer

Thursday, April 5, 2012

$25,000 Community Challenge Announced for VPR Classical in Central Vermont

We've been working behind the scenes to raise $300,000 to fund the purchase and maintenance of our VPR Classical station at WVXR 102.1 FM.

Last weekend, we kicked off the public phase of the campaign at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts in Randolph, prior to a concert by pianist and Beaux Arts Trio founding member Menahem Pressler.

During the event (and with 100+ in the audience) we announced a special "community challenge" to build on the campaign’s momentum: when VPR Classical listeners come together to raise $50,000 for WVXR, two local and generous supporters will contribute an additional $25,000 to the campaign.

VPR purchased WVXR in 2010. It was a leap of faith; we are confident that our community of classical music lovers will come together to meet this challenge and support this important campaign. This challenge opportunity may make it possible to meet our goal by the end of the calendar year!

VPR Classical Host Joe GoetzBased in Randolph, WVXR reaches about 92,000 Vermonters across a large swath of central Vermont, from Berlin to Woodstock north to south and from Route 100 to Interstate 91 from east to west.

Last summer, WVXR underwent a major antenna upgrade that allowed VPR to consistently operate the station at full power, resulting in a stronger, higher-quality signal for the WVXR coverage area. With the addition of WVXR, VPR Classical can now be heard all along I-89 in Vermont, from north of Burlington all the way into New Hampshire.

To date, $191,000 has been raised for the WVXR campaign. For information on how to help with this campaign, contact Retta Huttlinger at 1-800-639-2192 or email

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Read VPR's Annual Report

We've published our 2011 Annual Report, which has financial information, photos, and a summary of what VPR accomplished last year with the help of loyal members and listeners like you.

You can download and read the report online here!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Test-Run for "America's Test Kitchen Radio"

His public television show features a science-like attention to detail and fans of his mostly black-and-white magazine have come to expect lovingly-rendered pencil drawings of eggplant.

Now, Christopher Kimball is bringing that same no-nonsense delivery to radio! Kimball, whom Slate Magazine calls, “deliciously square,” is launching a new series of call-in shows and VPR will air this trial run as part of our VPR Saturday Special.

With decades of Cook’s Illustrated publications and “Cook’s Country” TV episodes under his apron strings, Kimball strives to help you find the best equipment, the best ingredients and the best recipes on this brand new program.

The first episode features Kimball’s visit to a cafeteria in Dorset, Vermont, to investigate school lunches. He also takes on the not-so-terrible task of tasting chocolate ice cream.

And fear not! Your favorite VPR cooking and call-in show, “The Splendid Table,” is not going anywhere! VPR will continue to air "The Splendid Table," at noon on Saturdays!

Your feedback regarding this new program is vital. Give "America's Test Kitchen" a listen and tell us what you think. The VPR Saturday Special begins this Saturday at 4 on VPR and at VPR-dot-net.