December 21, 2007


I [heart] Public Radio*


I really really really love National Public Radio (NPR). (And thats an understatement.) Public Radio speaks to me in a way that almost no other form of media does. Its filled with relevant news, and entertaining and fascinating topics. I become both informed and entertained sublimely while listening.

I was thinking about this because I gave my friend Mike who I work with and who also loves NPR a radio for his birthday so we've been listening to NPR a lot lately work, and what a week it's been...

On Tuesday on The Diane Reams Show, they discussed one of my favorite books from childhood, A Wrinkle In Time, with a panel of experts and call-ins from fans. And later on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed director PT Anderson about his latest film There Will Be Blood (IMDb), for which I'm really looking forward. And Wednesday, Terry Gross interviewed director Ridley Scott about his re-release of a new final version of 'Blade Runner', easily my favorite science fiction, and one of my most favorite films in general.

Blade Runner (IMDb) is a masterpiece that even today is so far ahead of its time. For a comparison with other science fiction films: Blade Runner (based on a novel by Phillip K Dick titled 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?') was released in 1982, and eight years later another film based on a Dick novel, Total Recall (IMDb) (1990), was released starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, that now seems very outdated compared to Blade Runner.

Other notable science fiction films based on Dick's works include: Minority Report (2002) (IMDb), Impostor (2002) (IMDb), Paycheck (2003) (IMDb), A Scanner Darkly (2006) (IMDb) ... Some of the best science fiction, but Blade Runner is far superior to all of those.

During the interview Gross asked Scott if indeed Harrison Ford's character Decker was a 'Replicant' (which is just a word that means Android), and Scott confirmed that he was. This was interesting because I had just been listening to the latest podcast of TWIT (episode 125) where they were discussing a recent effort to create a computing program that is as well a new form of artificial intelligence and during this discussion (about 4 mins into the podcast) they arbitrarily reference the concept of Replicants in Blade runner and had a tangent conversation about if Decker was a Replicant and basically came to the conclusion that that he probably was.

It seems that from the interview, while Scott contends that Decker was a Replicant (and since he's the director I guess he can assert that), Ford believed that Decker should be a human. As for my opinion, I tend to think that it doesn't matter so much. One of my favorite aspects of Blade Runner is that the Replecants, despite being artificial, are the characters that demonstrate the most human emotions...wanting to meet/confront their creator...desperately wanting to grasp life for as long as possible.

Well enough about Blade Runner; if you're a fan you can listen to the interview here.

Earlier this week on Fresh Air, I listened to David Edelstein's 10 (or so) best films of 2007. I was particularly excited to listen to this segment because by chance I heard his 10 (or so) best films list of 2006 last year; and was surprised by his ability to examine film; and because I discovered two films that were coming out in early 07 that were amazing; they were Pans Labrynth (IMDb), and Children of Men (IMDb).

Besides reviewing films for NPR's Fresh Air, David Edelstein is a brilliant film critic for The New York Magazine, you can read his work here.


So why is their an astrix in the title of this post...well it's obvious that I love Public Radio. But as it turns out, something that I've enjoyed so thoroughly for such a long time for it's informative nature is something I've somewhat misunderstood. For a long time I've confused NRP and public radio as the same thing, but actually public radio is comprised as several different entities.

Come to find out: some of my favorite public radio programming is not actually produced by NRP as I incorrectly assumed it was, but produced by Public Radio International (PRI), or American Public Media, and the like...

This American Life, one my favorite public radio shows, is produced by Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ), and is distributed by PRI. And Here And Now; which is produced by its local station WBUR in Boston but also distributed by PRI. PRI also produces and distributes one of my recent favorite programs, Fair Game with Faith Salie.

But wait! There's even more public radio producers and distributors...

The next biggest public radio producer/distributor is Minnesota Public Radio (MRP) (it's broadcasting/distribution arm is American Public Media). Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media are responsible for The Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, The Splendid Table, and my favorite Weekend America.

There are other public radio forums in the US, including Pacifica Radio, which produces the show Democracy Now.

So I guess when it comes down to it: I [heart] NPR, PRI, and American Public Media/MPR, etc...

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