Three Commentaries in Search of an Audience

3 Commentaries

Established writers with worthy essays who couldn’t figure out how to get them on public radio (could you?).

Earl Pomerantz
on the Art of the Radio Commentary – we talk, we read, we read as if we’re talking or somewhere in between.

Download
Listen to “Earl Pomerantz”

Tracy Johnston
on her rebellious climb up a tree in the backyard. Eventually, she comes back down.

Download
Listen to “Tracy Johnston”

Eric Nuzum
on the invisible cheerleading camp next door. (plus, BONUS TRACKS!)

Download
Listen to “Eric Nuzum”

Each of these writers has chops. But all of these pieces came to Transom because public radio doesn’t have an easy way in. Well, that’s good for Transom, but is it good for public radio?

These pieces make a nice grouping because each, in its way, shows how the telling out loud can carry something the page can not deliver: Tracy’s dialogue, Earl’s faux improvisation, Eric’s magic sound.

Note: Eric has a bit of an advantage because he has sound. You can read his notes on how he recorded and hear his “favorite piece of audio ever” and his computer startup sound gleaned from this piece.

Eric Nuzum’s Cheerleader Camp

Cheerleader Camp
Eric Nuzum’s Cheerleader Camp

First, a bit of info on the recordings. I knew when I started writing this that I’d need audio of the cheering. I tried recording it at the building so it would sound the way I hear it everyday–but the recording turned out awful. Almost any environmental noise (traffic, lawn mowers, etc…) overwhelmed the thin sound of the cheerleaders. So, as the morning wore on, I’d work my way closer and closer to them in hopes of picking up some better sound. I felt like some kind of pervert, lurking behind trees and off in the distance with some sort of strange equipment – like I was recording video to post to cheerleadervoyeur.com or something.

Cheerleader CampFinally, I realized that I wasn’t going to capture anything worth having unless I asked them if I could record close up. I would have much rather “found” the sound, but the quality of what I got justifies the intrusion. During a break I approached the teachers and explained–as best I could–what I wanted to do. They were really enthusiastic and called the girls in. There were 125 girls in the camp, all lined up in a semi-circle around me and my stereo microphone. They held nothing back–smiles, gestures, loud voices, everything.

I’ve captured sound in some awesome situations before, but I was, frankly, overwhelmed by these girls. They were 100% into sharing what they did without a single shread of irony, sarcasm, or reservation. They were there to cheer, damnit. And cheer they did. I just pressed the buttons and let it happen. It was pretty awesome to watch.

Download
Listen to “Go Eric!”

This is my favorite piece of audio ever. This is the beginning of the teacher explaining to the students that someone was going to tape them–and it shows how the cheerleaders are programmed to react to introductions.

Download
Listen to “Let’s Start!”

Before the cheerleaders offered their cheers for me, the leader calls them to attention–which is what this sound sample represents. Since January I’ve had this as the start-up sound on my computer every day.

About Tracy Johnston

Tracy Johnston
Tracy Johnston

Tracy Johnston has been working on her backyard garden for sixteen years. During that time she has also worked as an editor and freelance writer for various regional and national magazines. In 1993 she published her first book, “Shooting The Boh: One Woman’s Voyage Down The Wildest River in Borneo” – now in it’s 13th printing. For the last four years she has been working on a book about marriage in Northern Nigeria, which so far has proved an even more perilous journey. (Note: the tree trunk in question is by Tracy’s left ear.)

About Earl Pomerantz

Earl Pomerantz
Earl Pomerantz

After honing his writing skills in Canada, Earl came to California in 1974, and has been working steadily in network television comedy ever since. Starting with the acclaimed Lily Tomlin specials, Earl segued into half-hour comedy, writing for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “Taxi”, “Cheers”, “The Cosby Show” and consulting on such highly regarded series as “The Larry Sanders Show”. He has also created three network series: “Best of the West”, “Family Man” and “Major Dad”. Earl has received two Emmy awards, a Writers’ Guild award, a Humanitas Prize, and a Cable Ace Award.

About Eric Nuzum

Eric Nuzum
Eric Nuzum

Director of Programming and Operations at WKSU-FM, Eric has worked in public radio for ten years as a producer, marketer, fundraiser, and programmer. He also has produced award-winning documentaries and programming for PRI, NPR, does semi-regular commentaries for Marketplace, and is featured in the This American Life comic book. He is also the author of the book “Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America”, released in April 2001, from HarperCollins Publishers.

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  • Jay Allison

    5.23.01

    Reply
    Three Commentaries

    Transom.org began incubating at about the time "All Things Considered" stopped taking unsolicited material over the transom.

    It’s a dilemma. Staff time is precious and a staffer who spends most of his time rejecting work is unproductive. But it’s a big country. Lots of things to say about it. Some of them, no doubt, unsolicited.

    As they say… "If not public radio, then who?"

    These three accomplished writers, for varying reasons, couldn’t find an easy path to air. We’re happy to have them. Each brings different tricks to the transition from page to ear.

  • Tracy Johnston

    5.25.01

    Reply
    Garden:

    Hi – I’m the one who read (and wrote) the piece about pruning my podocarpus tree — also about getting high over 50, finding secret places, and rebelling against domestic duties. What I’m wondering is how my husband comes off. I adore him, and he would never make me cook him dinner, although every word of our interchange is true.
    Does it sound as if he wants me to be "the little wife?"

  • Carol Wasserman

    5.25.01

    Reply
    Tracy, Tracy, Tracy

    It sounds like he doesn’t want you to break your neck.
    He comes off as a reasonable adult, who’s trying out a variety of tactics to forestall disaster.

    Isn’t yours an odd question? Only Little Wives worry about such things.

  • Joshua Barlow

    5.26.01

    Reply
    Reading But Not Really Talking

    Listening to Earl’s commentary makes me question the integrity of every casual coffee shop conversation I’ve had in my adult life. I can just see this guy sitting across from me making the erratic hand gestures and rubbing his forehead in that quizical Oliver Sachs sort of manner.

    It also reminds us we take for granted the familiarity, and that "with you" voice that our favorite hosts and storytellers employ for their craft. One of the hardest thing for we have to learn is how to achieve that voice.

    I remember for a commentary I was working on last year, I was struggling with achieving that perfect balance – which is sometimes a very self conscious thing. Too much deliberacy in your vocal mannerisms, and you sound like a ham. Too little, and you sound amateur… or drunk.

    Finding your voice, and learning to apply it in different types of story environments is a great challenge. Without those aforementioned physical gestures to aid us in expressing our points – getting to that voice of being "with you" is entirely left to… our voice.

    I’m just ranting, but I’m curious what other people’s thoughts are about achieving that familiarity which is so important in radio.

  • Tony Kahn

    5.26.01

    Reply

    Tracy, you asked:

    What I’m wondering is how my husband comes off.

    Equally concerned about your welfare and about his dinner. And not necessarily in that order.

    That little exchange between him and you, Tracy, as everything else in your commentary, rang true and set off a number of responsive chords in me. I could feel myself on either side of that dialogue. What was so great about what you did was that you described a simple experience that was also a symbolic process and you kept it going on both levels by never stepping outside of the action. The depth of it is in the richness and the rightness of the simple actions and simple details you chose. The language was transparent. You were — and I can’t say this strongly enough especially for a piece of radio — EASY TO FOLLOW. By engaging my senses, so I could see, hear, even smell your trip up the tree you freed my mind and my imagination to deepen the significance out of my own memories and experience.

    Keep finding those trees and stay up in them.

    Tony Kahn

  • Tony Kahn

    5.26.01

    Reply

    Joshua, it’s interesting. The only note in Earl’s delightful piece that didn’t ring true for me was when he stepped away from the script and "spoke spontaneously." That was the only moment that felt like a performance. His irony before then was genuine, his being stuck in a phony situation was totally believable, but his breaking free of it was not. In a way, for me, this goes to your question of how you sound genuine on the air. I think you sound genuine when you’re expressing a true feeling. Not just saying something that’s true, but believing it at that moment. There are lots of ways to get to that point depending on the situation and I’m sure it varies from person to person — and it can take practice. But it’s got to come from inside. If you’re outside, looking at your performance or listening to your sound as you speak, it’s no longer all of you that’s talking and I think that gets felt. No one sounds more "written and then read aloud" than Andre Caudrescu, but I for one find him totally genuine because the opinions are deeply felt. What often helps for me when I’m on the air — at least when reading news copy — is to feel I’m communicating with another person, someone I have a very specific relationship with, not just some abstract listener. When I’m reading something that’s very personal, from my own experience, I have to work harder, because then I have to make sure I’m also reconnecting with myself, so that the experiences feel alive again as I describe them.

    Dont know if this is terribly clear, so let me know.

    Tony

  • Joshua Barlow

    5.27.01

    Reply

    As I was listening to Earl’s piece, I could visualize him sitting across the table from me making those idiosyncratic physical gestures. That’s what made his delivery great. The fact that he was talking about reading from a script and not really "talking" was what really made his point all the more poignant. It really got me thinking.

    I think, as far as radio storytellers go, the people I admire the most are the ones who really know what they sound like and are using the inbuilt characters of their own natural gifts. It’s at that point that alot of us newcomers are trying to get to. And of course, like everything else in life, it takes practice… so that when you get to the point when the red "record" button is on, you can concentrate on the meaning of what you are saying and aren’t examining your delivery self-consciously.

  • Tracy Johnston

    5.27.01

    Reply
    The Little Wife

    Well, writers worry about such things. And my husband. He didn’t like the dinner line – thought it made him sound like he was insisting I be the little wife. I’ll tell him at least one person doesn’t agree…
    Thanks

  • Tracy Johnston

    5.27.01

    Reply
    Up in a tree

    Thanks Tony. You got it; the piece was about me in that tree. What do you do when you find yourself writing about someone who will be identifiable? Do you let them read (approve?) your piece in advance?

    Tracy Johnston

  • Harriet Reisen

    5.27.01

    Reply

    Tracy,

    Yes, if they’re still alive and not in the public eye and it’s personal, i.e., something stemming from my personal relationship with them. In a sense, they share joint broadcast rights to our private exchanges.

    I’ve been collecting just about all my telephone answering machine messages since 1974. You can imagine what a problem that’s going to be for me if I ever decide to do something on the radio with them!

  • Tony Kahn

    5.27.01

    Reply

    Sorry to confuse you, Tracy, the message labelled "Harriet Reisen," came from me via her computer. Tony Kahn

  • Tracy Johnston

    5.28.01

    Reply

    That’s my policy, too, when I have the courage to follow it. Ask to use something personal. "Use" is the operative word. Trouble is you have to be prepared to give up something you want to write about, or change it to make it not offensive. What amazing foresight, (compulsiveness?) to save all those phone messages! Even without getting personal, you could show people getting comfortable with new technology.

  • Carol Wasserman

    5.28.01

    Reply
    Cheerleader Camp

    This piece was just so darned adorable.

    And I didn’t want to like a story about cheerleaders. For the usual reasons. All of us were once seventeen. Only a few of us were cheerleaders.

    But I was won over immediately. The sound of those girls – so pure and strong and clear. "Is all this happiness doing any good?" you ask.

    "Go go go! Fight fight fight!"

    Because you made the choice to remove the erotic subtext – although the erotic is apparently required by law in most states – you were able to make a strong case for the unprovable idea that these young women are doing something important. I was reminded of parallels to the efforts of contemplative nuns, whose work is prayer. They also "truly believe they can make a difference".

    And I choose to believe, as you do, that it cannot possibly hurt to have hard-working, disciplined teams of women cheering us all on.

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    5.29.01

    Reply
    "Go Go Go!"

    Yes. Please get the cheerleaders on the air immediately!
    Among other things, it’s a great antidote to American Beauty.
    (I loved the movie, but an antidote Is in order, no?)

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    5.29.01

    Reply
    Up A Tree

    I like the tree piece, but I found some things getting in the way. I’m just guessing what they are.

    First, the print intro calls it your "rebellious" trip up a tree. So I expected a rebellion.

    Perhaps because I read your question before I listened, I wondered about your husband too. I was distracted. Does he think he should be the one up there? Is he demanding? How does your relationship compare…

    And there was something in the delivery that distracted me. The length and tone suggests removed contemplation. Your voice is not quiet relaxed, but not passionate.
    But it’s about a passion as much as the other two pieces.
    Right? You thought you were saving the roses, but something happened. It’s about a nearly spiritual passion beyond the tree,
    And the actual tree part, your brief and violent affair, and how you are remorseful.

    I tripped a little on the first line, "My adventure started when I decided to prune a tree." Maybe because it set a pace that was slower than I expected in this short form. Maybe because it sets me up for an adventure with my own expectations. I’d rather just go on the trip with you.

    I have a friend who came home to discover her husband having a beer and bonfire party with his friends, featuring her favorite tree as the burning prize. She wrote a backyard pruning tree story from the opposite point of view.

    When I told another woman of the biggest tragedy in my life, she offered a tree pruning story as her equivalent story offering.

    In other words, this is one vote for more pruning to the main drama. just one vote.

    If you have to shorten for airing, I could imagine the first husband part being reduced to a line of narrative. I’d like to hear his voice when he’s the focus of another short piece or pieces.

    P.S. there’s a distracting male voice at about 1:20 and several other noises later in the ‘transmission.’

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    5.29.01

    Reply
    Speak-Reading

    What would keep this from getting on the air? Is it because the hosts and producers want to reveal their own backstage secrets? as during an anniversary show?

    Do other people ever write material like this for public radio hosts to read? or could this kind of additional writing only be done by their own producers? if them?

  • Tracy Johnston

    5.30.01

    Reply
    Up a tree

    Nanette: What great prunning stories. Enough about me — I want to hear them — particularly the male bonfire, beer-drinking tree rebellion story. What is it about guys and fires? Somehow women can rarely be so completely destructive (I had to unwittingly harm my tree).

    As far as my adventurous prunning goes, it was all the things you said.

  • Viki Merrick

    5.31.01

    Reply
    Little Wives

    I cut this piece with Jay – pruned it, if you will. We deliberately took out some words which made the exchange with Tracy’s husband somewhat awkward and too important, (maybe too careful?) "what about dinner?" was delivered so beautifully, imitating him with affection – my interpretation was him nervously thinking up whatever he could to get Tracy out of that tree.He could have just as easily said " shouldn’t we be feeding the cat now?". For me he was the sunset in the picture, background – The story was about Tracy’s climb – there was really no time to stop and explain that the two of them had learned they "couldn’t stop his worrying". Tracy couldn’t stop climbing and leaving in the side bar explaining, however briefly, part of their marriage m.o. would have been tantamount to Tracy getting out of the tree when he asked her to.
    Frankly, I don’t think any other ears would have focused on him if it hadn’t been mentioned here. There was no hostility to my ear, on the contrary, I loved it when Tracy finally comes in and he says" I suppose that was your idea of a good time" – it made me giggle. Tracy’s wasn’t an act of defiance but one of self-preservation. (loud applause)

    Another aside here, under the category of "writing for radio" and repeating conversation: we also cut some of the "I said", "I answered", "he said nervously". When the conversation is being repeated, the tone will suffice. Before Tracy recorded this, the only thing I reminded her of was to keep her voice as normal as possible when doing the verbal exchange. She did a great job – there was just exactly enough of a difference in her voice, hardly any at all, which distinguished the voices and the intent. Somehow, when we embellish on the radio, however slightly, it feels as though the volume suddenly blares. The same goes for cliches – they stick out like a,ah, er, ah, a sore thumb.

    I have a wonderful picture to keep in my mind from this piece, almost as a reminder of keeping one’s spirit in tact. I have to disagree with Nanette, I felt great momentum swelling as Tracy climbed and cut. Her quiet manner a marvelous contrast to the obstinate glee of her mission. So much in such a small piece. I can’t wait to hear how she’ll rip out those roses…

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    5.31.01

    Reply
    Women in Trees

    I listened to the piece again. This time there was no distracting noise and other voices in Real Player. The difference was amazing. I could hear Tracey’s voice and the beauty of the piece loud and clear.

    So I have more appreciation of the technical quality being important. Perhaps others sometimes confuse sound problems with editorial problems when poor quality distracts?

    My five year old listened with me, and wanted to hear it again. I showed her Tracey’s picture.
    She was astounded.
    "WHY would a MOM (translation: a woman old enough to be a mother) want to go up a tree?? "Why??"
    So we listened yet again. Each time it sounded more beautiful.
    And I wish I could take my kids to a live appearance by Tracey to be sure they get the point.

    So I plead temporary insanity. Although I hate to do this. I’d hate for it to look as though criticisms are unwelcome or unwise. I was rooting for Tracey when I posted the first time, too. I just wanted to hear more of her.

    I thought Viki’s comments about editing and delivery were very interesting and helpful. Thanks again.

  • Joan Schuman

    6.01.01

    Reply
    Bonus Tracks

    Wow. I want the Bonus Tracks on the Cheerleading piece to be part of this wonderful piece. They speak volumes. Eric, did you consider putting them in somehow? I especially like the first one where you’re being introduced and the girls’ response is a cheer.

  • Eric Nuzum

    6.02.01

    Reply
    private/public stories

    Tony –

    Eric Nuzum here, author of the Cheerleader Camp essay.

    It is interesting that you bring this topic up–because I’ve thought about this a lot.

    95% of my essays and short stories contain some sort of autobiographical anecdote or story—-and most of those involve experiences with others. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to someone in advance to “clear it” with them first (though I often change names or details to help hide people, especially when the stories show them in less than favorable light). When the stories appear publicly, I often make sure the person hears about it from me—-if possible—-but I don’t offer a veto or approval. Sometimes, even this is not possible.

    In one story in particular, an audio piece called “The Death of the Christmas Chicken” (available at my web site http://ericnuzum.com/christmas_chicken ) the core of the story is losing touch with people and memories—since I don’t speak with/lost touch with several of the “characters” in the story it was impossible to make sure they knew about it. One of the “characters” actually heard this story on their public radio station in Maine, and wrote me afterwards, which is what caused me to re-think how I handle my stories.

    Is this something I should do differently?

    I actually saw a play last year called “Collected Stories" (by Donald Margulies) which dealt with a lot of issues about who owns experiences and shared memories/ideas. It is a story of a seasoned writer who mentors a young woman. During their friendship, the senior writer shares some intimate life stories, which later ended up adopted in the younger writers fiction. It, obviously, caused considerable trouble for their relationship and explored a lot of issues surrounding our experiences.

    Just food for thought.

    –Eric Nuzum

  • Eric Nuzum

    6.02.01

    Reply
    bonus

    Thanks for mentioning this. Any producer will tell you about all the wonderful tape that gets left behind when editing a piece. To be honest, 9 times out of 10, I can never remember the discarded stuff after a piece is finished, even when the edits are for time, not clarity.

    However, these two pieces of audio are very special. I cut the introduction (aka "Go Eric") out because I felt it was a precious gem to me, but may not be of any interest to listeners. The call to attention (aka "Let’s Start") got left behind because it just wasn’t necessary–didn’t make the cut.

    While they are tangential, they do add dimension to the piece, which is why I offered them for inclusion here.

    Thanks for the comment.

    –Eric

  • Eric Nuzum

    6.02.01

    Reply
    Re: Cheerleader Camp

    Carol –

    Thanks for such a generous comment on my piece.

    You are very quick to pick up on the dismissal of the "erotic subtext of cheerleading"–and you are right–it was purposeful. You’ll notice I put it aside in the second sentence.

    I really wanted this piece to be about the infectious power of unbridled enthusiasm. You watch these girls working so hard and you can’t help but like them. The beautiful thing is that passion and belief comes across on the tape–you hear them and you love them.

    I worked at WKSU for three summers before I started to write this piece. Working on a college campus, you hear and see strange things all the time, but this became a constant presence in my life, and I thought about it a little every summer. Then one morning I woke up and the whole piece was sitting in my head–boom. Getting the nerve to get the sound took another day or two, then it was finished.

    This piece illustrates three things that are important to me as a writer for radio:

    1) It has to be authentic. For me, manufactured stories or fiction don’t work, I am moved by an honest person telling an authentic story. As a result, I try to do the same with my stories. Funny, serious, whatever–they have to be real. Even if you are telling someone else’s story, it cannot be a front.

    2) They have to be universal. Many times I hear first person stories or documentary experiences and frankly–I don’t care. Even if I have nothing in common with a storyteller’s life experiences, if they tell the story well they are doing it in a way that almost anyone can relate to it.

    3) My job is to write around the sound. Whether it is the sound of cheerleaders or tape of me singing at age four–my job is to take rather ordinary and common audio and make it seem extraordinary. It is a weird spin on the craft of writing. To write about a piece of audio in-depth without getting in its way. Tough work, but really pleasing when you can make it happen.

    Sorry this went on so long.

    –Eric

  • Tony Kahn

    6.04.01

    Reply

    Eric —

    I’ve been reading some philosophy of science lately, about the so-called "laws of nature." Are they real, fundamental principles science can discover? Or are they mental constructs, the slowly expanding boundaries for the very little we can grasp about what’s "out there?" Your question about the right rules for clearing names and getting permissions may be a similar search for fundamental principles. All you can really do is follow your instinct, make some choices, and see what happens. If I undestand you correctly, you got some feedback from someone you mentioned without a clearance. I’d love to hear a new piece about what that led to. In other words, do a commentary exploring what you learned about doing a commentary. Tell us what the consequences were and what that led to for you.

    By the way, I especially enjoyed the tone of your voice in your cheerleader piece. Did you have someone in mind you were speaking to?

    Tony Kahn

  • Morrie Ruvinsky

    6.05.01

    Reply
    Earl Pomerantz

    Pomerantz rules! His commentary was smart, funny, and best of all, lives entirely in the imagination. Used to be only his, now it’s ours too.

    The fact that he wanted to speak spontaneously, not read, was inspiring. Made me want to write without thinking. Turns out that’s just as big a dilemma. Every time I start writing something, I find myself thinking. It’s interfering with my letter as seriously as Earl’s improv interfered with his commentary.

    It doesn’t say much for my tax dollars to discover that I have to turn to the internet to hear great radio. (Thank you Transom.Org) Anyway, love the guy. Need to hear more. So where, and how soon?

    –Morrie

  • Eric Nuzum

    6.06.01

    Reply
    RE: Seeing the audience

    Tony –

    It’s interesting that you bring up the tone question, because I do two very deliberate things. First, I often build commentaries after having conversations with people. The action of writing may be solitary, but (at least for me) the act of creation is trial and error. I often talk to friends and people I meet about what I find interesting, or am thinking about, and I watch their reactions. Do they become engaged? Glaze over? Ask for certain details? Seem to embrace different parts of the story? It is a learning process for me. Kind of like an open editing process.

    A second thing I do when I know I’m writing for radio (and some creative people may have an issue with this), but I clip and collect pictures of my "audience" and pin them up next to my desk. When I’m going through a magazine or newspaper, and find a picture of someone who looks like a public radio listener, I clip it. The process of looking to them for inspiration just reminds me that I need to write for them. Okay, I know, my "art" is supposed to be for me–and it is. But, to me, effectively communicating is just as important as my expression. Otherwise, the action is moot.

    I feel that a lot of people like to overdramatize writing and make it a bigger deal than it is–that somehow you pain over a piece and it just shoots out of you in one draft. I find effective writing is a collaborative process between you and your world.

    The delivery or tone or a piece is no different and follows the same rules.

    Best, –Eric

  • Jay Allison

    6.27.01

    Reply
    Go, Eric!

    I hope Eric will share his good fortune with Transom.org after he imlements this idea.

    It is based on the 5 second bonus sounds he sent us, installed on his Show Page: Go Eric!

    Eric walks across the street to the Cheerleader Camp and makes a deal with them to do a cheer for every common name in the English language. Should take about a day, with water breaks.

    Each one is digitized on a chip and put in greeting cards, key rings, coffee mugs, tie clips, wall plaques… and sold at every souvenir stand in America.

    Eric invites us all over for a big party on his boat.

  • Eric Nuzum

    6.30.01

    Reply
    Ha!

    You know … someone will read this and actually do it … making us all look like fools for joking around!

    This piece has been on my mind again lately, because THIS year’s camps just started this past week.

    Unfortunately, my office is now located on the opposite side of the building–so I only hear them when I’m coming or going.

    –Eric

  • Jackson Braider

    7.06.01

    Reply
    Ya know, Eric…

    Transom has caught me in its snare. It’s like wandering around a cocktail party with really good and smart people — sorry Jay didn’t think of infants’ plastic place mats with sound chips in them. When Baby on his or her own gets the food into the mouth, the yawning parent hits the button. "Yay, Lisa!"

    The thing that struck me with your piece was the absence of *your* conversion experience. The sound is great, and I love the bonus tracks. But there remains this gulf between you and the cheerleaders — they give their all out there at camp. What are you giving them in return?

    It’s not that we have to be HAP-PEEEEEE! But we as a cocktail party are so terribly keen on the ironic that we miss out on the endorphine flow that makes them, well, so pain-free.

    Perhaps, to put it another way, we assume that cheerleading is glib and superficial — after all, our very own president was a cheerleader in his youth. Does that mean the football captain scored with him back at the dorm after that really big game against Choate? (There’s a thought!)

    I guess what I am trying to say here is that you are betwixt and between with this. Either go entirely ironic and sardonic or get in there with the girls, panting and breathless. Stand and fight or surrender.

  • Eric Nuzum

    7.25.01

    Reply
    Interesting point

    Jackson –

    Sorry it has taken so long to reply–I hadn’t checked this board in a while.

    You make a very interesting point, and I think there is some truth.

    I agree that an essay like this needs to show some sort of transition–or demonstrate how I, the storyteller, was altered by the experience.

    I Think I achieve this subtly, but according to your point I should have been more overt in this. True?

    I’m big on premise and theme in radio pieces–it really is the glue that holds good pieces together. My premise for this piece was the girls and how they made me feel–with the emphasis on the girls. They were my premise, not me. So they had to be the focus, my transition is the structure, but not the point.

    Does this make sense?

    –Eric

  • Andrew C.

    9.05.14

    Reply

    Posted in 2001 and here near the end of 2014, thirteen years later… there is PRX.

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