Weekend America 2007.07.14 – "Listening In at Fenway Park"

David Ortiz

When you go to a major league baseball game these days, it is a highly mediated affair, with video and audio woven seamlessly into the live action. Recently, players have taken to personally selecting their “at-bat” song, that booms through the stadium as they walk out of the dugout and up to the plate. Players get real specific about what they want to hear – often sending a CD up to the control room before the game with a note: “Queue up track 3, 20 seconds in.” I got to speak to some of the Boston Red Sox about their favorite walkup songs. Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Coco Crisp and All-Star slugger David Ortiz (pictured) all weighed in on the tune that gets them psyched up to hit. Megan Kaiser, the Sox music programmer, was my guide to the soundtrack of a baseball afternoon on the fabled field at Fenway.

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Weekend America 2007.05.12 "Listening In at the Poker Tables"

I was watching poker on TV, and I noticed that the players, many of them, had headphones on. I was, like, “Really? You can do that? You can listen to music at the table?” And then I was wondering, “What would a professional player listen to during a high stakes game?” So I went to the Foxwood Poker Classic on the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut. The Foxwoods Poker Classic is a stop on the World Poker Tour – a $10,000 ante No Limits Hold ‘Em Tournament. As the 10 hour day of play forged on, I was able to get in side the earphones of some of the pro players.

Hear the original broadcast.

Music seemed to play a lot of different roles for players. It’s certainly about emotional control – getting you up when your energies down, keeping you down when your energy’s too far up. It keeps you focused, like when you’re driving hundreds of miles and you need to keep mentally alert. Sometimes it’s about superstitition, sometimes its about the lyrics. Sometimes all it’s about a little humor to keep you going. “Another One Bites the Dust” – and just about anything from Queen – seemed to work well with the poker set.

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Weekend America 2007.04.02 – “Music for Sleep”

In this episode of Listening In, we put out a call to Weekend America listeners: “What is a good song for falling asleep to?” In the conversations that ensued, we heard about many different kinds of songs that worked – it wasn’t all Pachelbel’s Canon and whale songs. I sat with sleep specialist Dr. Gerard Lombardo of New York Methodist Hospital, and listened to your responses with him. Listening to songs as diverse as Israel Kamakawiwo’ole‘s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the Beach Boys’ “Whistle In” and Mettalica’s “Master of Puppets,” Dr. Lombardo and I concluded that, when it comes to sleepworthy songs, it is less about the song itself than each person’s relationship to it.

Here the original broadcast

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2007.03.13 "Active Listening" Talk at PARC

I will be giving a talk at Xerox PARC next week:
Active Listening: Social Identity in the New Music Economy

BayCHI: March 13, 2007, 7:30PM, George E. Pake Auditorium, Palo Alto, CA , USA
The line between music consumer and music maker is blurring; in this middle space are design opportunities to improve the ways we discover, share and use music in our day-to-day lives. The practice of call and response between audience and performer, long an attribute of musical experience, is finding its way back into our interactions with digital music. In this talk, I am going to look at the impact new music technologies are having on our listening behavior. I will take a look at how trends in listening and sharing point to the greater role that music fans will play in the new economy of music.

Also speaking that night, talking about their awesome music discovery site:

Pandora’s Experience: Learning from Users, Designing for Users
Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, & Dan Lythcott-Haims, Pandora’s Creative Director


Studio 360 2007.02.23 – "Thinking Outside the Mouse"

Sketch by Bill Verplank

A piece I produced for Studio 360′s Design for the Real World series airs this week: Thinking Outside the Mouse. It features Bill Verplank, a seminal interaction designer who comes out of the tradition of human factors engineering. Bill worked at Xerox in the seventies as part of the team that brought the Xerox Star, the world’s first commercial personal computer, to market. After periods at IDEO and Interval Research, he is now at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA, or “Karma”) working on new interfaces for musical expression. Verplank has a special focus on haptics, or force-feedback systems that “push back on you when you push on them.” He believes this is a promising direction for musical interfaces that will give greater expressive control to the performer of computer-mediated music.

Hear the original broadcast

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Listening In Podcast 2006.12.28 – "Listening In Philadelphia's 30th Street Station"

A Walkman Busting, iPod Jacking spree in the vast open spaces of Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station, the day after Christmas. Roaming among the crowds of holiday travelers, each tuned to their own holiday music, I tapped into the personal soundtracks of Trevor Keal and David Montañez. Both Trevor and David are Philadelphia natives; their lives couldn’t be more different, their soundtracks, eerily similar and on message for the holidays. Hope you enjoy listening with them as much as I did. All the best for the new year.

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Weekend America 2006.11.11 – "Listen In The Fields"

This October, I got a chance to go to Floyd, Iowa and meet Maurice and Pam Johnson, a fifth-generation husband and wife farm team. I rode with them and their sons, Ben and Andy, while they were bringing in the corn harvest.

I went to a field they call Kupers 80, climbed in the cab of the combine with Maurice, and talked with him while we did what he usually does in the cab – listen to the radio. We listened to the Midday Farm Report on the local country station.

In the cab of Pam’s tractor, it was a steady diet of public radio. We listened to “Science Friday” with Ira Flatow, which Pam likes because it keeps her mind stimulated and “makes her brain sparkle.” Pam is an avid reader who always carries a book with her during the harvest. She’ll take it out if there’s a delay due to equipment failure or a long backup at their grain elevator in Osage, Iowa. She was reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pallon, but there wasn’t any time to stop and read the days I rode with her. The weather was good, and they kept on harvesting until well after midnight, under the stars of the prairie sky.

Original broadcast.

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Listening In Podcast 2006.10.08 – "Listening In with Fran West, Long-Haul Trucker"

Breezewood, PA is the intersection of two interstates, making a small city in what is otherwise the middle of nowhere. I tapped on trucker Fran West’s cab door at 9PM and asked her for an interview, and she waved me off – her chihuahua, Pinky, in hand – but not before inviting me back to talk at 9 the next morning. Sure enough, when I came back, she was up for talking and listening to music – not in her cab, though. So, we found a quiet spot in the trucker’s chapel at the TA truckstop and she shared some of her favorite gospel road songs.

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Weekend America 2006.10.07 – "Music for a Marathon Man"

Airing today on Weekend America, my “Listening In” interview with ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes.

Dean Karnazes and Gideon D'Arcangelo

Dean is now out on the North Face Endurance 50 – he’s running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. I ran with Dean in early September in San Francisco’s Presidio for a solid hour as he prepared for the run. Dean is a multitasker when he runs – for example, he dictated his book, “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner,” into a handheld recorder during his famous all-night runs. He also is known to order a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple on it (It’s easier on the stomach than pepperoni) from Papa John’s and have it delivered on a street-corner mid-run. Papa John’s is one of the only pizza chains that is willing to deliver without a street address, according to Dean.

And… he listens to music. I ran tethered to Dean by a six foot audio cable with my recorder strapped to my side. Through my headphones, I listened to the tunes flowing into Dean’s earbuds, and we talked about what makes these songs good songs for a running playlist:
“I Ran So Far Away”– Flock of Seagulls (good lyrics, theme song)
“Ring of Fire” – Social Distortion (hill climbing song)
“Wicked Game” – Chris Isaak (song for dark moments)
“Marvo Ging” – Chemical Brothers (good running song)
“Louie, Louie”– Toots and the Maytals (stumbling in the night song)
“Bittersweet Symphony” The Verve – (song at dawn)
“Firestarter”– Prodigy – (good hill song)
“White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane – (death valley song)

Original Broadcast.

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Weekend America 2006.09.23 – "The Art of the Mix"

Airing on Weekend America, “The Art of the Mix” is look back at the CD Clubs we launched a year ago with Weekend America listeners. The piece focusses on members of one of the clubs, the Penguins. After spending a year together sharing music by mail, members of the Penguins meet each other for the first time on the air, introduced by Weekend America host, Bill Radke.

On August 27, 2005, Weekend America aired a piece I produced called “Pass the CD,” a portrait of a New York City CD Club called the Bobcats. The idea behind CD clubs is simple: 12 people get together, each gets a month. When it’s your month, you make a mix CD, give it a nice cover, burn 11 copies and snailmail them out. The piece ended with Bill Radke issuing an open invitation to listeners: “To join Gideon D’Arcangelo’s new CD club, visit our website and send an email to him. The first eleven to respond are in the club…”

Over two hundred emails came in. I decided to launch two clubs, each with a dozen listeners plus me. We called our clubs the Penguins and the Owls. For the rest, I emailed each of them back, told them the clubs were full, but if they wanted, I’d give them the email of 11 other listeners and they could organize their own club. Over a hundred people responded positively to this one. In the end, nine clubs were launched. The first CDs started to flow in October 2005. As of this writing, all nine clubs are going strong:

THE PENGUINS – http://thepenguins.blogspot.com – The Penguins are twelve Weekend America listeners from North and South Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, Washington, Arizona, Oregon and me in New York. The Penguins April 2006 mix, compiled by Reid Bannecker of Seattle, starts out with the following tracks:
Track 1 – “…intro (much more exciting than email)” – Bogaev/Radke
Track 2 – “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” — Bob Dylan
Track 3 – “I Threw It All Away” – Yo La Tengo…
Reid includes a link to the WA website in his extensive liner notes on the Penguins blog.

THE OWLS – http://the-owls.blogspot.com. The Owls are twelve WA listeners from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona and me in New York. Mark Bouffard’s February mix, “Second Time Around” – which featured all cover versions of songs, prompted this comment on the blog from fellow Owl Sarah Israelit:
“i LOVE LOVE LOVE this disk. perhaps i date myself by confessing me deep affection for john denver’s music…”

GIDEON’S 13 – http://gid-13.blogspot.com/ – This is the first club to set up a blog – after I heard about this from them, I set up blogs for the Penguins and the Owls. On their blog, they keep a permalink to the Weekend America website page that launched their club:
“The catalyst that brought us together” – http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/programs/2005/08/27/bobcat.html

MIXMOO – http://mix-moo.blogspot.com/ - This club apparently launched a satellite club called MIXMOO TOO for their friends that were envious when they heard about the club.

THE GECKOS – http://geckogroup.blogspot.com/

24 EARS – (no blog) This club has been very active. I keep up a correspondence with one of its more active members, Jamie Barth of Boston.

The other three active clubs occasionally send me a CD or an email update. These clubs have not given themselves a name or set up a blog.

Original Broadcast.

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