State of Union
A (((HearingVoices))) Radio Special
An hour with guest host Jay Allison (Transom.org) featuring new shows
by Scott Carrier, Christopher Lydon, Wednesday Kennedy & Dennis Downey
• 8000 miles across America gathering Vox Pop.
• An Australian on the streets in her Last Night in New York.
• A Boston to Barbados "Connection" via an illegal alien, alias: Amber.
• Modulating a message from President to King in the Song of Marconi.
State of Union hosted by Jay Allison(58:30 mp3)
In a democracy, who gets to be heard? And who is listening? And what's radio got to do with it? These are our questions for this HearingVoices special called State of Union.
In public radio we have a website called Transom.org where we share information about tools and techniques for making radio and getting on the air, getting heard. In this hour-long radio special, you'll hear work from that website - from producers whose pieces did not fit in the usual places, and from citizens whose VOICES did not fit.
Vox Populi. Voice of the People. Vox Pop. That's broadcast slang for the man on the street interview and it's what producer Scott Carrier calls this first piece. It's the result of his 8000 mile drive through America, talking to people, not pundits or experts, just people. They weren't sanctioned to speak and he wasn't sanctioned to ask them questions. Their answers extend beyond the usual soundbite length. As Scott wrote in an email before he left for his trip, "I 'm not sure of my route, but my basic plan is to try to talk to as many people as I can, asking a few questions-- Is America different now than it was a year ago? What has been lost, or gained? What needs to be done, if anything? These are the questions I will ask of everybody, but they are primarily an excuse to get people talking about how they've been feeling over the past year and what kind of vision they have of the future."
Vox Pop by Scott Carrier(22:09 mp3)
"In America we used to say I may not believe what you believe, but I will die defending your right to express it. We could boil the idea of our country down to that one sentence, and it was a beautiful thing. I haven't heard that sentence in a long time, and I'm wondering if it was ever true. I'm packing up, getting ready to drive across the country interviewing people about the state of the union..."
"Is America different now than it was a year ago? What has been lost, or gained? What needs to be done, if anything? These are the questions I will ask of everybody, but they are primarily an excuse to get people talking about how they've been feeling over the past year and what kind of vision they have of the future."
"I'm a big supporter of Bush. To hell with the Europeans, who cares what they want. To heck with all of them. Disband the Security Council. Disband the whole darn thing. I'm not going to let puppet people from regimes in Africa in Aisa and South America have no business telling us what we can do."
--Mike, Lafeyette LA
"You may put an your armies in and go out and kill innocent men, women and children, but you're not going to stop terrorism."
--Carrie Dann, Shoshone Elder
"I'd die for freedom, because I love my country."
--Lupe Porras, Ananhiem CA
"We've now given the Executive Branch the kind of authority that was usually invested in Kings."
--John Perry Barlow, Pinedale WY
"The basic notion of our founding fathers was that nobody really knew what was going on. There solution was that everybody should say what they believed was going on, because the truth would eventually emerge through the argument. Is that how it really works? Do we keep talking to each other and eventually come to an understanding. Or do we just yak and yak, and then the world crashes down on us -- like it was going to do anyway. Should we talk about this? Or not?"
Audio/Text/Photos © Scott Carrier
"Heed the traveler for he sees more clearly our home." Wednesday Kennedy is a performance artist from Australia. She was living in New York City on September 11th and afterwards she roamed the streets with her recorder and made a collage of the voices she gathered. She said she wanted to let the city's people to speak for themselves and that her piece, which she calls "Last Night in New York", is a journey through the voices of New Yorkers trying to find balance.
Last Night in New York by Wednesday Kennedy(17:40 mp3)
"In the weeks after Sept 11th, I prowled the streets of Manhattan with a camera and mini disc, recording the roller coaster of emotions and responses in the wake of the catastrophe. 'Last Night in New York' is a journey through the voices of native New Yorkers trying to find their balance in a dramatically altered landscape and captures the heart beat and mood swings of the city during the weeks after the most devastating attack on American soil..."
"I might ride down the street and the damn sidewalk might blow up, the building might fall on me. I said, "Oh lord, keep that in the foreign countries."
--Raheem, Washington Square Park
"We are on alert. The skyscrapers are empty, the subways are quiet, the frequent fliers are grounded, the concerts are canceled and we are filling churches, mosques and Fresh Kill trucks. We are praying to a God we're not familiar with and hoping there's time to make peace with Him before we go. Any minute now..."
"My biological clock, which has not bothered me for a decade, is going off like a fire alarm. I'm starting to look at men built like tree trunks who look as though they can take impact. I want to live in a bunker and drop babies like bananas. Funny how you start thinking about the future the very moment there isn't one."
Audio/Text/Photos © Wednesday Kennedy
"Last Night in New York" was produced by Wednesday Kennedy. At Transom.org, where this piece was featured Wednesday said the world knows well the single voice of American military and economic power, but she wanted to broadcast the many individual, unofficial voices, a chorus, like a waving flag, a single fabric of bright opposing colors, snapping.
Our next piece comes from a conversation between the Boston journalist Christopher Lydon and "Amber." Amber is a talk show caller and she has a lot to say about America and the way it talks and acts in a global context. Lydon says of Amber, "She's a young woman without a country, without identity papers. She's been living in America for almost 20 years now. An impoverished guest at our rich table, an exile in our midst, uninvited, maybe not quite welcome -- but she notices things..."
Amber by Christopher Lydon(5:44 mp3)
"Amber is the radio pseudonym of a talk-show caller in Boston. She is formerly of Barbados, now without identity papers. She's a young woman without a country, without identity papers. She's been living in America for almost 20 years now. An impoverished guest at our rich table, an exile in our midst, uninvited, maybe not quite welcome -- but she notices things..."
--Christopher Lydon, from the upcoming PRI series:
The Whole Wide World with Christopher Lydon (Lydon/McGrath Productions)
"I'm supposed to pretend at this stage, that you know, the microphone has gotten bigger, it's being passed around to more people, but that's a lie. You know the microphone has not gotten bigger, the conversation has not gotten bigger, it is not being passed around to any new or different voices. It's the same people, the same voices at the same seats at the same table. It's it's Rupert Murdoch, its Bill O'Reilly, it's the New York Times, it's the Washington Post increasingly all saying the same thing, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing on the ground level. ...Representing their interests, the interests of the comfortable, the interests of those in power, the interests of the satisfied. ĘThey sure as hell don't represent the interests of those on the streets of Palestine, or Roxbury or Detroit or Brixton. ĘThose voices are being closed out even more, those voices don't even have the option to protest and have it reported on the NBC nightly the way it actually happened, those voices are becoming more and more frustrated. That is globalism."
That was "Amber" in a talk show conversation with Christopher Lydon excerpted from The Whole Wide World, his upcoming radio series.
Radio is one way we have now to talk to each other now, to hear each other. 100 years ago, January 1903, Guglielmo Marconi sent out an historic radio signal which reached across the Atlantic, to England from Cape Cod, not far from the studios where this radio/web special was made, at WCAI/WNAN, the newest public radio stations in America. One of our neighbors here, Dennis Downey, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, wanted to mark the anniversary of Marconi's broadcast and its meaning. He borrowed one of our cassette recorders and propped up his writing across several clipboards in his office and read out loud. This is his:
Song of Marconi by Dennis Downey(4:23 mp3)
IN RADIO, WE TRY TO SPEAK IN A MODULATED TONE.
MODULATED IS EVEN, IS MEDIUM, IS CALM, IS MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.
IT'S A HARMONIZATION OF WAVES.
MODULATION IS A HARMONIZATION OF LENGTHS OF WAVES GOING OUT.
YOU TRY TO GET THE WAVES LINED UP AND GOING OUT EVEN.
IN RADIO WE SPEAK IN WAVES.
RADIO IS TALKING IN WAVES...
...AND I'M TALKING TO YOU IN A BROADCAST.
MY VOICE IS GOING OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS AND FALLING IN A CIRCLE.
BROADCAST GOES OUT IN EVERY DIRECTION AT ONCE AND
BROADCAST WAS INVENTED BY MARCONI.
MARCONI WAS AN ITALIAN (BUT HIS MOTHER WAS IRISH)
AND HE CAME TO CAPE COD AND
HE BUILT FOUR TALL TOWERS
ON THE BEACH
ON A BLUFF
OVERLOOKING THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
AND THERE WERE WAVES ON THE BEACH
BUT MARCONI WAS TALKING ABOUT WAVES-IN-THE-AIR
NOT A FLAG WAVING ON THE FLAG POLE)
BUT INVISIBLE WAVES WE CAN'T SEE.
AND HE THOUGHT THESE WAVES (IF WE COULD FIND THEM)
COULD CARRY A VOICE THE WAY THE OCEAN WAVES COULD CARRY A BOAT.
AND HE WAS TRYING TO GET A MESSAGE FROM TEDDY ROOSEVELT TO
THE KING OF ENGLAND.
AND THE MEN WHO WERE BUILDING THE TOWERS DIDN'T KNOW
WHAT MARCONI WAS TALKING ABOUT.
THEY COULD SEE THE WAVES BELOW THEM ON THE BEACH, BUT
THEY COULDN'T SEE THE WAVES YOU COULDN'T SEE.
THEY DIDN'T LIVE YET, IN AN ELECTRIC WORLD LIKE US.
THEY WEREN'T YET ELECTRIC MEN(LIKE US)
BUT THEY WERE GETTING PAID SO IT DIDN'T MATTER...
...AND MARCONI ALWAYS SAID
THAT TALKING ON THE RADIO
WAS TALKING ONE TO ONE.
RADIO IS TALKING TO ONE PERSON AT A TIME.
THERE'S NO NEED TO YELL.
THERE'S NO NEED TO SHOUT.
EVEN IF THE DISTANCE IS VERY FAR
OR IF THE STORY TOLD IS VERY LARGE:
YOU TALK LIKE YOU'RE TALKING TO ONE PERSON AT A TIME.
THROUGH THE WONDERS OF MARCONI'S BROADCAST
RADIO GOES OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS (WITHIN A CIRCLE)
TO BE HEARD ALL TOGETHER AT ONCE,
BUT THE WORDS FALL FROM THE SKY
AND INTO THE EARS OF
ALWAYS ONE PERSON AT A TIME.
Audio/Text/Photos (except Marconi) © Dennis Downey
Many at once, but still one person at a time. That's how Marconi helped make it possible for us to listen to each other. To debate, to share ideas, to persuade, to reach consensus, influence policy, accommodate compromise. Voice is central to democracy. What we say, how we listen In these days, the questions are: What are you hearing? What do you have to say? Are you saying it?
This (((HearingVoices))) special "State of Union" was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Executive Producer is Barrett Golding. This hour was produced by Viki Merrick, and all the pieces are featured on the public radio website Transom.org, which comes from Atlantic Public Media at WCAI & WNAN in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Dennis Downey's piece was produced with help from the Open Studio Project. Amber's monologue was excerpted from the upcoming series Whole Wide World from Lydon/McGrath Productions and Public Radio Internationa. Wednesday kennedy produced her piece for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's program "The Night Air" http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/nightair/ http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/nightair/stories/s642388.htm with help from Brent Clough and Natalie Kestecher with engineering from Roy Huberman.
Transom.org- Two Vox Pop: shows by Carrier & Kennedy
Transom.org- Two Vox Pop: discussion of above shows
Bush White House- State of the Union History
Clinton White House- State of the Union Milestones
C-SPAN- State of the Union Addresses 1945-Present, Video & Text
U.S. Historical Documents- First State of the Union January 8 1790
The "State of Union" radio special was produced for (((HearingVoices))) by Viki Merrick of Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, with support from WCAI/WNAN. Guest Host is Jay Allison of Transom.org: A Showcase & Workshop for New Public Radio. HearingVoices.com specials are crafted from new and classic radio shows. Fundors include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Endowment for the Arts.