Things in Glass Cases (Part 1): Radio


“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”

– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

I suppose it’s human nature to resist change. We find habits and routines comforting, even if our custom is to never plan anything. I am one of those people who need to plan spontaneity. So I really don’t like it when schedules change, even if others consider them no big deal.

That said, I’ve become increasingly upset with NPR over the last year.

We have a love-hate relationship.
My Original Inspiration

It started last summer when they cancelled Talk of the Nation. Although I only caught the last half of the show due to my work schedule, it was a comforting way to wind down the day before my daily run. In fact, I would credit Talk of the Nation with the creation of this very blog since many of the ideas Neal Conan discussed became the things I thought about while running. It was Talk of the Nation’s coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombings that inspired my very first post. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons for cancelling the program, but NPR’s official stance was that there were too many call-in shows already in production. However, I personally suspect that budget concerns played a major role as well. While many of the topics debated were divisive (as they were designed to be) I found the majority of the program to be well balanced. With the notable exception, of course, of the time I called in response to their appeal for educated, conservative Christians and was told that my views didn’t fit with their program. I still wonder if I intimidated them. On top of the atrocity of cancelling my then-favorite news show, the executives at NPR had the gall to replace it with Here and Now, a fine production in its own way, but definitely lacking in the comfort and intellectual stimulus I found in Talk of the Nation.

At least they kept Science Friday (for now).

I’d just about recovered from losing Talk of the Nation when I heard that Carl Kassel was retiring from Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!. I realize that this isn’t NPR’s fault per se; after all, the man has been involved in radio for over sixty years. But, much like your first Doctor (David Tennant), you never forget your first show presenter. Although other men have filled the roles, I can’t imagine Wheel of Fortune without Pat Sajak, Jeopardy! without Alex Trebek, or Mystery Science Theater 3000 without Michael J. Nelson (sorry, Joel, but Michael was better. Also, CROOOOOW!) Even though Mr. Kassel’s departure hasn’t ended Wait Wait, I feel as if it isn’t the same. Who’s Carl This Time? is no more.

If Peter Sagal ever leaves WWDTM, I think I’ll have an existential crisis. If Garrison Keillor ever retires from Prairie Home Companion, I know I will.

Sagal and Keillor
You guys keep me sane!


If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that in my search to fill the void I’ve discovered new podcasts on iTunes. Stuff You Should Know is great, but almost killed me with their April Fool’s Day episode when they announced one of the hosts (Josh? Chuck? I think it was Chuck) had left unexpectedly and wouldn’t be returning. Through them, I also found Stuff You Missed In History Class (most of which I didn’t miss, thanks to several wonderful history teachers and professors). I also discovered another NPR game show, Ask Me Another, which has helped me tremendously when it comes to Buffalo Wild Wings Team Trivia night.



Despite these positive replacements, I still don’t like change, unless it means Paula Poundstone wins on Wait Wait.


This post is being published as part of Writing 101. Challenge 4: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.


Three Selections from My Life in Music

“Music” by Melintelinas via DeviantArt

I often find it difficult to explain why I value certain pieces of music. Rarely will the same pieces move others in the same way they move me, yet that does not diminish their importance. Rather, in a way, I find I develop a unique relationship with the piece, a kind of camaraderie only it and I share. Take, for example, the following compositions:

Courtesy WikiMedia Commons

First, “The Moldau”, composed by Bedřich Smetana, is considered by many to be one of the best examples of the symphonic poem. I first encountered this masterpiece during senior year of college while taking Art Appreciation to fill out my electives. Although I had enjoyed classical music since the seventh grade, I consider “The Moldau” to be the first classical piece I ever truly appreciated. I can’t say exactly what moved me that night in my dorm room as I snacked on black coffee and tortilla chips, listening to a selection of CDs rented from the music library to fulfill my outside listening requirement. I remember experiencing a sense of place, (as wine aficionados might say, terrior) and feeling the movement of the river. Even today, “The Moldau” generally moves me to tears, and I haven’t even been to the Czech Republic.

burning leavesSecond is Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” The obvious connection is that I’m a social studies teacher, and the song does an excellent job at conveying major events over thirty years of world history. It was also the first rock/pop song I can recall learning. However, there’s a much more personal importance to the song. It’s one of the few things that brought my sister and me together. As most siblings do, we disagreed on almost everything throughout most of my childhood (she’s eight years older than I am). However, there are two songs I remember us singing to: Garth Brooks’ “Ireland” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” In fact, my sister is the one who introduced me to the song and helped me learn the lyrics. She and I and her then boyfriend listened to it over and over and over again one summer at the Wayne County Fair. It’s one of my fondest memories.

“Jurassic Park Logo” by Camusaltamirano via DeviantArt

Finally, there’s “Theme from Jurassic Park” composed by John Williams. Jurassic Park was the first movie I was ever allowed to stay up late and watch on TV. I loved it. I still consider it tied for first on my all-time favorite movies list (the first is the Godfather trilogy). This score is the theme of my childhood. It captures the grandeur and majesty and wonder and curiosity of all things new. I often hear it in my head when inspiration strikes or when something momentous occurs. It is, in my mind, the best score ever composed for a movie. Yes, even better than the haunting trombone opening to Godfather or the terror-inducing bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum of Jaws.

Music moves us in ways nothing else can. Which pieces move you?



This post is being published as part of Writing 101. Challenge 3: Using the free writing technique, describe three pieces of music important to you; publish the result without editing. No editing has been done; photos and links were added later.

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