Through the Eyes of a Stranger: American Radio

Back in Ukraine, I used to be a huge fan of nighttime radio shows. I find something very comforting in the idea of voices speaking softly in the background as I work on the computer, informing me of the news and not trying to invade my field of vision. In the US, however, I never had a chance to listen to the radio. Since I don’t drive, it didn’t feel like it made sense for me to buy a radio.

Now, however, I finally decided to familiarize myself with the American radio, especially as so many people rely upon it as their main source of news. I had no idea how to choose a radio station or which stations are good. I think I vaguely heard something positive about a radio station called the NPR. I seem to recall a former colleague of mine telling me that his first action as a finally employed professor was to donate money to the NPR to support their progressive activism.

I have no idea if the NPR my colleague supported is the same NPR that I’m listening to but I have to say that I’m a little confused. As I said before, I have trouble determining what counts as news as opposed to humor among the American news sources. This is why I’m now confused as to whether this NPR channel is supposed to be humorous or serious. The very first two pieces of news I heard about from this radio station were:

1. A Tea Party group in Florida is protesting against fluoridated water because they believe it is a governmental intrusion into the lives of citizens.

2. The Obama administration and the Congress can’t reach an agreement as to whether pizza should be considered a vegetable.

I know there is a lot of insanity going on in the world but, surely, things can’t be that weird. Can anybody enlighten me as to whether NPR is a humorous radio station?

If there are radio stations you particularly enjoy and listen to often, please recommend them to me. I’m planning to take up radio listening seriously since it does wonders for my grading. I want talk radio, though, not music channels.

How To Choose an Interviewer?

One thing that made a really negative impression on me during last night’s event with Mario Vargas Llosa was the low quality of questions the interviewer asked the writer. The entire event was structured as an interview that a professor of Hispanic Literature conducted with the Peruvian writer. Mind you, the event took place at a university, and quite a prestigious one, too.

“So how did you feel when you got the Nobel Prize?” the interviewer asked Vargas Llosa.

The writer shared a funny, detailed story in response.

“So how did you feel when you got the Seix Barral Prize?” the interviewer asked after Vargas Llosa finished the story.

The writer provided a shorter and less interesting response.

“So how did you feel when you got the Romulo Gallegos Prize?” the interviewer asked immediately after that.

At that point, I started to fear that the poor writer would be asked the same question about every single one of the numerous prizes and awards he had won in his long and productive literary career. It’s possible that Vargas Llosa feared the same thing because his answer was a lot less inspired this time.

Eventually, it began to feel like the interviewer was about to ask the writer what his favorite color was.

Vargas Llosa is an easy person to interview because he is a great story-teller and a skilled public speaker. In response to every question, he launches into a fascinating, detailed discussion that the audience follows with bated breath. All that was needed for this event to work out much better than it did was an interviewer who’d taken the trouble to prepare question that were less in keeping with the Cosmo style of interviewing celebrities.

The Latter

“What kind of female clothes were promoted by the Franco dictatorship?” I ask in class.

“Latter!” students answer in unison.

“What is that?” I ask.

“A type of clothes?” students respond.

This makes me feel very perplexed. “I’m sorry but what are you talking about?”

“Well, it says here in the text that women were encouraged to wear polka-dot dresses and priest-like cassocks, especially the latter,” I student explains. “So “latter”must be a type of clothes.”