Streams

Filling In the Blanks

Friday, June 17, 2005

Daily Show writer and performer Bob Wiltfong looks back to the days when he tried to be himself and be a news anchor. Joanne Karpowitz weighs the pros and cons of corrective surgery after having adjusted, over a lifetime, to severely impaired hearing. Also in this show we meet an emerging writer, and an angry mother (created by Ian Frazier and channeled by comedian Mary Purdy). This week’s musical guest is pianist Jeremy Denk.

Cooking Captain Book
Seven-year-old author (and CEO) Eric McCormick introduces his version of the age-old pirate’s tale. Produced by Julie Subrin.

Not Just Another Bob
Bob Wiltfong was willing to do just about anything to succeed in his career as a news anchor – change his name, his voice, his appearance. He worked at stations from Topeka, Kansas to Lake Charles, Louisiana. But at some point, delivering the local news began to take its toll. Bob got out. Now he gets to use those stories for his material as an actor and comedian. Produced by Amanda Aronczyk.

Old Penn Station
Forty years ago, the original Penn Station fell victim to demolition. The building was well-documented in photos, but few people know that there's another relic of the place - a documentary field recording intended for use in creating sound effects at a production house. And those sounds create a sense of place you just can't get from pictures.

Not Hearing
When Joanne Karpowitz was growing up, there were few resources available for the severely hearing impaired. So she learned to make do, to the point where now she is often able to “pass” as hearing, though in fact she can barely hear at all. But as she’s learned, passing comes at a price. Karpowitz shares her experiences of not hearing in a hearing world with The Next Big Thing’s Julie Subrin.

Blowing Steam
Sometimes the most ordinary activities can give rise to very strong feelings. Like, say, preparing a pot of chili. "The Cursing Mommy Cookbook" was written by Ian Frazier for the R.B.S. Gazette. It was adapted for radio and produced by Curtis Fox, and performed by Mary Purdy.

Still Playing That Song
Months after pianist Jeremy Denk performed Czech composer Leos Janacek’s "On an Overgrown Path" in concert, the music kept coming back to haunt him. Denk joined host Dean Olsher in the studio to play from that composition and to try to figure out what makes it so compelling.


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About The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is Public Radio International's weekly radio features magazine. Produced by WNYC, New York Public Radio, The Next Big Thing may actually resemble a city or town near you: listeners find it a fascinating place to visit, full of little-known street corners, compelling stories, lively music, and original comedy.

The Next Big Thing is full of unusual sounds and memorable voices. It's a show in which well-known artists like Stanley Tucci and Suzanne Vega casually rub shoulders with subway strap hangers, park bench philosophers, street-corner humorists, and kids on the local basketball court.

On The Next Big Thing, creator and host Dean Olsher collaborates with some of America's most talented writers, humorists, and musicians. Regular contributors include: Meg Wolitzer, Henry Alford, Miranda July, Jesse Green, Jonathan Ames and Matt Power. In addition to soliciting stories from these great writers and reporters, Olsher also commissions original plays, music and soundscapes for his beloved medium, radio, creating an aural environment unique to The Next Big Thing.

Olsher's team of producers is inspired to seek out unusual, offbeat and sometimes quietly affecting subjects: they may ride along with former prisoners who bring puppies to those still behind bars; risk life and limb on homemade roller coasters; listen in as a young man attempts to cure his stutter; and track down an illegal immigrant facing deportation after 9/11 despite the successful, middle-class life he's made for himself in the U.S.

The program's variety is designed to appeal to the broad interests of its public radio audience. Listeners on 90 public radio stations nationwide have heard actor Ethan Hawke in a play written for the show by novelist Rick Moody. Humorists Jonathan Katz, Mark O'Donnell, David Rakoff, and Janeane Garofalo have lent their talents to satire and improv comedy, but the show is also home to sonically-enhanced serious fiction from writers like Richard Ford and poetry from Poet Laureate Billy Collins, among others. The result is a sound-rich, intimate, frequently funny, and always engaging radio show.

Says Olsher, "In many ways, The Next Big Thing is a way of paying homage to radio itself. It's about tickling that part of the mind that only radio can reach, using all the forms at which the medium excels: literary journalism, one-on-one interviews, interpretive essays, comedy, drama, and music. It's about personality, ideas, companionship, and speaking to the heart and soul through the eyes and ears of interesting, unusual people."

Olsher began his career in broadcasting at the age of 14, as a freshman at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, NJ. After being awarded a Bachelor of Arts at Simon's Rock College, he studied and worked in Chapel Hill, NC, before joining NPR in 1987 as a cultural reporter. At NPR, he defined his beat broadly, from the grand ("Major American Poets Gather at the White House") to the grandly absurd ("Lorena Bobbitt Found Not Guilty"), landing at WNYC in 1999 to create something new - The Next Big Thing

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