Three radio programs, two days, one girl. Some of my fondest memories revolve around the radio…and driving, but the point is, I’ve always loved listening to it. I embarked on a mission to listen to three-hour long radio programs: NPR’s All Things Considered, This American Life, and Serial.
As one might assume, NPR was traditionally “newsy” in their presentation of information. The majority of the show focused on national news, like Trump’s rally to combat his apparent loneliness; the ethics of both his and his staff’s actions; but also other news like the death of Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe in the famous Roe vs. Wade case. International news was mentioned briefly, claiming perhaps five to ten minutes while journalists focused on the UN’s decision to either take out or leave Peace Keepers in Haiti. The unequal amount of time focused on international news was expected, NPR is “National Public Radio” after all. It was nice to hear a variety of journalists reporting their own stories, sometimes they would comment on each other’s’ which gave an interesting perspective into the topic at hand. The clips that were occasionally used as supplemental material and/or evidence throughout the majority of the program. These clips broke up the continuous sharing of information, while simultaneously adding to the story. I’ll admit that I was slightly disappointed that there was not a lot of background music, simply because I think it would be a nice way to transition between segments, especially given that the majority of the show was very political, but with a pleasant little story about a long lost cookbook to close out the show.
This American Life (TAL) and Serial are both more similar than they were different, but they were both a good contrast to NPR’s show. Not only do they share some producers, but TAL and Serial also made good use of back ground/transitional music and had a conversational tone throughout the programs. I liked how TAL has a theme for each show, it made the show seem a little more unique and created a sense of camaraderie between audience and the subjects of the show. Like NPR, Serial and TAL both made use of clips of the journalists interacting with subjects, but were more casual and colloquial in their presentation. Serial was probably the most different of the three: for one thing, it was primarily presented by one journalist and some of her interviewees and was one story as opposed to a collection of stories or examples of one theme.
Overall, while there were many nuances among the shows, NPR’s All Things Considered, This American Life, and Serial are all great news programs tasked with the mission of bringing people together through their reporting. I thought I was a radio fan before, but I am sure to listen to much more in the future. While all three programs were similar in some respects, their differences kept me interested and hooked throughout the experience.