Blog about KUSP

This American Life – live in theaters May 10

For the past few days we’ve been announcing a special event for our listeners — a live performance of This American Life via satellite from New York, transmitted to specially-equipped movie theaters across the country.

KUSP is the sponsoring station for two screenings — in Salinas at the Century 14 Northridge Mall, and in downtown Santa Cruz at the Regal Santa Cruz 9 on Pacific Avenue.

The show plays at 8:00 PM our time (the show goes out live to theaters in the Eastern and Central time zones, tape delayed for us).

Click on this link for Santa Cruz tickets, or this link for Salinas tickets. The event is also playing at theaters in San Jose, Cupertino, and Monterey, but KUSP is not sponsoring those screenings. You can see all the theaters where the show is happening by combining these lists: here (big chains), here (independents), and here (Canada!)

Today Ira sent out an e-mail with more about the show than we have room for in our on-air announcement. He writes:

Our all-star lineup for the May 10th cinema event has gotten all-starrier! David Sedaris will join David Rakoff, Mike Birbiglia, Tig Notaro, Glynn Washington, Ryan Knighton, the Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company and OK Go.

I’ve been so busy putting this show together I fear sometimes that the promos we’ve done for it have not communicated just how special and different it is. We’re trying to make a show that’s more visual than any stage show we’ve ever done, so there’s animation and dancing and a little movie and we’ll be performing the whole thing in front of a rear projection screen that we use throughout, to enhance the stories.

In short, we’ve been trying to think of things that can’t be done on the radio. Things that are best done in a movie theater. Making this our most ambitious live show ever. I was talking to a friend last week and realized, right, this is either going to be the most amazing thing we’ve ever created onstage, or it’s going to be a complete train wreck and there is no in-between.

You should be there.

And if you still need more inducement, we’ll have special giveaways that night for folks who come to the Salinas or Santa Cruz shows. I hope you’ll join us!

“This American Life” retracts Apple/Mike Daisey program

On the day that Apple begins retail sales of its new iPad, we learned that a major public radio piece about Apple was not what it purported to be.

The week of January 8, KUSP broadcast an episode of This American Life titled “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.” The program was an adaptation of Mike Daisey’s one-man show, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” In the stage show and the radio program, Mike Daisey takes Apple and a major contractor, Foxconn, to task for their labor practices in China.

The TAL episode took off – becoming the most downloaded program in the series’ history, and it brought even more attention to the already accelerating news coverage of Apple contractor business practices in China.

Among the listeners to the radio show was Rob Schmitz, China correspondent for another of our programs, Marketplace. As a reporter based in China, Schmitz has first-hand knowledge of Apple’s operations, and had doubts about some of the specifics in the radio program.

Ultimately, Marketplace and TAL joined forces to better understand what parts of Mike Daisey’s account were verifiable, and what wasn’t. As it turned out, many important details in the story didn’t stand up.

Consequently, TAL has decided to retract the original story in its entirety. Here is Ira Glass’ blog post about the situation.

A segment of tonight’s Marketplace (3:00 and 5:30 PM on KUSP) will report on the story, and next week’s broadcast of This American Life (Sunday 11:00 AM, repeating next Friday at 7:00 PM) will also cover the situation. That program will include an segment with Rob Schmitz; Ira will also be interviewing Mike Daisey.

TAL has always used both straight reporting and fiction to tell their stories, but with bright lines around each. It’s to their credit that they have moved strongly to set the record straight in this situation, and I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming broadcast…

This American Life and California politics

I think all of KUSP’s news and information programs uphold the values of public radio journalism. The approaches differ, which is one of the reasons we carry the range of programs we do.

We try to keep up with, and spotlight, stories on our shows that have special resonance to the communities we serve. One story in particular escaped our advance attention, but it’s an extraordinary piece of public radio and, even though we’ve already run it on the air, I feel that I just have to call it to your attention.

This American Life show #406, which we aired on Sunday 4/24/2010, has as its theme “True Urban Legends.” Most of the first half of the show is focused on Steve Poizner, Republican candidate for Governor of California. It’s not about his political career, exactly; instead it focuses on the time Poizner taught at Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose, and the book he wrote about his experiences there.

This American Life expands on their reporting on this web page, with links to more data that refutes much of Poizner’s characterization of the school at which he taught.

Poizner’s campaign claims their polls show that he is rapidly closing ground on Meg Whitman for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, as this San Jose Mercury News story reports. If so, the more Californians know about Poizner, the better – and the story on TAL certainly taught me something. You can hear the whole show streamed by following the links you see above.

Also: Sunday night we broadcast a debate between Poizner and Whitman, moderated by John Meyers of The California Report. The debate is archived here.

This American Life & NPR News – best broadcast journalism of the decade

This week the Carter Journalism Institute at New York University announced their picks for the top ten works of journalism in the decade from 2000 to 2009. Five were produced by daily newspapers, four were books.

The only piece of broadcast journalism so honored was “The Giant Pool of Money,” the first episode of This American Life that was produced by TAL in collaboration with NPR News. “The Giant Pool of Money” first aired on May 9, 2008 and stands out as the most lucid explanation of America’s home mortgage crisis. The show spawned “Planet Money,” NPR’s ongoing blog and broadcast series about the economy.

We’ve been believers in This American Life since it was just getting started. KUSP’s first broadcast was in 1997, about 350 episodes ago… but no episode is more deserving of this honor than “The Giant Pool of Money.” Congratulations to Ira Glass, Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson, and everyone else involved in the show. And thanks go out to our loyal listener-contributors, whose financial support for KUSP is part of what makes it possible for This American Life to exist!

Ira Glass coming to Monterey – well, kind of…

I’m happy to announce that KUSP is teaming up with This American Life for a special event on Thursday, May 1, at the Century Cinemas at the Del Monte Center in Monterey.

You might know that This American Life ventured into television last year with a six-episode series that aired on Showtime. Ira Glass and co. are now going to try a one-time live special performance of This American Life that will be beamed into theaters via satellite. As far as we can tell, the Century Cinemas in Monterey are the only theaters in our area equipped with the special satellite and digital projection equipment you need to do this, and we’re really glad the Century Cinemas and This American Life wanted us to be their partner for the event!

You can get tickets and find out more about the show by following this link. We’ll have some KUSP folks out at the theater that night, do some giveaways, and generally have a good time. Please join us!