The Sound and the Story: NPR and the Art of Radio

Overview

Though we live in a culture dominated by television, some ten million people listen weekly to a quite different medium - a medium not of sight but of sound, a medium not of flashy visuals but of literate words. Over the past decade, National Public Radio has become a major source of news and inspiration for listeners all across the country: from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii, eighty-five percent of Americans can now tune in to one of more than four hundred public radio stations. NPR has single-handedly ...
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Overview

Though we live in a culture dominated by television, some ten million people listen weekly to a quite different medium - a medium not of sight but of sound, a medium not of flashy visuals but of literate words. Over the past decade, National Public Radio has become a major source of news and inspiration for listeners all across the country: from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii, eighty-five percent of Americans can now tune in to one of more than four hundred public radio stations. NPR has single-handedly reinvented the art of radio journalism, which pioneers like Edward R. Murrow first created in the forties and which the commercial radio networks all but killed off in the sixties. NPR has become for many listeners the most beloved and important medium in their lives. Unlike network celebrities, the National Public Radio staff labors in relative anonymity. But now Thomas Looker takes us inside NPR to witness their work, the grueling and dramatic business of attempting to evoke with sound a world of fast-breaking news stories and more reflective features. The Sound and the Story invites us backstage at NPR's most popular daily and weekend shows as they get ready, often with seconds to spare, to go on the air. We meet the all-night staff of Morning Edition and the producers and hosts of All Things Considered. We watch the muted frenzy of last-minute tape editing and the nervous finesse of the live interview. We also spend a more leisurely week watching Weekend Edition craft its uniquely engaging programs. Deftly and casually, Looker provides revealing portraits of people such as Bob Edwards and Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg and Susan Stamberg, whose voices have become an intimate part of our lives. Thomas Looker, a radio veteran, believes passionately in the medium of sound and agrees with many at NPR who turn the cliche on its head and insist that a few well-chosen words are worth a thousand pictures. In The Sound and the Story, Looker puts his case though

Thomas Looker takes us backstage at NPR to witness the grueling and dramatic business of attempting to unite the nation by radio. This book offers a close look at NPR's most popular shows as they get ready to go on the air. And it asks us to consider the peculiar power of radio to bring us truths that lend themselves better to language than to pictures.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Looker, who created and produced National Public Radio's Peabody Award-winning New England Almanac series, spent six months in 1993 at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he interviewed staff, attended editorial meetings and observed the production of NPR's most popular shows. After the decline of commercial radio in the 1950s and '60s, NPR was founded in 1971 by a staff who believed in the power of radio to engage the imagination and curiosity of listeners by presenting creative programming. Looker details here, in lively and engrossing prose, the dedication and hard work that have gone into producing such shows as Morning Edition and All Things Considered on a shoestring budget. His interviews with NPR staff including Linda Wertheimer, Susan Stamberg and Art Silverman illuminate the current debate at NPR over whether the station should exist primarily as a news source or should produce programming that is unavailable on TV or in newspapers. An engaging backstage tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Looker attempts to show the future potential of National Public Radio (NPR) through a portrayal of its recent past, concentrating on its news division. Peabody award-winning radio journalist, former NPR staffer, and current lecturer in American studies, the author spent six months in 1993 visiting, observing, and interviewing at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. A fourth of the book is devoted to how one day's issue of Morning Edition got on the air. But Looker's primary concern is the undervalued power of radio-and NPR in particular-to add to listeners' lives. Looker contends that precisely because of radio's demand on the intellect and imagination it encourages the very faculties television dulls. More practically, Looker discusses staff dissension on such issues as the proper classification of radio as a medium, language, or a sound and the correct future direction of NPR news and the changes in funding that have added to the difficulties. NPR fans and communications students will enjoy this informative book. For communications collections in public and academic libraries.-Marianne Cawley, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Mary Carroll
Ten million Americans obtain some of their news from National Public Radio; this group includes a small but semifanatical cadre that will certainly expect to find this backstage look at NPR on their libraries' shelves. During his own 197583 career in public radio, Looker (who now lectures in American studies at Amherst) was the creator and producer of the Peabody Awardwinning "New England Almanac". "The Sound and the Story" is based on six months Looker spent at NPR headquarters, observing how its news programs are created and interviewing the specialists of various kinds whose expertise contributes to what listeners ultimately hear. But Looker's focus is not simply on the NPR news team and its shows; he has strong opinions on "the enormous, and still often untapped power of radio to enhance and enrich our lives." Fans of "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" (as well as NPR's non-news programming) will want to accompany Looker on his journey.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395674390
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/27/1995
  • Series: A Richard Todd Book
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.47 (d)

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