Tag Archives: Podcasts

Chautauqua Series at St Kate’s Tackles Ideas that Tickle the Mind

Come August, the human brain starts drifting off course – it needs some exercise, some fun, some attention!  Give your frazzled mind a break by letting it dip into the deep well of learning opportunities that will burst forth during the ten days of the Summer Chautauqua on the lush green campus of St. Catherine University.

Thoughts of the Chautauqua conjure images of sunshine, leisurely learning for the sake of learning itself, and spending time with others who share the delight of marinating in new ideas.

The SCY Chautauqua series begins with a grand kick-off on Wednesday, August 3, 7:00-9:00 at Coeur de Catherine, aka the student union.  All are welcome (adults $10, children $5) for a gala celebration of summer and learning.  Musicians of the Irish ensemble Barra with dance caller Ann Wiberg will host a ceili, a traditional Irish gathering focused on fun (see, you’ve already learned a new word….)

Let the learning begin!  Need a techno update?  There’s a class on working magic with your digital camera, or another on staying sane with social media or a session on the future of the book (which no doubt includes a touch of technology…)  Or is Poetry in the Parlor more your style?  Acquaint – or reacquaint — yourself with the work of Mary Virginia Micka or Cass Dalglish.  If you are the writer, Elaine Weimar Wagner and Mary Desjarlais will explore their experiences in a session called I Got My Book Published, You Can Too.

Are your social concerns in need of an informed airing?  Try Racism in Minnesota or a session on youth bullying or Genocide and Our Response or a session on Pakistan offered by Nancy Parlin.  Explore the resources of the CSU campus (Ade Bethune: Beyond the Catholic Worker or a session on the Artwork of SCU) or of the area (An Insider’s Look into the St. Paul Union Depot Restoration Project.)  There are sessions on health and nutrition, golf and Zomba fitness, a short golf game clinic and a Latino spin with sessions on the Argentine tango and salsa (the dance, not the sauce.)  Joan Mitchell will talk about Women of the Bible and Vera Chester will explore the topic of Asian Wisdom for Aging Minnesotans.

Some sessions, including a series of podcasts and the Poetry in the Parlor readings) are free.  Others are low-cost ($20 for a single class down to $12 for 8+ classes.)

All of the details about the Chautauqua series – schedule, registration form (pre-reg required), parking, map and more) are available on the web , call 651 690 6666 or email alumnae@stkate.edu.

So, give your mind a chance to flex its considerable muscles with a fresh take on a new topic or a chance to polish the sheen on some of those stray thoughts that flit past on a summer day!  You’ll find ideas, fresh air, flowers and friends waiting for you on the SCU campus in early August.

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Here Comes Peter! The Magnificent Peter Shea

Writing about Peter Shea, his quietly amazing projects and his magnificent mind, is no easy task.  As my then-young son once observed, Peter is just so “Peter-ish.”  Any profile illuminates but a single facet of a multi-faceted man of ideas.

For example, if you have to ask “Why the Bat of Minerva”? then you probably don’t know Peter Shea – yet.   The Bat is Peter’s long-running cable show (15 years plus – Peter’s not so sure of the inaugural date.) is a midnight Saturday and Sunday night regular on Metro Cable Network/Channel 6 in the Twin Cities.  Peter says that the format, in which a disembodied Peter poses questions from off-camera “allows me, a shy person, to have conversations I want to have and to pursue lines of inquiry with real people rather than with books and articles. …and it does some diffuse good for the community, in several dimensions: providing a model of civil, extended conversation, giving people ideas about the lives they could live, getting ideas and ways of working into circulation, helping bright and under-exercised people realize what kinds of challenging work are available to them.”

Over the years the soft-spoken Peter has posed thought-provoking queries to scores of famous scholars, authors, scientists, Americans on the rise, global leaders.  In recent times the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota has archived The Bat so the hour-long interviews are streamed for those who missed the midnight premiere. A sampling of recent interviews suggests the breadth and tone of Peter’s guests:

  • October 6, 2010 – Juliet Schor, a professor of Sociology at Boston College where her research focuses on trends in work and leisure, consumerism, the family, and economic justice. Most recently she is the author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (2010),
  • September 29, 2010 – Mike Tidwell, author of Bayou Farewell and founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
  • August 30, 2010 – Rob Gilmer, a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University of Minnesota. In the fall of 2010, he will be teaching Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010, a course which has garnered national attention.
  • August 20, 2010 – Paul Barclay, a professor of History at Lafayette College where his research interests include Japanese empire, especially in Taiwan, frontier studies, and the use of images as historical documents or instruments of ideology.
  • August 15, 2010 – Ann Waltner, a professor in both the Department of History and the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures and director of the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, talks about Matteo Ricci’s 1602 map of the world, recently acquired by the James Ford Bell Library.
  • August 5-15, 2010 – Minnesota Fringe Festival

Though these are the most recent, the full list of interviews over the years is astounding – Eugene McCarthy, John Davis, Rosalie Wahl are among Peter’s favorites. He also mentions  Maja Cerar (violinist), Carolyn Walker Bynum (medievalist), Morton Subotnik (composer), Andrew Light (environmental ethicist) and Ann Sharp (educator).  The Bat website lists the boundless and boundary-less library of videos Peter has produced since the early days of The Bat when Peter’s two sons (now grown) ran the cameras and, Peter hopes, “got some of the message.” Peter, who allows he’s not much into numbers, produces some impressive ones, e.g. some 82,000 visits  to the IAS website and nearly 10,000 video views since Fall 2008.

True to form, Peter has plans.  One big plan is just unfolding.  In a new series entitled Meet the Neighbors Peter, who also works with Shalom Hill Farm near Windom,  has begun interviewing members of the rural community for cablecast on community cable then archived in a blog.  He’s also been asked by the U of M Department of English to profile all willing faculty – of course he’d like to expand that to other departments.  In general, Peter hopes to produce “rich and coherent archives.”  He cites, for example, “a fine collection of interviews from the Spark Festival of Electronic Music” and a “small but growing collection of interviews done in connection with the Minnesota Fringe Festival.”  One oral history project underway, documentation of the history of the philosophy for children movement.  High on the list of Peter’s current enthusiasms is collaboration on expanding access to  the lectures from “Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010” a U of Minnesota course which IAS is providing online through the Bat.

Peter’s hopes for a bright technology future include great confidence in the future of cable, primarily because “the standard media have messed up fine productions with commercial interruption and commercial packaging to an extent that seems to me suicidal.”  At the same time, equipment is improving and coming down in cost so that “normal people with normal time resources can do interesting niche programming, and the shortcomings will be more than compensated by the lack of commercial distortion and the freshness and immediacy of low to the ground production.”  This offers unique possibilities for rural Minnesotans, Peter expects.  Other dreams include visions of easy archiving and repackaging, Internet 2, and every viewer both a producer of control of his or her own access options.

Learn more about Peter’s background, plans, persona and style by watching an interview archived on the IAS site.

You will never keep up with Peter’s fertile mind and high hopes – to keep abreast of the tangible products, watch the Bat of Minerva website or tune in to Channel 6 at midnight on any Saturday or Sunday.

KFAI Fresh Air Radio

By definition, Poking Around involves exploration of the radio dial, especially the diminishing segments thereof that remain independent.  The June gathering of independent public radio producers in St. Paul sparked latent poking around proclivities.   I did not attend in person but followed insofar as possible via the media.

KFAI where I serve with pride on the community advisory board was a player.  Still, that didn’t stop KFAI staffers and the board from tackling internal issues, to wit:  the program schedule.  Major changes!

Many listeners tune in for KFAI’s unique music offerings – roots, blues and world music, interviews and features wrapped in the commentary of volunteer dj’s, often collectors and performers who really know their genre.  There are several changes in music programming, including the fact that during the week the station will air music all night (8:00 p.m.-5:00 a.m.).

Other listeners tune in for Write-On Radio, the venerable local literary talk show that has hosted just about every Minnesotan who has an oar in the literary waters.  Write On Radio moves to has 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.  Politicos swear by Truth to Tell, Andy Driscoll’s public affairs interviews with a wide mix of informed guests, moves to Monday mornings at 9:00.  First Person Radio, hosted by Richard LaFortune and Laura Wittstock, an unique look at the contributions of issues of the American Indian community, moves to Wednesday mornings at 9:00.  The plan is “to create  a
new morning alternative for Twin Cities listeners that helps fulfill the mission of KFAI.”

To top it off, KFAI will dedicate of Sunday to broadcasting content of particular interest to immigrant communities in the metro area where the KFAI signal extends.

KFAI wannabe listeners beyond the reach of the signal, otherwise engaged at the appointed hour, or just eager to know more should check the options.  The volunteer producers of these shows offer supplementary support including archived and indexed streaming and websites.

FAQs about the new schedule are answered with care.

KFAI-FM      90.3 in Minneapolis       106.7 in St. Paul

I Love Podcasts!

Sometimes a Poke evolves into a Probe.  Such is the case with this Probe into one of my favorite pokes, i.e. podcasts.

I love podcasts!  I love to poke around and learn about new pockets of podcasts.  I love audio and video podcasts, but mostly I love audios, audios that capture lectures, interviews, posts by journalists, scholars, and thinkers who ask good questions and elicit ideas and information from unexpected sources.

What got me started on this poke and probe path is the forthcoming meeting of the 35th Annual Community Radio Conference, the gathering of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, set to meet in St. Paul, June 9-12, 2010.  These folks are major players in the world of podcasting – because what they produce is creative, unique and now accessible.

Podcasts are intellectual recycling, an ergonomically correct alternative  with great potential to simplify life, share ideas and wrest the viewer/listener from the rigors of commercial-saturated audio and video media.  Though the name “podcast” suggests iPod plus broadcasting, the fact is that podcasting predates the iPod invasion and actually grew out of the RSS feed format.

If you don’t have hours to probe, don’t get started with podcasts!  I’ve tried to focus on podcasts that are Minnesota-specific, audio, and spoken word (as opposed to the inestimable mountains of music about which everyone seems to know anyway).  My goal is to whet the listener’s audio appetite – no effort to plumb the depths that are both endless and shifting.

Note #1 about what follows:  Virtually all of these podcasts can be streamed on your PC.  They can also be downloaded and stored for replay on whatever audio device you have stuck in your ears.

Note #2 is about access: While traditional media are organized by topic, podcasts are organized by series or distributor. The user just needs to know where to look.

Note #3:  These are by or about Minnesota and Minnesota agencies.  In the interests of open government I tried to focus on publicly supported sources, though that’s a broad category that encompasses sports, public radio, the U of M and other key players in the world of podcasting.  I did not include state agencies per se.  Watch for a future blog.

Basic introduction to podcasting as a resource:

Try the University of Minnesota Digital Media Center for a great introduction/  They even support an ongoing Podcasting Discussion Mailing List.

Public Radio Player from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting focuses specifically on public programming in their excellent Q&A introduction to podcasting and related technology.

Christina Lopez at the University of Minnesota has written a superb piece about the potential of podcasting well worth more poking around.

Ready to listen?

Following is a totally random sampling of Minnesota audio podcast options – there are scores of other possibilities if you have but the time and a smattering of intellectual curiosity:

The University of Minnesota offers an incredible portal to podcasts of every stripe – lectures, interviews, backgrounders, opinion pieces and more.  Some samples:

  • Missed the Great Conversations series?  Check out the podcasts– everyone from Seymour Hersh to Ken Starr to Rafael Yglesias – fabulous!
  • Culture Queue from Radio K offers a pot pouri of information, ideas and opinions on current issues ranging from eating local to slam poetry and Tea Baggers..
  • The Civil Engineering department produces regular audio and video podcasts to which you can subscribe.

UMD is a podcasting mecca.  Check the Designer Network or, for the latest on research on The Lake (Superior, that is) try the Minnesota Sea Grant Feeds Library which offers audio programs and updated news and events on water quality, coastal communities and aquaculture.

The U of M is but one of many of Minnesota’s academic institutions floating through the airways to students and the general public. Check out St. Cloud State’s great website or what’s happening at Alexandria Technical college or Austin Community College for samples – virtually every publicly supported academic institution is in the podcasting game,

Access Minnesota is self-defined as a “weekly public affairs radio show featuring noted academics, authors, politicians and business leaders engaging in common sense conversations about compelling and relevant issues in the state of Minnesota, across the national and around the globe.”  It’s a joint project of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association and the U of M.

Some Assembly Required is a superb series of weekly podcasts based on music and audio art, an exploration of the world of sound collage.  Produced locally by MnArtists the series is now nationally syndicated.

Want to know more about Minnesota architecture – broadly defined? Check Minnesota Builds for stories, interviews and heaps of photos on the complementary website.

Truth to Tell, heard first on KFAI’s, features interviews with a wide range of Minnesota decision and opinion makers.   Northern Sun News, another KFAI product, features interviews about current issues particularly ecology, peace and justice

And then there’s Minnesota Public Radio the ubiquitous audio giant that podcasts just about everything.  Start here to explore the library of podcasts from MPR.

Or check out KYMN in Northfield where you’ll find nearly a score of locally produced programming ranging from the Law Review to an After School Special to Art Zany and Tech Talk’

No surprise, the Vikes are in the game, so to speak. So do the Wild.  And the Lynx.  And the Twins.  You get the picture….

But you might not know about The Icebox Radio Theater, an independent, nonprofit arts organization in International Falls.  They’re dedicated to using the “old art of radio drama to tell new stories about their corner of the world, i.e. Northern Minnesota and Northwest Ontario. Or then there’s the MN Standup Comedy podcast series or La Casa Rojas, Spanish language podcasts beamed and streamed from St. Paul.

The list and the listening go on!  Dip for now, then drink deep of the audio stream….