Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dave Alvin Interview on Song of the Day

I was really fascinated by the story of Everett Ruess - a young explorer who disappeared in the 1930s. No one knew what happened to him... then decades later they resolved the mystery (turns out he was mugged and killed by Ute teenagers).

Dave Alvin wrote a beautiful song about the mystery... when it was a mystery. Find out more at:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why Are Indian Guys So Cool??

Anoop Desai on American Idol... Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire... that really funny dead-pan dude on Parks and Recreation. Is this just a fluke, or is something bigger going on...? Pop culture is filled with hipster Indian dudes right now...

To find out what's up, I checked in with my dear friend and one of the coolest guys I know, Nihar Patel. 

Q: So Nihar, what do you think? Are Indian guys the coolest thing since Twitter? 

A: Alex, where have you been? Indian guys have always been cool. First there was Gandhi, then that other guy, what's his name... you know who I'm talking about. No seriously, I wish I knew why. We're this year's mixed race Presidential candidate I guess. A few years ago I joked that when one of the Sex and the City characters hooked up with an Indian guy, that week I'd do great with the ladies. It never happened, but this is almost as good. I think NBC has a rule:  you can't have a show on their network unless there's an Indian on it.

Q: Good point, Nihar! And of course there's Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, or does he count?

A: Oh you mean Cousin Piyush, yeah he's always up to something. Bobby Jindal is the kind of Indian that Indian parents are really proud of, but the kids of those parents not so much. Suddenly he's the enemy because he's the consummate overachiever, and we always get compared to him. "Hey mom, dad, I just got elected to the school board. Oh well Bobby Jindal was head of the PTA at 16. What? How is that possible?!" And then it turns out he was, and we feel even worse.

Q: So I reckon Sanjay Gupta is a sore spot too...

A: No, he married a white woman, so the Gupta factor has been neutralized.

Q: And what about Mr. Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari - I understand you had a recent run-in with him...?

A: Ha, yeah, I was having my 30th birthday party at a bar, and he happened to be there. One of my friends introduced herself to him, because she thought he was my brother, which probably pissed him off. Maybe because he realized he wasn't my brother, I don't know. My real brother was indifferent to the whole situation, as expected.

Q: I believe there was also an incident in the bathroom, no...?

A: Just side by side urination and awkward banter. Just like talking to my dad at a ballgame.

Q: So... in your book who's the coolest of the Cool Indian Guys? And is there someone out there the American public hasn't taken note of yet, but should? 

A: Well I'd say myself, that would be A) be egotistical and B) a lie. America, take note. Don't know about Indian guys, but I would say Mindy Kaling, who is not a man but is still very cool, should be in more stuff. She plays Kelly Kapoor on The Office, and she's hilarious on that show. 
And my brother, who shares my DNA and a similar sense of humor as me. Watch for him, because both of us will be twirling signs on the sidewalk for Westside Rental someday, and now you can say you heard about us before we made it big.

Nihar Patel used to work with me on Day to Day. And I agree, Mindy Kaling ROCKS!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

3 Ring Circus

Greetings and salutations!
My apologies for not posting often on this blog, but it's been a bit of a crazy time. I have now started "flying solo" at KPCC. It's a lot of fun, but definitely the sort of job where you must be on your proverbial toes at ALL time. if you haven't had a chance to listen - do tune in to 89.3 FM KPCC.

I've also been kept busy doing research on a story about the Muslim community and the FBI for NPR. Years ago, shortly after 9/11, many Muslim groups in California were excited about partnering with the FBI to show that they were committed to fighting terrorism. There have been a lot of twists and turns since then... and now a serious rift stands between the two. 

And on a sad note... I learned tonight that Barbara Birdfeather recently passed away. For those who didn't grow up listening to the radio in LA, she was a pioneering female disc jockey. She used to be on KPFK and KPPC back in the 1970s. I can only imagine how tough it was being a woman in the music world in LA at that time.... Barbara was 69. She died on Sunday... which just so happened to be a day I was reminiscing about her with my buddy Bruce Duff. 

Rest in peace Barbara!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back on the Radio

I'm very pleased to announce that this week, I'll be coming back to the radio! I'll be sitting in as KPCC's afternoon and evening news anchor here in L.A. So get ready to get your news, weather and traffic courtesy of yours truly!

I'm getting some great training this week from John Rabe. Still, I don't think I've ever said the word SIG ALERT on the air. So please, be patient and be kind and of course, TUNE IN to 89.3FM or!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends

Many thanks to those who commented about Twitter - some interesting ideas and I am paying heed. I just tweeted calling out for sources I'm in need of for a story on Marketplace about spring homebuying season. We'll see where this takes us... 

One person I follow is Chris Spurgeon. Not only because Chris is super awesome and always up to interesting stuff... but also because he has some really engaging ideas. 

Here's one that we were talking about the other night over dinner at HOME (gotta give a shout out to one of my favorite, dog-friendly dining establishments)... Chris suggested a rating system for news. The thought being that some days there is a bunch of important news... other days, there really isn't that much important stuff going on. Radio shows HAVE to fill a certain amount of time... newspapers have a certain number of pages to fill, but online... well, there aren't the same requirements. 

What Chris suggested was having a panel of experts, perhaps a rotating group, which would rate the news headlines. Based on a profile you created, you could specify what threshold of importance you wanted to be notified about. So, let's say that I'm only mildly interested in sports, but really interested in California politics -- I might ask that only sports stories rated at a 10 (eg Michael Jordan to launch new career as ice dancer) would be sent to me but political stories rated at a 6 or higher go through. 

I have NO idea how would make something like that work. But I think it's a really neat idea. 

And in totally different news... I was at CRUMBS bakeshop today to pick up some birthday treats for a dear friend. That place is truly remarkable and very very dangerous. I look forward to trying out some Cherry Blossom and Peanut Butter Banana cupcakes later tonight!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving on to new media

Thanks to everyone for all their lovely comments about Day to Day's final days... (and DEFINITELY buy a t-shirt from SMASH if you can!)

It's Monday. And though I miss NPR and all my amazing colleagues, I gotta say there is something REALLY nice about not waking up at 4:30 am (something I had to do every day for the past two years). 

Of course it helps that it's lovely and sunny here in Los Angeles... perfect weather for sitting in the backyard with the pups - and getting right back to work. I'm currently working on a story for NPR and KQED's The California Report  about an independent, nonprofit online daily news source called Voices of San Diego. And really, the timing couldn't be better... 

Journalism is changing. It's scary and as I can easily attest, sometimes it's very very sad. But it's also exciting... I firmly believe that this is an era in which new ways of storytelling can thrive. In fact, that's something I hope to be learning more about when I travel up to Berkeley in a few weeks for a weeklong workshop at the Knight Digital Media Center. I am very excited to learn some new skills... including, gulp, video. (note, there's a reason i've done radio all these years - cameras frighten me - but it's time to be bold!)

Part of our pre-workshop homework is to analyze some of the new forms of media. And there's a lot out there to get really excited about... But, and I hate to sound like a Luddite, there's some of it I still just don't get. 

For instance Twitter. I'm on there. And I tweet. occasionally. but i can't help but feel like the world really doesn't want or need to know what I'm up to all the time... I guess I'm not feeling alone on this one, coz today I discovered this gem.

Disagree with me? please do! tell me what I should be tweeting. and why!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Day After... Day to Day

The last day of the show was incredibly fun. My colleagues did an AMAZING job of putting the final broadcast together. I especially want to thank Steve Proffitt for his behind the scenes look at the show and Nihar Patel for producing the interview with one of my writing heroes - David Seltzer. 

What you won't be able to hear though, is the amazing celebration that happened at NPR West. People I haven't seen in a long time, including former Day to Day Staffer Luke Burbank, showed up. EVERYBODY brought food -- amazing food! There was a cake in the shape of a hamburger, lemon bars, crossaints, freshly baked quiches, strawberries the size of a small child's head... 

I kept thinking it felt like a wedding. There was so much love (and so much food!) and the time flew way too quickly. 

We were all wearing t-shirts my awesome colleague Sarah Spivack had made for us at SMASH (thanks for the fine work Mike Draper!). They were grey and said Day to Day on the front and on the back it says "WAS a production of NPR News with contributions for Slate dot com."

And if you are familiar with how the show ends... you'll hear it was a bit different yesterday. And that was a very last minute decision. A bunch of folks had congregated outside the studio, we invited them all in and at the last minute, decided to do the ending with all of us in unison. 

I can't think of a better way to end the show.

I already miss ya D2D... and I look forward to hearing what all my talented friends there come up with next.....