Student Electronic/ Software Resources

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On the Radio: Bringing the Oral/Aural into Research Via the Web

A source of information that you may not have considered is one mouse click away and may be one of the most valuable ways for you to gather facts and opinions about the issue you’ve chosen to explore. What is that source? Radio programs archived on the Web.

Whereas in the past, radio broadcasts were ephemeral—or at least the tapes of them were not widely available outside the company that put them on the airwaves—we can now easily access radio programs over the Internet in audio archives that allow free downloading of files.

If we’re thinking about making even our research in 250 WOVEn—and working on our listening skills, an important part of oral communication—this Web capability brings the oral/aural into the information gathering process, creating a kind of hybrid of primary and secondary research.

National Public Radio

NPR at http://www.npr.org is a particularly rich research site with myriad programs that cover a wide range of issues in multifaceted ways, for example:

  • All Things Considered (e.g. recent features: Supreme Court arguments on file sharing services, western “water masters” who control water rights, teens and sleep, college women’s basketball teams using male practice players)
  • Fresh Air (Terry Gross interviews; e.g. recent features: addiction, torture)
  • Justice Talking (e.g. recent features: wind power on Cape Cod, drug testing/drug use in high school, recycling, pet laws)
  • Marketplace (e.g. recent features: the deficit, college savings)
  • Morning Edition (e.g. recent features: “Tales from the Underworld” series, a “Hidden Kitchen” series feature on biodiesel fuel, a stem-cell essay by Congressman Dan Lungren)
  • On Point (e.g. recent features: social isolation in America, U.S. population)
  • People’s Pharmacy (e.g. recent features: attention deficit disorder, flu shots)
  • Speaking of Faith (e.g. recent features: marriage, yoga, oncology)
  • Talk of the Nation/Science Friday (e.g. recent features: college life today, deafness, global warming, women in science)

Note: To see a complete list of available NPR programs, the path is >“Programs and Schedules”>“All Programs A-Z.” (Selected programs also have a link on the left edge of the NPR homepage.)

In addition to regular programs like those above (and others), NPR also has projects that cross program boundaries (and may offer further research material), for example the following:

  • Radio Expeditions (NPR/National Geographic co-sponsored)
  • Radio Diaries

Note: To find these types of features, the path is also >“Programs and Schedules”>“All Programs A-Z.”

  • “This I Believe” essay project: Besides establishing a rhetorical situation and providing models for our own Comp 4 argument essays, this part of NPR can also serve as a source of facts and viewpoints on various issues (e.g. alcoholism, patriotism, love/faithfulness in marriage to a prison inmate).

To search NPR

  • Search in a topic/subtopic area (e.g. “Politics and Society,” “Education,” “Legal Affairs,” “Politics,” “Race,” Religion”). Find these main topic areas listed on the left edge of the homepage
  • Use the “Search NPR.org” option (at top middle of the page) to do a global search of the site.
  • Do a local search at a specific program’s site.

To listen to a desired program

  • Click on the “Listen” button (usually under the program title).
  • At the next window, click “OK” (Save to disk), which puts a copy of the file on your desktop. Sometimes just clicking “Listen” will do that, too.
  • With the file icon on your desktop highlighted, go to File>Get info; then change “Open with” (below file name in “Get info” window) to RealOne Player.
  • Double click icon, and play bar will come up.
  • Listen.

Other Radio Broadcasts

The possibilities for radio research don’t end with NPR; consider also checking out, for example, the following:

Story Corps

(http://www.storycorps.net) An on-going oral interview project archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress with a “mission . . . to collect a snapshot of life in America in the early 21st century and preserve the stories for future generations to hear in Washington D.C.” This site allows you to browse by topic (for example; obesity, Japanese internment camps, hospice care, escaping the Nazis, mental illness, the Great Depression, love) and then listen. Just click “Listen,” find the interview you want to hear, and click the arrow icon to activate the audio.

The Story from American Public Media

(http://thestory.org) Here’s what the site says about its mission: “One listener sent us an e-mail that captured our goal for the stories we tell: ‘Thanks for finding the ordinary us and putting our stories out there.’ Take health care: you'll hear host Dick Gordon talking to doctors and patients, not to experts and analysts. The war in Iraq: you won't hear Dick talking to strategists in think tanks. But you will hear him talking to soldiers and Iraqis. On election day in November, we profiled a man who worked for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant. He was waiting to see if his paycheck would be bigger. The Story. Real news. Real people.” You can do a key word search at this site, but browsing the archive (in list at top right of home page) may be a more efficient approach. Once you find a story of interest, just click the “Listen” icon.

Sports Radio Shows

Diamond Gems (http://www.internetfm.com/diamond) A show out of Chicago that invites different voices to weigh in on baseball issues: e.g. “What does it mean to pitch a perfect game?” Click on “Listen to Show” for a listing of 2006 programs and archived shows to hear.

Fox radio (http://www.foxnews.com or http://msn.foxsports.com) These sites look as though they offer video clips to listen to and watch, with a free video player provided upon download.

Other Radio Shows

You can also try searching for other specific radio shows, either directly at the program’s site (e.g. Rush Limbaugh http://www.rushlimbaugh.com) or through a clearinghouse site like that of wsRadio.com, which provides a link to Internet talk radio programs at http://www.wsradio.com. To use wsRadio.com, find the menu on the left side of the home page and search either under 1) a program category (e.g. Health, Mind, and Body, Politics, Religion) to find individual programs of a particular type or 2) “A to Z Program Listings” to browse program titles.

Note: Remember that the same evaluative process applies to using radio sources as any other: they need to be tested for credibility.

Student handout submitted by Michelle Tremmel for the O-Fair Feb. 27, 2007