Ladies And Gentlemen, Pilot #1

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Listen to The BPP's First Hour Long Pilot!

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Whew! I gotta tell ya, it's been a hand wringing couple of weeks here at BPP World Headquarters. (Okay, most of the hand wringing was mine, which was only calmed by many glasses of shiraz.)

So, here it is. The first full, one hour pilot of our new show. As you're listening, keep the following in mind:

— The BPP will be two hours everyday, instead of one.
— We will be piloting one and two hours sporadically until our launch this Fall. So, don't expect a pilot from us everyday. (Though we will continue to pilot segments regularly.)
— The most important thing: This is our FIRST pilot. The very beginning of a months long process to create a new show.

Here's the show rundown:

— Luke and Alison say hello.

NEWSCAST 1 — Read by me, Matt Martinez. I am not going to be the newsreader on the show, but I can play one in a pinch. (Dammit Jim, I'm a producer, not a newscaster...)

WHITE HOUSE SUBPOENAS — Luke and Alison talk with NPR's White House Correspondent David Greene about the subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee over documents relating to the Administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

iPHONE FRENZY — We talk with Ben Steele, iPhone fanatic, about the phone's release tomorrow. And we chat with USA Today technology correspondent, Ed Baig.

PARIS SPEAKS — Alison and Luke talk about last night's Paris Hilton interview on Larry King.

CONEY ISLAND — Luke talks about his trip to ride The Cyclone at Coney Island. The roller coaster turned 80 this week.

MAKE ME CARE — Alison and Luke talk with London bureau chief for Newsweek, Stryker McGuire, about why we should care about Gordon Brown becoming Britain's newest prime minister.

BENOIT — We talk with Bryan Alvarez about Chris Benoit, a former pro-wrestler who killed his wife and son and then himself last weekend. Alvarez is the editor of Figure Four Weekly, a newsletter that covers pro-wrestling.

— The big holiday destination this summer? Yup, Croatia. We find out why with a chat with Jeanne Oliver. She is the author of Lonely Planet's popular Croatia guidebook. Check out Jeanne's website,

THE RAMBLE — Luke and Alison ramble on about gaydar, M&M honeymooners and New Jersey's state song predicament (they don't have one.)

We hope you enjoy it. We want you to tell us what worked, what didn't. What did you love or hate? What do you want more of? Less of? We are making a news program for you — so we want to know what you think. Happy listening. Talk with you tomorrow.



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Ok, I'm just under 20 minutes into it and I'm enjoying it a lot overall, but I'm with Alison on the Paris thing. Could you guys please, please not EVER talk about her? And unlike US Weekly, please don't even announce that you're not going to talk about her. If I want PH humor, Wait Wait almost always gives us some.

Sent by Sioux | 6:50 PM | 6-28-2007

Ok, finished now. In addition to the previous comment asking you to never talk about the overhyped celebutante again, here are my thoughts. I liked it a lot. I liked the range of topics as well as the people you got on to cover those topics.

I realize the real news clips will be fed from NPR, but in the meantime, don't play repetitive techno-ish music during them. It's distracting and annoying.

Speaking of music, work on the clips between stories. Not up to snuff yet, IMO.

Put the ramble first - I liked it a lot and I think it would have been a great opener. Or put some of it first,as a teaser, before the news clip, then the rest at the end. Leaving it to the end didn't do it justice, when I think it may be one of the things that sets BPP apart from other public radio shows.

Which leads me to my last thought here about the show in general: you'll need one or more things you do regularly that people will tune in for. On Peformance Today, it's the Piano Puzzler on Wednesdays. On Morning Edition, it's the weird news at the bottom of the hour (although I still think they were funnier when read by Bob Edwards, but that's another topic). There are similar things on most NPR shows as well as some of the Air America Radio shows (yes, I'm a complete radio geek with no TV, so?). I'm not sure what it should be, but I think you want to look for regular features of that type.

In the meantime, keep up the good work.

Sent by Sioux | 7:47 PM | 6-28-2007

I might be jumping to conclusions here, but are you going to produce a BPP specific newscast and blur it into the show's billboards? Y'all are great, but you hope to rip Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne away from me. Taking Carl Kasell, Jean Cochran, and Paul Brown away from me as well is too much!

Sent by Steve Petersen | 10:38 PM | 6-28-2007

I would've liked more of a Squawk Box (of CNBC) treatment on the iPhone story; a tad bit more of business in the trendy tech story please.

Has Apple produced enough of these gadgets for the initial demand? Is it advantageous for it not to provide a sufficient supply (think about the PS3 brouhaha vs. Wii's smoother release)?

Also, does it help Apple to have people like Ben Steele -- if his wife allowed him to -- camped outside of stores for days to buy it? Do campers serve as great walking adverts?

Sent by Steve Petersen | 10:46 PM | 6-28-2007

Steve -- we are indeed going to produce a BPP specific newscast. It allows us to promote ahead in the show and it gives us the opportunity to allow the newscaster to interact with the hosts and to pop up periodically throughout the show as the news warrants.

Sent by Matt Martinez | 10:46 PM | 6-28-2007

No Paris Hilton please!

Sent by Steve Petersen | 10:48 PM | 6-28-2007

Matt, will the BPP newscast provide space for local newscasts as well? I feel that it should.

Sent by Steve Petersen | 10:52 PM | 6-28-2007

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's desire to avoid serving as President George W. Bush's lackey -- as Tony Blair did -- should make us all care. I look forward to learning more about how Brown's reign will change the "special" relationship between the Brits and Yanks.

Sent by Steve Petersen | 11:08 PM | 6-28-2007

I like the travel segment about Croatia; let's go island hopping!

The segment is fine as is since it has interesting, substantive info.

Travel is a fun way to learn about geography, and sadly I think that Americans need help with that subject...

Sent by Steve Petersen | 11:25 PM | 6-28-2007

Congratulations on finding one of three folks who actually can talk about the wrestling business without sounding like a complete doof.

The less said about the celebutante world, the better. However, the media-watching portions of it is so rife with hypocrisy that it's just a delight to get a few digs in. Who doesn't love pointing out the vapidity of Larry King interviews?

The iPhone. My only problem with the interview is that gadgetry is such a visual, tactile thing that it's hard to talk about without seeing it. Also, considering who the listener is/will be for BPP, the precis on what the iPhone is seemed a little long.

I understand our generation is a little tech-obsessed, but I do kind of hate these line-standing events...particularly when it just looks like some sort of massive bit of false demand pushing. The Wii shortages, I sort of get; Nintendo didn't think it was going to do as well as it did, and processes take time to expand production. The iPhone, on the other hand, has a massive fan base ready to drink its delicious nectar, and the line-standing bull is more than a little ridiculous.

When I saw that Gordon Brown was getting a MMC segment, I got a little discombobulated, and then I realize I've been in a little anglophilic world where my homepage is the Guardian, I just watched Coupling, I listen to the PMQs on the drive to work, and I've been waiting for Blair to leave office since I read Jim Wallis' discussion of what Gordon Brown cares passionately about. OF COURSE it's important.

And then I remember I'm reading this in Saint Paul, and the only reason I've had a bitter this week was because I brewed it myself. I am a huge dork.

Coney Island - sounded like a great time. I will watch the segment on the website, but I really wanted to hear the segment instead of have to further dig for it.

White House and co - good briefing. I'd hope that the subsequent reports would go into greater depth as the story unfolded over the days and weeks. The conversational stance that you are taking in doing the BPP could do a great job in bringing us into a longer, stronger conversation into what's going on in a large story, not unlike building the story arc for a television drama. If you two are really going to talk like you did in the pilot, bring back old discussions and information (and indeed, even jokes) to further layer the conversation. There's no reason why each piece of information must be discrete.

Want to 'be our friend', as you mentioned at the outset of this blog? Let us into the one-sided conversation (producer -> consumer) by using the tricks of the conversation trade instead of telling what you told us yesterday in a slightly different way.

Enjoy the holidays, and lovely job, all.

Sent by Drew | 11:44 PM | 6-28-2007

Great pilot! I particularly liked the variation of story topics and conversational vibe. I would definitely cut the music after the intro, it becomes distracting during the rundown. It's fine that you talked about Paris, there is no topic that should be untouchable, it's just what you decide to to with it to make it interesting. It would be hilarious to find people that dislike certain celebrities so much that they refuse to stay at their hotels, restaurants, use their products or you actually have an "I will not talk about Paris segment" where you discuss on the show all the things you 'shouldn't' talk about. ... I think the show rundown highlights would peak more interest if they were posed as questions, or in some way draw more curiousity...Croatia has been around for a long time, ha, why is it suddenly a hot spot? Is the iphone the new power tie? stuff like that

Sent by Elyse | 9:34 AM | 6-29-2007

Thank you all for the comments...we're reading all of them, digesting them...they'll help make us better. We have another pilot coming in two weeks or so, and we'll be considering all of what you have to say. Keep 'em coming...

Sent by Matt Martinez | 9:55 AM | 6-29-2007

Big thanks to everyone who has commented. I think we were blessed with an active news cycle and a hyperactive producer named Matt Martinez.
We are really committed to keeping the story selection relevant. So if you hear a story that makes you scratch your head...let us know!
I really like hearing about segment length. We are trying to work out...what's too long...when to let something breathe..but also to keep the pacing of the show brisk.
I'm off to Ireland shortly...back in a week. Have a great holiday everybody.

Sent by Alison Stewart | 12:41 PM | 6-29-2007

Show was great. Also, congratulations on finding a legitimate journalist with the first name Stryker. On KROQ in Los Angeles, there's a DJ named Stryker, which I always assumed was a made up name by someone who experienced one too many snowboard face plants.

Sent by Nihar "Killshot" Patel | 1:16 PM | 6-29-2007

Overall, I think the general tone and direction of the show hold promise. My major gripe is all the happy chatter. I found myself zoning out through large portions of the program. My two cents:

1. The happy talk between the hosts (Luke and his rain woes) in the open has a very local TV quality to it. However, the looser intros to upcoming stories are fun and set the tone for what follows.
2. Why is music running under the newscast? It's distracting and annoying.
3. At this point, I'm not sure why you aren't using the NPR newscasts. The stories are essentially the same and the forward promotion is unremarkable. Matt doesn't interact with the hosts, so, again, why not use the regular newscasts? I do like hearing Matt will be back later with an update. Nice touch.
4. I also like that Luke thanks Matt and Allison refers back to Matt and a story he mentioned in the newscast. I don't think any other NPR news show acknowledges their newscasters by name or makes any connection to newscasts other than some variation on "the news is next."
5. The conversational tone between the hosts and reporters works well and gives the show a different sound and feel than the other NPR news shows, but it needs some reigning in. Things fall too easily into a "look how cool and hip we are" self-satisfied tone. At times I felt like shouting, "Will you please shut up and get on with it!"
6. The iPod feature asked some interesting questions -- the kind of things I been wondering as things I hadn't thought to ask. But a lot of it got lost in the banter, which went on far too long.
7. Paris Hilton? Seriously.
8. Rollercoaster story. There may have been something interesting in there, but again I got distracted/turned off by excessive host chatter.
9. Make Us Care: I really like the idea behind this segment. Things were more focused. Hope this one's a keeper.
10. Wrestling: This is the thing I love about NPR -- being drawn into a topic in which I thought I had little or no interest.
11. Due to so much rambling in the show, The Ramble didn't grab me.
12. Throughout, I got the sense everyone was thoroughly engaged and excited to be there.

I think this is a good first effort and I look forward to hearing what you come up with next.

Sent by Karabella | 1:35 PM | 6-29-2007

One other thing. I didn't like the music under the headlines. Maybe something different from the theme song. What about old teletype sound?

Sent by Nihar Patel | 1:47 PM | 6-29-2007

One radio show where reading headlines to music works is Harry Shearer on KCRW's Le Show, because the music is a little slower and he really reads to the music, and leaves pauses when appropriate.

Sent by Nihar Patel | 2:46 PM | 6-29-2007

I don't care for the 'Bryant Park Project' as a show title. It seems too regional. In fact, the program name and the hosts references to New York/East coast lifestyle makes me believe that my station would most certainly feel 'less local' if I chose to air the show. It feels and sounds like a New York city morning show. Glad to see several comments on the music bed under the headlines. I agree that it was distracting. I also agree that The Ramble was not noticably different than the overall show banter, so it never felt like a segment. Instead, it felt like I was listening to the hosts fill time. If this is a show to be aired in Morning Drive time... I would like to hear very consistent audio markers for listeners to conciously or subconciously use in timing their own morning routines.

Sent by Loren Dixon | 5:11 PM | 6-29-2007

Will you include more multimedia projects like the Coney Island package? I think they're really cool. As a student studying Media Convergence, mixing video, pictures, and audio is a great way to have your listeners asking for more. NPR is really coming into the 21st century by using its website as more than a secondary spot for news and information. If you really want to stand out from other NPR shows, I think the web is the place to do it. Keep up the good work!

Sent by Sean Powers | 11:04 AM | 7-1-2007

The rapport is excellent. There is a true sense of enjoyment and healthy debate. No matter how the show sounds in September keep this component! On the "Make me Care" front- I already cared and Stryker had one or two good points that could easily switch one from ambivalence to interest. Keep it up!

Sent by Ejiro Onomake | 7:00 PM | 7-2-2007

I'm with some of the other posters on not liking the music under the headlines. I'm not sure if different music would work better or if any music would be distracting. It's great that the BPP will have its own newscasts. (We still love you, Carl Kassel!)

It's interesting how David Greene sounded a little more relaxed and informal than he usually does on other NPR shows. Still a lot of good, solid information, but with a different tone -- which is a big part of what the BPP should be about, right? I'm looking forward to hearing how other familiar NPR voices adapt.

Good mix of topics, although I could actually have gone for a little more serious fodder mixed in. I appreciated hearing about the thought process behind Paris/Not Paris. "Make Me Care" and the wrestling segment were my favorites, I think -- you could just as easily have put wrestling under "Make Me Care" as well!

The Croatia segment was a good try but I don't think it really worked in the end. The problem was the guest, although Allison and Luke tried their best. She was knowledgeable about the area, definitely, but still didn't have a whole lot to say. But sometimes you get those...

Loved the Cyclone video! And would have liked to hear more audio from it in the pilot.

Overall, it's an excellent start. Luke and Allison sound great together. Looking forward to hearing the next installment!

Sent by tara | 3:06 PM | 7-4-2007

Paris Hilton is our generation's Andy Warhol.

I'm kidding of course. Actually, I'm a little let down that you squeezed the subject of Paris into your show. And it wasn't even really a discussion about Her, but a dicussion about a discussion about Her.... *groan*

iPhones... I don't have an ipod, and I don't have a cellphone. For me recorded music is good for in the pad or in the car, but I don't like the idea of walking around listening to recorded music on earphones... blocking out the real world. It's not a very Aware way to live life. And cellphones, this is my opinion of cellphone users, give people a lot of anxiety and need for constant information/communication.

A $500 phone. Wow. With that type of dough you could take up painting, or get a banjo, or do Something creative and self-fullfilling while still having decent change left over.

Croatia was a big tourist destination before that war, so it's not quirky at all that it be one now.

Gaydar isn't something that works from afar. It's about social interaction: eye-contact, smile, handshake, dynamic of engaged conversation. The research-dude says he isn't a homophobe and it's a genuine scientific study, but he focuses on a stereotypical trait. A trait which is used to poke fun of gays. Besides, there's tons of straight guys who walk (or talk) like a sterotypical gay man. And there's tons of gay men who don't give off even an iota of the stereotypical "gay traits". Focusing on these simplistic physical cues is very akin to Nazi's going around with calipers measuring the proportions of their prey.

Luke and Matt should beatbox the opening theme song while Allison does the vocal introduction. Just try it once, for kicks. Ba-boom, chick, boom-boom, chick.

Sent by Brian | 8:08 PM | 7-4-2007

Overall, a nice pilot. Like most of the other commenters, I didn't care much for the music under the news report at the top of the hour, but only because 5 minutes is a long time for a looping beat box. By contrast, it seemed to work just fine for the shorter update at the half-hour.

Allison may have been right about being "blessed with an active news cycle." More specifically, you had a plethora of "lighter" stories, newsworthy, but without the emotional impact of death and destruction. I'm having a hard time picturing how your lighter tone would sound if you were covering, say, the fighting in Gaza.

Sent by Nick | 12:56 AM | 7-5-2007

My review... written as I listened to the show, so it's a bit disjointed:

The billboard should be a bit punchier... use those 60 seconds to give me a reason to stay past the newscast. Unlike everyone else, I enjoyed the opening music. However, would you leave it on under a SOT? Or a full package? That might not work as well.

While journalists are lovely people who are reliably articulate, it might be a good idea to break away from the inclination to grab someone who's covering the story -- I want to hear from people who are the story! And I suppose that will come with the introduction of packaged news. Will you guys have your own reporters? Or will it be freelancers? Or will you pulling from what's on Morning Edition/ATC?

The Paris segment was way too early in the show... you can have the discussion and play the clips, but not in the first half hour; it wouldn't go there if you were going to actually talk about her (and, Luke, for the record, my office has several water coolers... I just don't talk to anyone at them).

Be sure to take down your mics during SOTs, at one point you could hear Alison laugh and later Alison says sorry under Vince McMahon's SOT after she messed up the intro the Benoit segment. Not a huge deal, but it's something to remind your director or audio guy/gal about.

I enjoyed the ramble and re: gaydar... Totally real. Totally flawed, but you'll be hard pressed to find a gay person who doesn't use it to a certain extent.

Sent by Andrew Jones | 1:33 AM | 7-7-2007

I loved the background music behind the headlines, still i dont think NPR is the place for Paris Hilton. That said, i'm a guy in my early 20's and i dont really need "pop" stories to get me to listen. (IPhone was a bit too in depth for me) As long as real news and serious topics are blended in with hip music and informality, and discussion, ill be hooked. Awesome idea, but im cravin a bit more substance ;) Theres plenty of other "morning shows" with all the "watercooler" stuff...please dont let them shape you, what we need is a show that shapes us as the next generation, that can be hip AND intelligent. ;)

Sent by Jose | 1:38 AM | 7-23-2007

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