Letters: A Sample Of Listeners' Comments

Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel read from listeners' comments — and from those whom they believe could be listeners. There was much reaction this week to a story about a far-reaching new plan that would provide an alternative source of energy — and blubber!

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Time now for your letters.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Our email folder was virtually bulging today, mostly in reaction to a story about farm-raised whales that we aired yesterday.

(Soundbite of blowhole)

"CHASEL CHESWICK-WEISBERG": Hundreds of acres of wide pools as far as the eye can see, spread over the landscape. It is here that the nation's first farm-raised whales are being grown and harvested.

(Soundbite of whales)

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, that story upset many listeners, especially something that reporter Chasel Cheswick-Weisberg said.

CHESWICK-WEISBERG: Ray Stubbs is a bearded man in his 50s. He spent a life at sea and traveled the world. He grew up here in Bellesville, but came back to lend a hand in an ambitious and controversial program.

(Soundbite of whales)

"Mr. RAY STUBBS": Nothing's really wasted. I mean, you know, nothing goes to waste. I think it's great. You know, it's good eating. We get oil for heating and lighting. And the skeletons, we can use those skeletons for doing home improvements. I built a back porch using some whale bones the other day.

(Soundbite of blowhole)

BLOCK: Listener Brian Bookman(ph) of East Lansing, Michigan was one of many who wrote to correct Cheswick Weisberg.

NORRIS: Your reporter said Bellesville, Illinois. That's a common mistake, but I expect more from NPR. It's Belleville.

SIEGEL: And when listener Milton Schmurler(ph) heard that part of our story, he pointed out that there is waste from the farm-raised whaling process.

BLOCK: You were a little quick to buy into the propaganda of the farm-raised whale industry, he wrote. What about the blowholes, aren't they being thrown out? Is NPR shameless? It's bad enough that these giant pools holding these creatures are using up so much rich bottom land, but do you have to accord them some sort of saintly status?

NORRIS: From Marfa, Texas, we got this message about something in the story on the harvesting process we overlooked. Sandra Legune(ph) had this observation.

SIEGEL: The generators at the Belleville whale farm are based on technology from Scandinavia, she writes. Cetaceaculture, or whale farming, is already a big business in Europe, where are this country's innovators?

BLOCK: Listeners also complained about a claim in that story made by conductor Reed Summers(ph), who taught the captive whales to sing close harmony.

(Soundbite of singing whales)

"Mr. REED SUMMERS": In achieving three-part harmony in whale songs, I think we've tied nature's most wondrous sound to a great barbershop tradition.

(Soundbite of singing whales)

NORRIS: Well, listener Maxine Scooter(ph) of Biloxi, Mississippi takes issue with that.

SIEGEL: Having studied music at college, I want Mr. Summers to know that what he calls three-part harmony is not. Two of the whales are plainly singing the same note. That may be clever, but it's not barbershop.

BLOCK: And Brian Michel Royale(ph) of Cincinnati writes this.

NORRIS: My dad used to take us kids harpooning for whale back in the 1960s before the International Whaling Commission ruined all that fun. We think your conductor, Reed Summers, doesn't deserve all the credit for getting the captive sea mammals to sing.

"Mr. BRIAN MICHEL ROYALE": It wasn't that the whales couldn't sing in harmony, they were just too busy expressing their individuality. They weren't so attached to the group. NPR should be ridiculed to the point of humiliation for permitting such careless remarks on the air.

SIEGEL: Well, if you think we're swimming out of the pod or hitting the wrong note, go to npr.org and click on Contact Us.

BLOCK: One final correction from yesterday's story. We credited the recordings of the whales to the Steubenville, Ohio community college. In fact, they were provided by the Cornell Ornithology Lab.

(Soundbite of singing whales)

NORRIS: Coming up, Kindle users file suit over eye injuries suffered from faulty online 3-D pop-up books.

BLOCK: That's next on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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