Best of 2012: 360 Behind the Scenes
Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 12:00 PM
This year, Studio 360 redesigned teachers, profiled up-and-coming stars of the music world, and featured hundreds of works of art made by you. Our cup runneth over with great tape.
The staff assembled this list of our favorite moments from 2012 — the segments we liked working on and listening to the most — with a dash of Producer's Commentary.
A Golden Age for Women in Hollywood?
As it turns out, my three runners up are all conversations I had with great musicians of whom I'm a fan, and who has each transformed their part of music in an important way: David Byrne, Philip Glass, and Diana Krall. In all those cases I feel as though I made an unusual connection and had a conversation that got a bit deeper than usual and went in directions I couldn't have predicted. But my single favorite, I guess, was my piece about the ascension of female filmmakers. I'd had a kind of Aha moment that half of favorite films of the last year had been by women, and this piece, exploring the 2012 state of play for women in the movie business, let me figure out how and why that was so — and made me feel hopeful about the arc of history, Hollywood-wise.
— Kurt Andersen, Host
Nneka’s Heavy Soul
I love it when our listeners make me see something in a completely new light. I initially took notice of Nneka because of her eclectic, richly produced pop, infused with hints of Afrobeat, reggae, and hip-hop. So when she came into our studio to record an acoustic set, exhausted from a string of live shows, I was concerned. The energy I expected wasn’t there, and I wasn’t sure how she would be received on the show. But after listeners told us how taken aback they were by her raw, emotional performance, I realized that her quiet intensity was just as compelling. Our studio recording left her fans wanting more, and it always feels good when we’ve given people something they haven’t heard anywhere else.
— Leital Molad, Senior Producer
Mo Willems Remembers Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are is a masterpiece. Every time I revisit the book, its illustrations light up dormant parts of my brain, and the story warms my heart with an only-sweet nostalgia. As a child, this book was a prized possession, sitting on my bookshelf alongside The Napping House and The Golden Easter Egg (how is this book out of print?) — books whose illustrations are as engaging as their story and whose story is a cut above. Hearing Maurice Sendak remembered by Mo Willems, an author now illuminating the minds of a new generation (Knuffle Bunny), is the perfect way to reflect on Sendak’s work and the loss of a great artist.
— Jessie Taylor, Intern
Nobody Walks in LA
Haunted by the refrain "Nobody walks in LA" in the 1981 song "Walking in LA" by Missing Persons, Alissa Walker was sick of the line as LA's unofficial motto. So she tracked down the song’s writer, talked to the Los Angeles Times architecture critic, and got some answers from the city's Department of Transportation about how LA is changing its tune about pedestrians. Walker turned what could've been a dry city planning story into a fun quest. She connects the dots between 80's pop music, TV comedy history, and LA's car culture, and asks tough urban design questions along the way.
— Michele Siegel, Associate Producer
Aha Moment: Beastie Boys
I knew I wanted to have the playwright Young Jean Lee on Studio 360 as soon as I saw Untitled Feminist Show, a wordless performance piece she created which stars six women in the nude. At senior editor David Krasnow's suggestion, I interviewed her for an Aha Moment. When she told me that the messy, eccentric rhymes of the Beastie Boys album Paul’s Boutique had basically made her into the experimentalist she is today, I was charmed. I felt like I had found my alternative-rap-loving, avant-garde-theater-making kindred spirit.
— Alana Harper, Production Assistant
Winner: Ode to Justin Timberlake
I’ll remember 2012 as the year Studio 360 listeners brought it. You sent us hundreds of short stories, photomontages, slogans, and more. For our Ode to a Teen Idol contest — judged by Pulitzer-winner Tracy K. Smith — poets went dark for Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain. But the winning poem was all about swagger: “Justin, how could anyone love you more than I / who have been won over from adolescent spite / by the irrefutable humors of your unlikely funk?” Indeed.
— Jenny Lawton, Producer
Biophony: Music of the Wild
Music and nature have profound importance to me, as they both invoke intense feelings across the emotional spectrum. This segment (which originally aired in 2008) was a tremendously interesting profile of biologist Bernie Krause's theory of biophony — how animals create sounds that compliment one another while maintaining their own voices in the orchestral arrangement of the outdoors. This interaction of music, science, and creativity is a perfect example of how Studio 360 brings it all together.
— Matt Liebowitz, Intern
Teacher Redesign Revealed
We all know teachers aren't given enough credit for teaching, but they're also woefully unrecognized for being creative thinkers and artists. That's what made the Teacher Redesign really fresh radio. At the request of a veteran teacher, and with the help of a New York design firm, we took the iconography associated with teachers from ABCs, 123s, and "apple crapple" to symbols built around the theme of "connecting the dots." Long overdue.
— Sean Rameswaram, Assistant Producer
The Man Who Invented the Dinosaurs
My favorite radio pieces are those that surprise me, or touch on a topic I hadn’t ever considered before. This segment did just that, and I really enjoyed learning the history of how modern depictions of dinosaurs came to be. It was interesting to imagine visiting an old museum, where bones were displayed in drawers instead of assembled into life-sized models. Plus, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
— Alena Kuczynski, Intern