TV

In HBO's new series Westworld, a futuristic amusement park is populated with androids who look and sound convincingly human. So in the age of 3D printed organs and advanced artificial intelligence, how close are we to making realistic robots? Today, we compare science fact with science fiction.

Then, whether it's the overuse of like, saying "nuculear", or using the word "literally", figuratively, misuse of language has a way of getting under our skin. A linguist assures us that language is always changing...so loosen up. Today, why dictionaries and grammar sticklers can't stop improper language.

RICARDO PABLO via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qTaa3F

Psychiatrists have noticed an increase in patients who believe they are subjects of a reality TV show. Today, we learn about “the Truman Show delusion,” and the provocative hypothesis linking psychosis not only to brain chemistry and genetics, but culture and environment.

Then, studies on television viewing habits can be confusing: it shortens lifespans, improves sex-lives, decreases motor skills, and builds empathy. But what if it were your job to be glued to the tube?

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6q9vFQ

It's called poverty tourism: guided visits to slums and shantytowns for close-up view of locals living in the shadows of landmarks and luxury hotels. Today, the pros and cons of straying off the typical tourist path.

Then, media outlets, pop culture blogs, TV re-cappers and social media are all potential spoilers for others who've yet to see a blockbuster or hit show. Yet global social media thrives on discussion in real time...so what's a person to do? Vulture polled its readers to find out the best approach for spoiler etiquette and we spoke with a TV and movie critic about the results. 

TV on the Radio & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 22, 2016
stevestein1982 via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7aGdeb

Big-budget movies aim to break box office records, not win over critics.  Today, a reporter comes up with a formula to rank the worst-rated, highest grossing movies of all time...and there are a lot of them.

Then, the creators of Naked and Afraid bank on nudity hooking viewers in, but know they can't show the naughty bits during prime time. That's where "the blur man group" comes in.

Plus, we'll speak to a woman who counsels reality TV stars -  a population excessively prone to addiction, depression and suicide - to cope with sudden and fleeting fame.

4.20.16: TV on the Radio - Part Two

Apr 20, 2016
Alan Levine via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/aKNqLD

Big-budget movies aim to break box office records, not win over critics.  Today, a reporter comes up with a formula to rank the worst-rated, highest grossing movies of all time...and there are a lot of them.

Then, the creators of Naked and Afraid bank on nudity hooking viewers in, but know they can't show the naughty bits during prime time. That's where "the blur man group" comes in.

Plus, we'll speak to a woman who counsels reality TV stars -  a population excessively prone to addiction, depression and suicide - to cope with sudden and fleeting fame.

Prayitno via Flikcr CC / https://flic.kr/p/hmR8pM

Millennials are obsessing over a show about a group of twenty-somethings living their lives and making mistakes in New York City. No, it isn’t Girls, Broad City  – in fact you've probably have seen an  episode of this show...or two...or maybe two hundred. Today, the surprise resurgence of Friends.

And from low-brow sitcoms to high-brow performance - at nearly 20 epic hours, Wagner's Ring Cycle is rarely staged outside of the world's premiere opera houses. We'll hear about one man's mission to condense the masterpiece for local audiences.

2.16.16: Super Cop, Robo-Advisors, & Carson the Butler

Feb 16, 2016
Justin Morgan via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/staa

Many of today's police cars are outfitted with high tech cameras that can scan license plates across four lanes of traffic. They're designed to help stop terrorism, but police departments are using them for a more lucrative purpose: nabbing people for unpaid traffic fines. On today’s show, the ultimate traffic cops.

Plus, would you take investment advice from a robot?  With an increasing number of banks offering automated services, we'll get a profile of investors willing to ditch traditional financial advisors for an algorithm.

All that plus a conversation with Jim Carter, better known as Carson the Butler from Downton Abbey

Staff Picks: Firing on All Cylinders, 10.18.15

Oct 16, 2015
http://bit.ly/1LSvKBU

"An Actual Duck": I've always found store bought costumes to be a bit lacking in creativity, yes, I am a costume snob. I went to art school, it's a prerequisite. But I think I would applaud loudly if I saw any of these posters in the pop-up Halloween costume shop. If I ever went to those places... - Logan

George via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/tmp3jA

Since World War II, as many as 100,000 service members have been “less than honorably discharged” for being gay. Now, four years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gay vets look to change the record. Today, what goes into rewriting history. Then, forgery in the art industry is not rare -- but a con artist who has been caught and never sent to jail is. We’ll speak to the directors of a film that looks inside the mind of the mischievous shut-in and skilled artist who donated masterful forgeries to more than 46 museums. 

"Family watching television 1958" by Evert F. Baumgardner - National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1D0HxEN

Television is dead! Long live television! Despite predictions of its demise, a new golden age of tv is hitting its stride. Today, three critics weigh in on what’s on, who’s cutting the cable cord, and where the business of TV is headed. We’ll also get some thoughts on what’s worth watching, including the summer’s most divisive offering, True Detective. Then, it’s Ramadan. If you didn’t know that, you aren’t alone…American retailers are ignoring the growing Muslim market at their peril.

dicktay2000 via Flickr CC

Dr. Joy Reidenberg caught us up on the new PBS series she hosts, Sex in the Wild. She brought some crazy stories and fun facts with her, the best of which we’ve compiled here. We’ll add a quick warning: Dr.

7.20.14: TV On The Radio

Jul 18, 2014
Chris Brown via Flickr Creative Commons

From airplanes to high school cafeterias, television is everywhere these days. Whether you are a Game of Thrones diehard or an Orange is the New Black binger, most of us have found ourselves entrenched in what some call the Third Golden Age of Television. Today on Word of Mouth we talk all things television. First, Matt Zoller Seitz  makes the case that Seinfeld was the original anti-hero.

dailyinvention via Flickr Creative Commons

Underwear, television and delusion. No, not a David Sedaris essay. These are some of the topics we are exploring on today’s Word of Mouth. Join us for an interview with psychiatrist Joe Gold about increasing prevalence of “Truman Show Delusions,” wherein people believe their life to be an elaborate reality show. Then, we talk to NY Times TV critic, Neil Gezlinger, about why television might not be the brain melting fluff we have been taught to think. Plus, producer Taylor Quimby makes a startling confession about his undergarments. Also, birds are in our trees, on the beach and constantly in sight during the summer months, so we bring you two stories featuring these graceful creatures. 

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been 25 years since Larry David’s “show-about-nothing” debuted on NBC, but it lives on. Recently a critic made the argument that Seinfeld not only transformed the sitcom but paved the way for television’s anti-hero dramas. Plus, not even a month into summer, you may already be approaching capacity on grilled burgers and hot dogs. JM Hirsch, food editor for the Associated Press joins us to inject new ideas into the outdoor cooking season. And, a sneak peak of bands heading to western Massachusetts for this weekend’s Green River Festival.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


Joel Christian Gill

Whether it’s a catchy theme song, or a single image - think Mary Tyler Moore tossing her cap into the air – some TV credit sequences are etched in our minds. Today we listen for the greatest TV opening sequences of all time. Plus, a look at a graphic novel that reveals the untold stories of African-American history…including that of Richard Potter, for whom the New Hampshire town of Potter Place is named. Then, tis the season for mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks. How are you preventing pesky bites? We sample the rainbow of bug repellant…from witch hazel to DEET.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.


Today we talked to Logan Hill of Los Angeles Magazine about his article “Fire in the Belly,” in which he explores the strategies utilized by TV execs when faced with a pregnant actress. From Lucille Ball to Kerry Washington, it is a challenge as old as, well, television. Listen to the segment here.

We thought this was such a great topic that we decided to compile our own list of amusing TV/real life pregnancies.

Esther Vargas via flickr Creative Commons

Today on Word of Mouth, we take a trip to the land of Trebek for a lesson on Jeopardy theory. And who doesn't love a good Netflix binge? But what if that Netflix binge takes a year and a half and covers 20 years worth of episodes? We hear from the man who watched 456 episodes of Law & Order to document the use of computers in the show.

Next, we head over to Sad YouTube, a project meant to highlight humanity in a sea of negative YouTube comments.

Our last two segments bring us back to reality. First, a look at sexism in the Philosophy department of University of Colorado-Boulder. And finally, NHPR's Amanda Loder visits the NH ski club of a US Olympian. 


The Perps Worst Nightmare via flickr Creative Commons

In an effort to explore our cultural relationship with computer technology, artist Jeff Thompson watched 20 years worth of Law & Order – a total of 456 episodes – and documented when computers were used and how.  The project was commissioned by the arts and technology organization Rhizome.

Sony

50 years ago, inspired by the 1964 World’s Fair, Isaac Asimov wrote an article for the New York Times envisioning what the world might look like in 2014. Among his predictions: “By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.  Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Breakfasts will be "ordered" the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.” While we may not have “automeals,” many of Asimov’s predictions were remarkably prescient. Now that we have time on our side, let’s discuss the technology forecast for 2014. Tech analyst and writer Tim Bajarin joins us.

millerfarm via Flickr Creative Commons

The relatively unknown song "Daylight" by Brooklyn-based band Matt and Kim was featured in a 2009 Bacardi commercial, and by the following year went gold, selling over 500 thousand copies and sweeping Matt and Kim into the mainstream. Not so long ago, selling your music to ad agencies was considered the lowest form of selling out, a sure-fire way to lose hard-core fans. Today many musicians see it as the only way to make a living. And fans, for the most part, seem to be turning a blind eye. 

via buzzfeed.com

Breaking Bad follows a high school science teacher who cooks up meth with a former student, kicking off a fast slide into murder, extortion and unsavory partnerships as a bona fide drug lord. Too crazy to be true…right? Well, maybe not. In 2011, police in California arrested Stephen Kinzey; professor by day, outlaw biker and meth distributor by night. Kinzey has been out on bail since his initial arrest. The preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the case against him is strong enough to go to trial was scheduled for June, it’s since been delayed.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote about the real-life Walter White for BuzzFeed, and took the time to talk with us. She’s also a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and The New York Times among others.

Battlestar Wiki

After we explored the possibility of the next Doctor Who becoming a woman, we got to thinking about all the other characters we’ve come to love over the years that were supposed to be - or originally were - the opposite sex.

We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Gender Swapped Characters.

random ideal via Flickr Creative Commons

A new TV trend has emerged, "hate-watching," or staying true to shows that make you feel a little bit bad about yourself the morning.

This year we found hate-watch blogs on TV Guide, The Root, and TV.com, among other places. We've also compiled our own list, curated by Senior Producer and resident television addict Rebecca Lavoie.


dafyd via Flickr Creative Commons

With the glut of content available on Netflix, cable, and even YouTube, summertime TV longer has the monopoly on re-runs. Well, a new study reveals that watching reruns doesn’t only kill time. It may actually be good for you.  Tom Jacobs is a science writer with Pacific Standard.

Plus...we did a little man-on-the-street survey about re-runs, asking regular folks, "What show or movie can you watch over and over again?" 

The Upside of Piracy...

May 14, 2012
(Photo by phreneticgamer via Flickr)

TV is big right now. Premium channel series like Mad MenGirls, and Game of Thrones are the stuff of water cooler and Twitter conversations, leaving those without access to cable in quandary…do they patiently await the iTunes, or Netflix release? Or give in, and illegally download fresh episodes? Even law-abiding viewers admitted to pirating Downton Abbey from British television before it made it to PBS.

(Photo by Twinxamot via Flickr Creative Commons)

These days, there’s a reality TV show for every hobby, lifestyle, income bracket, family situation, and even religious persuasion.

This piece was not my idea. It was Linda Holmes'. If you're reading this blog, you probably share my regard for her take on popular culture. So my ears pricked up when she suggested I look into doing a radio piece on Kyle Killen.

Historian Simon Schama calls it another example of British television’s “cultural necrophilia”. Well then, bring out your dead…the Downton Abbey miniseries now airing Sunday nights on PBS has invigorated public television, revved up sales of cloche hats and maxi skirts, and has publishers scrambling to appeal to readers who devour period dramas.