Saturday, August 28, 2010

Radio: On Charlie Chan

TORONTO, ONTARIO - This week offered a lot of candidates for the weekly radio pick, but in the end I have to give the nod to On Point. Very rarely does a talk show bring up a cultural topic on which I am somewhat ignorant, discuss it at length, bring up another cultural topic on which I am totally ignorant, and have callers offering great insights into the interplay between the two. On Point from WBUR and NPR this week managed to do that in a 46-minute show on the character of Charlie Chan which at the insistence of a rather obnoxious guest branched out to Guan Gong. This was public radio talk at its best.

Listen to MP3 of On Point "Sleuthing Out 'Charlie Chan'"

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There was a long list of runner-ups this week. Perhaps I'll divide them by category, with On Point earning the honor in the "talk show" category. In the "entertainment" category, the clear winner was the CBC's ReVision Quest episode "What's So Funny About Being Native?" which offered insight into the interplay of humor with the native condition as well as a lot of straight comedy material.

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In the category of "interviews," the clear winner was Wisconsin Public Radio's To The Best of Our Knowledge and its episode Losing Religion. I don't often hear multiple authors with perspectives I haven't heard before on the same show, and the team from Madison pulled that off this week.

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In the category of "commentary," Ira Basen of the CBC blew me away with a scathing analysis of the Harper administration's political strategy, comparing it to Stephen Colbert on this week's episode of The House.

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