Monday roundup: NPR stages events series, PRPD panelists reflect on conference

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• An upcoming series of live stage shows around the country staged by NPR will focus on topics including water, football and voting rights, reports the New York Times. The series about water will feature elements of music, theater and storytelling to focus drought in the West and mudslides in the Pacific Northwest, among other issues. Indira Etwaroo, e.p. of the NPR Presents series, tells the Times that the events will “create something entirely new in terms of the storytelling.”

Zappa

Recordings of a 1981 concert staged by Frank Zappa were discovered in New York Public Radio’s archives. (Photo: Jean-Luc, licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

• Participants in last week’s Public Radio Program Directors conference in Portland, Ore., are reflecting on their experiences. Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs, who gave presentations at PRPD about connected cars and the annual Public Radio Tech Survey, looks back on NPR President Jarl Mohn’s speech and a panel on reporting in dangerous situations. And consultant Susan Davis recaps her panel on podcasting. We covered Mohn’s speech, even yet still more clocks and a new distribution agreement for Carnegie Hall Live.

• Archivists at New York Public Radio have unearthed a long-lost recording of a 1981 tribute to avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse, staged and hosted by composer and guitarist Frank Zappa and performed by New York ensemble Orchestra of Our Time. Until now, the performance had been preserved only in the form of lo-fi bootlegs. NYPR archivists discovered the newly released reel-to-reel recording in boxes in an offsite vault in New Jersey. “When else has there been a concert of decidedly uncompromising music been performed in a 3000-seat rock venue for an enthusiastic, young audience?” wrote Senior Archivist Marcos Sueiro Bal and producer Alex Ambrose.

• Nieman Lab takes an in-depth look at the resurgence in podcasting, taking note of many pubmedia podcasts — including The Longest Shortest Time, Death, Sex & Money and 99% Invisible. “The broadcast signal only has so many hours in the day and days in the week,” says Thomas Hjelm, executive vice president and chief digital officer of New York Public Radio. “Producing new podcasts expands and breaks apart the traditional radio schedule and allows us to produce new content in new ways that otherwise wouldn’t fit in our schedule.”