Monday roundup: WNYC’s plans for health coverage; Mike Nichols’s pronunciation test

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• Writing for Nieman Lab, news industry analyst Ken Doctor previews plans at New York’s WNYC to expand health coverage with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The reporting will help listeners examine their own health, extending the kind of engagement WNYC incorporated into its Clock Your Sleep project. “WNYC’s approach is the kind of agenda-setting for which our times plainly call,” Doctor writes. “The big notion: Assess some of the greatest needs of the communities you serve and set an agenda of how to do journalism around those issues. And figure out ways to involve readers and listeners in the work, so the journalism isn’t just being done to them.”

Maybe Nichols could pronounce "Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra," but do all classical hosts need to meet his standards? (Photo: Adam Schartoff via Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Maybe Nichols could pronounce “Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,” but do all classical hosts need to meet his standards? (Photo: Adam Schartoff via Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

• The death of director Mike Nichols gave a public radio music director cause to revisit a devilishly difficult pronunciation exam that Nichols developed while a host on Chicago’s WFMT-FM. Nichols’s test required classical hosts to show mastery of names such as “Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Carl Schuricht, Nicanor Zabaleta, Hans Knappertsbusch and the Hammerklavier Sonata.”

Writing for his blog Scanning the Dial, Joe Goetz says he finds the Mike Nichols test “to be almost completely irrelevant.” “If I were looking for potential talent, I would be more interested in finding someone who is passionate about classical  music, can tell a great story, and find unique ways to display their personality while drawing the listener in through compelling programming,” he writes. “If they flub a few names along the way, so be it.”

• At last week’s Public Radio Super-Regional conference in Las Vegas, radio researcher Paul Jacobs gave a speech in which he took Audience 98, a landmark study of public radio’s audience, down a few notches. That didn’t sit well with consultant John Sutton, who worked on the report. “[I]nstead of getting over it, I’m thinking perhaps more people need to get into it,” Sutton writes on his blog. “. . . That’s because 16 years later, we continue to successfully apply the lessons learned from Audience 98 in our consulting work with public radio stations and producers.”

Sutton’s post prompted a response from Jacobs, who said, “My point in bringing this up is that the America that exists today, and the media ecosystem that public radio lives in, are decidedly different than when this study was fielded. Audience 98 does an excellent job identifying the foundation for public radio for the audience and media structure that existed at that time. That time is over.”

• As usual, there’s no shortage of takes on Serial to peruse, including David Carr’s writeup for the New York Times and this Advertising Age look at podcast advertising. But this is my favorite Serial-related tab in recent days: this petition via a White House portal to require an episode to be released on Thanksgiving. (Serial‘s producers are taking the week off.) Hey, only 99,991 signatures to g0! C’mon, Obama, forget about pardoning turkeys — focus on what really matters this holiday!