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Planet Money – The Eddie Murphy Rule

July 28, 2013
Planet Money – The Eddie Murphy Rule
Podcast release date: July 9, 2013
Time: 26:02

Frozen concentrated orange juiceFrozen concentrated orange juice

I’ve watched Trading Places several times, but I’ve never thought twice about how accurately the movie depicted commodities trading. However, after viewing Trading Places recently, Roman Mars wondered what happened on the trading floor at the end of the movie and went to Planet Money for answers.

Roman Mars co-hosts the Planet Money episode. They talk to commodities brokers (including one that trades frozen concentrated orange juice futures), and Trading Places gets many of the financial details right. Near the end of the movie, brokers on the trading floor are focused on frozen concentrated orange juice futures which hinges on a crop report for oranges that will be released later that morning. Planet Money steps through this scene with the experts, deciphering and explaining some of the dialogue.

The insider information about the orange juice crop report used in the movie was legal 30 years ago, but wouldn’t be legal today. Testimony in 2010 recommending a ban on using insider information in commodities markets mentioned Trading Places, and the ban became known as “The Eddie Murphy Rule.”

I like the way the collaboration between Roman Mars and Planet Money for this episode began with a question Roman Mars thought Planet Money could answer. You can also hear this episode with an introduction by Roman Mars on the second part of the Ladislav Sutnar + Trading Places with Planet Money” episode of 99% Invisible.

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Radio Diaries – Teenage Diaries Revisited

June 22, 2013

In 1996, Joe Richman gave tape recorders and microphones to a diverse group of teenagers and asked them to talk about and record moments in their life for Radio Diaries. He kept in touch with some teenagers and lost touch with others. When Melissa, whose 1996 diary included the birth of her son, contacted him sixteen years later, he was inspired to produce Teenage Diaries Revisited. He gives five of the people who recorded diaries in 1996 (Amanda, Frankie, Josh, Juan, and Melissa) the opportunity to revisit their teenage diaries and update their story.

Teenage Diaries Revisited aired on All Things Considered during one week in May. Radio Diaries has been making a Teenage Diaries Revisited podcast episode available every few weeks since then. I’ve been listening to the podcast versions, but I’ve listened to a few of the All Things Considered versions. I’d recommend the podcasts to anyone who isn’t familiar with the original radio diaries from 1996, since they include the 1996 radio diary before the current diary. The shorter versions are great if you’ve listened to all of the diaries from the 1990’s and can’t wait to hear what happened in the past 16 years.

When I listened to the diaries, I was impressed by how much of their lives they were willing to share before they clicked the tape recorder off and how they took care to record different aspects of their lives. If you’re curious about how Teenage Diaries was created and produced, I highly recommend the How Sounds episode, “Josh: Growing Up With Tourette’s” which was released on May 8, 2013. The episode gives a behind the scenes look at Josh’s diary and gave me an appreciation for the amount of work that went into the recording and production of these diaries.

If you’re interested in recording your own radio diary, check out the Radio Diaries Teen Reporter Handbook for technical, storytelling, and interviewing tips and (if you’re a teenager) the call for new teenage diaries from NPR and Radio Diaries. Transom.org and How Sound are also amazing resources for those interested in producing stories for radio or podcasts or listeners interested in learning more about how the magic happens.

Pick of the Week: The Moth – Me & Her & It

April 16, 2013
The Moth – Me & Her & It
Podcast release date: April 8, 2013
Time: 20:16

In this episode of The Moth, Peter Aguero tells the story of his wife’s struggle with epilepsy and his struggle to help her and keep her safe. After his wife’s seizures become more severe and frequent, they decide to go to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City to try to induce and document the seizures in hopes of finding a way to prevent the seizures. The story starts with Peter meeting his mom at Penn Station to visit his wife in the hospital traveling to the hospital via the subway. Peter gives detailed descriptions of the subway ride, the subways stations (especially the 168th Street Station), his mom’s reaction to the subway, and his wife’s epileptic seizures. Although the story focuses on his wife’s epilepsy, New York City, his mom, and his struggle to find help figure prominently in the story, too. Peter Aguero is a masterful storyteller and expresses a wide range of emotions while telling the story.

If you enjoy this story, I’d recommend listening to some Peter Aguero’s other stories, such as Me and Mama vs. Christmas.

Pick of the Week: 99% Invisible – Secret Staircases

April 1, 2013
99% Invisible – Secret Staircases
Podcast release date: March 20, 2013
Time: 11:58

This episode of 99% Invisible explores the secret stairs that run between homes in hilly southern California. Sam Greenspan talks to Charles Fleming, the author of Secret Stairs and the leader of monthly secret stairs tours in California. Most of the stairs were constructed in the 1920s and 1940s, and seem to remain as remnants of a time with more pedestrian traffic and public transportation.

I found the story of how Charles Fleming came to be an expert on public stairs in Los Angeles to be as fascinating as the history of public stairs. He started walking to heal himself and avoid a third spinal surgery. As he increased the length of his walks, he looked for new challenges and started climbing and mapping public stairs.

Roman Mars emphasizes that walking on stairs so close to houses feels like trespassing. If I visit southern California, I want to follow some of Charles Fleming’s secret stair walks to see parts of California I probably wouldn’t see otherwise. Even though the stairs may not serve the same purpose they did 70-90 years ago, I like the way people value the stairs enough to find ways to remove illegal fences that sometimes block access to the public stairs.

If you enjoy this episode, I’d also recommend 99% Invisible’s The Great Red Car Conspiracy episode, which delves into the history of the Red Car and transportation in southern California.