Are Member Drive Challenges for Real?

I headed back to the "AirTalk" production office shortly after noon today, digesting the word that we hadn't reached our 50 listener threshold to fulfill our hour's $5,000 challenge. We hadn't missed an "AirTalk" challenge in so long that I couldn't remember the last time it happened. I was trying to focus on our successful streak and not on this morning's miss. However, about ten minutes later, our on-air fundraising director, Stephanie Patterson, appeared at the door with some good news. More than 20 contributors were in the process of giving at kpcc.org when "AirTalk" ended. We were able to count those members and make the challenge! Needless to say, that's the closest we've cut it in a long time. Yes, the challenges are real and can't be claimed from donors unless we fulfill the terms.

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Life, Inc. and Member Drives

Social critic Douglas Rushkoff talked this morning about what he sees as the "corporate model" taking over almost every aspect of our lives. Whether you think that's hyperbole or not, it was nice to hear him mention listener support for public radio as a prime example of how people can make decisions that run counter to the pressures of a strictly commercial market. Rushkoff used public media to make the point that we need to think over the long-term about where we spend our money, not just looking for the lowest immediate price or gratification.

With that in mind, thank you for supporting KPCC and SCPR. Our listeners in recent months and years have made an impressive investment in our news coverage. We're doing our best to honor that commitment and hope you take part in this short fiscal year-end drive.

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Silly and Funny

I have to admit to being surprised when our "Film Week" critics, Claudia Puig and Henry Sheehan, praised "The Hangover" as a very funny movie. One of the things I appreciate about our critics is their ability to appreciate "lowbrow" comedy, when well executed. However, I usually don't see those good reviews of silly movies coming before they arrive.

Though he didn't get a chance to review "The Hangover" for us, Peter Rainer is truly a connoisseur of good goofy comedies--much like Andy Klein is an authority on martial arts and Asian horror genres.

This is one of the advantages of having so many excellent critics on our weekly film review segments. They develop specialties based on their personal tastes and backgrounds. Over time, you probably get a good sense of which critics you relate to most and which ones leave you scratching your head. It's all part of the fun.

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Obama's Pacing and Formality

I didn’t have a chance to raise this on the air this morning, but I wonder if anyone else noticed the pacing and formality of President Obama’s speech in Cairo. Though it might be trivial to some listeners, I’m always interested in the way in which a message is delivered. I was wondering if the President’s lack of common contractions and slower pace might have been designed to allow for easier simultaneous translation. If you have any thoughts on the style of his address, as well as the substance, please share them here.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear our critics’ reviews of Land of the Lost and The Hangover. We’ll also interview film critic for The Oregonian, Shawn Levy, about his new biography of Paul Newman. I’ll talk with you then.

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Are lower thresholds the answer?

What do you think of California Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell’s proposal to lower the threshold for parcel taxes for public schools? I recall widespread opinion that voters wouldn’t approve large capital bond measures for schools, even with a lower 55% vote requirement. In fact, as the Superintendent mentioned, the vast majority of the bonds did pass, after the rules were changed. Is making it easier to pass local taxes the right approach to take to schools’ operating budgets?

Lisa See’s new novel, Shanghai Girls, takes us back to Los Angeles’ tourist attraction, China City. I’ve seen some great photos of what it looked like during its relatively short lifespan. The late Ralph Story also included a segment on China City in one of his Things That Aren’t Here Anymore specials for KCET. I see that they’re available on DVD. If you’re an L. A. history buff, the shows are a real treat.

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