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Last night was the kind of evening when most people want to curl up under a blanket watch the latest episode of 106 & Park or 30 Rock. With temperatures in the lower teens, I wondered how many of the new Radio Rookies would make the 1.5 hour trek from their neighborhood down to Soho to visit WNYC Radio for the first time.

Those new Bronx Rookies showed me--all 7 made the trip! While at the station the Rookies listened to Rookie graduate Keith’s Valentine's Day story, had a chance to sit in Leonard Lopate’s studio and get the behind the microphone, and a Daily News reporter interviewed them for an article.

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    All this week, we've talked about class on The Takeaway. And we gave you an assignment: take a photo of something in or around your house that indicates what class you're in. 

    You sent us some great photos, which you can see after the jump — and we've asked photographer Karen Marshall to help curate them. Marshall is a documentary photographer. She's on the faculty at the International Center of Photography, where she is a seminar leader in the photojournalism documentary program.

    Add yours.

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    The world has been shocked by three photographs released by German magazine Der Spiegel. The photos depict dead civilians in Afghanistan and U.S. Soldiers who are accused of killing them for sport. Part of a self-designated “Kill Team,” the soldiers appear to be making fun of their victims. In one, a soldier smiles as he holds up the head of a civilian corpse. In another, two dead civilians appear to be tied at the wrists. The U.S. Army has released a statement calling the soldiers’ actions “repugnant,” and assuring the public that prosecution is underway. But will this be enough to stem the tide of what appears to be another Abu Ghraib?

    Filmmaker Errol Morris is familiar with this issue. Winner of the Oscar for “Fog of War,” he also directed the critically acclaimed documentary about Abu Ghraib “Standard Operating Procedure.”


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    The White House has announced that it will not release photos of Osama bin Laden’s death. Quoting the transcript of President Obama’s upcoming interview with 60 Minutes, set to air this Sunday, White House Spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters that, “It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to further violence or as a propaganda tool.” Some very graphic photos from the raid have already been published by The Guardian. Is the release of graphic photos a good idea? 

    To discuss the administration’s decision to withhold photos of Osama bin Laden’s body, we speak with Fred Ritchin, professor of Photography and Imaging at at New York University, and author of “After Photography.”

    Fred Ritchin was the photo editor at The New York Times Magazine from 1978 – 1982.

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  • 08/28/11--14:31: Photos: Hurricane Irene
  • We asked you to submit your photos of Hurricane Irene, which moved from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to New England over the weekend, weakening from a Type 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, killing at least 16 people and shutting down public transit in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. Here are some of the submissions we've received. Do you have a photo from the storm? Submit it here, or call us at 1-877-8-MY-TAKE and tell us about your Hurricane Irene experience.

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    The cold of the Antarctic was the final frontier during the last era of exploration. From 1492 until the early 20th century, explorers ventured off to discover new lands and plant their national flags.

    The South Pole was the most elusive of all. And now some historians have opened a window back in time by restoring a block of photographic negatives discovered in a frozen in ice for nearly a century.

    The images, still intact, allow us to peer into what historians call the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.

    Lizzie Meek, program manager for Artefacts at the Antarctic Heritage Trust, was one of the first people to see the restored images.

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    Click on the audio player above to hear this interview.

    When New Hampshire passed a law banning ballot photos in an effort to curb voter coercion, the New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state on the grounds that the law violated protected political speech.

    As The Takeaway previously reported, the ACLU won that suit, a decision which has been met with significant criticism. 

    In our second segment covering this surprisingly polarizing topic, Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, explains why he believes selfies have no place at the polls. 

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  • 05/07/09--08:33: Recent Photos
  • We're halfway through our current workshop in the Bronx, at the Next Generation Center. Here's some photos of the Rookies at work.

    Since the start of the workshop in February, the Rookies have been learning how to use ProTools, brainstorming and pitching story ideas, interviewing, recording sounds, loading tape, transcribing, and writing narration for their radio documentaries to be aired on WNYC at the end of the workshop.

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    Our online collaboration of economic coverage between listeners and the Brian Lehrer Show now has more than 700 posts, and occasionally we get a peek at some of the people producing the content. We thought you'd like to see them too!

    Submissions from listeners have helped WNYC look closer at the myriad ways the economic crisis has affected us, from small business health insurance, to changing container sizes to economy graffiti to pets at risk and much more. Keep it coming!

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  • 12/09/09--09:37: I Stand Corrected...
  • I felt like such a hypocrite. Here I am in Queens, challenging the teens to find a sense of connection to their community, possibly eradicate their assumptions, and change their views about the place, while I think to myself 'me? Start a radio workshop in Queens? How dreadful! Love the kids, just not Queens - it's my least favorite borough.' Come on! Can Queens really be anyone's favorite borough? But after the 5 weeks long workshop, these kids and their stories about flushing made me reevaluate.

    The Radio Rookies Short Wave stories even caught the eye of the 'Urban Omnibus,' a collective of artists, journalists, architects, planners, activists, scholars and citizens starting a dialogue on design and NYC. They tapped into Short Wave workshop's collaboration with the Mapping Main Street documentary project. Most of the Short Wave students go to school or participate in programs within the Flushing community so who better to tell the stories of Main Street in Queens than the kids who spend more than half their waking lives there. You can read Urban Omnibus article here.

    Personally, doing this Mapping Main Street project opened up my own convictions against Queens. I've always been a huge despiser of Queens. Love Brooklyn! Hate Queens! I didn't have patience for the sporadic transit system and the most indirect street numbering grid system in NYC. I'm sure the city planners have very legitimate reasons for the designs, but it's very confusing. Here's a question back to Urban Omnibus why do you suppose there are duplicate street numbers with Drives, Streets, Places, and Avenues consecutively one after the other or it jumps? For example, 65th Street, 65th Drive, 65th Avenue one right after the other; not to mention a 208th street, followed by Oceanic Street and then 210th street, I get it Oceanic is 209th street (maybe?), but still room for panic. I would need bread crumbs or rather some yarn to get me out of the Queens labyrinth - well actually we have GPS.

    Cheers to the Radio Rookies Short Wavers who've helped me see a better light. While this project connected the students back to their community, they've also helped connect me to this noble counterpart of Kings. After a 15 year long standing notion, I love Queens for Flushing, The Queens Museum of Art, Jackson Heights, LIC, Noguchi Museum, Astoria, Sunnyside and everything along the 7 line on the MTA. Maybe someday I'll venture beyond the 7 line, but, do I dare to get lost in Queens? Not quite yet.

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  • 12/12/09--09:11: 10 Year Anniversary Party
  • One of the Rookies asked me 'why is it that we have to throw the party on a brick cold day?' But, despite the arctic temperature and the wind chill factor Rookies from past and present showed up. We all came together and celebrated being a part of the Rookies family for the past 10 years and looking ahead to many more years.

    Janelle Lewis joined in 1999 when Radio Rookies first launched, which at that time was called 'The Harlem Radio and Photography Project.'  She told us how Radio Rookies has influenced her life:

    Jonathan Fauske and Jacky Monterosso from the 2001 St. George Staten Island workshop competed in our donut eating contest and they showed the newbies how it's done!

    Jacky feeds Johnathan for Donut Eating Competition

    Jacky Feeds Jonathan for Donut Eating Competition


    Jacky & Jonathan Wins Donut Eating Contest

    Jacky & Jonathan Wins Donut Eating Contest


    They told us on what they've been up to:

    There were lots of games, music and magic! Josh Rand, brother of one of the Midwood Graduate Rookies as well as a seasoned magician, performed his illusions on many of the guests. Also Josetta Adams, a Graduate Rookie from the Brooklyn 2008 workshop, played a cover of a Ingrid Michelson's song.

    Also, the party wouldn't have been complete without Czerina Patel, who joined us through video skype from South Africa. Czerina was one of the original producers who worked with Rookies for the first five years of the program. The Graduate Rookies took turns speaking with her in the conference room. Finally, a very special thank you and tribute to Marianne McCune, without whom the program wouldn't exist. She started the program in 1999 and since then the Rookies family continues to grow strong to help empower the youth.

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    This fall, we began a new broadcast workshop in Flushing, Queens in partnership with the Flushing YMCA. During the past month, the Rookies have started to roll through their lessons, putting their new skills to practice. They are well on their way to making their radio documentaries.

    On the first Saturday workshop, the new Rookies paired up and put trust in each other in a team building activity. One person was blindfolded and listened closely for interesting sounds to record, while their partners made sure they didn’t trip or bump into anything.

    Radio Rookies pair up to experience a sound and trust building exercise

    Radio Rookies pair up to experience a sound in a trust building exercise


    Sahar guides Rayon

    Sahar guides Rayon

    After a bit of fun and some close encounters with sounds of dried leaves, kids at the park, honking cars, walking feet, and giggling and laughing partners, the rookies got ready to explore their story ideas with the group. After getting back to the YMCA, they drew maps about the people, places and things in their lives to help brainstorm story topics.

    Rookies share their story ideas

    Rookies share their story ideas


    Rookies share their story ideas

    Rookies share their story ideas


    Rookies draw a map of their lives

    Rookies draw map of their lives

    At the next workshop, the Rookies got a little taste of ProTools. They interviewed each other about their favorite songs that reminded them of moments in their lives.

    Hawa interviews Alexis

    Hawa interviews Alexis

    After interviewing each other, they each created a piece called 'This is my Jam.' They edited their interviews and layered the tracks with the songs using ProTools. The 'This is my Jam' exercise was an excellent way for them to warm up the skills needed for interviewing, logging their tape, choosing their favorite parts, creating structure to their story and editing using ProTools. They now have an idea of what goes into creating an audio story.

    Some of the Rookies shareed their thoughts on what it was like to make their jams.

    'Well we took our favorite song and interviewed each other about them. Alexis’s song made me sleepy. It annoyed me when I started to clip stuff together since there was virtually no pause I could cut from. I managed though. I did love all the parts I took out where Alexis is talking. It was okay in the end.' - Hawa Lee

    'I chose a song that I like to listen to when I sleep. It was kind of weird that I chose that song because one of my story ideas was about sleep and the role it plays in my everyday life and how too much sleep may increase mortality.' - Alexis Gordon

    'Creating the Jams was really fun! I couldn’t believe how easy the whole editing process was. I also couldn’t believe how tedious everything was. Always having to make the same cuts and then sometimes I forget what I was working on. In conclusion, it was really fun but a tad infuriating.' - Jessica Cernandas

    'This is the first time I used Protools since Short Wave and it gave me a chance to refresh my skills. Making my jam was a different kind of experience than editing my story; I can have more fun with it even though it tells a story of its own. Some funny moments was when Andrea and I both sing at some point and totally get each other and start laughing. I can’t believe how such a short project took so long! It was weird hearing my own voice.' - Helen Peng

    'I learned how to deal with volume and fade-outs. This 'Jams' experience was frustrating and tedious. I guess I was a perfectionist and kept working on trying to get the music smoother. I found my hate for working with Macs. Overall, I am proud with my final result, but I am still bothered by how low the beginning is!' - Andrea Lee Torres


    Listen to Melissa's Jam, she interviewed Jessica about her song:

    Listen to Jessica's Jam, she interviewed Melissa about her song:

    Listen to Alexis' Jam, she interviewed Hawa about her song:

    Listen to Hawa's Jam, she interviewed Alexis about her song:

    Listen to Edwin's Jam, he interviewed Sahar about her song:

    Listen to Helen's Jam, she interviewed Andrea Lee about her song:

    Listen to Sahar's Jam, she interviewed Edwin about his song:

    Listen to Andrea Lee's Jam, she interviewed Helen about her song:

    Listen to Rayon's Jam, he worked on his favorite song:

    Rookies use ProTools to edit their interviews about their favorite songs.

    Rookies use ProTools to edit their interviews about their favorite songs.


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  • 02/04/10--13:15: POTUS Sighting!
  • We took a group of 14 Rookies from the Bronx and Queens down to Washington DC to see the sights. There were 17 of us, traveling on a double-decker bus, staying in a hostel.

    The Boys running on the MallWe got in to DC and walked (some ran) along the National Mall, checking out the monuments as the sun set.

    The next day we walked forever in the freezing rain and ate too many cheese fries at Ben's Chili Bowl. Then we waddled over to the Howard University radio station WHBC.

    We spent the last morning touring the NPR headquarters with Chris Turpin, Executive Producer of All Things Considered. Many of the female Rookies seemed most impressed by Chris' British accent.

    Radio Rookies at NPR with Chris Turpin

    Radio Rookies at NPR with Chris Turpin

    On the walk back to the hostel we watched as police officers were setting up barricades on K Street. I told the Rookies that they must be making way for the POTUS motorcade--but I wasn't really serious.

    Turns out I was right! We not only saw President Obama drive by, but from inside his tinted limo windows, he waved at us! You can watch the amazing moment unfold, thanks to Queens Rookie Andrea Lee Torres' camera skills (though you can't actually see Obama in the video, you can hear that we did!)

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    Our partner The Takeaway asked for your snapshots and sounds from your daily commute. They got some striking photos, some cluttered traffic and a healthy dose of personality.

    See the full slideshow here.

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    (New York, NY -- Stephen Nessen, WNYC) The 109-year old Willis Avenue bridge drifted down the East River early Tuesday morning as it headed for Jersey City. It was replaced last July as part of a $612 million project. Full slide show here.

    Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter

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    TN readers: here's your summer assignment: while you're vacationing this summer, take a picture of what you think is a good representation of a transportation mode, wherever you happen to be.

    We're interested in seeing what strikes you about transportation and transit in other places. Are the street signs clear? How's the boat traffic?  Are the taxis wheelchair-friendly?

    A high-speed rail ticket from Shanghai to Hangzhou. The 120-mile trip (about halfway from NY to DC) costs $13 and takes about an hour. (Photo: Richard Yeh)


    Bikes in Amsterdam (photo by Steven Ehrlich)

    Can you easily get a stroller onto a bus? Are there two-way protected bike lanes?  And yes, for those of you remaining chez vous this summer, submissions from your staycation are allowed.

    Bike Lane in the Colombian Amazon


    Email your pictures to transponation@ by midnight on Labor Day (Monday, September 5) with a brief description of your photo, including your name and where and when the picture was taken.

    We'll be posting highlights from your submissions. The winning photo will be announced after Labor Day and the photographer will receive a WNYC Chico sling bag.


    Hong Kong Traffic (Photo: Steven Ehrlich)


    And have a happy TranspoVacation!



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    The most conspicuous collection of forgotten bikes in one photo comes from the well-to-do Upper East Side at Lexington Ave and 67th st.

    We've received more the 400 photos of bike blight around New York City in our mapping project. That's about 10 times the total number of abandoned bikes the city has removed in the past 18 months.

    Tomorrow we submit them all to the city for inspection and potential removal. We'll ask you to you check back and see how many of these rusted frames (or saran wrapped beach cruisers) are eventually removed. For now, have a gander below at our favorite busted bikes chosen for photographic merit, level of "abandonedness," fun factor, and just because we liked them.

    Pick your own favorites from the full gallery here. See the map, and read all about derelict bikes, the laws and stats here.


    Some parts remain, mild street trash tumbleweed factor. Park Slope, Brooklyn.


    Bent frame, creeping rust, sun bleached belly. Pretty abandoned in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.



    We've found many piles of bikes -- which we fear tell sordid (or at least hoarding) stories. This was the most flagrant from Central Park North.



    Part art project, part bulletin board, this Williamsburg fixture hosts flyers, string, saran wrap and a teddy bear. Does that make it less abandoned or more?


    That's a twofer. Photographer comment:  "I mean? This also has been here for over 6 years." From 9th Street and Ave C, Lower East Side.


    More wheels does not always mean less abandoned. 10th street and 6th Ave, Brooklyn.


    How long does it take to grow a few feet of vines? Tribeca.



    Deceptively unrideable in Midtown.


    We call this one: arsty arcs. Downtown Brooklyn.



    Though far less abandoned than other bikes, this one comes with a standout caption. "If NYC can also remove the dudes selling crack at this location, that would be great, too!" 167th Street, Manhattan


    If the Department of Sanitation of NY finds a bike to be abandoned, it is tagged for seven days, then removed.


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    Mt. Baker, Washington, July 2, 2012 (via WASDOT)

    While the heat pounds the poor souls at sea level, this mountain road on Mt. Baker, Washington is still a canyon of snow.

    The Washington State Department of Transportation posted this photo on their Facebook page. (Naturally we "like" each other from our Facebook page, which you should like too!)

    WASDOT writes: "This photo was taken July 2nd as crews are still working to clear the road up to Artist Point."

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    This week? A bit of joy for your post-Olympics, late summer lull.

    I don’t know if you’re like me but the images that endure after each Summer Olympics—long after the runners, bikers, and tennis players have squeaked away—are the ones of flight. A diver mid-flip. A gymnast soaring out toward the high bar. A vaulter whipping high into the air.

    I think these little human boomerangs are the ones that stick in the memory simply because they are the most difficult to comprehend. While I may be deluded enough to think (with my feet up, popcorn bowl on lap) that if I just trained hard enough, if I just got up at 5AM enough, I might be able to run or bike alongside the Olympians on the screen before me (crunch, crunch, oh yeah, you totally could), even my most delusional self shuts up at the appearance of the gymnasts and divers. I know it could never be so.

    Because these bodies spinning through the air are, for that instant, something Other. They seem untethered by gravity and fear, and for just that moment, allowed to become a thing of pure Grace. How do they get into that state? I have no idea. My best guess is that they draw upon some secret source (is it Fearlessness? is it Faith?) that enables this most brief but significant change of state. I don’t know what it is, but I know it is rare.

    Enter Ezra Shaw. Sports Photographer.

    Ezra has been a Staff Photographer with Getty Images for over a decade. With an event like diving, he knows the job is to capture the full dive. A wide shot. To provide some record of a body in this state of grace, before it—splash—becomes human again.

    But one overcast day in July, standing on a pool deck in Shanghai, Ezra got an idea. He was snapping away at the preliminary rounds of men’s 3m diving (the springy diving board one) at the 2011 FINA World Championships... and he thought, what if instead of trying to capture the full wingspan of flight, he zoomed in?

    He got out his hulking 800mm telephoto lens.

    He took one shot. Nothing.

    A second shot. Nothing.

    And then he got something:

    Jonathan Joernfalk of Sweden. Courtesy of Getty Images / Ezra Shaw.

    This photo (which was not the first he got, but one of the best) is just the tip of the iceberg of what Ezra was able to capture that day. The images get so much better, each one more impossibly bizarre than the last. The sheer cartoonish range of human exertion he was able to document is, well... sidesplitting.

    Here is a collection of the 18 most excruciating ones.

    And here are a few more on Ezra's site.

    This collection of photos was, to me, a revelation. Yes, they were hilarious. But as I scrolled through picture after picture, I felt something else dawning: They are human too. Look how weird and clumsy and unpretty they are! The way you fight gravity is not through achieving some temporary state of pure elegance, but is any goshdarn way you can. You can stave off gravity by stabbing at it with your tongue, by puffing your cheeks at it, furrowing your eyebrows, straining your neck. The road to Grace, as these photos so irrefutably prove, is paved in Awkward.

    Ezra Shaw agrees. He thinks the success of these photos (they went viral last year), goes beyond seeing funny faces. “There’s something in seeing the such intense strain exposed, that is appealing to us.”

    That seems to be precisely it. That their scrappiness is a kind of equalizer. Not only does it bring the divers down to our level -- weighted and ungainly on the pool deck -- but it also invites us to fly among them. In each pointed tongue and flapping lip is a high five. Man, this is all we got. Neck clench. Lip chew. The only way we weighted creatures have to achieve grace.

    And maybe that’s why these photos elicit such a reaction. It’s the thrill of seeing that human bond -- which turns out to be a gristly and spittle-covered thing -- revealed in such high definition. Or. Well. Maybe it's just ha ha look at da smooshy cheek on da fancy man.

    Either way, splash on, summer luller. And move forward in any goshdarn way that you can.

    A few more links:

    You can see through Ezra’s photos -- static hay bales in front of hundreds of rushing wheels of the Tour de France, Chinese drummers so synchronized they look like a quilt, a tennis player so airborne it appears she’s about to embrace her own shadow -- this is not the first time he’s frozen moments of extreme exertion into visual whimsy. His website is worth a careful browse-through. You know, if you like fun.


    A particularly beautiful video of Mens 3m Diving, set to Emo and put in Slow-Mo, which displays that "it looks like they're sipping up some secret source" thing I was trying to describe. Look at the quiet. The faith. The concentration.

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    We’ll be updating this throughout the day. Send your photos to or @transportnation.  ‘Cause we’d like to share them.

    1:3opm: broken traffic light at King Street and Varick Street in lower Manhattan (photo by Kate Hinds)

    10:27: from Jim O'Grady: "World Trade Center. Cop said PATH station flooded, didn't know how badly. My guess: badly."

    10:11am: A beheaded subway entrance. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

    10:11am: Staten Island Railway's Clifton Shop in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by MTA via flickr)

    9:55am: flooding at the entrance to the Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel, via @NYGovCuomo

    9:49am: Downed tree in Tribeca park (photo by Jim O'Grady)

    8:14am: Rainbows over Brooklyn (photo by Andrea Bernstein)

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  • 11/20/12--17:20: And the Winner Is...
  • The Halloween Costume Contest tallies are in!

    For their impeccable design and playful take on the recent buzz that there may be a second Mona Lisa, Theresa Santanglo and Matt are the winners with their depiction of a pair of lesser known works of Da Vinci.

    We're not sure if Vitruvian Matt was able to grab his own beverages, or if Mona Theresa had to stay enigmatically half-grinning all night, but we would have loved to see them in person. I for one, would have asked the famous drawing to do jumping jacks.

    Thanks to everyone for submitting. A scroll-through the rest of the submissions is worth it if you're ever in the mood for a wonderland of stunning creations from dreamy wild things, decked out drummer girls, big birds, women in binders, and some of the most cute-as-a-button kid costumes you've ever seen. If kidnapping via web-slideshow was possible 'firefly' would be all mine.

    Creepy? Time to go. A listener suggested next year we do a PUMPKIN carving context, and we love the idea. So think on that for next year.

    Happy Shortweek.

    And in the meantime, we can't resist posting a few more of our favorite costumes here:


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