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GREATEST THREAT TO SESAME STREET: BEN FRANKLIN

Read here how Benjamin Franklin's desire to produce a simplified English phonetic alphabet would have deprived us of our rights to the letters C, J, Q, W, X, and Y. Imagine how the sponsorship of Sesame Street would plummet!

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SPRING PLEDGE CAMPAIGN SUCCESS

Thank you to all of the members and supporters of Arizona Public Media for the successful completion of our Spring Radio Pledge campaign on NPR 89.1 and Classical 90.5. With your help and that of 2,349 other loyal contributors, we surpassed our goal. This success provides AZPM with the financial support to continue to acquire programs from NPR and other national distributors. Volunteers donated more than 400 hours of their time to help with this radio campaign and we could have not achieved our goal without them and you. Thank you!

Speaking of volunteers, each year in April, AZPM honors the loyal corps of dedicated, resourceful, energetic, and enthusiastic people from our community who step up and donate their time to this organization throughout the year. They all share a belief that AZPM plays an essential role in the educational and cultural life of our community and they provide countless hours each year to help make Arizona Pubic Media come alive. This year’s event, held at the beautiful and historic Lodge on the Desert, toasted all these special friends. I encourage you to consider volunteering at AZPM and join this fabulous group.

We launch into May with a live cinecast of “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” The show will be beamed to select theaters in Southern Arizona on Thursday, May 2nd at 8 p.m. from the NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts. Here is your chance to see the show in 2D and meet the faces behind one of our audiences’ favorite radio programs on NPR 89.1. Host Peter Sagal and official judge and scorekeeper Carl Kasell will be joined by panelists Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca, and Tom Bodett to play the quiz in front of a live audience. Special guest Steve Martin will join the cast for the “Not My Job” segment. Visit here for a list of local theaters and to purchase tickets.

PBS 6 programming in May features CONSTITUTION USA with Peter Sagal. This four-part series takes viewers on a fast-paced, surprising journey across the nation to examine the 4,418 words — and 27 amendments — that made America. The series debuts on Tuesday, May 7th at 9 p.m. and coincides with the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution. Sagal talks with ordinary Americans who are struggling with issues of affirmative action, same-sex marriage, voting rights, the role of government, and equal protection. The long awaited American Masters special “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise” premieres on Monday, May 20th at 9 p.m. After 60 years in show business, Mel Brooks has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer; he is one of 14 EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winners. Yet, the comedy giant has energetically avoided having a documentary profile made, even issuing an informal gag order on his friends … until now.

For architecture and history buffs, “10 Buildings that Changed America” premieres on Tuesday, May 14th at 8 p.m. This special features striking videography, rare archival images, distinctive animation and interviews with some of the nation’s most insightful historians and architects (including Frank Gehry and Robert Venturi), tied together with fast-paced editing and contemporary music. “The National Memorial Day Concert” airs Sunday, May 26th at 5 p.m (with repeats at 6:30 p.m. and on Monday, May 27th at 8 p.m.) Join co-hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise for a night of remembrance featuring an all-star line-up performing with the National Symphony Orchestra. The 24th annual broadcast of the concert airs live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, and to our troops around the world on the American Forces Network.

May features a blockbuster line-up of classic films on Saturdays at 9 p.m. for the Hollywood at Home film series. May 4th, “Witness for the Prosecution” (Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich), May 11th, “Planet of the Apes” (the original with Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter), May 18th, “Suspicion” (Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine), and May 25th “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (Joan Crawford and Bette Davis). For great film trivia visit here.

On ReadyTV, the featured chef of the month is none other than Martha Stewart. On May 1st tune in to the premiere of her brand new baking series Martha Bakes and the new Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. Both programs will air on Wednesdays starting May 1st at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively.

On behalf of all of us at AZPM, thank you for your viewership, listenership, and continued support.

Jack Gibson


IS IT A HORN OR A TUBA?

About 20 years ago, I was chatting with Robert Bernhardt, who was then the music director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and noted that with his strong interest in Mahler it was a little surprising that he showed little inclination to perform Bruckner (who actually has more in common with Wagner than with Mahler, but never mind). Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, I suggested, might be a good choice to do with the TSO, since it's one of his most admired symphony and has good tunes, but is relatively compact, compared to the composer's Fifth and Eighth. Bob demurred, pointing out that the score requires four Wagner tubas, which would be hard to get in Tucson. This argument was a little bit of a dodge, since it's common to substitute euphoniums for the Wagner tubas, but what, you may ask, is a Wagner tuba, anyway? Barbara Jepson of The Wall Street Journal explains all.

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APRIL SHOWERS OF NEWS

Thanks to all for the outstanding support during the March PBS 6 pledge campaign. With your generous help Arizona Public Media raised $246,769 from 1,877 people. This was slightly behind last year’s results, in spite of a great effort. We now ask your support for the upcoming semi-annual radio membership campaign, April 19th – 26th, on NPR 89.1 and Classical 90.5. Tune in, support AZPM, and help maintain the award-winning, entertaining national programs from PBS and NPR, along with our own local television and radio productions that you have embraced, such as AZ Illustrated, Arizona Week, and Arizona Spotlight.

We just received the February ratings report and PBS 6 increased 7% in primetime viewer frequency. The top shows during the month of February were Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Antiques Roadshow and Doc Martin. PBS Kids and World continue to gain in audience reach and ReadyTV had an impressive increase of 65% in viewership during primetime.

Throughout the month of April, AZPM will be out and about in the community. To help promote the new PBS Kids film “Curious George Swings into Spring,” AZPM has teamed with the Children’s Museum Tucson on Saturday, April 13th for their annual Health and Wellness Event. There will be two screenings of “Curious George Springs into Spring.” Kids will have the opportunity to meet Curious George in person and learn how to plant tomatoes. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and features a host of fun, interactive events that educate and promote healthy eating and wellness.

On April 1st and 2nd, PBS 6 will air the two-part series, FRONTLINE: “Kind Hearted Woman,” the story of Robin Charboneau, an Oglala Sioux woman, struggling between saving her family and risking it all to help her Native American community and abused women. AZPM, in partnership with the UA Women’s Center, Native American Student Affairs, the One Sacred Nation healing program, Emerge!, the Tucson Indian Center, and several other local social service organizations, will host a screening of highlights from the series and a resource fair on April 16th at 5:30 p.m. at McClelland Hall, Room 207 in the Berger Auditorium. The event will spotlight the work of advocates of domestic violence, sex abuse, and homelessness and is open to the public. RSVP’s can be made by calling 621-5828 during business hours, M-F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

In partnership with the “Kind Hearted Woman” screening event, AZPM received a national grant to create three profile pieces that tell a positive community story and will air on AZ Illustrated Science at 6:30 p.m. on April 2nd, 9th, and 16th on PBS 6. Gisela Telis, AZPM’s mental health reporter, will tell the story of Sheila-Claw Starr, a healer and single mother who survived domestic violence and substance abuse, and is the founder of the One Sacred Nation Healing program.

Additional TV program highlights for April include the premiere of the second season of “Call the Midwife” on Thursdays at 8 p.m. Sundays carry on as the destination for superb British drama with a repeat broadcast of “Call the Midwife” at 6 p.m., “Born & Bred” at 7 p.m., and Masterpiece Classic: Mr. Selfridge at 8 p.m. Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns returns with “The Central Park Five” on Tuesday, April 16th at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, the "smartest night on TV,” features new programs from Nature at 8 p.m. and Nova at 9 p.m., and a new health, exercise, and diet-focused science series from British journalist and physician Michael Mosely at 10 p.m. Visit here for program schedules and descriptions. Saturday night’s Hollywood at Home film series at 9 p.m. presents a great line-up of classic films including “Hound of the Baskervilles”, April 6th, “Shake Hands with the Devil”, April 13th, “Call for Northside 777” on April 20th, and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” on April 27th.

On behalf of all of us at AZPM, thank you for your continued viewership, listenership, and support.

Sincerely,

Jack Gibson


NPR BRACKET MADNESS

Since I never developed an interest in following team sports, March Madness and the attendant brackets and office pools are beyond my experience, but there is one bracket scheme I can develop some enthusiasm for. KPCC in Southern California has devised a poll it calls NPR Bracket Madness, pitting public radio programs against each other, some advancing and others falling by the wayside through listener balloting. At this writing they're down to the final eight, with perhaps the most interesting opposition being Talk of the Nation against Fresh Air. You don't have to listen to KPCC to participate; cast your ballot here. I wonder how things would shake out if we pitted classical composers against each other ...

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SPRING IS ON THE AIR

Our library database holds 171 items associated with the keyword "spring." Of course, some of those are duplicates of popular pieces like Strauss' Voices of Spring and Schumann's "Spring" Symphony, but even so, spring has inspired composers more than any other season. With Wednesday, March 20 bringing with it the new season, we'll devote most of the day on Classical 90.5 to springtime music, beginning appropriately enough with The First Day of Spring by Leroy Anderson, and continuing with seasonal contributions by the likes of Delius, Sibelius, Rachmaninov, Copland, Piazzolla, Grieg, Haydn, Verdi, Respighi, Stravinsky, Vivaldi, and many, many other composers. So many, in fact, that we have an overflow of spring music, and we'll be devoting the first three hours or so of our Thursday schedule to vernal music as well. You can find the complete Wednesday schedule here--scroll down past the KUAZ program grid for the classical music listings--and the Thursday schedule here.

One reason we have "leftover" spring pieces is that on Wednesday we're also dropping into the schedule several short items to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ernesto Nazareth, a composer of many breezy piano pieces in various Latin American styles; think of him as the Brazilian Scott Joplin, and you'll have an idea of what his music is like--not at all ragtime, but piano miniatures in the popular dance styles of the composer's time and place.

By the way, in case you're wondering, we have 145 "summer" pieces in the music library, 66 "autumn" items, and 90 "winter" pieces. If it weren't for all those multiple recordings of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," we'd have far fewer entries under each category.

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