Join WBUR At The 14th Annual 'What The Fluff?' Festival

WBUR is proud to be a media sponsor of the 14th annual “What the Fluff? A Tribute to Union Square Invention” Festival. Archibald Query concocted the beloved gooey spread right in Somerville’s Union Square. This milestone is celebrated each year with musical performances, a cooking contest, fun for every age and Fluff treats of every sort. One of the judges for the cooking contest will be WBUR's own ARTery Reporter, Andrea Shea!
This year’s theme, "Fluff Travels: All Roads Lead to Fluff" celebrates one of the most culturally rich cities in the nation, paying homage to the many roads traveled to Union Square from all over the world. With 50+ spoken languages in its schools, Somerville is home to a mix of neighbors from El Salvador, Haiti, Portugal, Brazil, and beyond.
All roads lead to Fluff, so bike, boogie, scooter, roller skate or jetpack to Union Square as Marshmallow Fluff journeys around the world and back again with deliciously diverse food, entertainment, and family-friendly activities.

Why Bay State Growers Of Cranberries Are Being Pushed To The Brink of Failure

Our newest Bostonomix reporter, Adrian Ma, worked on a series that will have you "seeing red." His reporting focuses on the unlikely rise — and unexpected fall — of the U.S. cranberry market in China.

Part I of the story looked at the trade war's impact on the growing Chinese market for U.S. cranberries. 

Here's an excerpt:

In 2008, a Massachusetts grower could expect to fetch around $58.60 per barrel of fruit, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By 2018, the price fell to $22.30 — a 62% drop.
To make matters worse, the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing has put a tight squeeze on international cranberry sales.
As the Trump administration prepares for a new round of trade talks, Chinese tariffs on American cranberries remain in place, adding to the economic pain growers are feeling.

The second part of the series goes back to the late 1950s when fear over a perceived cancer-causing chemical nearly ruined cranberry sales. 

Here's an excerpt:

Part of what made the Cranberry Scare of 1959 so hard on producers like Decas was timing. Back then, almost all cranberries were sold around Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a result, the Cranberry Scare was a wake up call for the industry: If it was going to survive another unexpected crisis, it needed to spread out the risk by getting consumers to buy cranberries year-round.

This reportage was made possible through the International Center for Journalists’ Bringing Home the World fellowship.

The series aired in four parts. Listen to all the parts here:

Seeing Red

Greta Thunberg, Climate Strike & More: Follow 'Covering Climate Now'

WBUR is one of more than 250 news organizations around the world that have committed to running a week’s worth of climate coverage in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23, 2019.

The "Covering Climate Now" initiative, launched by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation earlier this year, is a project aimed at encouraging news organizations across the US and abroad to raise their game when it comes to climate coverage. During the week of Sept. 15, these news outlets will emphasize climate stories and share with a combined audience of over a billion people worldwide.

Close the gap, we urged them, between the size of the story and the ambition of your efforts. Try it for a week, then report back on what you learned.
— 'A new beginning for climate reporting,' Columbia Journalism Review

WBUR is one of 250 other news outlets participating in the Covering Climate Now initiative (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
WBUR is one of 250 other news outlets participating in the Covering Climate Now initiative (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

As part of the initiative, WBUR is participating station-wide with the hashtag #CoveringClimateNow — stories are pouring in from Earthwhile, Here & Now, Radio Boston and On Point. 

Read the latest climate coverage from WBUR here.

Covering Climate Now

Where To Find Endless Thread And Reddit at ONA19

Amory Sivertson, left, and Ben Brock Johnson, at their AMA (Ask Me Anything) at SXSW in Austin, Tuesday, March 16, 2018. (Michelle Lozzi/Reddit)
Amory Sivertson, left, and Ben Brock Johnson, at their AMA (Ask Me Anything) at SXSW in Austin, Tuesday, March 16, 2018. (Michelle Lozzi/Reddit)

WBUR journalists are in New Orleans this week for the annual Online News Association conference. Among them is Ben Brock Johnson, who covers tech for NPR & WBUR's Here & Now and hosts the Endless Thread podcast with Reddit.  Ben's a special guest at the Reddit booth on Thursday, September 12 -- here's where and when to find them at #ONA19:

11:30am-12:30pm: Reddit: The Highly-Engaging Content Source That You May Be Overlooking (Rhythms II + III - 2nd Floor | Sheraton)

2:00pm-3:00pm: Visit Ben at the Reddit booth (#209)

Endless Thread is a finalist for an Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling Award at ONA! Click here to learn more about the nominated special series, Infectious: The Strange Past and Surprising Present of Vaccines — and Anti-Vaxxers.

How Your Voice Can Help Impact Election News Coverage

WBUR Seeks Input for Election 2020

In an effort to identify issues and stories that matter most to people — and report on them — WBUR's politics team has launched an effort seeking to bring the station's election coverage as close as possible to meeting the concerns of the voters it serves.

According to Senior Political Reporter Anthony Brooks, this means doubling down on what political journalists do best. Rather than just focusing on what the candidates are saying, on the pundits and the polls, WBUR intends to frame its reporting around the question: To what extent are the candidates responding to what people want?

To kick-off this effort, WBUR conducted an online survey of users and commissioned a poll. Learn more about how you can help impact WBUR's Election 2020 coverage, the WBUR Poll findings and other early insights shared on WBUR's Morning Edition here. Other ways to stay connected:

Parents. Kids. Fans of Great Storytelling: We're Back!

WBUR, announces the return of Circle Round, the popular storytelling podcast for children ages 4-10. The podcast’s third season launches today with “Curious Boots,” a Norwegian adventure tale starring Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces, Jumanji 2) as a precocious younger brother whose curiosity is rewarded by the queen.

Created and produced by parents of young children, Circle Round adapts folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich radio plays for kids ages 4 to 10. Each 10- to 20-minute episode explores issues like kindness, persistence and generosity. Every episode ends with an activity that inspires a deeper conversation between children and grown-ups. New episodes drop Tuesdays at 3 p.m. ET.

The new season of Circle Round will feature 35 episodes with stories and performers such as:

  • Rabbit's Wish: In this story with roots in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, Ryan Michelle Bathe (Life in Pieces, First Wives Club) plays a clever rabbit who discovers that power and strength aren't just about physical size.
  • The Great Acorn Robbery: Katy Mixon (American Housewife, Minions) and Diedrich Bader (American Housewife, Veep) headline this Seneca tale about an industrious squirrel and the sneaky critters who pilfer her prized acorns.
  • One Speckled Hen: 2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Full Monty) stars in this Jewish tale that tests the old adage, "Finders keepers, losers weepers."

Circle Round is produced by WBUR, in conjunction with Sheir & Shim LLC founders Rebecca Sheir and Eric Shimelonis. Writer and host Rebecca Sheir guides listeners through each story as award-winning composer Eric Shimelonis creates the accompanying musical score and sound.

Circle Round recently released The Music of Circle Round Volume 1 featuring all the music from season one of the podcast, plus the Circle Round theme song. The album features the mbira from “The Lion’s Whisker,” the viola da gamba from “The Barber’s Secret,” the trombone from “The Goat in the Garden,” and more.  The Music of Circle Round Volume 1 can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon and the CD Baby Store.

Episodes from all three seasons of Circle Round are free and available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can follow the program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Listen To All Episodes Of On Point's Series on 'Solutions For Closing The Achievement Gap'

On Point's four-part series exploring the achievement gap in American K-12 schools, what’s causing it — and what’s working to narrow it — launched today.
"Achievement gap" refers to the disparity in academic performance or educational attainment between different groups of students.
The series will explore questions such as: Is the achievement gap the result of students' lack of achievement, or the lack of opportunities they're offered? What kinds of things are students working on, building and creating in classrooms? How do we define "good" and "bad" schools — and what do they mean to their surrounding communities?

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Part I of the series 'What Is The Achievement Gap?' aired on Sept. 9 : "The gap" is everywhere — not just urban districts, and not just districts known for low-performing schools. We talk about why the gap between educational achievement, for white students and students of color, has been so intractable, where it came from, and whether we should be calling it the achievement gap at all or the opportunity gap. Is it about students’ lack of achievement or the lack of opportunities they’re being offered?

Part II of the series 'How We Learn' aired on Sept. 16: Rapping to learn iambic pentameter. Folding origami to learn geometry. In this hour, we explore one method of closing the achievement gap: ditching the test prep worksheets and provide more engaging learning experiences. Scratch the rote learning and standardized test prep, and make time in the classroom hands-on instead. What kinds of things are their students working on, building, creating? What are the challenges? Could every school do this?

Part III of the series 'The Knowledge Gap' aired on Sept. 23: Longtime education journalist Natalie Wexler joins On Point to discuss her new book, "The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System — and How to Fix It." She argues that we’re not providing students who need knowledge the most access to that knowledge, particularly in the way we’re teaching reader comprehension. There’s a large body of research showing what works in teaching reading. So why aren’t our schools using it?

Part IV 'School Integration' aired on Sept. 30: There’s actually only one policy that has greatly narrowed the achievement gap across the country. And that’s desegregation. In parts of the country with widespread desegregation, the achievement gap between white students and students of color (particularly black students) narrowed. It wasn’t without costs for students of color — black teachers lost their jobs, community schools were shuttered, and these new desegregated schools were often unwelcoming, losses that have often been hidden/forgotten. But, African Americans who attended desegregated schools were more likely to finish high school, go on to college, and be healthier later on in life. Schools have rapidly resegregated in the past two decades, though. Why, and what’s being done to reverse that trend?

Immerse yourself in the entire series here: 

On Point Series

Circle Round Releases Its First Soundtrack Album!

Circle Round — the award-winning children’s storytelling podcast from WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station — recently released its very first soundtrack album!

Circle Round CD cover
Circle Round CD cover

Every week on Circle Round, kids and the grown-ups they love enjoy folktales from around the world adapted as radio plays: all featuring original music by composer Eric Shimelonis. Eric scores each story with a different solo instrument: one that reflects the tale’s cultural origins, or possesses the right dramatic sound.

While you’ll recognize instruments like the piano, upright bass and xylophone, many may be new to you, like the ney, mbira and pipa. As a result, whether you’re 3 or 93, 'The Music of Circle Round Volume I' provides a wealth of opportunities for cultural diversity, education, and timeless entertainment.

Download 'The Music of Circle Round Vol I' as a digital album, and/or purchase hard-copy CDs here: iTunesAmazon, CD Baby

Note: The Music of Circle Round Volume I features the Circle Round theme song, along with the original score from every story in Season 1 of the podcast. Volume 2 (featuring music from Season 2) and Volume 3 (featuring music from Season 3) will be available at a later date.

Expand Our Local Journalism Through 'The Campaign For WBUR' By Taking This Poll

As our community turns to WBUR to satisfy its growing hunger for independent, high-quality local journalism, we will broaden and deepen our coverage, fulfilling our vital role in culture and conversation.

The Campaign for WBUR, our first-ever capital campaign, is investing in local journalism, content innovation and the station's first public convening space.

WBUR is your public radio station – and we want to hear from you to know what you’re looking for in a newsroom.

Thank you for taking this poll and joining us as we create a great future for public radio!

'Endless Thread' Solves A Wacky Internet Mystery Thousands Wanted Answered!

Ben 'Geedis' Johnson and Amory 'Geedis' Sivertson - co-hosts of Endless Thread - dropped their latest episode 'Geedis' on Aug. 23 revealing the Reddit mystery more than 16,000 Geeders were trying to solve for the last two years!

Geedis (Courtesy Stacen Goldman/Framingham History Center)
Geedis (Courtesy Stacen Goldman/Framingham History Center)

Here's some background from our very own Amory Siverston:

This started with a comedian named Nate Fernald, who stumbled upon some Geedis enamel pins on eBay in 2017. He thought they were intriguing and bought them, without having any idea who Geedis is and where it came from. He couldn’t find ANYTHING online about Geedis, so he took to social media to find answers, and had a story published by Atlas Obscura about the mystery of Geedis.

The mystery got picked up by people on Reddit, which led to the creation of the Geedis subreddit, where people post theories about who this character is, what “The Land of Ta” is, where it all came from, etc. This subreddit now has more than 16,000 people! There’s also a smaller  Land of Ta subreddit, devoted to spin-off art. Someone (not a redditor, I believe) figured out that Geedis came from THIS sticker sheet – The Land of Ta – printed by Dennison in 1981. As far as anyone can tell, The Land of Ta wasn’t a TV show or movie or book. There are two other Land of Ta-related sticker sheets though, also printed by Dennison. THIS one, and THIS one. Redditors have hypothesized that the “Women of Ta” sticker sheet was designed by a different artist.

Nate Fernald now has 80+ Geedis pins. We still don’t know when/why the pins were made or by whom, and why there only appear to be Geedis pins and no pins of the other characters. We also don’t know whether The Land of Ta was intended to be more than just a sticker sheet, but people believe all of these answers lie with the artist who designed the stickers. Redditors STILL don’t know who the artist is… BUT I DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have we piqued your curiosity? Find out who the artist behind the Geedis pin is on Endless Thread's new episode —

Listen Here

Reddit links:

Further Reading: