Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

I’ve been writing about technology for just over a decade now. I’ve worked in the field of information technology for twice as long as that now and, most recently, had the distinguished title of “Director of Technology” bestowed upon me by my current employer. What I find most fascinating (and perhaps a bit disturbing) about this is that I still don’t know exactly what “technology” is. 

New Partners

May 1, 2015

During the coming months, JPR will be collaborating with the Seattle-based non-profit journalism organization InvestigateWest to produce a series of stories that explore different aspects of Oregon’s timber economy with a focus on how they play out in Southern Oregon. 

Geoffrey Riley

Let me introduce you to an old friend, the MD. And in this case, MD does NOT stand for Medical Doctor, but MiniDisc, a device for quick recording of audio tracks. Once upon a time, MDs were the new best friends of radio news departments. Now, the few of us who still use them can’t wait to see them go. And it won’t be long.

Another school year whizzed by. Children are thrilled with thoughts of endless summer and their counterparts in education, teachers, are cleaning up their rooms so they won’t return to a disaster in the short months until school resumes in the fall. For new teachers time still runs relatively slowly, but the older-timers know time speeds up as you age. It’s a fact.  

The Medford Police Department

Lieutenant Kevin Walruff, 49, is a big, clean-shaven man wearing a light blue button-down and a Santa Claus and reindeer tie. I follow him down a hallway and into a conference room in the nondescript building of florescent lighting and concrete blocks that currently houses the Medford Police Department. I notice that he has handcuffs clipped to his pants and .40-caliber Glock holstered at his waist.

NBC News

We live in an age that worships celebrity; a time where personalities such as Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton can be “famous for being famous.” So-called “reality” TV shows blur the line between the scripted and the genuine, and as a society we seem increasingly comfortable with a very elastic definition of “real.”  

Prisons And Prisoners

Apr 1, 2015

The English Department at Rogue Community College recently changed the curriculum for the writing course I have taught for years. I could have said, “Good time to retire,” and avoided the work of developing a new course, but I was intrigued and challenged by the new curriculum, which requires all students in the class to write about the same issue.

Everlasting Blues

Apr 1, 2015

While the mainstream culture of America explores new trends in various genres of music, following the evolution of hip-hop, pop and the folk/singer-songwriter styles, blues-related music chugs along with modest markets and a narrow niche. Here are some of the best blues recordings I’ve heard lately.

I Say What I Mean by Jim Liban & The Joel Paterson Trio, Ventrella Records – Jim Liban has played blues harmonica for almost 50 years, based in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He came to San Francisco in the late 60’s, where I saw him in a band called A.B.Skhy. 

Here are some things that I learned on the Internet recently:


Jenny Graham

Shakespeare’s Pericles bears the stamp of its source, a series of medieval romances by the poet John Gower. Like the typical romance, Pericles dismisses realism in favor of the magic of legend as it follows a youthful prince embarking on a journey to maturity.  In the process of discovering his own identity, he will save the world from a destructive force threatening its vitality and be rewarded with a fertile marriage.   

John W. Poole/NPR

Harkening back to the golden age of radio when radio was the dominant home entertainment medium and families gathered around elegant living room radio consoles to experience the latest episodes of Dick Tracy, The Lone Ranger or The Shadow, dramatic audio storytelling is making a comeback.  While the nostalgic days of radio are long gone, podcasts are breathing new life into the tradition of telling stories without pictures. 

Consider this:

·         Last year, Apple reported that subscriptions of podcasts through iTunes reached 1 billion.

Rituals originally evolved in order to manage the unmanageable fact of somatic change: birth, maturation, procreation, death.  Contemporary culture and technology have loosened the inevitability of these life-cycle milestones: children can be planned or altogether avoided; adulthood—marriage, gainful work—can be postponed seemingly indefinitely; sexual initiation has broken from its containment by traditional ritual altogether and happens wherever, whenever.  Even death, though it remains inescapable, has been disrupted in its timing thanks to medical advances.  This last is good news.  The

From Willy Wonka To Willie Watson

Mar 1, 2015

Each year brings new opportunities for live music. If my January is any indication, 2015 is going to be an interesting and diverse year.

Auto Correct

Mar 1, 2015

First they came for the carriage returns, and I did not speak out. New York Times legend Russell Baker was quick and right to bemoan the loss of the mechanical “ding” at the end of every line. That bell demanded writers do some physical work, swiping the carriage to the left with a strong right haymaker.

Word processors demanded less of everyone. Everyone was pleased.

Let There Be Music

Mar 1, 2015
Dominic Barth

I’ve written several times recently about the important role public radio plays in delivering in-depth, fact-based contextual journalism to citizens.

Perhaps less prominent and appreciated nationally is the compelling work public radio stations like JPR perform every day to help craft a dynamic and vibrant music scene within the communities they serve.  The simple truth is that music in America would sound very different without public radio.

Every spring, Southern Oregon buzzes with anticipation and excitement about the Ashland Independent Film Festival. What films will screen? Which filmmakers will attend? Over 7,000 film lovers gather at the art deco Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, and the Ashland Street Cinema to watch 80+ documentary, feature, and short films. Everyone looks forward to the opportunity to discuss independent film with fellow film lovers in line, in the theaters before the films begin, and at film festival events all around town.

Actors strive onstage to “tell the story” laid down by the playwright and envisioned by the director. In an illuminating new book by Mary Z. Maher and Alan Armstrong, Telling the Story, twelve actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have been invited to contribute to a different narrative, one that takes place before and behind the scenes. This composite account begins with the circumstances that propelled them into acting then describes the multi-faceted, idiosyncratic processes, which, leavened with dashes of luck, have supported their onstage success.

The New Basement Tapes is a group of musicians brought together by T Bone Burnett to write music to Bob Dylan lyric’s created during the Basement Tapes era. To fully understand the new, we start with the story of the old.

Wikimedia Commons

A “bit” is the smallest unit of digital information. Put 8 bits together and you get a “byte”. Amass a billion bytes and you have a “gigabyte”. A thousand gigabytes is a “terabyte” (TB), which is the storage capacity of the hard drive in an average desktop computer today. Now imagine a billion 1TB hard drives. Together, all of those hard drives have the storage capacity of 1 zetabyte. 

What Is A Clock?

Feb 1, 2015

The correct response to that headline is “well, duh…” But bear with me here; the clock I’m talking about is not mechanical, and does not hang on the wall. When public radio people say “clock,” they really mean “schedule.” And the changing of the clocks a few months back made for some changes in the news programming you hear on JPR.