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There was a nice gathering of Atlanta Instagrammers this morning at a  WeLoveATL meetup in Woodruff Park. We came to take a walk through Downtown alongside a visiting reporter who’s profiling intown culture for the NPR Generation Listen series.

It was nice weather for walking around and taking photos. Here are a few I took – the one on the bottom is of the inside of an Auburn Avenue parking deck that has an impressive rotunda-type feature surrounded by a circular ramp. 

Iowa Caucus, Here We Come

by Joanna Pawlowska

Folks on both sides of the aisle agree: The Iowa Caucuses are a big deal in the presidential election process. So we’re thrilled to announce that we’re heading to Des Moines with NPR’s David Greene, who will host Morning Edition LIVE in Iowa from Smokey Row Coffee during the caucuses. That’s right: we’re hosting two MEGA LISTENING PARTIES, live from Iowa, and we hope that YOU come join the excitement and become a part of the most listened-to weekday show in the country.

Politics nerds everywhere have been counting down the days to this major milestone in the 2016 presidential race. You may be wondering: Why are the Iowa caucuses first, why are they important, and why are they called caucuses? NPR’s own Sam Sanders went to Iowa recently to break it down.

You can learn even more starting at 4am on February 1 and February 2 (yes, AM - which is why we’ll have free coffee from 4-6am). Get the chance to meet David and the NPR Politics team, participate in a Q&A, and feed your curiosity – all while seeing live radio made for broadcast and connecting with new friends as part of NPR Generation Listen’s community of curious citizens.

Live Listening Party // Feb 1 & 2 / 4-11 am / Smokey Row Coffee

Mon, 2/1 and Tues, 2/ 2
Smokey Row Coffee
1910 Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA

4am – 6am:  Free Coffee and first run of Morning Edition
6am – 8 am:  The main event! Watch a live recording of Morning Edition with David Greene and NPR Generation Listen
8am – 11am:  Have a chance to meet David Greene and hang with other guests

The Listening Parties are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis so get there early and let us know you’re coming here

We want to pack Smokey Row with great people so make sure to share the Facebook invite with your friends in Iowa! Not from Des Moines? See who’s down for a road trip. We have a Gen Listen crew coming up from Kansas City already. Drop us a note if you want to sync up with them. GenListen@Npr.org.

See you soon, Des Moines!

NPR Generation Listen: Join The Tribe

Were you a backseat baby? Were you strapped into your car seat and forced to listen to NPR in the 80’s and 90’s? If so, high fives to your smart parents.

If you weren’t force-fed, how did you discover us? We want to know. It’s high time we got to know you in an intentional and meaningful way.

Join us on a new on-ramp to NPR that is quietly gaining speed: Generation Listen.

It’s time for us to get better at finding you where you are and what is most relevant to your lives. And when we get there, we want to hang out — whether in cyberspace, over the air, or through events — and exchange ideas and smart conversation.

That’s what NPR Generation Listen is all about. It’s a movement to better connect and bring you into our NPR community. If we’ve lost you since your toddler days, we want to bring you back into the family. And if you’ve never heard of us or think “meh” when you hear NPR, we want to invite you to our public radio party.

Connect With Us

Join Generation Listen

Connect on Facebook

@NPRGenListen

Hashtags #SXSWGL and #NPRGL

About Generation Listen

#FollowFriday: Laine Kaplan-Levenson

Welcome to #FollowFriday: Public Radio Edition. On select Fridays, we’ll introduce you to rad young radio makers at NPR and from public radio stations across the country. They’ll share work they’re excited about, insights into how they got their start, and who they are when they’re not on the mic.

Our first feature is Laine Kaplan-Levenson of WWNO in New Orleans. She founded the Big Easy’s local storytelling event, Bring Your Own, and is now producing and hosting WWNO’s first long-form podcast, TriPod. We caught up with her to get the scoop (and hope some of her contagious joy would rub off on us). 


Name: Laine Kaplan-Levenson
Age: 28
Hometown: Larchmont, NY
Current City: New Orleans
Station: WWNO
Role: Producer and Host of Documentary series ‘Tripod: New Orleans at 300


Laine: Who are you? Tell us a story that captures you as a person.

I lived in Staten Island, NY until I was five, where most of my neighbors and the kids I went to nursery school with were Italian. I didn’t talk for the first two years of my life, or have any hair. My fellow toddlers thought I was an alien. So did my parents, who were actually slightly concerned. When I finally did start talking, still without any hairs on my head, I spoke with an Italian accent, saying my ABCs ‘Ay-uh, Bee-uh, Cee-uh, Dee-uh…’. My mom always tells me about this one time, I had just started saying a few words (mostly ‘I dunno’), and we had to take my older sister to ballet class. I was playing by myself, something I was very happy to do, undisturbed, all day long. My mom came and scooped me up into her arms, taking me from my Little Tikes kitchen set, and said ‘Laine, we have to take Sara to dance now!’. And her two year old daughter looked at her and said, ‘You’s-a-bad-a-mama’. I eventually lost the accent, but not the love for seafood fra diavolo and eggplant parm.


Tell us about your new podcast! 

Tripod: New Orleans at 300 launched in October of 2015, and we just released our 10th episode. The three-year project is WWNO’s first long-running podcast and will lead up to the city’s tricentennial (hence the name). What I love about the idea is that instead of doing a typical, PBS-style, one or two-hour documentary, we’ve designed a series to put out weekly episodes that tell the history of New Orleans, one story at a time. The episodes are made for broadcast, and air Thursday mornings, but are also available as a podcast on iTunes, which has been a great way to expand the reach of the audience.

We’re working with the Historical New Orleans Collection and the Midlo Center at the University of New Orleans, who are content advisors and liaisons; I have an editorial committee that has been amazing at helping brainstorm episode topics (there’s a lot to cover in 300 years of history) and connecting me to people who can speak on the stuff. They fact check my scripts, and then I do a traditional radio editor with my news director, Eve Troeh. 

The process has more steps than what I was used to, coming from producing and reporting news, but I am thrilled to be making documentaries now. It allows me to bring more of myself into the show’s voice, and be more creative in style and tone with story structure, mixing in music, etc. And to have support from a team of advisors, as well as from the station, has been invaluable in the experience so far. And making content like this is really gratifying when working in a smaller market- a podcast coming from a local station really lets listeners engage with the producers and staff, share thoughts, and contribute to the development of the product they consume. I look forward to discovering, along with the audience, what TriPod becomes.


Which episode would you recommend to newbies?

I’d say get started with this one.


How did you end up becoming a media maker and was the very first radio piece you made?

I always knew I wanted to be a ‘producer’ even though I didn’t know what that meant, because it means everything and nothing. I’d say the first piece of radio I made was during my senior year of high school. The year prior I became obsessed with Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ (‘how weary and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world’). And so a year later, my business-savvy friend and I decided if we made a study guide for the play, we could sell it to the juniors- like a hyperlocal cliff notes. I then realized that it would be way sexier to make a book on tape, because high schoolers don’t want to read, but if they could listen…so we came up with Hamlet: Book On Tape, also known as ‘H-BOT’. I held auditions, where members of my graduating class tried out for the various roles; the only ones that were already taken were Hamlet, played by me, obviously, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, both played by my business-savvy friend). We made our selections, and then actually recorded the play onto a cassette. I never made the next step of mass producing the audio, aka we made no money, but boy do I still have that tape.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into radio?

If you want to get into radio, I think the best thing is to avoid trying to figure out what ‘being good at radio’ means, and just focus on getting to know yourself, and being as comfortable in your own skin as possible. The more comfortable and relaxed you are, the more at ease your interviewee will be, which will lead to the type of conversation you want to have. You can’t make good radio without good tape, and you can’t get good tape without real, raw, expression. It sounds counterintuitive, but learning how to be natural is truly the most important skill in radio, both when engaging with someone else, and when you’re alone with your mic. This is fortunate, because this ‘professional advice’ will also make you a happier person!


What is something you love to do that has nothing to do with your job? 

Over the past year, I’ve been really into lying on the floor. I’ll use a yoga mat, but I don’t do yoga. I just lie on the floor. On my back. Sometimes I listen to music, or talk on the phone, or do nothing. But it’s the best. Better than lying in bed, if you can even imagine. I love it because it feels more restorative than anything else I can do for my body- I love running and swimming, too, but there’s a sense of calm and control when lowering yourself, seeing the dust under your dresser, and knowing there’s only so much one can expect you to do when in that position. It’s compromising and safe at the same time. Sometimes I do good thinking when I lie on the floor, and sometimes I go completely blank. Which is ideal.


What are you reading / listening to right now?

Right now I’m reading “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” by Kiese Laymon, an amazing collection of essays. I’ve been listening to a lot of Joey Bada$$, Hop Along, Eddie Kendricks, and ‘The Things I Say’ off Joanna Newsom’s new Divers.


Where can people get into contact with you?

Believe it or not, I have an email address! Feel free to use it: laine@wwno.org. I’m also on twitter: @lainekaplev. And I run a live storytelling event and podcast called Bring Your Own- you can get in touch at bringyourownstories@gmail.com

Photo by Claire Bangser

#GivingTuesday Never Sounded So Good: Introducing the Official NPR Listening Party Kit

#GivingTuesday is here, and so is the NPR Listening Party Kit!

We invite you to take the (NPR + party) host seat and use our handpicked NPR stories to spark conversation with your nearest and dearest.

Our debut NPR Listening Party Kit is our Giving Edition, featuring a curated collection of stories inspired by “the spirit of giving.” (It is the holidays, after all.)

The 10 stories inside the kit each have a firestarter question to ignite a lively post listening discussion - and one that ultimately inspires you and your friends to discover unique ways to give your time, talent or treasure to your communities.

Inside the Kit you’ll hear familiar NPR voices from Shankar Vendantum to Guy Raz to Elise Hu.  Together we explore topics ranging from the human behavior behind compassion and generosity to how millennials are changing the face of philanthropy to people’s personal and emotional giving experiences.

And since the NPR Listening Party is a party afterall, you can’t forget food, drinks, and music! Our friends at NPR Music and The Salt have got you covered.

Make moves and plan a smarter party by downloading the kit today!

We’d love for you to share your #NPRListeningParty stories, photos and videos from your own gathering with us on social media, tagging yourselves and @NPRGenListen.

Keep an eye on this space.  New toolkits will be introduced each month on the Listening Party Hub with the content of the kits changing based on new topics or themes.  

Be Your Best Self in 2016

Start With Hosting January’s NPR Listening Party: #RenewalEdition 

Happy 2016! Has the new year got you seeing visions of personal goals dancing in your heads?

The start of a new year brings an invitation to reflect, reset, and recalibrate the ideas, actions, and patterns that set the direction of our lives. We get a reason to choose change: to cultivate more goodness, release deadweight, face a challenge, or rebuild something we’ve lost.

Generation Listen not only wants to help you become your most curious, empathetic, and engaged self – we also want to help you connect more deeply to your community and kindle conversations about fresh starts.

Get January’s Kit right here!

Peep some NPR story excerpts we’ve hand-picked for January’s kit:

I had so created my life that I didn’t have enough minutes in the day to work out if this was really making me happy, and so I thought, I need to stop right now and go to a very clear environment and then take stock of things.”– How Can We Find More Time To Be Still?, TED Radio Hour, Nov. 21, 2014

There’s a…trigger for an automatic behavior to start unfolding. And then there’s a routine, which is the behavior itself…And then there’s a reward. And the reward is what tells our brain whether we should store this habit for future use or not.” – How You Can Harness ‘The Power Of Habit’, Morning Edition, Feb. 27, 2012

There’s four types of people…How you react to the idea of forming a habit or someone telling you that you should form a habit…is going to be very different depending on what tendency you are.” – Change Your Habits And You’ll Be ‘Better Than Before’, Weekend Edition Sunday, March 15, 2015

We’ve also adding a brand new element – an interactive writing session that will help you and your pals define your 2016 goals. You probably already know that putting your feelings down on paper can provide all kinds of emotional benefits. This particular writing activity is intended to help you solidify your personal priorities, maybe even reveal patterns that can help you cultivate good habits.

Happy hosting! Please share your Renewal Edition Listening Party experiences with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  #NPRListeningParty @NPRGenListen

How to Pick the Most Compelling Stories for Your Holiday Listening Party

Maya Angelou once said, “One must know not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it.” We couldn’t agree more. In fact, we’ve created an entire playbook that guides you to listen and reflect on this sentiment and discuss it with your nearest and dearest.

We’ve curated 10 artfully told NPR stories designed to make you think more deeply about what giving truly means and designed to prompt smart conversation amongst your friends.

These stories serve as the heart and soul of our newly launched Listening Party Kit, which makes it incredibly easy for listeners to host their own parties.

Of the 10 stories, we’ve grouped them into three different categories around giving, but it’s up to you to make that final selection based on the vibe you wish to create.  

Here are some tips on how to choose the best rundown of stories to make it an epic NPR party with your friends:

1) Consider your guests’ interests and backgrounds. Are they serious business types? Creative artists? Entrepreneurs? Fellow students? Activists? Teachers? Design your playlist based on what perspectives your guests can bring to the conversation.

2) Decide what mood you want to set. Do you want the group to be moved or inspired, to solve a complex problem, or to dive into a philosophical discussion?

3) Gauge the attention spans of your friends. Are they chatty Kathys who can’t wait to talk the moment an idea pops into their heads? Or are they more introspective and reflective and have a desire to dig into a meaty story? The individual stories in the kit range from 2 to 18 minutes and can be paired and parsed depending on your individual taste.

Check out the types of stories we’ve personally selected for inclusion in December’s kit:

“If I have enough time, I will do four, five, 1,000 jobs for your education. It’s a joy to do that knowing that I’m doing that for you.” - StoryCorps

Our package of personal giving stories run the gamut from inspirational and humorous to emotional. One TED Radio Hour segment features a scientist helping people find their true voices, while a “gangsta gardener” talks about giving his community the gift of health in another segment. We also hear how courageous Central Europeans are risking arrest to help refugees. And you might want to break out the tissues for a touching StoryCorps collection about what parents and grandparents give to their children.

“When someone dies, people…surround you with support. When your company goes out of business, everybody heads for the hills.” - TED Radio Hour

Interested in an intellectual and forward-looking approach to giving? Check out these stories about the future of philanthropy. An interview from TED Radio Hour, “Do We Have The Wrong Idea About Charity?” forces us to question how we expect philanthropic organizations to function: How should they spend their money? What image do we have of nonprofits? Another story in the future-of-philanthropy package explores tech-driven donations, while a third story highlights a different way of giving back (one that involves getting on an airplane).

“It seems that compassion is contagious.” - Hidden Brain

If you’re more of a people-watching armchair psychologist, you might like our selection of stories about the psychology of giving from Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent and host of the Hidden Brain podcast. Through interviews and a review of current social science research, Shankar investigates whether generosity is a learned behavior or if we are born compassionate, giving individuals.

Happy hosting! Please share your experiences with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  #NPRListeningParty @NPRGenListen

PRESALE Tix for Ask Me Another in STL!

Hey Ask Me Another fans in St. Louis! Ophira and the AMA crew are coming your way on Thursday April 26th. Now’s your chance to experience the show’s hour of mind-bending fun live at the Pageant. So round up a group of friends and let’s have some fun, public radio style.

Snag your pre-sale tickets using code KWMU here.