Reach out, rip it open, shock the world!

Saturday, April 26, 2008 - 12:00 AM

The work I used to do in radio was generally done with a screwdriver. I ripped the backs off of commercial radios and hacked and tweaked them to my own specifications. Every radio warned on the back in scary typefaces that I was taking my life into my hands.

I have to say proudly that the admonitions from RCA, GE and Motorola: "Removing Panel Results in Shock Hazard" or "NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE" were my first invitation to confront authority. These first experiences in radio had a media, technology, and civic protest dimension. I wasn't thinking any of this at the time. Some 40 years ago it was all about wanting to open the back of my radio and make it more powerful. By boosting the RF inputs I could hear more distant stations. It was simple really. I wanted to be able to hear more voices from more places and I was determined to learn how to do it. I learned how to build transmitters and actually reach people with radios of my own design. (I talked with a guy in Iraq back in the '60's before Saddam and made friends via-shortwave with a fellow from Iceland who collected model trains and wanted to speak better English). Those were great adventures to me and it was odd that the skill of how to reach out electronically was never offered to the public at large. We were all encouraged to sit back and information would be delivered to us. Any attempt to intervene in the information flow from the networks or the big papers was subversive. It was as though you needed a license called celebrity to speak through the media. Do it on your own and you get a call from the FCC or worse.

Well, now I am holding the biggest screwdriver of my career and I'm about to jam it into the back of something called MORNING PUBLIC RADIO. I and a fabulously talented staff including my co-host Adaora Udoji are launching the TAKEAWAY on WNYC and PRI. We are all probing around the sacred assumptions of what is news and who gets to speak and we are going to tweak away inside this global radio live each morning for an audience of millions. What's more, we want everyone to remove the back panels from their radios and risk the shock of something new.

The TAKEAWAY is a new door into the loud, diverse conversation of being American in a 21st century world.

Come on in!

I believe that we are living in wild, fabulous and dangerous times. There's never been a better soundtrack to life as you can find in the music created and shared around the world today. There's never been a stronger sense that the world can be seen from our own YouTubeian windows. But we've also got ...presidents who suspend the constitution... candidates who change political rules in the middle of the game and campaigns run on sabotage and the silliness of 3am wake-up calls. (is that when all the important meetings take place in Washington DC @ 3AM???) We've got an economy mortgaged to hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and other speculators... Wheat, rice corn and oil are all suddenly mixed up together in a an economic brew that is disrupting everyone's dinner plans.

The shock warning, it seems to me, has to do with doing nothing. (Now you certainly don't have to agree with John Hockenberry about anything to enjoy this show. Just ask anyone on the staff of The TAKEAWAY)

The TAKEAWAY is a radio show, a website, and a community dedicated to action and adventure in news and information.

Join us.

Together we can deliver some shock waves... I say give everyone a screwdriver and in this information JUNGLE let's go out there and bag ourselves some friggin truth!!!


John Hockenberry


More in:

Comments [15]

Warren Barrows

[[Comment moderated. Off topic. Moved to "Come on, tell us what you really think" thread.]]

Jun. 12 2008 01:35 PM
fond of orange

John, please pass me the screwdriver so that I can jam it into my radio the next time your inane show is on.

How cool are you that you say things like "friggin" and "we say things like this on this show"? Not. At. All.

Apr. 30 2008 10:38 PM

This is supposed to be "shocking" this back and forth and a website with some comments?

We all had such high hopes.

Apr. 29 2008 04:51 PM
V. Szerko

I'm sorry, but The Takeaway should taken away - ASAP. The chatter is incoherent, the musical interludes are jarring and there is absolutely no rapport between the two hosts. The show is obviously unscripted; they just say whatever flies into their heads...really uninformative and a waste of time. I won't be listening again.

Apr. 29 2008 10:49 AM
Steve G

Milely Cyrus ain't news. It's Entertainment Tonight gossip.

I can get tabloid trash on every news stand and television channel (and the wretched terminally stupid blogosphere).

The United States and the world is in transition and some think crisis. We don't need Happy Talk formats from the 70's...and we cerainly don't need it from NPR.

Apr. 29 2008 07:01 AM
Jackie Elias

I could not agree with you more!!! If something is not broken (e.g., Morning Edition) then why "fix" it with a extremely annoying bantering with no point? It's bad enough that Bob Edwards' soothing voice and superb interview style was dumped for no reason other than "change", now we have two blithering fools interrupting one another to ask inane questions. The only take away from this morning was that WNYC should stick with what it knows and leave the stupid banter to the commercial radio that we all try to escape. What's next? Howard Stern for intellectuals?

Apr. 29 2008 12:02 AM
Hated It!

Yes, I have my screwdriver, but I've never wanted to use it until the Takeaway ripped my Morning Edition away this morning on 93.9. I was willing to give it a listen, but it was exactly why I *DON'T* listen to any other radio stations. Chatty commercial banter. Who wants to listen to screwdriver-holding hosts at 6 AM??? I just want calmly delivered informative news. I want Morning Edition back.

Apr. 28 2008 11:34 PM
Jacqueline Cantwell

I agree. The banter is like television.

Apr. 28 2008 07:13 PM
Dave NYC

After listening today, I'm afraid I did not care for the show at all. I understand the intent to create a different format that is less set-piece than Morning Edition, but the show felt very much like quick-cut, pushy commercial radio and not like NPR. The tone was just off. (Sqeaky toy noises? Beeping noises for news clips? Banter?) I suggest looking at various CBC Radio programs (such at Metro Morning in Toronto) for inspiration on how to do a public radio drive-time morning show that successfully combines intellectual news with a personable, live host.

Apr. 28 2008 06:11 PM
Steve G

Congratulations, it took you exactly two minutes into your first broadcast to run a Hamas originated anti-Israeli atrocity story.

Lay off the propaganda and stick to the news, okay?

Apr. 28 2008 08:13 AM
Ward Chamberli

It's a bold venture, a needed venture and I can't wait to hear it and participate. Good luck.

Apr. 27 2008 05:02 PM
Steve G

I hope your program will not become yet another outlet for the BBC's distortions and biased reporting against Israel.

WNYC has already gone over the line by not providing an outlet for counter-comment on the daily BBC's pro-terror /anti-Israel stories.

Please do not make this situation any worse.

Apr. 27 2008 04:43 PM
Luis M Mendes

Dear John: We met at a lecture you gave a few years ago. I was using my wheelchair and we joked about "'Nam wounded" and the fact that have MS very Progressive.
Just to say Hi and will try to hear your show.
Hoboken NJ

Apr. 27 2008 11:56 AM
wayne collins

3 am is:

9am, noon, 3pm in Europe-Mid East-Asia.

YES: this is a crucial time of day.

The WORLD does not function only on Eastern S/D Time.

Apr. 27 2008 01:18 AM

Hey, I've got my screwdriver and I'm READY!

Best wishes for the new show. You'll blow 'em away with The Takeaway!

Apr. 27 2008 01:02 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.