A Radio Programme by Laura Erickson
On most weekdays since May 1986, Laura Erickson has been broadcasting a radio item, "For The Birds", on her local public service station, KUMD, in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. The show is now syndicated to several similar stations accross the northern central USA.
So, why is this of interest to birders in the English West Midlands? Well, she makes available to us — and everyone, worldwide — an archive of the most recent three months' worth of programmes, via her "For The Birds " website. (The oldest is removed at the start of each new month, so put that in your diary now!)
The tone is chatty and informal, making the programmes suitable for a general audience, but dealing in some detail with topics ranging from migration to studies of individual species; from poetry and literature to birding reference books; and from birding personalities to some rather odd April First specials. The programmes open and end with a relevant bird- song or call.
Most bulletins run for between three and five minutes, a few twice that, and are recorded as MP3 files — these being the compressed sound files common on the Internet, and playable on home computers, or on "Walkman" style portable players. For the technically minded, the files are in 128 kbit/s joint stereo, sampled at 44,100 Hertz. For those of you to whom that means nothing, they're not in the highest- fidelity form of stereo, but are perfectly adequate for spoken-word programmes.
With the size of each file averaging 4Mb, they're quite a meaty download for those using "dial- up" connections, but it's possible from Laura's website to see the subject of each episode before downloading it, and in some cases read a transcript. For standard broadband users, 4Mb comes down the wires in a minute or so.
All in all, Laura's programmes are delightful nuggets; an interesting contrast with our own BBC's regular, and longer, offerings, "Nature " and "Open Country ", which are available as "streaming" media for on-line listening only. They're especially good, given that Laura is a volunteer. She writes, records, engineers and produces the show in her own home.
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Monday 20 May 2013 14:26:36
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