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Many drivers say they’d welcome a cell phone ban

Originally aired April 13, 2009

Original Link: Many drivers say they’d welcome a cell phone ban

(Host) Vermont lawmakers may ban the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

 

As VPR’s Jason Bushey reports, many drivers say they’d welcome such a law.

(Bushey) Stand alongside any road and you’ll see plenty of people using their phones.

Josh Lee isn’t sure Vermont needs a law.

(Lee) “I think that’s what really distracting is the fact that someone’s having a conversation. So whether they’re doing it on a hand-held or handless device doesn’t make a difference. I think the law’s kind of silly.”

(Bushey)Lydia Wood says any conversation can take someone’s attention off the road.

(Wood) “Personally, I feel like people have a lot of conversations while driving anyway. Perhaps if you’re next to somebody and you’re talking. I think that’s equally distracting.”

(Bushey) Drivers seem to be distracted by a lot of things besides their cell phones.

Dave Bolain says he’s guilty of talking and driving. But he’s seen worse.

(Bolain) “The Burger King while yu’re driving is just as bad. People are sitting there trying to figure out what’s going on. As long as they’re looking down and not looking up at the road, it causes all sorts of problems. The makeup-while-you-drive, the shaving-while-you-drive. I mean, all different stuff – even yelling at the kids in the back seat, although that one’s kind of hard to make legislation on.”

(Bushey) Driving and dining is common. Here’s Drew Peberdy.

(Peberdy) “I think eating is definitely up there. I’ve seen people unwrapping subs and digging into little Styrofoam cups of chili, candy bars, that kind of thing. That is always really scary to drive by somebody at 60 miles per hour at risk of spilling pizza sauce all over the front of themselves.”

(Bushey) Former tow truck driver Henry Cyganiewicz says he’s seen his fair share of multi-tasking drivers.

(Cyganiewicz) “I’ve seen one guy, he went off the road, almost rolled his car over. I asked him what happened. He was like, `Oh, I was reading a book,’ while he was driving on the interstate. I’m like, `OK.”’

(Bushey) The driver safety bill has passed the House and is now before the Senate. If it’s enacted, Vermont would become the sixth state to adopt a cell-phone ban.

For VPR News, I’m Jason Bushey.

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Interning for Vermont Edition

Originally published May 13, 2009

Original Link: Interning for VT Edition

UVM journalism student and Vermont Edition intern Jason Bushey is wrapping up his work at Vermont Public Radio, and he shared his thoughts about working at VPR:

On my first day as an intern at VPR, I came in expecting to do stereotypical “intern work”– making photocopies, answering phones, you know, the dirty stuff. However, almost right away I came to realize that this would not be the case when Vermont Edition host, Jane Lindholm, asked me if I wanted some coffee. (My response: “Isn’t that supposed to be my job?”) Instead, I was given real work in the office and out in the field, and I got to have an impact on some of the broadcasts. Here are a few projects I worked on over the past few months with Vermont Edition.

Recording “man on the street” audio:
Like most first-timers, I was a bit nervous to go up to random strangers on the street and ask them for their opinions on issues. However, once I got my first rejection, I realized that this would be the worst-case scenario – a simple “no.” Soon my nerves subsided and I felt comfortable talking with all kinds of people (including one man outside of City Hall in Burlington who had just left a child support hearing). With some practice, I got some pretty good tape of everyday people whose voices were heard on the air by listeners.

Research:
One crucial aspect of my interning experience was background research on future topics for the program. When I was given a topic to research, I worked to include as many sides of the story that I could find. This practice is definitely helpful for an aspiring journalist like me because it got me to dig deeper and farther on particular subjects that I may have not have thought to look at.

Voicing stories:
Honestly, when I first got the internship at VPR, I didn’t even dream of getting on the radio (and yet, anytime I told someone I interned at VPR, their first response usually was, “no way, you’re on the radio?!”). But VPR’s Newscast Editor, Ross Sneyd, heard the audio I collected for a debate over driving while talking on cell phones, and he asked me to write a newscast story and voice it for air. My greatest fear about getting on the radio was, “will I sound smart enough to be on VPR?” Ross, Jane and Production Engineer Chris Albertine gave me great advice on delivery and how to connect with a radio audience, and with their help I was able to get a brief spot on the air. Now, when someone assumes I was on the radio because I interned at VPR, I can at least answer, “well, not really. But there was this one time…”

Learning how to produce a radio show:
Finally, one of the most valuable experiences I took away from my internship at VPR was learning the day-to-day process of putting together a daily radio program. I had never worked in radio before my time at VPR, but I was an editor at UVM’s student newspaper. What I learned is that the two processes – putting together a radio show and creating a newspaper section – have something in common: both require several people working together in close orchestration to produce a high-quality result. The demands of a daily show require focus both in preparation and while Vermont Editionis on the air. I got to see how the process develops from an idea to a live broadcast by producing my own show (with, of course, the help of Vermont Edition’s producers) on magnet schools. Everything from research to booking guests to rescheduling guests when something comes up is required of producers, and my experience at VPR gave me really good behind-the-scenes insight into how challenging (and fulfilling) the job of a producer can be.

So, while I am trying to be a journalist and am always looking to be objective on a particular subject, I really have nothing but good things to say about working as an intern at VPR. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in journalism, so long as they’re ready to do real journalistic work, as opposed to making copies and coffee – I’m really glad I got to avoid that.

VT Edition: Armando Vilaseca & Paula Brown on magnet schools

Originally aired 4/30/2009

Original Link: VT Edition: Armando Vilaseca & Paula Brown on magnet schools

(Note: This was an on-air show I co-produced as an intern at VT Edition. Click on the link above for the story; a brief summary of the story can be found below.)

Imagine a classroom where students dance the lifecycle of a seed or learn about food production by meeting farmers and eating local food. Those are activities that are planned for the state’s first two magnet schools. The schools will focus on arts and sustainability and will be part of the Burlington School District in the fall.

VPR’s Jane Lindholm talks with one of the school’s principals, Paula Bowen, and with Vermont’s Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca about how magnet schools fit into our education system, and how the model could be spread statewide.

Puppets help students open up, teach values

Originally aired May 27, 2009

Original Link: Puppets help students open up, teach values

(Host) It’s no secret that education is effective when it’s entertaining. For nearly three decades, one Vermont organization has used large, colorful puppets to teach young students across the state a wide variety of values.

Kids on the Block-Vermont is an educational puppeteer troupe that has performed nearly 20 shows around the state in the month of May alone.

VPR’s Jason Bushey reports.

(Jason Bushey) It’s a sunny weekday afternoon in Addison, Vermont, and with summer looming just a few weeks away, it can be hard for a class of fourth graders to stay focused on the everyday curriculum. But today the kids will learn a little differently – for the next half-hour, puppets will be doing the teaching.

(Josiah Pearsall) “My name is Josiah.”

(Nancy Hellen) “And my name is Nancy.”

(Josiah Pearsall) “And we are with Kids on the Block-Vermont.”

(Bushey)  Kids on the Block-Vermont is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and promoting healthy lifestyles by getting kids to open up about their personal problems and warning them about risky behavior.

For 27 years, the group has traveled throughout Vermont, educating students K through 8 while armed with a special tool children can relate to – puppets.

Long-time Executive Director Deb Lyons talked about how the organization uses what she called “powerful puppetry” to educate young Vermonters.

(Deb Lyons) “Puppets are engaging. Puppets are safe. Puppets are non-threatening. Puppets can share really important and sometimes life-saving types of information.”

(Bushey) But as Lyons explained, these aren’t just any puppets.

(Lyons) “Well, the puppets are about three and a half feet tall and they look like the muppets in terms of a large head and a mouth that can open and that’s what allows us to do our lip-synch. Because we dress all in black when we’re performing, we blend into the black ground. …. …. …. And then the puppets are just standing on the stage. So they’re kids talking to other kids.”

(Bushey) The puppets come in all sorts of shapes, and – most importantly – backgrounds. There’s Renaldo, a blind 11-year-old who teaches children that despite his disability, he’s just like any other kid. Or there’s Mark, who has cerebral palsy and enjoys what he refers to as “cruising” around on his wheelchair.

(Lyons) “Each puppet has their own story and that story stays with them forever. Anywhere we go everybody will know, “Oh yeah I remember her she talked about cultural difference, or I remember Mark, he talked about what it’s like to have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair, and oh yeah Renaldo he’s blind and he showed us how to use his cane. The consistency is really helpful.”

(Bushey) After every Kids on the Block performance, the puppets ask the students for suggestions on how to help deal with the problems they are presenting to the class.

Then, the organization uses interactive games – like this Jeopardy spin-off – to quiz the kids on what they’ve just learned.

(Hellen)  “The media – magazines, TV, movies – present thinness as the ideal female image and this as the ideal male image.”

(Child) “Muscular?”

(Josiah) “Muscular is what we were looking for.”

(Children shouting, laughing)

(Bushey) As a puppeteer, Josiah Pearsall has seen first-hand the effect one performance can have on getting a child the help he needs.

Pearsall recalls one performance where a child speaking directly to his puppet, named “Steven,” admitted to being abused by his mother.

(Pearsall) “Steven” went through the same thing and is like, “Yeah I use to make up stories to try and hide what my mom did,” and then Steven turns to the kid and says, “You should really tell someone what’s going on.” And the kid, who had been very nonchalant and calm about sharing this, suddenly freezes up and shakes his head violently and says, “No I’m not telling anyone.” He was just talking to a puppet and he was very calm about it and the minute I suggested telling somebody he says he’s not going to tell anybody.”

(Bushey) At the end of the performance, Pearsall said the child met with the school’s guidance counselor, who was then able to use the information revealed by the puppets and take the necessary steps toward getting the child help.

(Pearsall)  “So the great thing is that information did get out even though he wasn’t ready to share it.”

(Bushey)  Executive Director Deb Lyons, who was inspired to write her first grant for the organization in the late Eighties after her own child became the victim of abuse, talked about the lasting effect Kids on the Block-Vermont has had on thousands of students around the state.

(Lyons) “We meet so many people that all talk to us about their personal situations and what difference the puppets have made in their lives. To have high school students come to us and say I want to do my community service with you because I saw the puppets say it’s not OK, this touching problem stuff is not OK when I was in first grade and because the puppet said I should tell somebody I did and then I got help. We know that we’re making a difference.”

(Bushey) Despite running on what Lyons called a “shoe-string” budget, Kids on the Block-Vermont will continue its mission to educate over 13,000 students, educators and parents in the upcoming year.

For VPR News, I’m Jason Bushey.