Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MPR, For Minnesota and the Globe

The scene as I walked into the building of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) was nothing short of 2001 a Space Odyssey. As I walked in the doors, I saw a building equipped with a 300in television screen, white bubble chairs that broadcast MPRÕs three radio stations inside, and a wide open structure filled with floating staircases. It made the single floor of KFAI studios look like a storage closet.

Aside from the aesthetic, MPR also has several state of art recording studios for recording live music during their segments. These studios are completely climate controlled to protect the instruments and equipment. Also, the studios are completely soundproof from the outside. Imagine quiet rooms where you actually canÕt hear a pin drop.

In the newsroom, the energy was palpable. At one point a technician ran out of one of the studios yelling about a problem patching the governor through to their show. The class stood and watched as the man banged his hand against a cubicle and seemed to come up with a solution in his head. He then quickly parted through our mob and went back into the studio.
For keeping up with the latest headlines, there is an entire room of equipment and professionals dedicated to monitoring satellite feeds on world news. MPRÕs news station covers most of Minnesota and also broadcast in various cities internationally. You can find out more about their coverage area and broadcast affiliates on their webpage (listed below).

The studio runs on the dollars of their listeners. The station does a 9-day telethon three times a year that brings in most of their dollars. They also rely on federal and state grant money, and by product endorsements, an enterprise similar to advertising, but with very specific guidelines for content, to bring in the rest of their multi-million-dollar annual budget.

MPR is dedicated to providing the Mid-West with the latest news, the biggest repertoire of quality classical music, and sounds of the latest local bands on their contemporary music station, The Current. You can catch the sounds of MPR broadcasting in the Twin Cities on 89.3fm(current), 99.5fm(classical), 91.1fm(news), or catch the live feed of all three on the web at

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Update On the Nature Post...

Okay so I started doing my research for this whole natural -environment-learning-affective thing (this is a new official subject matter that I have created of course...). So far, I have been unsuccessful in attaching nature to learning ability, however, my questions did lead to many studies on Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder (SAD). This research forced me to have to recall some the brain facts I learned back in Psych 105. So here's a little review:

First of all the centers in the brain that are believed to hold "declarative memory" and possibly spatial memory (orientation) as well are called the Hippocampi (Singular: Hippocampus). They are these two kidney-bean-shaped blobs located inside the temporal lobe (the big one in the middle towards the bottom from the profile view).

The second thing you need to know about is Melatonin (similar to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy or content) Scientists now think that increasing the amounts of this neurotransmitter in the brain may stunt the progression of Alzheimer's Disease or maybe even reverse them.

Ok so here's what I pieced together. Melatonin secretion is thought to be triggered in the penial glan by light coming in through through the retina (so in sunnier seasons, the retina receives more incoming light). A study at the University of Illinois on lab rats done to observe the corrolation between the functioning of the hippocampi and the level of melatonin showed that rats lacking the melatonin receptors (MT(2) knockouts) displayed more gradual progress in maze tests than those whose receptors were unchanged. Thus, concluding that low levels of melatonin effect the 'potentiation' (effectiveness) of the hippocampi, which as we reviewed before, are responsible for creating new declarative memories (learning).

Now that's pretty technical, but there was also a study done with people that is a bit easier to comprehend. The National Public Health Institute in Finland did a study to test the effects of light and exercise on the people showing signs of depression. I'll skip all the boring details that had to take into the account and give you link at the end if you're interested in the full story. The results were considered successful if the participants decreased their symptoms of depression by 50% according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Out of 98, 42 ( 5 men, 37 women) had successful results. Yes that is less than half of the participants, but those are only the ones who reached the 50% improvement rating, not the measure of the progress of those who did not quite reach that level. It's some pretty interesting stuff.

I hadn't heard about SAD before I moved to Minnesota, and having painfully survived one and half winters here, I understand how the absence of light can cause depression. However, I was not aware that it may also put a damper on your ability to learn new things. Not good news for Minnesota educators.

Some ways to improve your mood, and maybe your hippocampi potentiation are to go tanning during those darker months. The UV exposure from tanning bulbs is just as effective on your mood as the natural sun. But if your already dark enough, there is a UV bulb thing-a-majigger(you can contact CCHP for the actual name of it) located on the top floor of the library that supposedly helps as well.

For more information or to access the full reports on the above mentioned studies, check out these sites:

Rat Study:

Excercise and Light Study:
Search these topics on Wikipedia:



Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder

Pineal Gland

Monday, July 16, 2007

Never Prepared, always left behind.

Note that this first sentence is the only one that I am writing during the time this blog is suppose to be written. (Pause for tour to KFAI radio). we went to KFAI. It is a new concept to me that people actually volunteer their own time and money to fund a community supported radio station. I come from a part of the country where respect for obscure opinion, art, and information holds little value. I was amazed that a group of broadcasters can actually thrive and continue to grow from producing this sort of material for the public.

I was particularly impressed by the professional environment at KFAI. I recently interned at the not-for-profit theater, Patrick's Cabaret. Now I don't want to smear the organization whatsoever, but the limited budget that they operated under was apparent. Scrimping for every penny, we were always using both sides of printer paper, constructing sound systems out of ordinary home stereo equipment, and any other necessary measure needed to save a buck. But at KFAI, the story is quite different. They use state of the art equipment, all of their studios are skillfully soundproofed, and their staff doesn't have to cart their own materials in from home.

Since Journalism seems to be my new great interest on top of my previous interest in voice over work, the whole experience has made me decide to look into to radio station internships after I complete my internship at Juene Lune.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Walk Through Nature, Close to Home.

Good News! As you may have already noticed, I made it through the first day. In fact, today I was able to arrive at school a little under an hour early to finish editting and printing my story for class.

With the feeling of success floating under my feet, I practically bounced my way to the library this morning to use the computer. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a peculiar sight. There was a robin akwardly hopping on the sidewalk. I stopped to watch as it climbed over the edging and toppled into the flowers. I took a few steps closer and noticed that the bird didn't flutter away. I thought perhaps it might be hurt, so I slowly increased my proximity and stretched out my hand to the bird. As the reflection of my fingers grew bigger in the bird's eye it convulsed and let out a startling squawk that almost made me lose my footing. By the time I recomposed myself I saw the bird scurry into the flowers out of sight.

My encounter with the bird this morning made me start to think about the environment here on the Augsburg campus. I feel that the being surrounded by nature and its scavenging little creatures puts me in the right mood to learn in the morning. During the season of beautiful summer mornings, that is. In fact, the weather affects my mood so much, that I would almost opt to take most of the classes in the summer and the fall when the weather is nicer for the longest amount of time. In fact, I'm even thinking about doing a statistical article about the affectiveness of the weather on grades as opposed to just moods. I feel that this information would be useful for teachers to be aware of if in fact the results prove my theory to be correct.

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, July 9, 2007

The First Day...

While squinting at 8:30 in the morning under the flourescent lighting in sverdrup 205, I realize that I'm thankful there is no clock in this room. I do not want to be able to track how slow the time is passing. I haven't been up before noon in a month or maybe more. That said, the 7am alarm is worse than the all my hangovers freshmen year. One thing is for sure, with two summer classes both starting at 8:30 in the am, it's going to be a long six weeks.
The class I'm in this morning is English 227: Journalism. My recent decision to tack on an English minor to my current Theater studies requires me to tear myself away from my pillow and remote control to become a mentor for a local somali youth (part of the Augsburg Experience requirement for graduation). Other tasks include: a transforming story (like how long it takes to transform myself into a human being when I have to get up so early), an interview (most likely featuring how my classmate enjoys camping or how their favorite food is Thai), and staying awake for two films about the news.
Considering how easy it is for me to write this off the top of my head without having comsumed a real meal yet, I figure I'll probably be able to handle it. But I'll have to kiss my days of no alarm clocks good-bye. At least for a while.