On the road driving, listening and learning

Browning says students should check out NPR

NPR has been a radio cornerstone for many years and provides entertainment and news locally on 90.1-FM.

NPR has been a radio cornerstone for many years and provides entertainment and news locally on 90.1-FM.

Catherine Jasper, Co-editor in Chief

It could be five minutes, or 25 minutes. It could be bitterly cold or the more temperate beginning of spring. Maybe there is a big test to be worried about, or excitement for an assembly. Whatever the conditions, the drive to school is nearly always accompanied with the radio or some kind of music.

For English Department Co-Chair Mrs. Liz Browning, her days begin and end with National Public Radio. She listens to NPR “twice a day, coming to school and going home. And that’s my minimum,” she said.

Browning’s relationship with NPR started early. She said, “I grew up with a mother who listened to talk radio. She listened to WIBC; it was always on in the background. That pattern of the rhythm of the voices is part of my DNA.”

After returning to the school in 2008, Browning began tuning in to the Bob Edwards show. She started listening because an author her book club was studying was set to speak on the show. After listening, “I just got addicted,” she said.

Even all these years later, Browning said she still listens to the radio to learn. Just recently, Browning “started paying attention to the breadth and depth of the news stories. Certainly, (NPR) covers the arts, but it also covers sports, it covers politics, it covers gender and race issues, I just feel like I’m smarter than I would be if I didn’t have NPR in my life,” she said.

Browning’s favorite shows include “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and the TED radio hour. “They take a TED talk, something that is only fifteen minutes, and they talk to the person for an hour and just really elongate it,” she said.

Besides the knowledge Browning gains from listening to NPR, she believes being a frequent audience member has changed her life. “It has exposed me to things I didn’t know about. For example, one day I was driving to school, this was six or seven years ago, and I was listening to this woman on NPR named Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She was a wordsmith, so she put words together in ways you wouldn’t expect. She was talking about this initiative she was involved in called the beckoning of lovely. She invited people to meet her at the bean in Chicago on Aug. 8, 2008, Sept. 9, 2009, and so forth. She also worked on little fun things that would draw people together in a community,” she said.

Using Rosenthal’s methods in Browning’s In Our Village class, she coordinated her own beckoning of lovely on Oct. 10, 2010. After continuing the tradition for two more years, Browning said, “Brandon Fogel (’14) would tell you it changed his life.”

It was Fogel who inspired Browning to grow closer with Rosenthal. “He found out she did city summer walks in Chicago. So my kids and I met (science teacher) Mr. (Howard) Fogel and Brandon up in Chicago one Monday afternoon and we walked around the city with Amy Krouse Rosenthal,” she said.

Unfortunately Rosenthal died of cancer last year, causing Browning to reflect on her connection. Browning hopes the big takeaway from this story would be for people, “to be open and receptive to learning new things and trying new things,” she said.

As for younger generation’s aversion to talk radio, Browning believes it is because kids are so used to change. She said, “You listen to what you want, you get out of it, and you move on. The problem with something like talk radio, is you need to sit down and listen to it. That’s why I like (to listen) in the car, I’m a captive audience. I can’t get distracted. I drive 22 minutes every morning, so I can learn a lot in 22 minutes.”

Browning hopes other people, especially students, will give talk radio a try. She describes it as “eating peas when you don’t like peas. But if you eat them 20 times, you might end up not minding it.”