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AMERICAN MOSAIC - A Report on Podcasting / Music By Bobby Short / A Question About April Fool's Day
By Ed Stautberg and Nancy Steinbach

Broadcast: Friday, April 01, 2005

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HOST:

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

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I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week: Music by Bobby ShorT...A question from a listener about April Fool's Day...And a report on something called podcasting.

Podcasting

HOST:

Here is something new: people are listening to the radio without using a radio. They are also producing radio shows to broadcast on the Internet. It is called podcasting. Phoebe Zimmermann explains.

ANNCR:

Podcasting is also called personal radio. A person who has a computer and a special microphone can record a radio show about anything. This technology is new because listeners can put the recording onto portable electronic devices and listen to them away from the computer.

 
Apple iPod
The name podcasting came from one of these portable electronic devices, the iPod made by the Apple computer company. An iPod is small. It can copy, save and play music and written material. You do not have to have an iPod to listen to the broadcasts; many people also listen to them on a computer with Internet connection.

The new broadcasters enjoy sharing information with their listeners. Many say podcasting is a new form of the Internet Web log or blog. It is another way for a person to offer his or her ideas to anyone who is interested.

People broadcast about many subjects, including religion, their everyday lives or hobbies such as fishing or drinking wine. Right now, a very popular podcast is called "The Dawn and Drew Show". Dawn and Drew are a young wife and husband who live in the state of Wisconsin. Their show is meant to be funny. In it, they talk about their lives and whatever interests them at that moment. They bring guests to their show, including their parents and other family members.

Not much competition exists right now among the different podcasts. Many people speak on more than one. They are usually friendly. One Web site has a list of the ten most popular podcasts based on votes by listeners. It is called podcast alley dot com. It also lists interesting new podcasts.

Thousands of podcasts are being created all over the world. If you are interested in finding out about them, go to podcastalley.com. That is spelled p-o-d-c-a-s-t-a-l-l-e-y dot com. You can find a podcast that interests you. Or you might try to create your own.

April Fool's Day

HOST:

Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Myle asks about the history of April Fool's Day on April first. Today is April Fool's Day in the United States. It is not an important American holiday like the Fourth of July or Labor Day. It is not observed by schools or the government. It is just a day when people play tricks on each other.

History experts say people have been doing this for a long time. They also say it is difficult to know how it began. Some believe the tradition comes from the ancient Romans more than two thousand years ago. Others say the day for fooling began in France in fifteen sixty-four when King Charles changed the yearly calendar. He moved New Year's Day from April first to January first.

Many people did not know about the change because of the communications problems in those days. Others knew about the change, but refused to accept it. So some people continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April first. Other people called them April Fools and played jokes on them.

The French called them "poissons d'avril" or "April Fish" because young fish are easily caught. This tradition later spread to other countries like Britain. The early settlers from Britain brought April fooling to the American colonies.

Americans today still play tricks on each other on April Fool's Day. Children might put signs on the backs of their friends that say "kick me" or "hit me." They might tell their friends that school has been cancelled. Or they might go to a house, ring the doorbell, run away, then yell "April Fool's!" when the homeowner comes to the door.

We found a Web site that claims to list the top one hundred April Fool's Day jokes of all time. Maybe you remember this one. It took place on April first, nineteen ninety-six. The Taco Bell fast food company made an announcement in newspaper advertisements. It said it was buying the famous Liberty Bell from the federal government to help reduce the national debt.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of America's most historic treasures. The company said it was re-naming it the "Taco Liberty Bell." Many people did not realize it was a joke. Hundreds of angry people called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia to protest the action. A few hours later, Taco Bell admitted its April Fool's joke!

Bobby Short

HOST:

American singer Bobby Short died last week in New York City of the blood disease leukemia. Bobby Short was eighty years old. Gwen Outen tells us about him.

ANNCR:

Bobby Short performed all over the world. He entertained American presidents and European royalty. He was well known for singing the great American songs written by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in two thousand for his album "You're the Top: The Love Songs of Cole Porter." Listen as he sings the title song.

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Bobby Short dances with designer Gloria Vanderbilt in 1980 
Bobby Short was born in Danville, Illinois. He was the ninth of ten children. As a child, he sang and played the piano to earn money for his family during the great economic Depression in the nineteen thirties. Later, he performed around the United States and in Europe. For more than thirty-five years, Bobby Short performed six nights a week at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Here is a song from another Grammy-nominated album, "Late Night at the Cafe Carlyle."

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Bobby Short wrote two books about his life. He also performed his music and appeared in movies and on television. But he will always be remembered for his sweet, smooth voice. We leave you now with another song from Bobby Short – "Every Time We Say Goodbye."

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HOST:

I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Ed Stautberg and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.