For a number of years, the Voices in the News segment of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday has played an outsized role in my thinking -- far beyond what you'd expect from a 2-3 minute audio montage. But it tends to coincide with when I wake up on a typical Sunday morning, and thus is one of the first things I hear when the clock radio snaps on. Lying in bed as that hauntingly simple background music runs, the week's news distilled and juxtaposed into just a few voices from in media res, is like starting out the week by letting the rest of the world just soak in. Just for a moment. (Here's a good example, from last fall. Close your eyes, imagine the sun rising on the first day of the week, and that you've just woken up.)
So it grieves me considerably that since the new year, the segment has gotten, well, lame. I'm guessing a new producer took it over. It's been cut down to only about a minute or so, and typically features a narrow category of clips, typically political soundbites. This week it was a sentence or so from each of the three nominal winners of Saturday's primary contests. Worse, last week it was predictable and bumbling snippets from Bush's speech in the United Arab Emirates. Perhaps fortunately, it's also been moved to the beginning of the second hour of Weekend Edition instead of the first, so it's no longer the first thing I hear. But I'm sad not to have that anymore, and I really hope it goes back to something closer to what it was.