These birds don’t scavenge

HANCOCK — One of the nice things about traveling to the Twin Cities is that I can listen to Minnesota Public Radio’s News and Information service while driving through the state. We only get the classical service in Houghton with a smattering of news shows like All Things Considered, Fresh Air, etc. Please give me the BBC World Service over Classical 24 any day.

Leaving Duluth heading back to Houghton Sunday night, we heard the last 15 minutes of a good This American Life episode. Then the vultures swooped in.

There’s a new 30-minute program called Pop Vultures. During this episode, they started with a talk about the Neptunes and progressed over a free-wheeling conversation to get to musical epiphanies the host and her friends had (including Garth, let us never forget Garth). The show strikes up a conversational tone, but there’s very little meat on the bone.

Yes, the Neptunes are an interesting group. In addition to getting the hosts’ impression why this group is important or interesting, why don’t we get to know a little bit more about these guys or the music that they play? That sort of knowledge is lacking in pretty much all media these days — including the so-called Music Television (MTV). Unfortunately, these Pop Vultures didn’t quite pick the good meat, as it were.

Garrett and I were incredulous that this show made it on the air. We (meaning Garrett) are reasonably knowledgeable about the material (pop music), but we didn’t really take anything new from this episode. It’s an interesting concept, but we weren’t given a reason why we should care about the opinions of the host and her friends. The musical epiphany part toward the end was interesting, but only marginally so.

The show’s conversational tone is similar to one a group might have a party. It’s a bit of fun, but nothing of substance is ever discussed. Heck, I had a conversation about Star Wars at the Chinese buffet Monday. Does that mean it should be taped and aired on national radio? Probably not.

They definitely get points for trying something new and daring, especially for public radio. If they kept the conversational tone and added musicians, critics or anyone with something resembling factual knowledge to the mix, I think they would have something more relevant and listenable.