Astra Audio: Concerns for workers, unvaccinated patients, bird bureaucracy


Audio Astra reviews recent audio reports on Kansas news, including podcasts and radio reports. Eric Thomas heads the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and teaches visual journalism and photojournalism at the University of Kansas.

Listening to podcasts from all over the state provides unexpected connections week to week and podcast to podcast. This week, those links are between two audio reports highlighting workers’ rights, but also a link between two bird-centric stories (one from Audio Astra from last week).

From Kansas Reflector, this week’s episode takes us to the picket lines which are street side in Topeka near the Frito-Lay production plant. With this location comes the technical challenges of a booming road, making audio quite difficult at times.

We hear from workers, union leaders and even people visiting the picket line from out of state. Everyone interviewed by Noah Taborda is convinced that Frito-Lay should pay higher wages and offer better working conditions. The working conditions they describe – brutal indoor temperatures and 80-hour weeks – provide enough motivation to strike.

Each of us encounters a version of this story in our daily lives: the tensions between workers’ new leverage to demand better pay and working conditions as companies scramble to rehire workers following the pandemic. Maybe it’s your local cafe that can’t hire enough help. Or maybe it’s your own business that is under upward wage pressure for workers. The unresolved question is whether workers have been underpaid for years and deserve a wage adjustment, or whether higher wages are a phenomenon that prompts workers to return to work after the pandemic.

Either way, the workers in Taborda’s report appear to have a legitimate grievance because of the small pay increases of 20 to 40 cents they describe over the years on the job. Frito-Lay does not respond to these allegations in the report and is only cited in a letter.

Climate change is about workers’ rights
Up to date, July 19, 2021

In one of the segments of Up To Date this week, host Steve Kratzke interviews two worker and climate change advocates who explain the link between rising temperatures and many work-related illnesses on work places.

They also at least briefly mention a connection to the Frito-Lay workers from the Reflector podcast: the extreme temperatures that workers say are occurring inside the Frito-Lay factory. While climate change most directly affects working conditions for workers outdoors, temperature extremes for factory workers are another by-product.

Rachel Jefferson, executive director of Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group, is tackling what she calls the false narrative that jobs cannot be created while being environmentally friendly. She says there is a lot more community education that needs to happen at the local level to combat this narrative. Jefferson also uses the phrase “thoughtful urgency” to convey the idea that environmentalism is not just about relying on a quick fix, but engaging with community members and communities to find solutions. solutions.

Kansas City Department of Health does not seek to impose masks as COVID reappears
Current as of July 21, 2021

This is the episode that no one wanted to hear. In the spring, when we emerged from mask mandates and enjoyed the freedoms created by vaccinations, we spoke of “the end”. The pandemic’s intrusions into our daily lives and its devastating effect on infected Americans were behind us.

However, the Delta variant team and the unvaccinated Americans kept those sunny days from going on for very long. As the podcast’s two health experts make clear, both sides of the Kansas City state border are in crisis again.

What do we do with the frustration we are feeling right now? Striking an insistent interview pose here, host Steve Kraske demands an answer to a simple question: why not demand masks again? The non-responses he gets reveal how reluctant local officials will be to demand masks again. Recommend? Yes. Require? No.

I understand Kraske’s confusion. But more often than not my anguish has been directed to the millions of Americans who have chosen not to get the vaccine and in doing so have thrown us into crisis again. Our daily life – at school, at work, with friends – is about to become more complicated and dangerous because of their reluctance.

Little Prairie Chicken List
Inside Ag From Kansas Farm Bureau, July 15

Birds remain in the news this week, following last week’s KCUR light segment on Turkey Vultures in Salina. This week, the “Inside Ag” podcast features an interview with Clay Nichols, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Services, on the little prairie chicken and its consideration as an endangered species in Kansas. We get a nuanced view of the ongoing bureaucratic process. Will the Little Prairie Chicken be officially “threatened” and, if so, how will the Kansans convert the land into hospitable land for the recovery of the species?

Host Greg Doering inquires about the steps required to make another threatened designation for the bird after a previous designation in 2014. What is missing and perhaps taken for granted by the host and guest is a description of the bird. little prairie chicken – its behaviors, habitat and ecological significance.

Rather than covering the issue in contradictory ways, Nichols and Doering remain focused on “context,” a word used consistently during the interview to signal their focus on the facts under consideration. By explaining such determination by a government agency, the interview turns into a bit of alphabet soup of those government agencies and references to obscure regulations. These details at the end of the interview, while useful for pastoralists and farmers, are likely lost on the average listener.

Kansas City Olympians include women’s football coach, trap shooter and two pole vaulters
July 21, 2021

A brief spotlight here for this audio segment – and its long history of support – on Olympic athletes from Kansas and Missouri. Their voices, nimbly edited here, show their enthusiasm for competing in Tokyo.

What did we miss? E-mail [email protected] to tell us about a Kansas-based audio program that would be of interest to Audio Astra players.

About Elaine Morales

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