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New York

Garth Risk Hallberg's "City on Fire" is a sweeping 900-page story about New York City in the mid-1970s, chronicling everything from the punk music scene to the rise of Wall Street's runaway hedge funds. Hallberg says he's fascinated by the idea of creative destruction.

Are we too reliant on phone apps?

Robots that clean the bathroom, cars that drive themselves, computers that diagnose disease. They may sound appealing, but technology writer Nicholas Carr warns that the new age of automation could mean we'll lose basic life skills.

Code

Machines that program themselves are all around us and they get smarter every day. But are you ready for the master algorithm that can tell a machine how to learn anything?

Why are so many women criticized for "vocal fry"? Anne Strainchamps talks to podcaster Ann Friedman and NPR pioneer Susan Stamberg about critiques of female voices.

David Thorpe

David Thorpe is a filmmaker who went in search of his voice. For his documentary "Do I Sound Gay?" he investigated why he and many other gay men ended up with a "gay voice"—one with precise enunciation and sibilant "s" sounds.

Keith Powell in "Keith Breaks His Leg"

Before and since Keith Powell's breakthrough role as Toofer on the sitcom "30 Rock," he has confronted Hollywood's penchant for stereotyping black male voices.

A frog

Humans are not the only creatures who vocalize. Birds, whale and frogs have voices too—but are we listening? Bernie Krause has been recording environmental sounds all over the world since the 1970s. He says it's time for humans to shut up.

oscilloscope

As media historian Jonathan Sterne tells Craig Eley, signal processing shapes the sound of all vocal media, from your telephone calls to the music of T-Pain.

Ben Marcus talks about another one of the stories he chose for the "New American Stories" anthology — "Going for a Beer" by Robert Coover.

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