Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Graziana Grassini (here her official site) is a biologist, chemist and enologist and we had the chance to ask her some questions for an interview. We thank her for the interview.
1) Where were you born?
I was born in Scarlino, a rich medieval town spanning the Follonica shores on the Maremma in Tuscany.
2) What was your first encounter with wine like?
I have been interested in wine since i was young. After the matriculation diploma in technical and industrial chemistry, i decided to open a laboratory that specializes in food and agricultural analysis. The laboratory, which i still run, is a welcome technical outlet that also boosts my work in enology. When I started analyzing and testing wine, there was a trigger that motivated me to learn more about this world. I also became more conscious of the complexity of wine making and as i am drawn to challenges, I took this one up willingly. Consequently I decided to pursue my studies with the aim of increasing my knowledge and expertise of wine. I followed a degustation course and in 1986 I graduated from the Technical Agrarian Institute of Siena as a specialist in viticulture and enology. In 1991 I was conferred the title of Enologist and in 2003 the degree in
Biological Sciences with a specialization in wine studies.
3) Before you became an enologist, which wines were your favourites?
The white wines produced in the north of Italy, specifically from Trentino Alto Adige and of course the famous red wines of my region. I am fascinated by the scents; in fact I would have liked to become a creator of perfume (also known as "nose" of scents). However I have discovered in wine the possibility of expressing my knowledge and expertise by consulting for the estates that produce white wines characterized by intensity and complexity.
4) Among the wines you have helped produce, which is the one you feel most proud and why?
This is not an easy question as is it quite difficult to pinpoint a specific wine, mainly because I feel the wines are like children so I consider them equal in importance and quality. However if I had to choose, I would say the white wines that I helped produce in Tuscany and Puglia, which are tworegions not usually suited for white wines. So this was a gamble which I feel I have succeeded in winning. The first white Tuscan wines I had produced when still quite young were Rondinaia and Convento del Castello del Terriccio. Following these were: the Vermentino Pagliatura by Fattoria di Magliano; the Val di Mare by Pakravan Papi: a very pleasant Riesling by Riparbella of Pisa; the Cenaia Vermentino by Torre a Cenaia; the Fossette by
Alberto Longo: my first white wine of Puglia which was a Falanghina; the Fiano Salento IGP by Agricole Vallone and l'Allegro: a Vermentino by Cantina i Vini di Maremma. Obviously I have to mention the red wines too, but out of all I am particularly fond of Sassicaia 2009.
5) What do you think of the agricultural industry that is biological and biodynamic in nature?
I believe in biological agriculture, and whenever possible I buy and consume organic products. This is because the latter are regulated and carefully controlled, at least from a technical and theoretical point of view. I also support biodynamic agriculture.
6) Nowadays, wine marketing is as important as wine production. what do you think about this? Should enologists concern themselves with communications and PR for wine?
Marketing, communications and PR are essential in the wine industry. It is useless producing very good wines if the customer is not informed about them. Among many things, one has to think about the label, the organoleptic characteristics, the connection with the terroir, and the philosophy behind the production. As to who should be responsible for such marketing, I believe there are different roles to follow. Both the proprietor of an estate and the enologist need to work together to promote the wines, to communicate their enthusiasm and passion for the wines they produce. Communication is a science and as such needs to be undertaken with competence and attention, so the enologist needs to work in collaboration with such communication experts.
7) How did your contract with Tenuta San Guido come about and what has been your contribution to the wines of the estate?
I am not an employee of Tenuta San Guido, but a consulting enologist. In October 2009, Giacomo Tachis was retiring so I was contacted by the Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta and the director Carlo Paoli so I would evaluate the wines at the end of the fermentation process. This brief engagement turned out to be successful, and one that gave me great satisfaction as well as responsibility; consequently, this marked the
beginning of our collaboration, I offer my expertise on all that involves wine production and then the Marquis makes the final decisions.
8) Due to the fact that you are the enologist of more than one estate, on average how many times in a year do you visit and consult with all of the estates you collaborate with?
The number of visits depends on the estate, the type of agreement, and my role. At least I visit the estates once a month; however, this will vary from one estate to another, so it could be anything from once a week to once a month. I am always on call and available to answer to the needs of the estates, as I believe that in order to obtain excellent results, the estates have to be followed rigorously, and one has to work hard to ensure that a wine produced is a great one ... it is somehow like raising children.
9) According to you, which is the area or region in Italy that holds promise and that could surprise us in the future?
It is difficult to guess which area might surprise us in terms of wine. Certainly our country offers land and vineyards that are rich, and that have already reached their full potential. Based on a personal but scientific
intuition, I believe that from now onwards, the major promises and surprises will be in the hands of those who invest in research and communication.
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Mike Adams wrote a book about Lee De Forest and i interviewed him about it. This is first part of the interview.
1) When and where were you born?
To be continued
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Keith Somerville is an expert of media in Africa and he accepted this interview.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Paolo Tiefenthaler is the oenologist of Casale del Giglio, he agreed to be interviewed.
I was born in Trento, on 9th february 1967.
2) How old were you when you started being interested about wine?
I started to be interested when i was very young, let's say primary school-middle school, cause i grew up in a beautiful area full of grapes, Valle di Cembra.
3) What did u study to become an oenologist?
I studied in istituto agrario di San Michele all'Adige, 6 years of oenology and i studied in Germany.
4) When and how did you start working for Casale del Giglio?
I began to work for Casale del Giglio on august 1988 after leaving a famous tuscan winery (i had a 10 month scolarship there).
5) Since 1985, what are the milestones for Casale del Giglio?
The milestones are: 1985 the beginning of the experimentation; 1989 large-scale planting of grape varieties; 1994 the first bottle of Mater Matuta [the best bottle of Casale del Giglio, a blend of 85% syrah and 15% of petit verdot].
6) How did you choose the grape varieties?
I come from a place with a strong tradition of wine and the first thing i decided was not to plant grape varieties only because they were famous in other areas; i tried to plant the grape varities that were suitable for this area [area of Casale del Giglio, in Lazio]
7) Which is the best selling bottle of Casale del Giglio?
The best selling bottle is Shiraz (in the pic above).
8) Will you ever choose to make a wine with native grape varities? (Casale del Giglio chose international varities)
If you talk about native grape varities to me (i'm from Valle di Cembra), i do agree; but if you talk about native grape varities related to Pontine Marshes, it's almost impossible to talk about it (before the 1930's there were only marshes there).
9) How important is marketing in wine?
In the world of the wine, marketing is importnat, but it must not be more important than the nature itself. The making of the wine and the marketing must help each other.
10) How many bottles does Casale del Giglio make, per year?
Casale del Giglio has 170 hectares, we make 90 quintals of wine per hectare; we make 1,200,000 bottles per year.
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Philip Seib is professor of journalism and public diplomacy and professor of international relations at the University of Southern California. He is authot of many books, including The Al Jazeera Effect: how the new global media are reshaping world politics (2008); on next february we will have in bookshops his new book called Al Jazeera English: Global news in a changing world.
1) When and where were you born?
I was born on 1949. Arlington, Virginia, USA.
2) When did you become interested about journalism and public diplomacy?
Long-time interest in how journalism affected policy and politics. Focused on public diplomacy beginning in 2007, when I came to the University of Southern California, which is home of the Center on Public Diplomacy.
3) Al Jazeera was born on 1996, how long time did you need to understand the importance of Al Jazeera for the muslim world?
After the 2000 intifada and the 2001 attacks on the United States, it became clear how important Al Jazeera was to Arab audiences.
4) Al Jazeera english was born on 2006, (beside experts like you) do you think it has been having a real impact towards english speaking audiences?
Through its coverage of events in the Arab world during 2011, Al Jazeera English proved that it is an important journalistic source for English-speaking audiences around the world.
5) On february your new book about Al Jazeera english will be out: what's the main idea behind that book? What's the difference between this new book and the book you wrote on 2008 (the Al Jazeera effect) about Al Jazeera?
The Al Jazeera Effect was about the general importance of satellite television and online news in changing the politics of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Al Jazeera English is more tightly focused on this one channel, and how it brings news of the Global South to the Global North.
6) I watched Al Jazeera english during the egyptian uprising (25th january-11th february 2011) and i thought that the non-stop live coverage of Tahrir Square and the reports were all pro-uprising and were encouraging the "revolution". Do you think that encouraging (even against a dictatorship) an uprising with biased reports is fair journalism?
Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English feature what might be called "activist journalism". Some purists would disapprove, but others would commend AJ/AJE's role in serving a broad public.
7) How important was Al Jazeera in encouraging the Arab spring?
Extremely. For instance, AlJazeera brought news of events in Tunisia to Egyptians in ways that Egypt's government-run media would never have allowed.
Monday, 21 November 2011
Daniel C. Walsh is an assistant professor at Appalachian State University in the Department of Communication. He wrote the book "An air war with Cuba: The United States radio campaign against Castro" (publisher Mcfarland) and he accepted to be interviewed.
1) Where and when were you born?
I was born in Greenville, North Carolina, USA December 2, 1969.
2) What is your first memory of listening to a radio?
I guess my first memory of listening to a radio is riding around in my mother's station wagon. I also remember as a child playing radio station where I would pretend to be a radio announcer and introduce records on a turntable. When I got older I put a walkie talkie up to the stereo speaker and then would go to another room with the other one to make it seem like a real radio.
3) When did u become interested about US propaganda towards Cuba?
I became interested in U.S. propaganda for Cuba when I was in graduate school at Marshall University. I needed a research topic for one of my classes and thought it would be interesting to examine Radio Marti. I thought it was interesting that the United States spent a lot of money on a Radio Free Europe type station for Cuba yet Fidel Castro was still in power. I created a proposal for evaluating the effectiveness of Radio Marti but never actually did the study. A few years later, the Elian Gonzalez custody battle forced people to think about relations with Cuba again. I thought the topic should be studied and wished I could have actually completed the study I proposed. When I was getting my Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina a few years after that, I began thinking about picking up where I left off. The United States and Cuba were still adversaries and Radio Marti was still on the air so I thought it was a legitimate topic.
4) In Cuba there is a dictatorship, how difficult is it to get fair reports about audience studies in Cuba?
Research of Cuban audiences is extremely difficult. One of the primary ways in which the United States obtains information about radio listeners in Cuba is by interviewing immigrants to the United States. The validity of these results is questionable. A Cuban who decides to leave the island and come to the United States may not be a typical Cuban. That person has demonstrated positive feelings toward the United States. One would assume they might be more likely to have positive feelings about Radio Marti as well.
There is a television version of Radio Marti called TV Marti. Practically no one has seen it because the Cuban government has jammed the signal. Radio Marti gets through because a radio signal is more difficult to jam. Officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana have conducted their own research in Cuba regarding TV Marti and found that most people on the island cannot see it.
A few years ago the U.S. did a telephone survey of people in Cuba and asked them if they listened to Radio Marti. Most people said they did not. A lot of these people thought that the phone calls were from Cuban officials testing their loyalty to the revolution. A people of the interviewees asked that someone from the government stop by to repair some things. It was obvious that they thought the interviewer was a Cuban official.
5) You are building an archive of international broadcasts, which are the main radio stations in your archive?
The archive of international radio broadcasts was supposed to include Voice of America, Radio Marti, the BBC, Radio Vatican, and as many other radio operations as possible. When I tried to analyze Radio Marti for my dissertation I found that I could not obtain recordings of the station. The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act makes it illegal for the federal government to release recordings of radio broadcasts of Radio Marti, VOA, Radio Free Europe or other operations to U.S. citizens. This stipulation was included in the 1948 to prevent the federal government from being in a position to disseminate propaganda to the domestic population the way the Nazis did prior to WWII. The restriction was still in place more than 40 years later.
The law makes no sense in that it only prohibits U.S. officials from releasing recordings or transcripts of programs to U.S. citizens. It does not prevent a U.S. citizen from having these materials. U.S. officials are allowed to disseminate these materials to people outside the United States. The broadcasts encourage listeners to request the materials. What this means is that a U.S. citizen who wanted a recording of a Radio Marti broadcast could have someone in Canada request the information and then mail it back to the person in the U.S. This is legal. That's what I did. to get recordings of Radio Marti. The interesting thing about it was I got the idea from people at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the people that originally originally told me that they couldn't release the materials.
This made no sense to me. I also realized that it made it extremely difficult to research these stations. There is almost no transparency and no way for the public to hold the stations accountable. I thought it was ironic that we fund the broadcasts but cannot listen to them. I thought it would be easier for people like me who wanted to analyze international radio broadcasts if there was an archive of recordings. Vanderbilt University has an archive of television news programs dating to 1968. I was trying to do the same thing for international radio.
The archive is currently on hold. In December of 2010, I contacted some amateur radio groups about recording programs and contributing to the archive. One person said my proposal was a scam and accused me of trying to manipulate people into bypassing copyright restrictions. Most international broadcasts are in the public domain. This person also told me that he or she would be turning my name over to the FBI, CIA, FTC and other authorities. I don't think what I am trying to do is illegal. I contacted officials in Washington who didn't really give me a definitive answer. They said that some of the material is copyrighted because it comes from people contracted to produce content. They didn't say much more than that. I have suspended the operation for now (no recordings were ever collected). I am hoping that some people will express interest and offer to help. No one has so far.
6) Do you think that propaganda radio stations are still useful ?
I do not believe that radio broadcasts are effective propaganda tools in that they cannot "force" a population to overthrow a government. There are examples of how radio broadcasting can be used to create a false sense of reality but that is only if the person is willing to believe. Radio propaganda cannot cause a person to do or believe something the person does not want to do or believe. I think Cuba is the perfect illustration of this. The United States has bombarded the island with propaganda for more than 50 years and the people there have not taken up arms against their government. They don't want to.
I believe that there is still a need for informational (not propaganda) international radio broadcasting. In the early years of Radio Marti, the station covered stories on AIDS and the Chernobyl disaster. Neither had not been covered by Cuban media. The Internet and social media have diminished the role of radio broadcasting in developed parts of the world but not in some of the underdeveloped areas, which tend to need the information more than anyone. Cuba has Internet access but it is limited and often monitored by the government. I think radio also overcomes literacy barriers, which is still a problem for many regions. Until the Internet can be perfected and eliminate the reading requirement, there will be a need for international radio.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
In Hammerfest, Norway (“the world’s northernmost city”) in May 29, 1975.
2) What is your first memory of radio?
The first thing I remember from the radio was the news about the Alexander Kielland oil rig that capsized in the North Sea on March 27, 1980, killing 123 people. My mom was pretty much in shock, something that made a big impression on a four year old. I remember the scary atmosphere and both the news reader and the reporters being very much effected of what they were reporting. I really started appreciating radio when I was a little older. My parents gave me a FM/SW/MW/LW radio that I used a lot and that taught me to love the power of radio and the great pictures it created. I listened to sports, quiz shows and youth programs from NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) and to SW broadcasts from BBC and Radio Ulster in particular. The latter were playing great music and had a funny DJ at the time I was supposed to be sleeping.
3) What is your opinion about digital radio? Do you think it could work in any country?
Digital radio is a major part of the radio future. It opens up for more radio channels, easier navigation, better coverage and a lot of additional services that work together with the internet and open up for exciting opportunities when it comes to functionality and revenues. It can undoubtedly work in any country. We see that the de facto standard for digital radio, DMB/DAB/DAB+ is being adopted in over 40 countries. The standard is advanced, widespread, mature, already here and it secures equal digital opportunities for everyone.
4) Some experts like Grant Goddard (i interviewed him last year ) are skeptical about the transition to digital radio; what do you think about their views?
I do not consider Grant Goddard an expert in this field. He certainly knows radio from the content side, maybe he should concentrate on that. He portrays himself as a skeptic in order to get PR which he needs for his consultancy business. The best way he can get PR is to distance himself from broadcasters, listeners and advertisers. By doing that he gets to be the guy the media calls to get “the other view.” But what will he do when radio has gone digital, as is about to happen in Norway (FM switch off in 2017), Great Britain (announcement of switch over expected in 2013), Denmark (Minister of Culture wants to switch off FM) and other countries? I think he may be better off staying an expert on content and formatting, even though it will get him less airtime. His views are anyhow extremely conservative, at best. He is doing his best to prevent the transition radio needs, to go digital as the last media out there. Why does he not want to give everyone equal opportunities when it comes to radio? I want more choice, more money to better programs, better reception and easier usage. It is even much greener too. The transition for TV went smoothly, now providing better choice and quality to the vast majority of people. Many people will have to get new radios or to have them adapted, but this is also the case for all other receivers. People do for instance change much more expensive devices such as mobile phones and computers every 1-3 years. Why are radios different in this respect?
5) You are in favour of switching off FM; what should we do on 87,5-108 MHz?
Power companies are looking at these frequencies as a way of transferring data about electricity usage. Other machine to machine communications could also use these frequencies. Frequencies will in any case always be attractive. Offer them to businesses, and there will undoubtedly be good ideas.
6) What do you think of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale)? Is there a future for digital radio below 30 Mhz?
DRM is great as a complement to DMB/DAB/DAB+ if you are looking to cover vast areas with few people with one or two radio stations. The DRM consortium should push for receivers that combine DMB/DAB/DAB+ and DRM. That way, they will be able to ride on the wave of the digital radio movement we are currently seeing. For DRM to stand on its own will be very difficult as I don’t think it in an isolated manner can compete from technical, financial or functional points of view.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Jason Manolopoulos is a greek expert of economy, he wrote the book "Greece's odious debt" about the economic situation in Greece. He studied economics in UK (short bio) and he runs an alternative investment fund.
1) When and where were you born?
I was born in 1975 in Athens, Greece.
2) In your opinion, what went wrong in Greece?
Let us recap on how we got here in the first place. The PIGS were lent massive amounts of money by institutions during the era of Greenspan, when there was ample liquidity and low interest rates.There was pressure for free flow of capital under deregulation and free markets mantra. This capital was too great for the countries to productively absorb. (Look at how some of the National Lottery winners typically spend their windfalls – poorly). Politicians misled electorates and other institutions; either by lying on statistics, breaking the Stability & Growth Pact rules, overplaying the eurozone’s inevitability, or pursuing unsustainable fiscal policies.Investors and lenders did not conduct proper due diligence on whether these debts could be paid back. Hence there were numerous events that preceded some hedge funds taking opposing bets. Institutional investors did similar things, selling bonds and going on a buyer’s strike, for the same fundamental reasons – poor credit metrics.
3) When did you start writing the book "Greece's odious debt" ?
4) What do you think it will be the solution for Greece and/or Eurozone? / 5) Do you think there will be a future for the Euro?
The questions we should initially focus on are: Should a low value-add production economy be lumped with a high value-add or upper-end economy? Does sufficient labour mobility exist in euroland? Do all countries have flexible product and services markets? The answer to these is no. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t start from here. Exiting the euro would be catastrophic, but staying in means many years of austerity and high unemployment, and difficult conditions in which to make essential economic and political reforms, because the exchange rate is so high relative to the productive economy. Either way, Greece has lost a huge amount of national sovereignty, because we cannot bear these huge debts without default and/or surrendering autonomy to investors or other rescuers who will be in a strong negotiating position.
Too much emphasis has been put on the currency aspect per se. A currency in itself, is no silver bullet. The UK had the British pound in the dismal 1970s and still does today, yet the country is a very different place, post Margret Thatcher’s sweeping reform. Turkey was a basket case over run by corruption in the 1990s and early 2000s, having to resort to IMF bailouts. Today post reform and its cleansing process, its economy is growing strongly and has become a strong regional player. It still has its national currency, as it did previously. Sweden and Zimbabwe have independent currencies un-pegged national currencies, with clearly widely differing economic results.