Loosen Up! You’re in a Bath House

March 2, 2009

Banya (Russian Sauna)

In spite of the voiceover narration style of NPR’s Gregory Feifer, his piece, “Russian Baths Offer Respite From Bitter Winters,” still holds the listener’s attention.

When discussing these centuries-old bath houses called banyas, Feifer does not sound relaxed when describing something that “feels a lot like a massage” or in good humor when he says people at banyas are in very good humor. His ability to end nearly every sentence with the same inflection is a bit irritating.

Still . . .

his story is an interesting one, filled with just the right amount of background audio to give us a better sense of this traditional Russian institution and how it has changed over the years. As Feifer enters a steam room, we hear the sounds of the steam, as well as others in the room, behind him. When a furnace door is opened so water infused with mint and eucalyptus can be put inside, we hear the squeaking furnace door and imagine the pungent steam inside. A bell rings at one of the fanciest banyas in Russia just before Feifer enters. With a more relaxed voiceover, we could take Feifer’s lead and relax along with those in the Russian banyas.


An assignment for an online journalism class at USC.


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