Thanks to John for taking care of the site for the last week or so. Much as I would love to get online more, right now my paid job takes priority over pecking out diatribes on the internet.
Given that time is precious real estate at the moment, why not spend it on podcasting? The short backstory goes that some friends bought me an ipod for a recent birthday (that makes me a leo, as bloggers properly should be). It took me about a week to run through my meager music library enough times to want to put the thing down. Searching around for some other way to use my new toy ,with an emphasis on free (sorry, books on tape), I realized that I could check up on podcasted NPR shows that I missed for whatever reason during the week. Then I realized that I could pick up shows that I don’t even get in Pittsburgh, then I realized that practically every content provider worth its salt puts out a podcast and I guess one thing led to another. Now I wear a tiny digital noisebox practically everywhere. Public radio addicts be warned.
Anyhow, blogger’s priviledge, here is a short list of podcasts that I highly recommend. Consider the comments an open floor for dissents and recommends that aren’t on my list.
* NPR shows that most people know about: This American Life; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me; The Splendid Table; Car Talk; Fresh Air; Diane Rehm; Science Friday; Kojo Nnamdi tech tuesday; On The Media; Living On Earth. In Our Time from BBC came with good reviews but for some reason my podcast has never loaded a show. Feh.
* More obscure: Counterspin from FAIR: humorless, one-sided, strident. Think of an opposite-world Newsbusters, or Media Matters without a search function. Invited experts can make it worth tuning in. Engines of our Ingenuity: five-minute profiles of the social and historical context of important inventions. Perky and fun. Thistlepod: ambrosia for celtic music fans, although splicing an hour show into a seven minute clipfest makes me go back and forth about cutting it from my lineup. Radio Lab from WNYC: it is embarrassing to admit how slavishly I wait for this podcast to update. The weekly topic format roughly recapitulates American Life and Studio 360 but the humor, production values and inspired use of science completely set it apart from anything else.
* Accessible science shows: Science and Nature both put out cheeky podcasts that highlight cooler developments from their respective journals. Only Nature‘s weekly half hour counts as an actual show; Science‘s one-minute updates and weekly five minutes fall somewhere between a chat with the barista and a grunt. For some reason, although Nature is already pretty accessible, the same group also puts out a listenable Bill Nye-level weekly show called Naked Scientists.
* Non-accessible science shows: Don’t bother tuning into Cell unless you read trade journals for fun. Seriously. The monthly show expands usefully on recent content in a very important journal but the jargon is denser than a wannabe milblogger.
If that seems like a pretty long list, I guess it is. It will probably shorten a bit (I’m looking at you, Fiona Ritchie) when I do less image manipulation/benchwork and write more. But for now there still exist a few hours each week when I probably would listen to something if I knew about it. Suggestions?
Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
“It will probably shorten a bit (I’m looking at you, Fiona Ritchie)”
Ah, how can you resist that border-Scots accent?
Quirks and Quarks from the CBC is a low-level science show, notable to me for actually interviewing graduate students.
Mel & Floyd (from WORT in Madison) is the funniest thing I listen to each week. It’s a mild mannered liberal talk show over current events and headlines, set to james brown music.
Good Food, from KCRW. Excellent.
Do we have to call you Dr. F now?
A good podcast standby is Ed Schultz. He gets good guests, and talks some good fishing and football on the side. Not NEARLY as drab, monotone, and vanilla as some of that NPR drivel…
As for meager music, maybe we should give you hints on that, too? I strongly recommend you get some Kings of Leon, Backyard Tire Fire, and The Gourds.
And if you can find Hadacol anywhere, that’s just a great, great midwestern band.
In Our Time podcast (BBC, find it in iTunes). Every week they have a discussion between a moderator and three profs. The topics range from 3rd Law of Thermodynamics to English poets to KT extinction to fine points of philosophy. Great podcast as they WILL talk about something about which you know nothing and fill your mind.
Science Talk, from Scientific American, is another great half hour podcast for the general audience. Recent topics: Can fat be fit?; Is privacy dead?; and Beer science.
TEDTalks is a video podcast featuring a shitload (that’s a technical term) of scientists, artists, writers, musicians, public policy wonks, and yes, Al and others who have presented at the annual conferences in Monterey. You can also access all their videos through a truly spiffy Flash player on their site here. Recent speakers: Stephen Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Dean Kamen (on a new prosthetic arm), Richard Dawkins, and seamstress/lexicographer Erin McKean.
If you’re looking for free audio books, http://www.librivox.org has a good collection of public domain classics to listen to.
(Err, that was Al Gore and others. Wev.) Here’s a few of my favourites from the website:
Dan Gilbert on happiness (21 minutes)
Michael Shermer: Why people believe strange things
Rives: Is 4 AM the new midnight?
David Bolinsky animates a cell
Musicwise, let me recommend my friends in the great band Lovespirals, who have had a podcast running for quite some time that’s accessible from that myspace page there — Anji used to be a radio host herself and knows how to present on the mic and bring in all sorts of good music (and her own work with Ryan in the band is excellent!). Check ’em out.
“Schickele Mix,” in my opinion the greatest music-education/entertainment show ever. It’s not publicly available as a podcast (the NEA inexplicably pulled its funding in the late 1990s, and PRI quit distributing reruns for broadcast a few months ago) but archives of the show in MP3 format exist for download through peer-to-peer networks. It’s worth finding.
Alan de Bristol
In Our Time is taking a break at the moment (back on the 27th Sept), so no scheduled downloadable podcast. If you go to the programme archive ( http://tinyurl.com/4ffbw ) you can download individual programmes from past series.
Real Time with Bill Maher and Kevin Smith’s SModcast. Both free and both on iTunes.
Pandora has a series on music composition, arrangement and production. Free on the site, not sure how much to download from Apple.
What are the units?
I have this book. Both as a scientific skeptic AND a ultra-marathon cyclist, this guy is a God to me. Can’t recommend this guy enough.
Quite a few podcasts of the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) are very good, especially the science (e.g. Starstuff, The Science Show). At the moment I’d hold them better than the BBC and equally varied.
You have a job?
Apparently, the morning radio show from WMMR in Philadelphia is always recorded for podcast (podcorded?). It is The Morning Show with Preston and Steve on WMMR 93.3 FM from Philadelphia – ridiculous lunacy, but very very funny.
Download the James Mason/Monkey episode for a real highlight of Steve Morrision’s lunatic humor. I think it is titled “Monkey Pick Ass”.
It’s funny. That should be enough.
In the crowd I hang out with it isn’t even that unusual. I recommend that you get out more.
If you’re into film at all, Filmspotting is a really good listen. They sometimes tilt a bit too far into film snobbery land, but they’ve brought a number of films to my attention that I would never have sought out on my own.
NPR’s only a game, only for the weekly 7-8 minute chat between the host and Charlie Pierce (he of the invaluable Friday letters to Altercation, though these chats are all sports and attitude, not politics).
The CBC’s As it happens Best-of podcast does a good 7-8 minute story from each weekday and a half-hour or so each week.
PBS’s Now and Bill Moyers’ Journal podcast most weeks.
C-Span has a couple of podcasts of author or public citizen interviews, which are sometimes interesting.
In a similar vein, if you’re really into blogger stream of conciousness, Bloggingheads podcasts audio of their diavlogs.
The BBC airs a lot of radio comedy, all of it available streaming with Realplayer (though little of it podcasted), and their Friday 18:30 slot is usually topical news-based comedy (three or four different shows use the slot through the year, most prominently the News Quiz and the Now Show). A lot of it the news bring mocked is British news, but a fair bit isn’t, and the standard of comedy is fairly high.
Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
“shitload (that’s a technical term)
What are the units?”
The amount of shit a NIST standard wingnut can spew in the time it takes a cesium-133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770,000 oscillations.
That’s the SI version. Imperial units are related to the length of Prince John’s foot or something.
The best podcast on the internet is surely The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.
(Note well, it’s .org, not .com…)
For something purely random, you should grab the mp3 feed for del.icio.us.
Use this address: del.icio.us/tag/system:filetype:mp3
Any mp3 file tagged by users on that site will end up in the feed so you’ll get a taste of everything. In the course of a week, I’ll get things like a Robert Anton Wilson lecture, a collection of Bollywood songs, a bunch of Neil Diamond live bootlegs, a thirty minute electro mix, random podcasts on esoteric subjects, and sometimes the most insane religious rants.
Its the way radio should be: completely random and unpredictable. You just have to be careful with the settings in your podcast downloader. This feed will fill up your hard drive very quickly if it isn’t limited.
And thanks to Ned for mentioning lovespirals. I didn’t know they were doing a podcast. I used to love them when they were lovespiralsdownwards.
Those two are my favorites and staples of my saturday morning routine – ‘wait, wait’ is on at 10 am and TAL at 11 am. A great way to start the weekend.
The BBC’s ‘In Our Time’ is a favorite. It’s on hiatus until 9/27, but there may be some old shows available through iTunes, and a bunch of old shows are available for streaming on the website.
Each week there’s a fast-paced highbrow discussion among academics, about a different topic – science, history, art, philosophy, etc.
Radio Lab is the best thing to happen to commutes since the wheel.
If you like In Our Time, you would have loved WBEZ’s Odyssey, which was similarly high-brow but hosted by a young woman rather than a dusty old man.
Unfortunately, it was canceled in 2005. They seem to still have the shows available for streaming in RealAudio.
I’ve been meaning to use some software to capture the streamed audio, build up an mp3 library of the shows, index them by topic and guest, and put them on bittorrent, but that’s a lot of hours of streaming.
They had a great April 1 show in, I think, 2001 or 2002.
The BBC’s ‘The Instant Guide’ is a good brief introduction to the topic of the moment.
People can actually stand “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”?!?! Jesus Christ, it’s like a distilled version of the worst kind of public broadcasting preciousness and cuteness and self-love. Five minutes of the fucking show make me retch.
Osama Von McIntyre
Radio Lab is the best show in the history of the universe. As accessible as it is, I has taken about three listens to each show to really grok everything.
It’s too bad they only produce five shows per season…
In the crowd I hang out with it isn’t even that unusual. I recommend that you get out more.
That’s the problem, I don’t get out because I have no spare time, what with my day job and my 147 podcasts to listen to.
KCRW’s To The Point with Warren Olney is a good one for politics. He spends ~45 mins on a single issue, and has great guests. My opinion is that it has a slightly liberal slant; it could be his guest selection or my own political prejudices but the conservative guests tend to hold more tenuous views.
KCRW’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook is also a good one. It’s a little more liberal (I believe it’s out of Boston), but also has good guests.