Musings @musicandmeaning.com

I'm not gonna take it easy. I'm gonna go to bed mad.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for June, 2008


Monday, 30 June 2008

Podcasts (mostly radio shows) to which I listeneth

I had Juice open, and realized that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about podcasts here.

I’m sure there are a gazillion of them out there, and if I browsed around enough, I’d probably find way more than I have time for. As it stands now, I subscribe to a bunch of podcasts but skip almost all of them. It’s basically like my text RSS feeds — I had scads of feeds before, but I stopped looking at my feed reader for almost an entire year. Then I subscribed to three blogs when I switched to Flock for my main browser at home. That worked out pretty well, but now for some reason the feed page on Flock is broken so now I can’t read the feeds anymore…

In any case, back to the topic. Here are the podcasts I hear most regularly (show URLs go to the show home pages rather than the podcast RSS feeds):

  • Radio Lab. It has the word “science” in the description, but don’t let it scare you away if you’re not a sciencey person. It is by far my favorite podcast, and the show that actually got me to download a podcast manager, just so I could automatically download Radio Lab. I had never heard of the WNYC show until I listened to earlier podcasts by way of recommendations on Ask MetaFilter.
  • MetaFilter Podcast. This is the podcast for the site MetaFilter and its related sites. It’s hosted by Matt Haughey, the founder of the MetaFilter Network, and Jessamyn West, the first moderator (primarily on Ask MetaFilter) aside from Matt. It’s probably of the most interest to MeFi and AskMeFi users. I regularly read AskMeFi and rarely check MeFi proper, so it’s nice to get the MeFi highlights from Matt and Jessamyn when they go over their favorite posts on the various MetaFilter sites.
  • This American Life. Okay, I admit it: I was never a regular listener of TAL until recently. Yes, I’d heard so much about it before, and how great it was. I’d heard some episodes here and there, but maybe it was because I never happened to hear something that I particularly liked at the time. Sure, there’s a certain consistent tone to the show, but the episodes, and the segments within them, can be fairly hit or miss depending on my temperament at the time. One week, I may not be able to appreciate a serious show that is depressing, because I just need some humor, and another week, I may think a humorous show is not what I’m looking for. Finally, I subscribed to the podcast feed and at some point, understood why it was such a public radio staple and fan favorite. And this way, if I know I won’t be able to appreciate a specific show theme one week, I can listen to it later.
  • Car Talk. A favorite NPR show that I’d listened to for a long time already. I used to listen to them online all the time via streaming audio, but once I started subscribing to podcasts with Juice, I subscribed to this one right away. A very consistent show that always brightens an hour, thanks to the great personalities and writing. (By far, my favorite segment is “Stump the Chumps” primarily because of its theme song, and the way Tom announces the title.)
  • Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Another NPR show I’d listened to years before podcasts were offered. I started listening in around 2001 or so, and at one point finished listening through all of the shows in the archives. I have plenty of favorite moments, but my all-time favorite is probably Carl Kasell singing “Fever” for an obituary question about Peggy Lee. These days I usually hear an episode anywhere from one day to four weeks after it airs.
  • Whole Wheat Radio Audio Magazine. Sometimes there are podcasts of live indie music performances at the Whole Wheat Radio’s Wheat Palace in Talkeetna, Alaska, but I also listen to the discussions and updates from the regulars at the small net radio station. I’m usually not able to listen to the concerts or discussions live over the air, so the podcasts really come in handy.

There are other podcasts that I sometimes download and listen to:

  • American Experience. Special podcasts meant to supplement the PBS series, but more often than not, I will only get to listen to these podcasts and not watch the TV episodes.
  • Live Concerts from NPR’s All Songs Considered. Excellent quality recordings of live shows. Definitely subscribe to this if you’re a music fan.
  • Fresh Air. Podcast version of the show. The only negative thing, and probably one of the reasons why I don’t download it more often, is that the feed doesn’t contain a more descriptive title of the podcast. Rarely it does, but at least in Juice, the episode names are usually “NPR: [date] Fresh Air” which makes it impossible to know what the episode is about, unless I actually go to the site to read more about it.

I’d subscribe to Whad’Ya Know, another show I’ve been listening to for years (I’ve actually listened to it far longer than any of the others here); however, only the first hour of the two-hour show is available on podcast, so I still listen to the full shows online via streaming audio.

As mentioned, I use Juice to download and manage my podcast subscriptions. Although it doesn’t offer as many features as I’d like, it keeps everything organized, and I much prefer it over having to use iTunes.