Word Podcast 218

March 11th, 2014

Listeners of a certain vintage will be pleased to hear that Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry reconvened the other day to record one more edition of the Word Podcast:

Word Podcast 218 – Where's The Crisps? – March 2014: Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry convene over cakes to discuss: why all rock docs are legally bound to feature Bono, the touching story of Harry Nilsson's last marriage, what Jimi Hendrix really got up to in Marrakesh, whether Ginger Baker is in fact a bit of a bore, Fraser's day trip to North Korea and the book what Mark wrote. And Vikings.

Be nice to think they might find a way to do more of these, but either way I'm going to enjoy listening to this tomorrow.

[Via David Hepworth's Notebook]

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99% Invisible: Season 4

October 26th, 2013

The 99% Invisible podcast have launched a Kickstarter project aimed at turning the show's fourth season into a weekly show.

Whether or not you're inclined to support the Kickstarter, the show is well worth a listen.

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Radio Killed The Podcasting Star

August 6th, 2012

Radio Killed The Podcasting Star, according to Richard McManus:

Podcasters are to radio what bloggers are to newspapers: independent voices taking attention away from mainstream media. At least that was the theory, when professional podcasts and blogs were getting started in the 2000s. But unlike blogs, podcasts by indie voices have not gone on to seriously challenge the mainstream media incumbents. Where is the Ariana Huffington of podcasting? Can you name a political podcaster who's had the same impact as Josh Marshall and his Talking Points Memo blog? Sadly, there are no podcasting stars – and it's all radio's fault. [...]

His thesis is that because so many of the most popular podcasts are derived from public radio shows or semi-celebrities who brought an audience with them to podcasting, this demonstrates that podcasting has somehow failed to break through the way blogging has. I think there's a parallel with blogging, but it's not the one McManus is thinking of.

To my mind, the point of blogging (or of podcasting) was never to displace established media, but to provide a publishing platform that meant that you didn't have to have a wide audience to survive. It's true that a fair chunk of my podcast listening is of BBC radio shows that produce a podcast version, but there are also plenty of shows produced by enthusiastic amateurs1 that I'd never find on my radio dial.2 The point, as Dave Winder notes in the post that led me to the ReadWriteWeb post, "was to get access to the distribution channel for anyone who wanted it, and that certainly has been accomplished." If you want to use podcasts as a way to listen to your favourite BBC radio programs on your schedule then go for it. If you want to hear from people who'll never have a BBC radio show in a million years, that's out there too. The success of the one doesn't deprive me of access to the other, any more that the existence of the Huffington Post prevents me from reading Feeling Listless. They share a distribution medium, but not much else.

[Via Scripting News]

  1. I mean that term in the old-fashioned sense of people who are primarily enthusiasts for their chosen subject and who are happy to share their thoughts with anyone who's inclined to listen.
  2. OK, that's an outdated metaphor. I think you know what I mean.

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Act Two

July 30th, 2012

An especially inspired segment from this week's podcast of This American Life:

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There are five common toothbrush grips

May 4th, 2012

Mark Lukach profiles Roman Mars, creator of the truly excellent 99% Invisible podcast.

Roman seems to particularly delight in explanations of why you haven't heard of the object in the first place. Take, for example, an episode Roman collaborated on with writer Jon Mooallem. The two examined two children's toys, the teddy bear, and the billy possum; yes, the billy possum. Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, the origin of the teddy bear is of course legendary. What you may not have known is the origin of the other toy, the billy possum, which is linked to Roosevelt's successor, William Taft. After a political dinner in the South, at which he ate homecooked possum, Taft supporters introduced the next president with his own children's toy, named the Billy Possum. Since he was going to follow in Roosevelt's footsteps as president, he needed a stuffed animal to accompany him. Which is ridiculous. And now the teddy bear lives on as a cherished children's toy, while the billy possum has faded into obscurity. Why? It's with questions like these that 99% Invisible's at its most fun. Roman and Jon conclude that the billy possum doll faded into obscurity because of the toy's lackluster origin story. Because honestly, who wants to play with a toy inspired by a president devouring a cooked possum?

Lukach notes that the radio version of the show is required to stick to a four and a half minute running time. I knew that the podcast was derived from a public radio show, but I hadn't fully appreciated that the podcast always acted as an extended edition of the radio version. I can't say that I've ever listened to the podcast and felt that it outstayed its' welcome, so I'm all for the extra little flourishes that make the podcast a different entity from the parent show. It's short enough to be easy to find room for, and long enough to intrigue the listener.

Seeing a new episode of 99% Invisible pop up on my iPod Touch is always good news: I know that I'm guaranteed to learn something new in the course of my 12 minute walk from the Metro station to the office.

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Finding Emilie

February 17th, 2011

Seeing this MetaFilter post reminded me that I'd listened to the Radioab podcast's account of the same story, Finding Emilie, a few weeks ago.

In this segment, we take an emotional left turn to a story of a very different kind of lost and found. We begin with a college student, Alan Lundgard, who fell in love with a fellow art student, Emilie Gossiaux. Emilie's mom, Susan Gossiaux, describes her daughter, and the terrible phone call she recieved from Alan nine months after he became Emilie's boyfriend. Together, Susan and Alan tell Jad and Robert about the devastating fork in the road that left Emilie lost in a netherworld [...]

I'm not a huge fan of Radiolab1, but this episode was first rate. I defy anyone to listen to Emilie's story all the way to the end and remain unmoved.

  1. I keep subscribing to their feed, then finding myself with a backlog of Radiolab podcasts to listen to and unsubscribing, only to find myself subscribing again a few months later when someone points out a particularly good episode and I convince myself that this time I'll stick with it. A bit like the way I watch House.

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Low Strung

July 18th, 2008

Catching up on my backlog of Coverville podcasts I came across a track by Low Strung, also known as:

"Yale's only cello-rock group."

Their cover of U2's Where the Streets Have No Name doesn't appear to be available to stream at their MySpace page, but trust me: it's well worth listening to Coverville 459 for.

I liked Low Strung's U2 cover so much I went and bought their album. The ensemble's taste in covers isn't what you'd call adventurous, but the highlights – Baba O'Riley, Don't Stop Believing, Sympathy For the Devil and Fix You – are such fun1 that I can forgive that minor sin.

[Via Coverville]

  1. Both for the listener and, I suspect, the group.

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