Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2017

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Video Games

Giant Beastcast – The East Coast Giant Bomb crew. This podcast is more about video game culture and news stories. It spends a lot less time on the “what you’ve been playing” section. I’ve actually grown to enjoy this one way more than the Bombcast because of the focus on the cultural and news aspects.

Public Radio

Radiolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendent of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

Codebreaker: A tech podcast. Season 1 asked the question “Is it Evil?” of various technologies.

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)

History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

The Dollop – A very funny and very profane look at American history. The premise: The host tells a story of American history to the other guy, who doesn’t know ahead of time what the story’s about. It’s a premise that leads to some great reactions from the person not in the know (usually Gareth, but sometimes they do a Reverse Dollop). Also, listening to this podcast is a great reminder that the past is full of some really messed up people and situations.

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Movies

How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to Amazon.com to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but sometimes I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

News

The Bugle – Jon Oliver (from The Daily Show) and some other guy talk about the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Uh, Yeah Dude – tagline: “America through the eyes of two American Americans” If you like My Brother, My Brother, and Me, you’ll probably like this podcast’s style. They talk about both important news and cultural news and generally make fun of it. I call the commentary smart dumb commentary, it’s like Seth Rogan movies – the characters are providing smart insight through dumb commentary. (Approx 1 hour)

Political Gabfest (from Slate) – This has taken the role that Talk of the Nation’s Wednesday slot left vacant when the show went off the air. They talk about politics (usually swinging heavily left or sometimes libertarian while ToTN was more neutral) and I get a dose of what everyone’s talking about in politics. (Approximatly 1 hour)

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – If you like the attention Dan puts towards Hardcore History, then you’ll probably love this take on the news. Usually Dan takes one (max 2) topics from the news and by the time he’s done with it, I’ve seen 2-3 different points of view. Sometimes there’s a clearly right point of view (the sky is blue), but other times each side has valid points and neither one has the complete high ground. Dan is a complex creature, like many of us. On some topics he’s more likely to agree with Dems, other time Republicans, and sometimes neither. Other times he agrees with their Platonic Ideal Version, but not their RealPolitik version. Either way, I’m always overjoyed when it shows up – which is somewhere between biweekly and monthly. (Approximately 45 minutes)

FiveThirtyEight Elections – a great, wonky podcast from the guys that brought you the most accurate election predictions. Has continued beyond the elections due to the odd circumstances of the new administration.

Culture

Sword and Laser – A fantasy and sci-fi book club. They interview up-and-coming authors and discuss the book club’s monthly book. Also cover news and upcoming new releases. (Varies. Approx 30 min)

Rocket Talk (Tor.com) – The host speaks with one or two Science Fiction and Fantasy authors about various things: their latest book, trends in the genres, publishing trends, etc. Sometimes a great show and sometimes I skip it halfway through. (Approximately 45 min)

Give Me Fiction – A pretty hilarious (to my sense of humor) super short story podcast. It’s recorded live (which often spices up comedy) and seems to skew Gen X/Millenial in its humor.  (Varies, but usually under 15 minutes)

Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen – The great voice actor behind two Ninja Turtles, Pinky, Yakko, and many, many other cartoon characters interviews other voice actors. It’s like WTF,  but without the annoying self-reflection 10-15 minutes that I always skip on Maron’s podcast. If you enjoy voice acting nerdom or want a place to start, check this out. It’s recorded in front of an audience which is often great, but once in a while leads them on tangents that take away from their great anecdotes. (Approximately 1 hour)

Boars, Gore, and Swords: A Game of Throne Podcast – two comedians (and sometimes some friends) discuss each episode of A Game of Thrones and each chapter of the books. While it’s primarily funny, it does sometimes lead me to some deeper insights into each episode.

The i Word: An Image Comics Podcast – different writers and artists working on a comic for Image Comics are interviewed about their comic as well as something unrelated to comics that they’re really into.

The Allusionist – a podcast about words, where they come from, and how we use them

Science

You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min)

Probably Science – some comedians who used to work in the science and tech fields bring on other comedians (of various levels of scientific knowledge) to discuss pop science and where the articles might be misleading.

Misc

99% Invisible – Similar in scope to the NPR podcast Invisibilia, this one was there first. It explores the things that are in the background of life. Examples include architectural details we often miss or stories that tell how regions came to be. Production is similar in sonic greatness to RadioLab.  (Approx 15 min)

Tell Me Something I don’t Know – a gameshow from the guys behind Freakonomics. Learn some new facts in a fun and often funny way.

GoodMuslimBadMuslim – a window into what it’s like to be a Muslim in modern America.

Politically Reactive – W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu discuss politics with some jokes and some interviews with people mostly on the left, but sometimes on the right. They are respectful and always provide context to what’s being said.

More Perfect – Explores Supreme Court rulings and how they affect America.

Song Exploder – they pick a song and a member from that band explains how they put it together. They usually look at each layer of the track – vocals, drums, guitar, etc and talk about why each decision was made. Can range from interesting to revealing.

 

Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2016

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Ever since I started using Doggcatcher on my cellphone I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts because, even without the pitch distortion my sandisk had, it plays the content a lot faster. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “Emails”.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky. First Ryan passed away and then Vinnie went to New York. With the podcast being so personality driven, the changes almost drove me away, but I’ve stayed and the new talent is pretty good. (Approx 2.5 hours long)

Giant Beastcast – The East Coast Giant Bomb crew. This podcast is more about video game culture and news stories. It spends a lot less time on the “what you’ve been playing” section. I’ve actually grown to enjoy this one way more than the Bombcast because of the focus on the cultural and news aspects.

Public Radio

Radiolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendent of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

Codebreaker: A tech podcast. Season 1 asked the question “Is it Evil?” of various technologies.

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)

History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

The Dollop – A very funny and very profane look at American history. The premise: The host tells a story of American history to the other guy, who doesn’t know ahead of time what the story’s about. It’s a premise that leads to some great reactions from the person not in the know (usually Gareth, but sometimes they do a Reverse Dollop). Also, listening to this podcast is a great reminder that the past is full of some really messed up people and situations.

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast –  This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Movies

How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to Amazon.com to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but sometimes I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

News

The Bugle – Jon Oliver (from The Daily Show) and some other guy talk about the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Uh, Yeah Dude – tagline: “America through the eyes of two American Americans” If you like My Brother, My Brother, and Me, you’ll probably like this podcast’s style. They talk about both important news and cultural news and generally make fun of it. I call the commentary smart dumb commentary, it’s like Seth Rogan movies – the characters are providing smart insight through dumb commentary. (Approx 1 hour)

Political Gabfest (from Slate) – This has taken the role that Talk of the Nation’s Wednesday slot left vacant when the show went off the air. They talk about politics (usually swinging heavily left or sometimes libertarian while ToTN was more neutral) and I get a dose of what everyone’s talking about in politics. (Approximatly 1 hour)

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – If you like the attention Dan puts towards Hardcore History, then you’ll probably love this take on the news. Usually Dan takes one (max 2) topics from the news and by the time he’s done with it, I’ve seen 2-3 different points of view. Sometimes there’s a clearly right point of view (the sky is blue), but other times each side has valid points and neither one has the complete high ground. Dan is a complex creature, like many of us. On some topics he’s more likely to agree with Dems, other time Republicans, and sometimes neither. Other times he agrees with their Platonic Ideal Version, but not their RealPolitik version. Either way, I’m always overjoyed when it shows up – which is somewhere between biweekly and monthly. (Approximately 45 minutes)

FiveThirtyEight Elections – a great, wonky podcast from the guys that brought you the most accurate election predictions

Culture

Sword and Laser – A fantasy and sci-fi book club. They interview up-and-coming authors and discuss the book club’s monthly book. Also cover news and upcoming new releases. (Varies. Approx 30 min)

Rocket Talk (Tor.com) – The host speaks with one or two Science Fiction and Fantasy authors about various things: their latest book, trends in the genres, publishing trends, etc. Sometimes a great show and sometimes I skip it halfway through. (Approximately 45 min)

Give Me Fiction – A pretty hilarious (to my sense of humor) super short story podcast. It’s recorded live (which often spices up comedy) and seems to skew Gen X/Millenial in its humor.  (Varies, but usually under 15 minutes)

Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen – The great voice actor behind two Ninja Turtles, Pinky, Yakko, and many, many other cartoon characters interviews other voice actors. It’s like WTF,  but without the annoying self-reflection 10-15 minutes that I always skip on Maron’s podcast. If you enjoy voice acting nerdom or want a place to start, check this out. It’s recorded in front of an audience which is often great, but once in a while leads them on tangents that take away from their great anecdotes. (Approximately 1 hour)

Sex Nerd Sandra – Sandra is a sex educator (at least she teaches classes in sexual techniques), but what draws me to this show are the guests she has one. I especially love it when she has doctors and scientists talking about the mechanisms of what happens during sex and sexual activity. The opinionated guests are good for learning how others see sexuality, but obviously caveat emptor with their advice.  (Varies, but usually under 1 hour)

Guys We F****d – Tag: “The Anti-Slut-Shaming Podcast”. An interesting podcast I just started listening to that has people talk about their sexual experiences. So far they’ve spoken to a high school kid about the sexuality she deals with in and out of school, a pair of gay brothers and their experiences, and a comedian friend of theirs.

Boars, Gore, and Swords: A Game of Throne Podcast – two comedians (and sometimes some friends) discuss each episode of A Game of Thrones and each chapter of the books. While it’s primarily funny, it does sometimes lead me to some deeper insights into each episode.

The i Word: An Image Comics Podcast – different writers and artists working on a comic for Image Comics are interviewed about their comic as well as something unrelated to comics that they’re really into.

The Allusionist – a podcast about words, where they come from, and how we use them

Science

You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min)

Probably Science – some comedians who used to work in the science and tech fields bring on other comedians (of various levels of scientific knowledge) to discuss pop science and where the articles might be misleading.

Misc

99% Invisible – Similar in scope to the NPR podcast Invisibilia, this one was there first. It explores the things that are in the background of life. Examples include architectural details we often miss or stories that tell how regions came to be. Production is similar in sonic greatness to RadioLab.  (Approx 15 min)

Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2015

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Ever since I started using Doggcatcher on my cellphone I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts because, even without the pitch distortion my sandisk had, it plays the content a lot faster. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “Emails”.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky. First Ryan passed away and then Vinnie went to New York. With the podcast being so personality driven, the changes almost drove me away, but I’ve stayed and the new talent is pretty good. (Approx 2.5 hours long)

Public Radio

This American Life –  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Raidolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendent of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

The Moth – Also heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Participants go before an audience and tell a personal story. It can, therefore, cover essentially every human emotion. They all frequently have at least some element of humor, but are usually either really funny or really sad. (Approx 1 hr)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)

History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast –  This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Movies

How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to Amazon.com to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but sometimes I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

News

The Bugle – Jon Oliver (from The Daily Show) and some other guy talk about the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Uh, Yeah Dude – tagline: “America through the eyes of two American Americans” If you like My Brother, My Brother, and Me, you’ll probably like this podcast’s style. They talk about both important news and cultural news and generally make fun of it. I call the commentary smart dumb commentary, it’s like Seth Rogan movies – the characters are providing smart insight through dumb commentary. (Approx 1 hour)

Political Gabfest (from Slate) – This has taken the role that Talk of the Nation’s Wednesday slot left vacant when the show went off the air. They talk about politics (usually swinging heavily left or sometimes libertarian while ToTN was more neutral) and I get a dose of what everyone’s talking about in politics. (Approximatly 1 hour)

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – If you like the attention Dan puts towards Hardcore History, then you’ll probably love this take on the news. Usually Dan takes one (max 2) topics from the news and by the time he’s done with it, I’ve seen 2-3 different points of view. Sometimes there’s a clearly right point of view (the sky is blue), but other times each side has valid points and neither one has the complete high ground. Dan is a complex creature, like many of us. On some topics he’s more likely to agree with Dems, other time Republicans, and sometimes neither. Other times he agrees with their Platonic Ideal Version, but not their RealPolitik version. Either way, I’m always overjoyed when it shows up – which is somewhere between biweekly and monthly. (Approximately 45 minutes)

Culture

Fatman on Batman – Kevin Smith chats with someone involved with Batman creatively. Examples include Paul Dini, Neal Adams, and Scott Snyder. Can be pretty insightful and pretty entertaining. Also love the intro song. (Approx 1 hr)

Sword and Laser – A fantasy and sci-fi book club. They interview up-and-coming authors and discuss the book club’s monthly book. Also cover news and upcoming new releases. (Varies. Approx 30 min)

Rocket Talk (Tor.com) – The host speaks with one or two Science Fiction and Fantasy authors about various things: their latest book, trends in the genres, publishing trends, etc. Sometimes a great show and sometimes I skip it halfway through. (Approximately 45 min)

Give Me Fiction – A pretty hilarious (to my sense of humor) super short story podcast. It’s recorded live (which often spices up comedy) and seems to skew Gen X/Millenial in its humor.  (Varies, but usually under 15 minutes)

Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen – The great voice actor behind two Ninja Turtles, Pinky, Yakko, and many, many other cartoon characters interviews other voice actors. It’s like WTF,  but without the annoying self-reflection 10-15 minutes that I always skip on Maron’s podcast. If you enjoy voice acting nerdom or want a place to start, check this out. It’s recorded in front of an audience which is often great, but once in a while leads them on tangents that take away from their great anecdotes. (Approximately 1 hour)

Sex Nerd Sandra – Sandra is a sex educator (at least she teaches classes in sexual techniques), but what draws me to this show are the guests she has one. I especially love it when she has doctors and scientists talking about the mechanisms of what happens during sex and sexual activity. The opinionated guests are good for learning how others see sexuality, but obviously caveat emptor with their advice.  (Varies, but usually under 1 hour)

Science

You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min)

Misc

99% Invisible – Similar in scope to the NPR podcast Invisibilia, this one was there first. It explores the things that are in the background of life. Examples include architectural details we often miss or stories that tell how regions came to be. Production is similar in sonic greatness to RadioLab.  (Approx 15 min)

 

 

Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2014

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Ever since I started using Doggcatcher on my cellphone I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts because, even without the pitch distortion my sandisk had, it plays the content a lot faster. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “Emails”.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky. I miss Ryan since his untimely death last year – the guys do well enough without him, but he brought something very special to the podcast that isn’t there anymore. I felt like I actually knew him after about 200 weekly episodes where I spent almost 3 hours with him each time. (Approx 2.5 hours long)

Public Radio

This American Life –  This is an AWESOME podcast and is often my favorite one to listen to each week.  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Raidolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendent of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

The Moth – Also heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Participants go before an audience and tell a personal story. It can, therefore, cover essentially every human emotion. They all frequently have at least some element of humor, but are usually either really funny or really sad. (Approx 1 hr)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)

History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast –  This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Movies

How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to Amazon.com to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but sometimes I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

Not Playing with Lex and Dan – Lex and Dan watch a movie that is a pop culture classic (Back to the Future, Karate Kid, Beverly Hills Cop) that at least one of them has never seen before. How you experience this show depends on which episode you listen to. One episode is like a commentary track where you’re supposed to watch the movie along with them. The other is just their thoughts about the movie. I listen to the latter because I don’t have time to watch these movies along with them. (Varies: either Approx 1.5 hrs or Approx 30 min)

Misc

You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min)

The Bugle – Jon Oliver (from The Daily Show) and some other guy talk about the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Fatman on Batman – Kevin Smith chats with someone involved with Batman creatively. Examples include Paul Dini, Neal Adams, and Scott Snyder. Can be pretty insightful and pretty entertaining. Also love the intro song. (Approx 1 hr)

Sword and Laser – A fantasy and sci-fi book club. They interview up-and-coming authors and discuss the book club’s monthly book. Also cover news and upcoming new releases. (Varies. Approx 30 min)

Review: Sansa Clip Zip

Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip in Packaging
Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip in Packaging

I’ve been using MP3 players since they first existed. I can’t remember the name of the device, but I got it with my Audible subscription. Then, I used my PDA for a while – remember those? Then I used an iPod Shuffle, but it didn’t work well with my Linux computer. The database kept getting corrupted since Apple can’t play nicely with others so it has to be reverse-engineered. So I told myself I’d never get another Apple music playing device. About three years ago, I went with a Sandisk Sansa Fuze. Since then I’ve gone through three of them, approximately one per year. What keeps happening is that the headphone jack gets looser and looser until the slightest nudge makes it so that I can’t hear one of the audio channels. Since I use it work out, this quickly gets VERY annoying. But I really, really like Sandisk’s GUI for their devices – it has a specific podcast section that resumes the podcast where I left off, even if I go back and forth between different podcasts. I don’t do that too often, but I do it often enough that it’s important. So I got a Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip because the Fuze+ has horrible reviews (for the way they changed the buttons) and since I’m using it to work out, I could use a smaller, lighter device.

I’ve been using it for about a month. Here are my gripes:

  • The headphones are extremely hard to insert and remove – the headphone jack has an extremely tight grip. That makes me think that it may end up with the same issue as the Fuze because if it’s that tight, it’s surely going to fade with the friction of use. So I’m trying not to remove and insert headphones any more than necessary
  • One of the things I hated about the iPod shuffle was the lack of a screen so I had to listen to all my podcasts before I could add in new ones. So the thing I like about the Sandisk GUI is that I can delete each podcast episode as I listen to it. This allows me to add in new podcasts without losing my spot in whichever podcast I’m listening to. However, there’s a bug with the Sansa Clip Zip that causes it to jump to another folder whenever I delete a podcast episode. At least it has an easy solution. When I delete an episode and it jumps me to another folder, I just hit the back button and it takes me back to the podcast folder I was originally in. So it sucks, but isn’t horrible.
  • When I first used it, when I deleted all the episodes from a podcast it would still show that folder – making it hard for me to tell whether I needed to reload my player with new podcasts. Luckily, after the first refresh after that (after loading in new podcasts) it no longer happened
  • People suggested updating it to see if that fixes any of the issues, but the updater program on the disk crashes Windows 7
  • The USB charging cable that came with it is so short as to be pointless to include. It’s literally about as long as from my middle finger to the middle of my hand. So you must have front USB ports for this to make any sense.
  • If you leave it to charge until it’s completely charged – the player will lock up and can’t be turned on unless you hold the power button for about 30 seconds. This “resets” the device. Your podcasts are all still there, but you lose you spot and have to start listening again from the beginning (or fast forward to wherever you were)

Those grips aside, it has been working fine for what I want it to do and I appreciate the smaller size. It’s a shame it has such fundamental (and probably easily fixed) flaws, but with Apple in such a dominant position and most people starting to use their Smart Phones as their media players, I don’t think Sandisk has the incentive to make a product that’s as good as Apple’s while being open and supporting all the main codecs (mp3, wma, aac, ogg, flac, and one or two more). If you need something to exercise, but hate Apple, I recommend it but just know you need to learn to deal with its quirks.

Sandisk Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip Zip size comparison
Sandisk Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip Zip size comparison

Podcasts I’m Listening to 2013

I’ve cut back a lot because I have less time to listen to podcasts. Here are the ones I have now:

 

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, New Releases and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “Emails”.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky, (Approx 2.5 hours long)

Public Radio

This American Life –  This is an AWESOME podcast and is often my favorite one to listen to each week.  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)
Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)
On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)
Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – This is a hilarious news quiz show that features guest panelists that rotate from a roster of regulars.  Former NPR news super-star Carl Kassel is the judge of the show.  It alternates between quizzing the guest panelists and call-in guests.  It’s been on for a little over 10 years and in the last few years has been taped in front of an audience (most of the time in Chicago).  My favorite part is when they ask their questions in the form of a limerick.  The only bad part is when they go on the road for their shows, sometimes the audio isn’t as good.  (Approx 30 min long)
Talk of the Nation –  Talk of the Nation is a call-in show that discusses news and politics Mon-Thurs and science on Friday.  It also has a special focus on Politics on Wed, although politics can be discussed on Mon, Tues, and Thursday as well.  The show usually has one guest on each side of an issue or one guest if they’re talking about a book or movie.  The hosts are very civil and keep opposing guests from the stupid fighting often seen on cable news networks.  They will also apologize for rude callers.  So I love this show to get a general view of the news without the BS of cable news.  I really like this show a lot.  The science section is of the same quality of The Naked Scientists, but they usually cover a bunch of stories and have a lot more call in with less time so they can’t be as thorough.  (Approx 30 min long)
Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Computers and Technology

Tux Radar – A Linux podcast.  It’s the official podcast of Linux Format Magazine.  They talk about Linux and joke around.  It’s pretty good; I’d probably give it a 7.5/10. (Approx 45 min long)
The Commandline Podcast –  This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)
This Week in Fedora – A short podcast in which each episode is an interview with someone working on the Fedora distribution of Linux. (Approx 30 min long)

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Comic Books

Comic Vine Podcast – Tony, Sarah, and Corey talk about what they read that week, news, and then reader comments.  Sometimes they have a guest creator on as well.  If I had to give one criticism it’d be that, unlike the Bombcast they answer EVERY listener question so sometimes the podcast can go a bit long. (1-2.5 hrs)

ComiXology Blog Podcast – there are two types of episodes – creator interviews and one that’s very similar to the Comic Vine Podcast except it takes 15 minutes instead of 2 hrs.  The creator interviews are pretty great!  They don’t go as deep as Marc Maron does with his guests, but they do sometimes get some great tidbits out of their guests.  (15-30 min)

Podcasts I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to podcasts for about two years now.  I got into it because I love listening to some NPR programs, but they are always on when I’m at work or asleep on the weekends.  Eventually, I heard on NPR that they have podcasts of various shows.  I checked it out right away because in Maryland NPR is on 88.1 which is always being interfered with by SiriusXM radio receivers.  At first I only listened to a few podcasts because I didn’t own an iPod and I so I burned the podcasts to a CD-R every few days.  That got expensive, so I got an iPod shuffle.  Since podcasts don’t take up too much space, I started getting into more and more podcasts.  Some I discovered in magazines and others were recommendations from Dan.  So, I thought I would share the podcasts I listen to so that those following this blog could perhaps discover some new podcasts they didn’t know about.  Dan, for example, recently got into This American Life.  (I think after I kept telling him about it – but he may have discovered it independently)  I’m going to put links to the actual podcast URL, so just copy that into your podcather or iTunes.

Science

The Naked Scientists – This has nothing to do with nudity.  It’s a British thing, like The Naked Chef.  This great British radio show covers science topics equivalent to what you’d read in Discover Magazine in the USA.  It’s informative while being entertaining, and I learn a lot every week.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, New Releases and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “New Releases” where they often slag off the crap that ends up in Wiiware and DSiware.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky, (Approx 2.5 hours long)

NPR

American Public Media:  Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

Talk of the Nation – Talk of the Nation is a call-in show that discusses news and politics Mon-Thurs and science on Friday.  It also has a special focus on Politics on Wed, although politics can be discussed on Mon, Tues, and Thursday as well.  The show usually has one guest on each side of an issue or one guest if they’re talking about a book or movie.  The hosts are very civil and keep opposing guests from the stupid fighting often seen on cable news networks.  They will also apologize for rude callers.  So I love this show to get a general view of the news without the BS of cable news.  I really like this show a lot.  The science section is of the same quality of The Naked Scientists, but they usually cover a bunch of stories and have a lot more call in with less time so they can’t be as thorough.  (Approx 30 min long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – This is a hilarious news quiz show that features guest panelists that rotate from a roster of regulars.  Former NPR news super-star Carl Kassel is the judge of the show.  It alternates between quizzing the guest panelists and call-in guests.  It’s been on for a little over 10 years and in the last few years has been taped in front of an audience (most of the time in Chicago).  My favorite part is when they ask their questions in the form of a limerick.  The only bad part is when they go on the road for their shows, sometimes the audio isn’t as good.  (Approx 30 min long)

On The Media – Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Media Matters – This podcast is nearly as far to the left as Fox News is to the right.  I listen to it because, other than Keith Olberman on MSNBC, there aren’t really that many places that look at the far left of issues.  I find myself often disagreeing with the people interviewed, but I find it interesting to see their point of view.  On the plus side, they tend not to trade in fear mongering like those on the right often do (I’m looking at you Glen Beck).  (Approx 1 hour long)

This American Life – This is an AWESOME podcast and is often my favorite one to listen to each week.  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast – This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

FLOSS Weekly – This is a weekly podcast (duh!) about free, libre, and open source software.  It’s another geeky podcast and if you aren’t into the open source movement, you’ll probably find it boring.  If you DO like open source news, they tend to get interviews with really neat project maintainers and the hosts are all Titans in the open source world:  Jono Bacon, Randal Schwartz, and Leo Laporte. (Approx 60 min long) edit:  corrected to 60 min from 30 min

Linux Outlaws – A pretty good Linux podcast.  Dan (British) and Fab (German) talk about the latest news and releases in the Linux world.  As with most of the other podcasts in this category, I don’t recommend it if you’re not really into Linux.  They are approachable, but if you don’t like Linux, there isn’t much here.  They tend to run really long and it can be annoying sometimes.  Unlike Giant Bombcast, they only have two hosts so tangents don’t lead to as many funny moments.  (Approx 2.5 hours)

Shot of Jaq – Shot of Jaq is a podcast by LugRadio veterans Stuart “Aq” Langridge and Jono Bacon.  Whereas LugRadio was often 2 hours long and focused on Linux, Shot of Jaq is 10 minutes long and focused on technology in general with a slant towards FLOSS.  It’s the shortest podcast I listen to and they usually talk about interesting topics.  It takes the form of a conversation between the hosts almost as a classical Lincoln-Douglas debate as they are often on opposite sides of an issue.  (Approx 10 minutes long)

Spectrum Podcasts – This is the official podcast of IEEE Spectrum.  It’s OK.  But it’s not too long and they have decent interviews.  (Approx 15 minutes long)

This Week in Photography – A Photography podcast featuring a revolving cast of four professional photographers.  It seems to follow the same format of Giant Bombcast, except about Photography.  It starts out with general conversation followed by news.  Then there’s an interview with an industry giant, followed by picks of the week where they talk about hardware and software people should try out.  Then they read emails and end the show.  It’s pretty good if you’re into photography. (Approx 45 min long)

Tux Radar – Yet another Linux podcast.  It’s the official podcast of Linux Format Magazine.  They talk about Linux and joke around.  It’s pretty good; I’d probably give it a 7.5/10. (Approx 45 min long)

Is it Obsolete? NPR Radio Stations

It Hasn't Even Been a Year Yet...
Thanks to podcasts, NPR maybe be obsolete

I am a huge listener of public radio programming, but I no longer listen to my local NPR station. Most of the time I just listen to podcasts of the shows that would otherwise be broadcast on NPR. The basic force behind this is the same as the reason why I loved my MythTV when I had cable TV. I don’t want to have to do appointment radio listening any more than I want to do appointment television. In many cases this is because the shows I enjoy listening to come on the air while I’m at work, in the gym, or sleeping. The shows I listen to are produced by NPR, Public Radio International (PRI), and American Public Media (APM). That includes Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, On the Media, Media Matters, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Away with Words and On the Money with Christ Disimio. Together with other non-radio programs and some BBC programs, these provide for all of my radio-listening needs. This started out (and a big reason I got into podcasts a few years after most techies had) because, in Baltimore, the local NPR station at 88.1 is interrupted by XM (or Sirius) FM transmitters. So I got pissed that whenever I happened to be available when a show I liked was on, every time someone with satelite radio passed by I couldn’t listen to my program. This is why I donated to the Washington DC NPR station – that one isn’t subject to interference so I’d rather pay for a station I can hear.

But I stopped donating to my local NPR station because I just bought a house and I don’t have the discretionary money to donate to as many places as I used to. And when it came around to it, I don’t even listen to NPR on the radio. I listen to podcasts. So why support this station or that station. In fact, as far as I know, some of the programs I listen to aren’t even carried on the local NPR stations. So I think the stations are, as more people switch to podcasts, becoming obsolete.

This presents a problem in the form of funding. Podcasts of real radio programs with paid hosts need money. But when I donate, I don’t want to waste my donation providing for the operations of my local NPR station. I want all of the donation to go to the programs I actually listen to. I think, going forward, that the various NPR (and PRI and APM) programs are going to have to either solicit donations individually or as a collective. Of course, this means less popular shows may fall by the wayside, but that’s capitalism. If they can’t attract enough listeners to donate, the program goes away.

One possible innovation for public “radio” funding could take a page from churches. Many churches allow the tithers to check a box dictating where the money should be spent. So you could say out of $100 that $50 goes towards the building maintenance and $50 goes towards missionary work. So perhaps we eliminate the station middle-man and basically I can donate to NPR, PRI, and APM. And when I donate I can say I want portions of my money to go to show A and portions to go to show B. This way there’s a direct corelation between who stays on the air and how popular they are.

So I say that NPR Radio stations will become obsolete, but hopefully the content continues to be produced under new funding models.