We don't listen to audio the same way we used to.
Back in the day, it was strictly radio. Then came tape. Then CD. Then the PC with broadband capability.
And now, the digital media player has changed the way we get our entertainment and information. We no longer have to rely on the radio when we're driving, walking, jogging or commuting. We're much more in control these days. We are the radio station.
Perhaps one of the most notable examples of this is the podcast. Don't like the shows your local stations offer? Well, you can pick and choose. Your station's running Stephanie Miller while you want your Sam Seder? No prob. Or perhaps you just want something different, something your local station doesn't think attracts, say, middle class white females, age 25-45, who live in 'X' county and has 'X' amount of disposable income, and therefore must like to listen to "Delilah" on Lite FM. Had enough of this nonsense? Well, you're not alone.
Now, you're in control. You are the radio station! Even radio stations have realized this, with even stations owned by the biggies including Clear Channel and CBS currently offering podcasts of their radio shows. Sure, it's not live, but do most people call in to shows anyway?
And you don't even need the radio industry. Anyone with the capability to record audio on a computer and convert it to mp3 or other audio format can make their own. And many have. And if you're capable of hearing mp3 files, you're capable of hearing most podcasts.
Of course, with the advent of new media, there's a lot of stuff out there, and sifting through it can be mind-boggling. The purpose of "Podcast Picks" is to try and sift through some of this stuff, spotlight liberal radio shows, non-radio liberal podcasts, and perhaps make a few recommendations, and even suggest non-liberal talk stuff (since we've all got to broaden our horizons, right?). Since weekends are basically down-time at LTR, look for "Podcast Picks" then from here on out.
First off, since there's so much liberal talk material archived all over the web, how 'bout a condensed version? That's the goal of "Best Of The Left". Think of it as the Reader's Digest of liberal talk, without the corny humor. You'll hear snippets from Air America shows, public radio, Pacifica, even mainstream news sources such as CNN and MSNBC. Usually, a theme will tie it all together, such as a recent episode about the documentary "Jesus Camp". All in all, a nice listen backed with some pretty good backing music and professional-quality editing that create a rather interesting pastiche. Check it out.
Mike Malloy has long been very web-friendly. With White Rose Society, he collaborated to make almost every show from the past four years (and even a few early shows) available for download. Thanks to his new syndicator, Nova M Radio, his podcasts are still available and, for the first time, sans commercials. Nova M provides both hi-bitrate (128K) and lo-bitrate (24K) files, with the 128K files also available broken down into three different segments. Nova M's Mike Newcomb also has a similar arrangement for his show. Check it out at Nova M's site, and click the appropriate links to subscribe to the feed of your choice.
"On The Media" is one of the most informative and entertaining shows on NPR. Produced by WNYC in New York, OTM's objective is to show what really goes on in the vast media, showing how they do it and why, and comes complete with a breezy, often humorous presentation. OTM also shows how we take in this media overload. The one-hour show is always entertaining, and definitely a must-listen for those who want to know how it all works and why. This week, the topics are how the media is handling Saddam Hussein's execution and the increasing ways that the internet is becoming a dominant force in our everyday lives, with reports on who controls it, how the spread of municipal WiFi networks will have a major impact, and all about the future internet. You can also check out archived shows via their site and their podcast feed.
Think public radio is silly? Well, the folks at Irrational Public Radio seem to think so. And what they've produced is even sillier, perhaps the most brilliant satire of the genre ever envisioned. Think "The Onion", only more ridiculous. They've been slacking as of late, and haven't added to their handful of shows since this past summer. Nonetheless, they have vowed to return soon. In the meantime, enjoy the brilliance of IPR via their feed.
Did you know that you can listen to Keith Olbermann on the go? Well, you can. MSNBC offers podcast snippets of many of their shows, including "Countdown". So, if you missed Keith's latest special commentary, look no further. Take it with you.
And finally, we here at LTR realize that we cannot live via talk radio alone. We'd go insane, right? We've gotta have music. "Crap From The Past" is an exploration of pop music, as seen through the cut-out bin. Obscurities, long-forgotten one-hit wonders, strange remakes, disposable pop and much more. You might even hear a big hit once in a while. Host Ron "Boogiemonster" Gerber has been doing CFTP for years, and it's currently based at KFAI in Minneapolis. He also has what could be seen as the strangest music collection in the world, if not the absolute coolest. He's the trash collector picking up the disposable pop tossed aside by the fickle masses of America. If it was any kind of hit, it's likely he has it, or has heard of it. Where else will hear Rupert Holmes sing something besides that "Pina Colada Song"? Or ABBA singing "Waterloo" in French (insert Napoleon joke here). Gerber is not afraid to go where many would rather not, and it makes for one of the coolest radio shows ever done. If you have an urge to reminisce about the likes of Gino Vanelli, the Average White Band or Stars on 45, then my sympathies. Nonetheless, CFTP is for you. And every single episode is available for streaming or download, in a variety of formats, thanks to the Internet Archive. Who knew bad music could be so entertaining?
Speaking of the Internet Archive, if you haven't ventured through their audio section, set aside a few hours. Or a few days. You'll need it. The Archive is massive, with a large variety of public domain and artist-approved material. You can hear classic 'books on tape', famous presidential speeches, old-time radio shows, obscure bands, and even live recordings of some of your favorites, as well as many, many bands you've never heard of. If you like Ryan Adams, Billy Bragg, Camper Van Beethoven or Blues Traveler, you'll enjoy the live music section, chock full of user-recorded live shows from taper-friendly artists. If you absolutely, positively must have as much live material from String Cheese Incident or Robyn Hitchcock, the Archive is a good place to find it. And yes, they do have the Grateful Dead. Almost 3,000 shows worth of the Dead. Happy digging, and look for more Podcast Picks next week.
UPDATE: If you're unsure what exactly podcasting is, here's a good article from OpEdNews that explains it all.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
We don't listen to audio the same way we used to.