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January 12, 2006

Podcast Finds

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Have you dipped a toe yet in the podcast waters? I'm a podcast-listening babe and newbie myself -- hey, I guess we all are. And, being incapable of handling too much in the way of technical complications, I've decided to limit my podcast adventures strictly to That Which Is Easily Located at the iTunes Store. Even so, I've turned up some finds.

  • Violet Blue is a funny, sweet, and resourceful alt-erotica entrepreneur: writer, editor, web presence, and now podcaster. She's rowdy and good-natured; she seems to like arousal and naughtiness for their own lovely sake; and in the episodes of her podcast that I've listened to, she has never once gone political.

  • Radio Economics is run by James Reese, a professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. A Radio Economics show consists of Reese phoning and chatting with one prominent economist for 20 or 30 minutes. So far I've enjoyed chats with Paul Krugman (who is much more even-handed and affable than you'd guess from his notorious NYTimes op-ed column), Tim ("Undercover Economist") Harford, and George Mason U. department chief Donald Boudreaux. Interesting talks all, with plenty of oddball digressions. Boudreaux, who co-does the excellent econblog Cafe Hayek, talks about the importance of reaching the public in intelligible terms, and he rightly heaps praise on the work of one of my own favorite blogging teams, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution.

  • JivaDiva is the charming and likable Alanna, a Colorado yoga teacher in the Jivamukti tradition. Alanna gives five-minute talks that are helpful and EZ intros to yoga philosophy.

  • In a one-off show that isn't part of a series, Tom Wolfe interviews the brain scientist Michael Gazzaniga, the author of "The Ethical Brain," about how new discoveries in neuroscience are likely to affect thinking about ethics. Wolfe is likably, if surprisingly, scatterbrained and excitable, while Gazzanga is amused, patient, and substantial.

Though I don't know of any way to link directly to these podcasts, finding and downloading them is simple enough. Open up iTunes; go to the iTunes store; click on "podcasts." Then type a word or two -- "Radio Economics" or "JivaDiva," for instance -- into the search box. Podcasts on iTunes are almost all free. If you click on them they'll download into the iTunes collection you have on your own computer. Sooner than you know it, you'll be strolling around enjoying podcasts on your iPod.

What I'm lovin' about podcasts is what I love about the blog-o-sphere: the garage-band enthusiasm and energy, and the real-people, do-it-yourself atmosphere. (Podcasts are to radio what blogs are to newspapers and magazines.) The shows I've liked best have often been anything but slick and professional. They're loose, they're idiosyncratic, and they're often very rough around the edges. But the sound of real human beings comes through much more clearly than it does on most professional radio.

Eager to hear from others about their podcast finds too. God knows there's a lot of sifting, sorting, and note-swapping that needs to be done.



posted by Michael at January 12, 2006


Nooooooooo! Except for Ann Althouse podcasts. It's too much, the blogs and books and pictures and vblogs and podcasts, all of it! I draw a line in the sand :)

(Ravijain's Drive time v-log is cool)

Posted by: MD on January 12, 2006 7:37 PM

I like The Movie Blog's podcast. Their archive is here.

Posted by: Brian on January 12, 2006 10:05 PM

You've gotta be the hippest fiftysomething in the world! How can you keep up with this stuff?? You said you can't even stand cellphones.

Posted by: annette on January 13, 2006 11:14 AM

MD -- What a dazzling "No! No! I mustn't! I can't! Well, OK..." performance! We don't see enough of those these earnest and upfront days.

Brian -- Many thanks, I wasn't even aware of the Movie Blog.

Annette -- When I'm not leaning on crutches, I lean on young people. They pass along a few tips. But it all feels so otherworldly, don't you find? I'm pretty sure that in a couple of years I'm going to understand nothing about the world at all.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 13, 2006 11:18 AM

Oh, feed my podcast jones! I'm gonna have so many on my nano, there'll be no room left for anything else!

So far I like Heidi Miller's Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter, Merlin Mann's 43 Folders podcasts, the NPR movies feed, and, when I want to get my cracker on, Jack Lewis's Bluegrass and Old Time Music Radio Show.

Keep posting these, Michael. It's much harder to find cool podcasts than cool blogs (or should I say, it's harder to muster up the patience to sort through the crap since all that tedious listening takes so long).

Posted by: communicatrix on January 13, 2006 11:41 AM

Micheal -

If you want the link that will direectly subscribe you in Itunes, go to the Music store, right-click on the podcast, and select "Copy Itunes Music Store URL". The URL for the Radio Economics podcast, for instance, is:

As for me, I've become addicted to the wacky hijinks at Tiki Bar TV. (And the lovely Lala is quite easy on the eyes...)

Posted by: jimbo on January 13, 2006 12:06 PM

Hey, Michael, a few things:

My favorite podcasts: KCRW Bookworm , Sam and Jim go to Hollywood, BBC's From Our Own Correspondent . All 3 provide consistently high quality content.

I have listened to several podcasts about film and fiction, but I haven't listened to them often enough to be able to endorse them yet.

Guess what, in March or April, I'll be launching my own "storytelling podcast." Basically storytellers, poets and fiction writers reciting pieces on audio. I haven't made a formal announcement yet, though I'm lining up the talent.

One other plug: I'm a big fan of alistair cooke's "Letter from America" weekly radio broadcast (which ran for 58 years), and am seriously thinking of doing a podcast with a similar concept (though not with the same frequency or longetivity!).

About KCRW's Bookworm, absolutely do not miss the interview with J.C. Oates or Umberto Eco!

Posted by: Robert Nagle on January 13, 2006 12:35 PM

A little bit of experiment causes me to believe that true podcasting is only possible with broadband internet access. Otherwise, a person is constantly having to wait while the system buffers or downloads. My own system (eMac iTunes) just breaks down with the huge load of bytes required by sound.

However, friends and I have learned that it's easy and cheap to send CD's taken from podcast downloads and no problem to play without broadband. It's just that it's NOT easy to wander among websites and take the trouble to order CD's, then package and send them to friends. I'm thinking about sales, which is not the original concern.

On the other hand, I think that if a person were traveling and came across a CD podcast about the area, it might be a good impulse purchase -- esp. if you already have enough tchotchkes to sink a ship or if you want to send a sound postcard.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 13, 2006 1:38 PM


Can you send me the link for the Wolfe/Gazzinga interview? Have searched I-Tunes and can't locate it; as a Wolfe enthusiast who is also fascinated by neuroscience would much appreciate your assistance.

Posted by: Julian on January 25, 2006 6:16 PM

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