Sites for Interesting Radio Podcasts

Hoarders' Vinyl Emporium with Jez & Stew

This series of programs from Northern Beaches Radio in Sydney's north highlights selections from the record libraries of the two enthusiastic hosts, who are loosely tied to a theme each week. A must for vinyl addicts!

ABC (Australia)

BBC Podcasts

National Public Radio (NPR)

Voice of America (VOA)

Radio Netherlands

Apple App - "Podcasts" Is A Winner!

Chris Maxcer at Tech News World has had a Damascus Road conversion back to podcasts. He'd written them off as a non-event just a week earlier. I've read that sort of attitude before, and I'm glad he's come back, as podcasts are great - what's not to like?

They usually cost nothing, and give access any time to all sorts of things, be they talk shows or music. All you need is the time to listen, which is no problem if you're a commuter or on a plane, train, or road trip. Recuperating from an illness or operation? Just feel like listening to something as you relax on the back verandah or in bed before going to sleep? Eyes get tired around bedtime. Podcasts can be entertaining or informative, or both!

What got Chris going again was the new Apple "Podcasts" app. It makes things easy! I just loaded it up on my iPad (after updating to the latest iOS, as it wouldn't run on my old OS) and was charmed right away by how good this is. Finding and subscribing to podcasts is a snack, the graphics are excellent, and if you touch the screen beside the main image as I just did it opens up a "panel" to reveal a representation of a reel-to-reel tape recorder (see pic), complete with tape flowing and a tensioner that moves as you'd expect it to when you start or stop the "tape". Then there's a pitch control to allow you to speed up or slow down the delivery. A bit reminiscent of Vinyl Love, which plays your tracks while showing you a record player! On the main control block there are jump forward 30 seconds and jump back ten seconds buttons so you can hear something again or jump through a bit. Resume play works as it should too. It's a winner, and I'm so glad that podcasts are here to stay.

There's so much to enjoy and to learn from them. Check Chris Maxcer's article for some more on this free app from Apple.

Other Podcast Apps For Apple Devices - just made less attractive by the above!

Here's a quick review of five other podcast apps to help you get your podcasts together on your iPhone, iPad etc.

John Lennon - Glassed From The Past

The podcast has made recording off-air almost unnecessary, as I found out recently when a show came along that I really wanted to hear but was working that day. It's about John Lennon. Actor John Waters is a multi-talented guy, and he came up with this show called "Looking Through A Glass Onion" - it's a mixture of monologue based on Lennon's life and interviews, with his songs mixed in to make a chronological survey.

Apart from getting to know Lennon better, you find out that Waters is no slouch as a singer and that his backing group are superb. They capture the sounds, tempos and chord changes so well. Both Lennon and Harrison were in some ways more subtle and tricky composers than McCartney and playing their songs requires attention to detail.

Anyway, Waters and the musos (Stewart D'Arietta on keyboards, piano and backing vocals; Paul Berton playing electric guitar and Tony Mitchell on bass guitar; drummer Greg Henson) went into the ABC studios twenty years after the show originally launched (but fresh from a new tour) to record it for posterity. The results have been broadcast on Sunday afternoons, the first half on last Sunday and the second half tomorrow at 3pm.

So dopey here thought I'd better set a minidisk to catch episode one last week, which duly recorded the show while I worked. My mistake was to leave the machine and timer set up, so it duly recorded over it the next day! I ended up with nothing.

But, after checking online and due to the modern magic of podcast, I was able to listen to part one by streaming it, and really enjoyed the experience. I'm working again tomorrow, so will rely on the podcast again to hear part two. There's a broadcast repeat of the show on Thursday night at 9pm I believe, but remembering that at the time is trickier. Thanks to the ABC and to John Waters & Co. for a great program.

There's also an extended interview with John Waters where he gives some fascinating background to the show.

UPDATE: Part 2 is now available here.

Podcasting, Wither?

The BBC's website has run a story about podcasting which makes some puzzling observations. Puzzling, because on the one hand they want to make some sort of case for social media having more "now", trendy appeal, while on the other hand they admit that downloads are in fact numerous:

"More than eight million adults in the UK - around 16% of the adult population - have downloaded a podcast, with almost half listening to one at least once a week. This figure is echoed in the US. As a comparison, this is still a greater percentage of people than use Twitter"

They way they talk, it sounds like "oh, it's not original content". What? That's what I want - to catch a show I would otherwise not have heard. What is so difficult about recognizing this as a very valuable concept? Instead they say:

"The common perception is that a podcast is just a download of something that has already been made available elsewhere. Rather than changing the traditional media landscape, many believe that it is just replicating it."

Replicating it! Yes, that's what I want podcasts to do! So I can hear that content, numbskulls! As for "has already been made available elsewhere", that is arrant nonsense. It was only made available as a fleeting energy discharge called a broadcast, and if you missed it, but for podcasts you'd have to travel faster than the speed of light to catch it, out in space somewhere.

It's thanks to the internet that we can tap into all those great shows and hear things we'd otherwise miss. I'm amazed that someone can write about podcasting so derogatorily, calling it "old-fashioned" and, presumably, wanting a more Twitter-like presentation of ad-hoc short bursts of audio trivia instead of at least a 15 minute show about something.

Social media is fine as far as it goes, but it can only be a signpost towards more meaty, satisfying content.

UPDATE: now Tech News World is saying that twenty years from now nobody will have a tablet or smartphone. They envisage a world where the objects you wear talk to the objects you pass in the street. Hey, sounds like the old days when people would actually walk down the street and talk to people! This might happen, but I still don't see podcasts being made redundant - I'll just be listening to one while I walk down the street, maybe via my in-ear or implanted sub-ether transceiver, or whatever.

Global Business

I'm pleased to report that the BBC took my advice (!) and have made Peter Day's excellent program GloBal Business available as a podcast

This is one of the best shows on radio anywhere. Not dry business at all. Peter Day travels the world and looks at various countries and what's going on there. It's almost like Michael Palin but with more depth and focus on some aspect which does involve business, but also gives you contact, through Peter, with the people involved. It is fascinating!

Podcasting News

There is a site to help keep up to date with the fast-growing world of podcasting, and it is, of course Podcasting News. and there is always The iPodder Site.

The ABC's podcast page puts you in touch with all the programs they make available this way. They also have a page of help, to get you started.

What is Podcast?

Wikipedia explains it all here.

Note: I thought Hollywood was full of control freaks trying to get rent from us for breathing the same air as they do. But now Apple are said to be going after those who use the term Podcast! Since most podcasts are not necessarily listened to on iPods you might argue that its free publicity. Quit while you are ahead rather than go all Metallica on us.

How Popular Are Podcasts?

"The incredible popularity of podcasting is the latest demonstration of consumers' willingness to take control of their media experiences," said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics in a statement. "While essentially still in nascent form, podcasts offer free audio and video content that is inexpensive to create, easy to access and on a portable platform that has already reached mass distribution. This exciting new medium has only just begun to stretch its legs."

Full story here.