Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Praise of Podcasts

I spend a fair amount of time on buses. Since I moved to my new place, I live mere blocks from a campus bus stop. I get a short walk, and then a free ride to school – something more and more valuable with the price of gas these days. The ride takes a while, maybe 20 minutes, since I often ride the entire route, south campus to north. This doesn’t seem long enough to try to read – plus the movement and crowds make this challenging. Instead I listen to my ipod, and have quite a satisfying podcast routine. I love podcasts. They help me keep up with and understand important news, they keep me entertained engaged, sometimes moved. They keep me company. Here are the ones I look forward to every week:

Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me: the NPR News Quiz

This show is hilarious, while still being high brow. Everything you could ask for from NPR. They often have fascinating guests, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. The Stephen Colbert episode was particularly good.

Slate Political Gabfest

When I listen to this podcast, I feel like it’s the same thing as sitting in a room with some smart journalist/commentators and catching up on the week’s news. They include just the right amount of goofing off with each other that I really feel like I’m in the in group. Except I never get to participate. But it’s still another way to make sure I caught everything important in the week’s news, and understand what’s important about it.

This American Life

This one is a bit dangerous for bus riding, because if I’m caught in the right mood, I can be moved to laughter or near tears. And the other bus riders probably think I’m some kind of crazy, but I don’t even care, because that’s how good it is. This show introduced me to Sarah Vowell, for which I am eternally grateful. I desperately want like to write like she does – funny, smart, self-deprecating. Anyway, the whole show is good and beautiful and fascinating. I love it.

I encourage my readers to spice up their travels with a little bit of these Podcasts. They are a nice way to structure my week – in bus rides, walks and listens.


Rachel said...

Just in time for my roadtrip. Thanks!

Bob K said...

Me too! I downloaded a couple of these for my trip tomorrow!

Julie said...

So, Joel and I listen to Wait Wait don't tell me almost every Saturday. We love it. Stephen Colbert was quite funny if I remember it well enough. The other day Joel was laughing so hard (you can imagine you have seen Joel like this...he couldn't even breath!) It was when there was an sign langauge interpreter at thelive show and someone said crap a pineapple...they thought the signer was so funny they just kept saying it. Now, you understand why Joel was laughing so hard! Haha (man this was a long comment!)

the chickens' auntie said...

I listen to Wait Wait and This American Life every week -- they're both part of the super Saturday lineup that also includes Whadya Know and Car Talk. Sundays are saved for Prairie Home and, sometimes, listening to This American Life AGAIN. Is that geeky, or what?

KBush said...

I love Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! Too bad we can't get tickets for a taping when you're in Chicago. We should work on that...