Traditional broadcasters have reacted to the onset and development of the Internet differently. Currently, CBS has removed itself from the popular Hulu Plus service, leaving ABC, NBC and Fox to help fill its content supply. This has had an appreciable effect on my viewing of TV: I watch only one show on CBS, forgoing all others . . . my rationale being if I can’t catch missed episodes on Hulu Plus, I might as well skip the entire series.
How major shows and networks and stations deal with podcasting is related. I listen to only two radio shows with any regularity, and they are two NPR shows, This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and I almost always catch them as podcasts, not radio shows. I rarely listen to radio, even Internet radio. (The closest I come is Pandora Plus, though I sometimes listen to the two classical stations on SonicTap, courtesy of DirecTV.) This American Life is a great show, impossible to recommend too highly; the NPR quiz show is fun.
But the real genius of the Internet is its utility in bringing new things into existence. For example, my favorite podcast, bar none, is EconTalk, featuring Hoover Institution economist Russ Roberts and sponsored by the Library of Economics and Liberty, a project of the Liberty Fund. I learn more from this than any other Net-based service, including, perhaps, Wikipedia.
My second favorite — and something I discovered only recently — is The Partially Examined Life, a “philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it.” The current episode, on Plato’s Gorgias, brings back memories of this great dialogue — the one work of classical philosophy that perhaps unduly influenced my intellectual development.
Podcasts come in all varieties. I started my interest in this media form by following Cali Lewis’s geek “briefs” (now “beats”). Friends of mine, Jim Gill and Frank Young, produced an improv comedy podcast up until Frank got really busy with his book project on the Carter Family, now out. In the latest episode, Jim interviews Frank about the book, which has been getting great reviews.
Penn Jillette has been podcasting for some time. His current effort is Penn’s Sunday School, which is often good. It’s produced (or at least sponsored) by Adam Carolla, who’s now king of the podcast biz, as well as king of the ranters. The best entertainment interview show anywhere is Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, which I occasionally catch as a video podcast.
I’ve never much cared for the “groundbreaking” podcast work of Ricky Gervais, no matter how much I admire his acting work. Slate’s Culture Gabfest, a favorite of Stephan Kinsella’s, is often very interesting, though sometimes the participants’ predictable liberal-progressive dogmas get in the way of intelligent discussion. I find it most useful as a model for future group podcasts.
A number of atheist and libertarian podcasts have underwhelmed me.
The above “review” of my personal podcast listening I present, here, in aid of preparing to establish my own podcast, with a friend. I will keep readers posted.