5/8/07 00:39
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[personal profile] j0ni
I've been a podcast addict for a couple of years now. I love the medium - the fact is that it's relatively cheap and easy to produce good quality audio now, and although this means that there's a ton of crud out there, it also means that shallow and snap editorial decisions taken by busy media professionals no longer have to deprive us of potentially excellent content.

There is a downside to narrowcasting which is particularly evident in podcasting, perhaps because it resembles and therefore contrasts easily with radio. It's now possible to control the media you consume to the degree that you're never exposed to opinions or ideas that challenge you in any way. And in fact, this is quite likely to happen, since you have limited time and such a vast choice of material - it's inevitable that you'd end up consuming only that which tastes the best.

Still, bland affirmations notwithstanding, I consume a lot of podcasts. I listen to them when I'm falling to sleep, and when I'm out walking (which is a couple of hours a day, minimum, currently). I take them traveling and to the gym. Here are some recommendations. This isn't a cross-section of what I listen to, just the ones that I think stand out.

Point Of Inquiry

I listen to a couple of skeptic podcasts, but this one is by far the best. It's "the premiere podcast of the Center for Inquiry" and interviews folks from all over the meta-science and skeptic world.

DJ Grothe is a superb interviewer. His research is meticulous and his questions are perfectly judged to extract the essence from a given interviewee. At times he likes the sound of his voice a bit too much, but I find it very easy to forgive him based on the quality of the job he does the rest of the time.

Decoder Ring Theatre

A theatre troupe in Toronto doing faux old-time radio. The scripts are awesome, the production values at least as good as the radio plays I grew up listening to on BBC Radio 4. They have a couple of regular series which they produce in 6 episode "seasons".

The most successful seems to be Red Panda Adventures, which follows a fictional Canadian war superhero and is at times hilarious.

My favourite though is Black Jack Justice, a superb emulation of old-skool detective stories a la Mickey Spillane. An amusing piece of trivia: they're all written by Gregg Taylor, but Black Jack Justice is always introduced as "Martin Bracknell's immortal detective". This is a reference to the very first show which was done on the stage, and was actually the story of a fictional radio show by the same name. Martin Bracknell was the fictional author of the show. Gregg Taylor mentions in a meta-cast that he sees an awful lot of traffic on the Decoder Ring website which comes from Google searches for Martin Bracknell.

Escape Pod

This is the podcast I'd take to my desert island. If I had to choose just one, this would be it. Escape Pod is a weekly science fiction short story podcast, but there's more to it than that. Not that that wouldn't be enough - not every story floats my boat, but the quality is generally very high. And the occasional film reviews from Jonathon Sullivan are at times hilarious (I think I've linked to this fabulous review of Eragon before).

The show is presented by Steve Eley ([livejournal.com profile] sfeley) who usually does a 5 minute intro to each episode. I think it was Steve's good humour and honesty that turned this podcast into a habit for me. Candid insights and pithy observations which are in tune with our sensibilities make it easy to think of Escape Pod as a family member. Steve's definitely sounding more like an "old pro" these days which is perhaps inevitable, but he's still good and I still love the show. And the title music alone, supplied by Daikaiju, is enough reason to listen to Escape Pod.

Here's a bunch of good ones.



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February 2012

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