Podcasts are a new exploration for me. I know it may seem outdated in this day and age of technology whizzing by and always something new coming up to outdate the old. But after taking a class last quarter about technology and culture, I’m ready to critical analyzes anything digital to come my way. This week it happens to be podcasts.
I starting looking at podcasts in iTunes to find some new music so that Justin doesn’t have to spoon-feed me all my playlists (although his lists are chocolaty delicious!). I discovered that bowtie-and-tweed NPR has taken some advice from Stacey and Clinton and has been putting out fresh-faced podcasts on pop culture and indie music. NPR’s series “All Songs Considered” has a podcast of live shows with great quality and some interviews mixed in. Yesterday I was in DC with the Ting Tings, listened to She & Him at the Newport Folk Festival during a rainstorm, and was at the Santa Barbara Bowl with Radiohead. All without leaving my cubicle! I explored the NPR podcast website a little more and found a pop culture feed with interviews and commentary on all things bohemian. I always put podcasts in the category of radio, with commentary introducing music. But this idea that I can get my news and gossip told to me while I settle into my desk every morning instead of having to scroll through website is awesome! Embrace the laziness! So after enlisting Justin’s help on some recommendations (there is no hope of me ever finding good music without his guidance) I have a preliminary list of podcasts I shuffle through each day
NPR All Songs Considered Live
NPR Pop Culture
USA Today: Pop Candy
Bands under the Radar
Indie Feed: Big Shed Audio Documentaries
PRI: The Sounds of Young America
I’m drunk on the possibilities that these podcasts hold for me. The biggest set back to having a real job in the that I have to hold my blog-surfing until the evening and inevitably my attention is entranced by Toddlers & Tiaras or Planet Earth. But now I can listen to an interview with the cast of Always Sunny
while doing my data entry. These niche radio shows are more informal, relaxed, and less forced than the Clear Channel propaganda of regular fm radio. I feel like I’m listening in on a conversation with my ahead-of-the-curve friends with soothing voices and witty repertoire. I feel less alone in my beige world of paper-pushing because I’m paper-pushing while listening to a report on teaching university courses in Second Life
and discovering bands like Miss Li
. Multi-tasking like it was truly meant to be!
Justin had a similar take on the podcast listening experience “Podcasts don’t have to adhere to record label mandated playlists. In fact, most of the time, they feature album tracks that don’t get pushed by labels as singles. You can listen to them on your own time, they are portable, and you don’t have to deal with commercials. They seem more personal than internet radio. If I don’t listen to then at work, then in my car.”
One of the most surprising discoveries I have made while exploring this new art genre are audio collages.
I initially found a Big Shed podcast about an audio producer, Zak Rosen, and his audio collage
put together during his study abroad in Spain. I’m still trying to fully understand the format but the basic idea is that one goes about their day (preferably somewhere sweet like Rio de Janeiro
), recording all the sounds of the streets and citizens of said sweet location, and cutting it and mixing it down into 10 min of beautiful day-to-day sounds and sayings. Although it seems choppy and a nuisance at first, I realized how oddly interesting and engaging it sounds to not have a visual to create a concrete scene. You can develop the scene as you picture it with the sounds. I think there is some soothing element to the buzz of noise pollution (spoken like a true city girl yes?). I sleep in the dead of winter with my window open so I can be rocked to sleep by the sounds of Lincoln ave, the drunken fights of college kids at the Lincoln Park bars, and the ambulance sirens heading to the Children’s Hospital. I am comforted by the movement of people and cars outside. So I guess it should follow suite that I am enjoying drowning out the sounds of the menopausal women in my office with the sounds of chatter and horns. And in general the podcasts make me feel more connected and social (in some digitally-isolated way) to the rest of the world when I can listen to these podcasters talk about all things pop culture and awesome and feel like they are talking to me. I realize this seems sad and desperate to reach out to the world via a podcast feed while sitting in my cubicle cell, but we have to use the technology available to stay connected and informed.
I also loved the guilty pleasure that Justin told me about:
“I also listen to an old man’s podcast, NPR’s Writer’s Almanac
, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Its on everyday and features history about that particular day and a poetry reading. Its relaxing for some reason…NPR is way cooler than I thought it was”
I wonder what other odd things people listen to on their iPods. God that sounds like a great social experiment waiting to happen…