Sunday, November 22, 2009

They like to watch.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Radio Silence 2: Podcast Boogaloo

As some of you may remember, I was pretty torn up about losing 97.1 FM Talk back in February. I went through a dark time after that and I found myself listening to NPR podcasts (Car Talk, Fresh Air, and This American Life) as a way to ease the pain. When they got too NPR-y for me, I would turn on one of the music stations just to mix things up. One day, I found myself singing along to a Daughtry song. It was a bleak, bleak time for me.

Then I heard something about an Adam Carolla Podcast, and things took a turn.

Faster than anyone else at 97.1, the Aceman embraced his new place in the universe. He set up a studio in his cavernous garage and started bringing in guests, engaging in long form interviews ranging from personal masturbatory techniques to nitty gritty, let's get really real, smack-down dish sessions. He was born for this type of ranting, and the thing took off for him. I had part of my radio family back, so I started looking around for the rest of them.

Somewhere along the way, Frosty, Heidi and Frank decided to put together a little thing called Frosty, Heidi and Frank Uncensored. Free of FCC restrictions, they were all free to be themselves. Again, their blend of current events and private declarations rang true, quickly building a following. They started podcasting every day, Frosty built a studio in his home and the gang settled in for a long, destitute summer. Eventually, they landed real jobs at TalkRadio 790 KABC weekdays 9-Noon. Now they record the podcast at the ABC studios and get to be raw at the end of the day. Everybody wins.

Let's take a break for a second.

So, I spend all day driving to different medical buildings trying to make a sale. I'm in and out the car constantly, which makes listening to anything stimulating on the radio a bit of a professional gamble. If I hear something interesting, it's very tempting to stay in the car... and I don't make any money in the car. Podcasts, however, give me the best of both worlds. I get the programming I want AND I get to pause it whenever I get out of the car. This is the game that's called, "I Win."

Okay, so I have the best parts of my radio family back and I'm pretty happy with my NPR/Adam/FHFU repertoire when I start noticing people plugging their own podcasts on Twitter.


Live From a Shoebox and You Look Nice Today turned out to be great little finds. You also get the added benefit of being able to follow these people and really get inside their terrifying heads.

Now I've really got the podcast bug and I decide to start rooting around iTunes. I am, at heart, a movie geek. If that's you, drop what you're doing and subscribe to Creative Screenwriting's podcast right now. Jeff Goldsmith manages to pull down some heavy hitters and he's not afraid to ask them the tough questions. If you want to hear Doug Benson talk about movies with a bunch of comedians, check out I Love Movies (just look it up). The list goes on.

I found another great podcast while listening to the This American Life podcast! Podcasts were giving birth to podcasts, and my head almost exploded. Nonetheless, you should download The Moth and listen to all kinds of people telling stories about their lives on stage. Brilliant, hilarious and touching. Just get it already.

Enough, right? There are hundreds of these things.

Here's the good news: All you have to do to listen to all of this fantastic material as you go on trips, run on the treadmill or sit in traffic on the 405 is subscribe in iTunes, sync it with your iPod of choice and let your computer do the rest.

And, oh yeah, it's all free. I'll say that again: FREE!

Remember "Pump Up the Volume" with Christian Slater? The part where he's driving around in a Jeep with a shortwave radio hooked up so the FCC can't triangulate his location and he drives down on the football field and tells everybody to steal the air? Yeah. It's happening and it's called podcasts. Check it out.

Or, go right back to your Daughtry cover of that Lady Gaga song on that computerized radio station and forget I said anything. Shame on you for knowing what I'm talking about.

Okay, fine. Shame on me too.