Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Instructions for the Technically Cautious IV

Have you guys figured out podcasts yet? I just did, and it has changed my life. Turns out you don't even need an iPod to enjoy them. Here's the scoop:

Podcasts are like radio shows you can download and listen to anytime. In fact, many of them actually are the radio shows you know and love, like A Prarie Home Companion or This American Life. And they're free (at least I've never found one that charged). All you have to do is go out and find them and download them onto your computer, just like you would any other file.

The easiest way I've found to find great podcasts is to open up iTunes, go to the iTunes store, choose the podcasts link on the left, and look around. You can look by topic or by browsing the various flashy menus in the store. You can choose to download only certain episodes, or you can subscribe to a cast and then it will automatically download each new episode as it comes out. Once you have them, they are just like music files, so you can listen to them on your computer or stick'em on a player to take with you. I've become a big fan of listening to NPR and stuff on my way to and from school. Here's some of the podcasts I've subscribed to.

  • Astronomy Cast: Some guy and some girl talk about cool stuff in space each week. Lately they've been going planet by planet, giving us the lowdown on what we know about each.
  • Barnes and Noble's Meet the Writers: Each week they interview a popular writer about their work. Recent guests include Dave Barry, Henry Winkler, and Garrison Keillor.
  • NPR's All Songs Considered: Each week they play a bunch of crazy new music you've never heard of. Some of it is fantastic, and Bob Boilen's commentary is always intelligent and fun. They often broadcast entire concerts form local clubs (wherever local is for them—DC?).
  • Wait Wait Don't Tell Me: Each Saturday contestants phone in to answer trivia questions from that week's headlines. Winners get NPR announcer Carl Castle's voice on their answering machine. This show is f-u-n-n-y, and you can pretend you're learning.
  • NPR Sunday Puzzle: Will Shortz of the New York Times does word puzzles with a phone-in contestant. Then he gives a take-home question that you can answer to become the next week's contestant.
  • New BYU Speeches: You can hear each week's devotional or forum on your own time—why is it that when I was actually there I felt too busy to go each week, but now I don't want to miss it? Oh Elisa, come back to portal J.
  • This American Life: Ira Glass takes us through several stories or reports on a common topic each week as he explores this American Life. Not quite journalism, not quite literature, but often fabulous. A recent episode featured a phone conversation with Phil Collins by a girl looking for advice in writing a break-up song.

Some day I'm gonna publish my own podcast, right here on the blog. Someday.

1 comment:

Elisa said...

I'm glad we got to revisit portal J after all these years.

You missed me! Wahoo!