Thursday, November 02, 2006

Podcasts I Like: Professional Podcasts

Part of the entire appeal of podcasting is that it is relatively cheap to become a home audio producer. Plus there is the whole community aspect to it – you don’t know who your next-door neighbors are, but there are about 30 or so podcasters who regularly check in with you.

This is all nice, but a quick glance at the iTunes Top Ten Podcasts shows you that professionally produced podcasts dominate the market. Some of them are existing radio shows being distributed on the internet, and some of them are from existing media empires branching out into the world of podcasting. Either way, they set the standard for what podcasts should aspire to.

So I decided to list out all of my favorite podcasts created by major media outlet. I’m putting This American Life and all of the news podcasts (even the fake news podcast from The Onion) I listen to are in a little penalty box. Seriously, they do not need me to blog about them to get more listeners.

1. Slate / Slate Explainer – I never read Slate Magazine before they started doing podcasts. (And, to be honest, the main reason I first subscribed to the podcast was because Slate has a column about neat podcasts to listen to.) Every day, the podcast presents either an article reading or discussion about a news item. And on Fridays, they have a political gabfest.

2. On the Media – My second favorite NPR program (next to This American Life). It is a media program about the media. Sounds like a potential for a navel-gazing mess, doesn’t it? But it is not, it is one of the most insightful programs about what it is like to live a mediated existence.

3. Left, Right, and Center – Every Friday, I get a one-two punch of this political talk show and the Slate Political Gabfest. Does it make me smarter? No. Does it make me understand politics more? Not really. Does it make me keenly aware how most pundits are more personality then principle? You betcha. You can also make a drinking game out of how many times there are screaming talking heads on a show that claims to be an antidote to screaming talking heads.

4. Creative Screenwriting – If you’ve ever aspired to be a screenwriter, this is the podcast to listen to. Basically, it is a one-on-one conversation with a screenwriter about a completed film. One of my favorite ones is the interview with Zac Penn discussing the script to X3: The Last Stand. Basically, he says that screenwriters on big-budget action films wind up being the logic police more than anything else. The director thinks it would be cool if such-and-such character fought such-and-such character so it is the screenwriter’s job to provide the motivation in a way that makes sense. Truly fascinating.

5. Fanboy Radio – It is so easy to love comics when you are listening to people who love comics.

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