What podcasts do you listen to?

I’ve had a few recent conversations (online and off) about podcasts.  I’m a big fan of the format since unlike more visual mediums like text or video they’re perfect for when you’re on the go: in cars, trains, walking, etc.,).  This got me to thinking that I really should get around to writing down the list that I have on my iTunes.

I have a couple of basic categories:

News/Current events, etc.,

  • Fresh Air – Great interviews.  I usually listen to each episode though I’ll sometimes skip some of the entertainment personalities.
  • Commonwealth Club of California – interesting speakers, though not as reliably great as some other podcasts, I appreciate the format and the many of the guests.  I’ll usually skip over at least 1/3 of these if not more


  • NPRs This American Life – Ira Glass’ great audio production of interesting non-fiction (mostly) stories.
  • WNYCs Radio Lab – dumbing down science so that anyone can enjoy it, layered with elaborate audio production
  • The Sound of Young America – enjoyable pop culture interviews by America’s radio sweetheart right out of his LA apartment
  • NPRs Car Talk – click and clack every week.  I don’t often listen to these but they’re good to have on the ipod when you’re in the mood
  • SFMOMA Artcasts – This I have to enhance my museum membership but the postings are sporadic and only occasionally useful/interesting

Photography related

  • Jeff Curto’s Camera Position – Early episodes discussed why certain decisions were made while composing images.  Lately this has become less frequent and more about the overall process of defining ones approach to photography projects
  • LensWork – thoughts about the creative aspect of image making.  Usually short, and so easily digestible when you’re almost at your destination but just need a few more minutes.
  • Martin Bailey Photography – A Brit in Japan who works in technology by day but photography on the side.  His technical descriptions are easy for anyone to digest, I enjoy this one for the embedded images and the inspiration it provides to just go out and shoot and follow through with your projects.
  • Nikonians The Image Doctors – usually gear talk focused on Nikons but sometime other topics as well.
  • Lightroom for Digital Photographers – short tutorials on Lightroom features
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips – short tutorials on Lightroom features
  • Photoshop for Digital Photographers – short tutorials on Photoshop features

So that’s the list on my computer (most of which get sync’d to my ipod/iphone.  Speaking of which – one aspect of the iphone I love?  The 2x setting.  Some of these podcasts (Nikonians, Lenswork, Martin Bailey) are easily consumed at twice the normal speed allowing me to pack in more listening.  Others (Terry Gross, Ira Glass) I prefer to listen to in real time.

I’m curious to hear what others are listening to as I’m always on the look out for good content.

ira glass knows how to tell a story

I’m a big fan of Ira Glass and his “This American Life” radio series.  I subscribe to the podcast and listen to the episodes whenever I get a chance.

A few years ago I was listening to another NPR series, “Wait wait… don’t tell me!” and Ira was a guest on the program.  As is often the case on the program, the guest tells a little about himself before launching into the game.  In this case, Ira told an excellent story that I think is the perfect embodiment of his style – understated and humorous with the bonus of an excellent twist.

I recently came across a re-telling of this story, which I didn’t think was as good, so I dug around the archives and found the Wait Wait site with a link to the file.

I’ve copied it here so that you could give it a listen

I apoligize in advance if it’s a little slow to load – That’s a function of my webhosting, which is not a super-duper account.  If it’s really bad, you can right-click on the link and download the MP3 file.

I figured it was easier for most to have a slow-loading MP3 file than to go the headache of trying to use the Real Audio file linked to on the NPR site.  It’s unfortunate that Real Audio (a loser in the space at this point) just doesn’t give their codecs to Apple and Microsoft for inclusion into iTunes and Windows Media Center.

Give this clip a listen.  It’s really funny.

An excellent take on green opportunities

Another in a great series of podcasts..  This one from the Commonwealth Club and a talk given by Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO.

Schmidt talks about the opportunities that exist when looking at green technologies.  It is incredibly encouraging to hear him speak – to see business leaders embracing the true opportunities that are out there.  He’s not talking about the environment, he’s not talking about climate change, he’s talking about money and opportunity – language the will resonate with even the staunchest old-school industrialists.

And by the way, it helps the environment, national security, job creation, the economy and so many other concerns that cut across so many American demographics.

Could we see this kind of innovative thinking coming to fruition in the near future?

Listen to it here or subscribe to the commonwealth club on iTunes

Andy Daly and my connections to fame

I was listening to a recent Sound of Young America podcast this morning and it was an interview with Andy Daly.  As is often the case with the Sound of Young America, I had no idea who Andy Daly was, but as the podcast unfolded, I soon realized that he’s a commedian who’s appeared on shows that I don’t watch regularly (like MadTV and Lewis Black’s Route of All Evil).

In this way, the Sound of Young America is a little hit and miss.  There are many times where I bail on the episode because I’m just not familiar with the talent.  But there are many times where I find the talent to be entertaining (especially commedians) and I am always amazed with the host’s pop culture knowledge.  Jesse Thorn (America’s Radio Sweetheart, if you didn’t know) is a little bit younger than me and he’s way better plugged in to less mainstream talent like bands and commedians but his interviewing skills are really good (something that really should be better appreciated in interview shows) so that even though some of the people he has on his show may not be that familiar to me, I am still often drawn into the interview.

I was immediately drawn to Andy’s telling of the MustacheTV story and so I found myself mindlessly listening to the interview.  Somewhere along the way, Andy talks about his upbringing in New Jersey and how his small town had a community swimming pool, much like so many of the towns near mine.  This piqued my interest enough to google him to see where he was from.  And it was then that I realized that I knew Andy Daly.  He and I went to college together.

Now let me be clear.  I knew of Andy Daly.  I don’t know Andy Daly.  He does not know me.  I think we were at a few of the same parties and bars and even a class or two but that’s the extent of it.  But it’s funny how once you have a shared connection with someone you suddenly feel more supportive of them.  I now find myself wanting to watch Lewis Black’s show, or old MadTV episodes, or even Match Game, of which he is reportedly the new host.

And yet, I imagine that I won’t diligently follow his career, and I probably won’t see him on MadTV.  But I will still get excieted if I channel surf and happen upon him.  I’ll still cheer him on and hope that he achieves greater fame.  It’s a funny thing, having these contacts from throughout life that come and go.  You never know when you may come upon them again nor in what context.

In this case, I have Jim to thank for pointing me towards the Sound of Young America.  It’s another in the series of podcasts that I recommend and regurlarly listen to.  And without that recommendation, I wouldn’t have known of my connection to fame in Andy Daly.

Ahh, I love these

Got this in my email today – it’s timely too, as I listened to a This American Life podcast this morning on my way to work about people who actually reverse-scam these guys.

Anyway, enjoy!

From: Andrew Hornsby

Dear Friend,

I am Andrew Hornsby, a barrister here in the United Kingdom. I am writing following an opportunity in my office that will be of immense benefit to both of us. I was the legal counsel to the late Udo Pleines, a German who unfortunately lost his life in the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia.

Before his death, I assisted him deposit a consignment containing the sum of US$19.1M (Nineteen Million One Hundred Thousand US Dollars) with a financial institution in one of the major cities here in Europe. Since I got information about his death, I have been expecting his next of kin or relatives to come over and claim his money. Unfortunately I learnt that his supposed next of kin being his wife died along with him in the tsunami leaving nobody with the knowledge of this fund behind for the claim.

It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to do business with you and release the money to you as the next of kin or beneficiary of the funds for safe keeping and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it. I would need you as a Foreigner acting as the next of kin and sole benefactor to the inheritance of late Udo Pleines to claim the funds for us to share.

There is no risk involved at all in the matter as I am going to adopt a legalized method and prepare all the necessary documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue. Once the funds have been transferred, we shall share in the ratio of 60% for me, 35% for you and 5% for any expenses incurred during the course of this operation. Should you be interested, please send me your telephone and fax numbers for easy communication through this email address.

In the event you are not interested, I sincerely ask that you disregard this email and tell no one about it. I am very careful not to truncate my legal career should you mention this to someone else. I hope you can be trusted in this regard.

Please note that all necessary arrangement for the smooth release of these funds to you have been finalised. We will discuss more in detail when I do receive your response.

Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Yours truly,

Andrew Hornsby

See?  Isn’t that fun?  It does amaze me that these things are profitible enough for the scammers.  I mean, come on.

This American Life is another of the podcasts that I regularly listen to.  And because I enjoy it, I donated a small amount via their website – just as I was asked.  I really like the micropayments method of business – of course it only works if you have a critical mass of followers though.

T Boone Pickens?

I’ve seen several of the T. Boone Pickens ads on television – the ones that talk about “bridging the gap” in our energy needs – and I’ve wondered, from afar, who the heck this T. Boone Pickens is and what his plan calls for.

After the presidential debates this evening, I decided to take a gander at his web site, at http://www.pickensplan.com/theplan/

Watching the ads, I was definitely skeptical about the Pickens Plan – it just smacks of one of those friendly, good-for-all issues that ends up in reality as a confusing, misleadingly named stab in the back that the problem it pretends to support.

The website has the same feel to it.

And T. Boone Pickens is an oil man through and through.  But, he claims he’s done making money and he’s interested in what gets left behind for future generations.

Reading through the plan it doesn’t have any gotcha backdoors to it – at least as far as one can tell by the limited information available.  The basic tenants are to support massive infrastructure in wind power and at the same time, invest in natural gas vehicles (mostly for fleet vehicles, not so much for personal vehicles) as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.  This would act more to reduce dependence on foreign oil by transferring that need to natural gas but help less on global climate issues.

For ‘energy independence’ it would help reduce the amount of oil we need to import, and if we could convince other nations to do the same we could reduce the power other nations have gained (Iran, Russia, Venezuela) from the rising price of oil.

From an environmental perspective, it’s somewhat better to burn natural gas than oil and the support of wind power is great.  It’s not a long-term solution, but it doesn’t claim to be.  In the long term we clearly need to figure out hot to get away from fossil fuel engines.  But is this the bridge that’s needed to get us there? Does the cost/time/effort of transitioning fleets to natural gas buy us enough environmental benefit for this to be a really suitable bridge?

For more information about energy and how it impacts the environment and global policies, I highly, highly recommend a couple of podcasts:

The first is a Fresh Air interview with Thomas Friedman who makes a strong case for how our oil dependence has really empowered nations that we’d really prefer not to empower.

The second is a Commonwealth Club of California discussion with Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (search for her name on the linked page).  She speaks very eloquently about the importance of a comprehensive energy plan and all of the ways in which we are impacted without one.