When I was a kid growing up in “glorious” Cold War-laden eighties I was often found plopped in front of the TV for hours at a time. Almost as often I could be found in front of a tape deck listening to either a comedy album or better a classic radio show like The Jack Benny Show or Fibber McGee and Molly. It was a habit that was started by my nostalgic mother. She has said that “If he’s going to spend so much time focusing on entertainment, it might as well be something clean.”
Of course the comedy albums were not all clean, but I certainly built up a ton of respect for all of those comedy shows that were so well written without resorting to blue material. It became not only a formative portion of my life, but left me wanting more of the same. That era radio of had sailed and contemporary examples were hard to come by. The Bob and Ray Show was the latest example and that was gone by the seventies.
Then there came the Ipod. With a new piece of technology has come the blessing and curse of all types of programming to suit all tastes. The curse being that there is a ton of garbage to wade through. Much like the upper channels of your cable listings, it is thin with quality. Cable could take a cue from the a la carte manner in which one can pick and choose how ones Ipod can be loaded. Because once you skim the cream off, you can make the best of your programming choices.
With the best aspects of podcasting there is a ton of knowledge that you never thought you needed. There are all sorts of news shows you can download from around the globe thereby seeing the virtues of the coverage you may have missed. Small, one or two man comedy teams set up small shows to podcast their goofy antics to the other singularly nerdy people from all corners of the world. I may be overstating it, but I have found some of these discoveries cathartic. All kinds of gold lay uncovered. Plus, best of all, some of my old radio show favorites are available for podcasting.
The Podcast really is the underestimated new golden age of “radio.” Of course the FCC will start moving in on this any day and ruin it with unnecessary standards any day now.
Some of my favorite podcasts are listed below:
Jordan Jesse, Go! – An irreverent goof-off fest with intelligent and earnest friends.
The Sound of Young America– An interview show featuring offbeat people in the arts, comedy, literature and film.
This American Life– This show features true stories of this American life linked by a common theme.
KCRW’s The Business– A show recapping current issues facing “The Business” of the Hollywood entertainment industry.
The 40 Year-old Boy– One man’s musings or rantings about the struggle to grow up.
The Ricky Gervais Podcast– To truly get a sense of this pioneering podcast you must buy the back episodes. This one features the creators of the British version of The Office and their remarkably dim-witted, round-headed producer.
WNYC’s Radio Lab– The hosts of this show pick a common interest scientific subject and make it beautiful to learn more about it. This show must be listened to and absorbed like a vivid dream.