Thursday, August 17, 2006


At some point, an iPod can be too full, or so it seems. The BilliPod is much bloated, of late, and I have been trying to keep it on a diet, trimming excesses (like multiple servings of Pearl Jam) and deleting stuff that, when I see it, I have no idead who it is, what it sounds like, or how it got there.

However, I have become more and more attached to a subheading on the BilliPod: the podcasts. Podcasts, for those of you who don't know, are mini-shows that are broadcast episodically through iTunes (and other music programs). By subscribing for free through iTunes, they update automatically when new episodes become available. I have 13 podcasts set up on the BilliPod, and I thought I'd share them with y'all, ranking them from most-loved to not-so-much.
Remember, you don't need an iPod to get a podcast. iTunes is free and you can listen on your computer. Each one is hyper-linked to the podcast site.

BillyBlog's Favorite Podcasts:

1) The Onion Radio News

Anyone familiar with "The Onion" will know this is good. What's more, it's short. Rarely over a minute in length, the daily (Monday through Friday) news item is reported with a seriousness that results in embarassing laughter while walking down the street or sitting on the subway. Always my first choice.

2) MTV News: Daily Headlines (Audio)

If I had a video iPod, I may opt for the video version, but I listen to this instead. It's a very short summary of music industry news, with occasional public interest stories thrown in. Over Spring Break, they did a week-long series on college students opting for community service instead of jell-o shots. It runs in the short range, from a minute up to five minutes, depending on how busy a news day it is.

3) The New York Times Podcasts

I actually subscribe to several, so I will go in order in a subset. There are actually more than I could possibly consume, so I have to limit myself to these

a) Most E-Mailed Articles
"James Barron, a reporter at The New York Times, discusses the three most e-mailed articles on every weekday." This usually runs 1 to 2 minutes and I get a heads up on what the "hot" topics over at the "Times" are.

b) Op-Ed Podcasts
I subscribe to the feed in which one piece is selected each week from the platoon of Op-Ed contributors. I also subscribe to each of columnist Maureen Dowd's editorials. She is sharp, witty, sarcastic, and always entertaining.

c) Only in New York
This weekly podcast talks about New York as a unique and vibrant place. A must for any New Yorker!

d) The New York Times Book Review
In all honesty, I get the paper version and will often skip this podcast (like all podcasts, each episode stays on iTunes until it is manually deleted). "Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, talks with authors, critics and editors about this week's issue." I will sometimes listen while doing the dishes. It's a longer podcast (15-20 minutes) so it's hard to concentrate solely on the discussion.

4) 808-TALK: Hawai'i's Premier Podcast
This baby is long, but it's worth it. Episodes range from 30 to 45 minutes on average, but it is a healthy mix of "talk story," local news, and music from local artists in Hawai'i. It has a slight bent toward the tourist and visitor, but it's a nice way to reminisce as well for former residents (check it out, Frogma!). The weekly episodes can back up, but I recently ploughed through a couple of months worth on our recent drive to Baltimore and back.

5) Contrast Podcast
Surfing the mp3 blogosphere, I had heard of this for a while, but finally downloaded episode #19 "War and Peace" the other day. Basically, it's a compilation podcast, put together by one entity assembling from a bevy of submissions from the bloggers out there that are focused on music and mp3s. Guarantee, you will here obscure stuff. Each episode is themed, so episode #19 had a ton of war songs and a ton of peace songs. The shows run an hour or so, but it's a lot like listening on shuffle, only someone else is picking the music. OK, like the radio, only cooler, and without commercials. I have since grabbed episode 20, and have gone back and started with episode 1. This podcast is rising on my "must-listen" list.

6) Bill Maher's New Rules

Bill Maher's HBO show may be too much Maher for some, but his segment "New Rules," which runs 1-2 minutes, is often entertaining. An example:

New Rule: Airplane black boxes must now be made out of Keith Richards. The man, who has taken more drugs than Whitney Houston, Rush Limbaugh and Robert Downey, Jr., combined, recently fell out of a tree, and then crashed a jet ski. And yet, somehow, that cigarette never fell out of his mouth. What is this guy still running on? I've got to know. Because I'm beginning to think the future of medicine isn't injecting stem cells, it's injecting heroin.
That's from his May 12, 2006 episode.

7) Poetry Podcasts

I often have to be in the right frame of mind for these, but I nonetheless keep them around for the right moment.

The Poetic Voice - Houghton Mifflin Poetry Podcast

The Griffin Poetry Prize - Poetry Reading Podcasts

Poetry NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Podcast PBS

and my favorite of the four:

Poetry Podcast

That link also has some cool downloadable audio as well.

So, that's that. It was really the Contrast Podcast that inspired me to discuss these. The scary thing is, the number of podcasts that exist is staggering. Explore and discover, and feel free to share with me any podcasts you think are worth a listen.

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