Saturday, September 02, 2006

A good way to spend drivetime

As many others have, I have grown tired of the offerings on radio. Talk radio, of all flavors, seems a bit stilted. What once was entertaining, at least for some hosts, is not mundane. At the same time there are the loons of the left and the right who seem to think that civil discourse is not a desirable thing to strive for. Although I tried a car with satelite radio, I am not sure it is worth the additional cost. And then there are CDs but those too become tiresome, and in my S-2000 there is not a lot of room to hold all the ones I would like to listen to. So, as discussed in an earlier post, when I bought this car I bought a iPod attachment which allows me to play my iPod just like CDs. For music that allows me to carry all my music in one small package but for talk it allows me something else. I immediately added a couple of my favorite novels from Audible - and those can be quite good. For example, a friend recommended Rick Warren's A Purpose Driven Life - which has chapters that just about work out on my drive time to the office.

But then I discovered podcasts. These are radio like broadcasts that are done over the Internet. The iTunes site has thousands of opportunities. Some are merely rebroadcasts of other shows - so a good part of the NPR show list can be done in iPod format. That allows you a Tivo like function for audio - listen to the program when you want to. Others can offer knowledge - for example, a junior high school teacher in Arizona offers a set of short lessons in Spanish. (Rolling Rs).

What has been most interesting have been a couple of podcasts in areas of interest. The first I discovered is something called the Invisible Hand (Chris Gondek in Oregon) which is fundamentally the host interviewing authors on business and management issues. His interviews are well done and interesting.

There is also a good one from but called Econtalk Its subject is economics. There is a superb two part interview with Milton Friedman. But there are also others on things ranging from the economics of sport to organ donations. Russ Roberts who is a professor at George Mason. Roberts seems to have fun doing the podcast but he also seems to have a skill to bring out key issues in sometimes esoteric topics.

The Tax Foundation has a podcast on tax issues. The first couple have spent time on corporate taxes and on compliance costs. The Foundation has gotten people like Senator Max Baucus and former Congressman Bill Archer to appear - so their sources are excellent.

Then there are the blog podcasts. Instapundit has something called The Glen and Helen Show they have done a wonderful mix of current politics (for example Michael Barrone and the Chair of the GOP) and a fascinating show on terrorism issues. This one seems to vary in length based on the topic but the conversation is interesting. Glen and Helen seem to work well together to get the best out of their guests. They also did a good show with Richard Posner.

Pajamas Media presents a series of podcasts on a number of subjects.

All of this represents the concept originally suggested by Kevin Kelly (an editor of Wired) called Narrowcasting - which allows people to get together grouped according to interests. The possibilities here are interesting. I think we are at the first stages of some very interesting trends.

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