The harsh reality is that, once again, popular music has lied to us. Ke$ha is on far more drugs than love, things won’t be ok if you just dance and California “gurls” don’t have Daisy Dukes bikini’s on top ( I don’t know what this lyric means either). But they also lied in telling us that video that killed the radio star, because lets face it, after that song came out in 1979, radios where still rather popular features in pretty much every car, personal radios sold by the millions and radio DJs managed to cling ever so tightly to their celebrity status. Until the iPod came about. Now most cars are fitted with, at the very least an auxiliary cable and at best a full connection kit that frees the listeners to choose to listen to whatever they want and never have to hear another radio advert again.
Unfortunately, most people listen to roughly 200 of their songs on their iPods and even when shuffling their library, tend to just skip through to songs they like anyway. As a result, this can make you hate your favourite song more than I hate Ke$ha. The glorious solution to this comes in the form of podacasting, which are free radio programmes that are released episodically through the interwebs that are mainly downloaded through the iTunes store. There are literally thousands of them to choose from, and as result, walks to class and drives to wherever can be spent laughing and learning, rather than clenching your fists the next time “Waka Waka” comes on. Below are what I consider to be the top 5 podcasts available now, and a summary of what makes these free shows the best bargain Apple has ever given us. And to make it more fun, I have attatched a drinking game to all of them.
Length: Roughly an hour
Related Podcasts: The Pod F. Tompkast, Comedy Death Ray Radio, Doug Loves Movies.
Take a Shot when…: Anyone mentions Doctor Who or Back to the Future
Premise: Chris Hardwick (the runner of www.nerdist.com, the fat engineer in T3 and a pretty awesome comedian) hosts a weekly interview with both celebrities like, Jon Hamm (Don freaking Draper) the Mythbusters and Raiin Wilson (Dwight from the office) and nerd icons such as Stan Lee, OK Go and Weird Al Yankovic. Hardwick usually co-hosts with Jonah Ray (another comedian and a bit of a dick, who pronounces “nuclear” as “nucular”) and Matt Mira (a Genius… in a Los Angeles Apple Store Genius Bar), topics of conversation include alternative comedy, Doctor Who, unappreciative fans, the reason to get up in the morning, Doctor Who, zombie invasions, Mad Men and pretty much anything the hosts and the guests can think of, because at its core, it’s an hour listening to four people talking. Every 10th episode or so, the podcast is performed in front of a live audience which mainly comprises of both musical comedy acts such as Hard and Phirm (Hardwick’s own duo with Mike Phirman), Garfunkel and Oates and comedy greats such as Fred Willard and Craig Feguson. He even got some FACETIME with the freaking muppets. The programme is filled with Hardwick’s snarky yet exceedingly nice and very nerdy guy attitude and his hilarious perspective on what it means to be a nerd, as well as his perspective on everything else, makes this in my opinion at least, the best hour in podcasting.
Stuff You Should Know
Length: 20-30 minutes
Related Podcasts: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff they don’t want you to know.
Take a Shot when…: Chuck brings up statistics or they mention they “are recording live from Atlanta”
If you have ever googled a question that started with the words “how does” or “how to” you have invariably ended up with a the top result being a page from www.howstuffworks.com, and twice a week, two of their staff journalists, Charles “Chuckers” Wayne Bryant and Joshua “Joshers” Clark, provide an overview of a concept of some stuff… you should know. They cover everything from science to art to economics and even the animal kingdom and if I were to list all their topics I would easily be typing to New Years, but their highlights include “How Pirates Worked”, “How Hypnosis Works” , “How Freemasons Work” “How Hard is it to Steal a Work of Art?” and “How LEGOS work”. The hosts are generally very funny but do love to go on tangents far too often which results in some of their longer shows have a feeling of dragging through the end of a lecture. The information is always ridiculously well researched and presented in a skilfully structured fashion which means that after one listen, you should be able to verbally assault anyone who dares to take on your newfound knowledge of octopi or Tourette Syndrome (Oh, you think it’s tourette’s syndrome… cute)
In our Time
Length: 40 minutes
Related Podcasts: Brief History of Mathematics, Anything on BBC4
Take a Shot when…: Melvyn informs a contributor that the contributor has gone off topic
In our time is somewhat similar to “Stuff You Should Know” as it is basically a discussion of a concept or historical event but it differs in that its host, Melvyn Bragg, invites academics of Britain’s greatest universities to discuss the topic at hand and to give as much relevant information as possible. It is rather denser than most podcasts, but it so much the better for it as Bragg and his guests go into events and phenomena with such detail, it is almost as if you were sitting in on a cross university panel. The topics of discussion have included “the invasion of the Mongols” to “Imaginary Numbers “ to “Unicorns and what their horns sold for.” Bragg does an amazing job of ensuring that the unholy cluster of IQ points that populate each episode do not go off on tangents or get as muddled as my previous metaphor, and despite being usually consisting of rather complicated and somewhat high brow material, Bragg manages to ask his guests the right questions that keep the conversation lively and interesting from beginning to end. This podcast is perfect for plane journeys or spans of time where you have little else to do but listen, as attempting to multitask while listening to this will result in either just ridiculously large amounts of confusion resulting from not being able to keep up with the conversation, or concentrating so hard, you’ll just end up driving into a tree.