Now in its 6th Year, RadioLab is Still the Greatest Podcast on Air

radiolab wnycIn February of 2005, WNYC – New York City’s main NPR station, launched its first episode of Radiolab with Jad Abumrad. OK, actually the first episode was months earlier. Abumrod had actually produced numerous Radiolab-like segments since joining NPR in 2002, many on Kurt Andersen’s amazing, long-running Studio 360 program.

The most recent episode is titled “Words“:

Radiolab is a workshop in the aural experience – it is, at its core, a program that explores the essence of radio, from story arc to research to interview to post-production and mixdown. Any given episode will surprise you in its clarity, weirdness, and attention to detail. My first reaction to listening — I became a regular listener to the podcast (you can subscribe here for RSS, xml, or iTunes) in 2005 — was amazement at how much effort, creativity, and likely attempts at perfectionism went into the editing and remixing of the audio. An hourlong Radiolab is without fail a stimulating and thought provoking experience, rooted in the great voices, delivery, and smartypants adeptness of hosts Jad Abumrod and Robert Krulwitch.

My love affair with this program is capped by how well it uses the latest technology – since the early days of podcasting, Radiolab has been made available in multiple formats for download and streaming as well as across many NPR member stations nationwide. We’ve come to expect this from NPR programming since the grand ol’ days of RealAudio streams. But this show stands apart in that it takes the story and the sound and the experience to extreme levels, show after show.

I don’t have a TV nor do I care to watch one. I listen to programs like this. Stock up your music-playing receptacle with multiple episodes from the archives before your next road trip and you will not be disappointed. Even P Diddy listens to Radiolab twice.

One of my all-time favorites is “Numbers” (mp3:

Other faves include Memory and Forgetting (mp3). Listen to the segment below on amnesia and Musicophilia with Oliver Sacks:

Finally, music… Musical Language (mp3) just reading the first graf of the show notes is mesmerizing as it is:

What is music? How does it work? Why does it move us? Why are some people better at it than others? In this hour, we examine the line between language and music, how the brain processes sound, and we meet a composer who uses computers to capture the musical DNA of dead composers in order to create new work. We also re-imagine the disastrous 1913 debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring…through the lens of modern neurology.

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New Kickstarter Call-Out: State of the Re:Union

state of the re:union kickstarter

UPDATE: Just got an email that my funds went through! After a whole month SOTRU hit its Kickstarter fundraising goal with just two minutes to spare! Congrats!

Having just heard that one of my recent Kickstarter investments, CicLAvia, has been funded, a new project has conveniently crossed my path and if you’re into it too, you’ve got a few days left to chip in a few bucks.

State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) is a public media show that seeks to unify its audience by telling the stories of real people through an innovative exploration of a city, detailing how things come together and what pulls them apart. Each radio episode, host Al Letson travels to a different American city or town and explores how community is created. Who are the people who help bring it together? What are the issues they face? How does the culture of an area shape the people and vice versa? Through a unique mix of storytelling, cultural excavation, music and multimedia, SOTRU brings community to life. — Read more | website | Facebook | Twitter.

Kickstarter is a groundbreaking concept in microdonations and in awesome website and community. You pledge to donate the amount you choose — with great incentive rewards for various dollar amounts — and the money is taken via your Amazon.com account only if the fundraising goal is met.

State of the Re:Union is closing in on 50% funded with only 4 days remaining (after a month on the site) so let’s give it a boost by August 21st!

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New OECD report on “The future of news and the Internet”

The death of the newspaper is greatly exaggerated — generally speaking from the point of view of the OECD. Aside from in the U.S., the decline in revenues is on par with the general financial decline in recent years.

Figure 1. Estimated newspaper publishing market decline in OECD countries, 2007-2009 (in per cent)

…[A] new OECD report looking at “The Future of News and the Internet”. It contains new data and analysis on the global newspaper industry and the challenges presented by the Internet. Its main message is that “large country-by-country and title-by-title differences and the data currently do not lend themselves to make the case for “the death of the newspaper”, in particular if non-OECD countries and potential positive effects of the economic recovery are taken into account.” The full report, including data and charts, is available at http://www.oecd.org/document/48/0,3343,en_2649_34223_45449136_1_1_1_1,00.html

After very profitable years, newspaper publishers in most OECD countries face declining advertising revenues, titles and circulation. The economic crisis has amplified this downward development.

About 20 out of 30 OECD countries face declining newspaper readership, with significant decreases in some OECD countries. Newspaper readership is usually lower among younger people who tend to attribute less importance to print media. In OECD countries, the general, regional and local press have been hardest hit and 2009 was expected to be the worst year for OECD newspapers, with the largest declines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Canada, and Spain (but much a much smaller impact on countries such as Austria, Australia (See above).

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PBS Newshour’s Deepwater BP Oil Spill Widget

I’ve been tracking and writing about the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for Live Earth but I thought I’d note the excellent widget that PBS Newshour created to help users track and visualize the apparently unstoppable horror that has been ongoing for more than a month off the coast of Louisiana. Great work by one of the finest multimedia teams in the land.

It’s horrible and embarrassing that we’d give oil companies such extensive liberty so as to contaminate our waters knowing that there was no available technology to avert the inevitable disaster that we are facing right now. Personally I hope to see Obama get serious and put his foot down even more — this is the ultimate cause for concern about climate, energy, and the future.

TechCrunch Disrupt Day 2

mike arrington vic gundotra tcdisruptFull house of tired startup geeks and aspiring entrepreneurs and VCs at 9am for the first panel — The Mobile Disruption–What’s Next? — with Chris Cox, VP, Facebook, Dennis Crowley, CEO, FourSquare, and Vic Gundotra, VP, Google. Moderated by Mike Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch.

Proclaiming the panel and 1,000 or so in the audience are not waking up, Arrington cues the YouTube video of Gundotra with Conan O’Brien when O’Brien visited the Googleplex earlier this month. Arrington then gets the crowd involved by declaring Facebook needs a better Android app and then prompting a Question Queue in which 3 HTC Sprint Evo phones are given away to the best questions. Only about 10 people line up to ask questions. Second question elicits some great under-breath commentary from the stage:

Q: “Is facebook evil?” Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley to Facebook VP Chris Cox: “this is where you shoot laser beams from your eyes.” Cox, after a long pause, answers “no.”

Later, Arrington interviews Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL. “I got a little down yesterday,” Arrington slips in. “Something happened on this stage.” “Oh really, what happened” counters Armstrong… “do you want a hug?”

Steve Case and Mike Arrington:
steve case mike arrington

Click here for the Day One post. Follow the action live below: