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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Why I Use the New Odeo

Several months ago I realized that the iTunes on my MBP was no longer updating the podcasts to which I subscribe and, well, I could no longer connect to the iTunes Music store. As a lifelong skeptic of the iTunes product (and a devoutly stubborn consumer of only non-Apple mp3 and portable media players and phones) I immediately looked elsewhere instead of seeking some ass-backward solution that likely would have required me to download one of the hundreds of iTunes “upgrades” released each year.

This took my back to an old friend, Odeo, which I remembered to have an easily navigable and fully-loaded index of audio and video netcasts. I noticed a new beta version was being offered and I immediately signed up to find an attractive UI and easy-to-use embedded players and download tabs, as well as new subscription tabs. Now, I still keep my Zune — yes, that’s what I use — updated with podcasts via my PC at work, but when I’m not at work — or when I’m WATCHING on my work PC — I use Odeo. Hey, I also through a bit of extra faith into the product because it was originally launched by Blogger founder (and later Twitter co-founder) Ev Williams.

There are a few things I WOULD like to see on Odeo — I have a login and limited profile. I’d like to have the option to make my profile public and — similar to Last.fm — network with my friends to share recommendations and fave listens and keep tabs on what those in my network watch/listen to so that I can discover new netcasts of interest without having to look too hard. Also, I’ve noticed that Odeo can be a bit slow — quite often i wait around for the Olbermann netcast, only to find it arrive late at night tagged “4 hours ago.”

Do you use Odeo? Have you tried it since the relaunch? What else have you tried as a netcast portal?

MSNBC’s Countdown Now Available as FULL Audio or Video Podcast

Well the best news I heard all day is that I’ll no longer have to settle for 5-15 minute audio clips of Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. I know, I’m a non-cable, non-satellite subscribing dude — but I love hearing Keith and Co when pulling out of the garage after work. Now — assuming they upload them in a timely fashion (it’s currently 6:30 on the West Coast and while the short audio podcast is available, neither the full-length audio and video are) I’ll be able to tune in for the entire drive home.

MSNBC Podcasts