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media musica Uncategorized

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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internet media musica tech Uncategorized

Apple to Shut Down Lala.com, Continue Sucking the Fun out of Music Discovery

Why must Apple crap on everything I love. First – the mp3 player gets abolished by big bro iPod. Now, Lala.com – which I’ve participated in since Beta – is on a respirator for one more month before Apple officially pulls the plug.

lala.com original logo apple eats
Apple’s acquisition of Lala.com in late 2009, led to speculation that an online store — independent of the iTunes application platform — would take over the space. An iTunes.com — or iTunes in the cloud — if you will.

Lala’s humble beginning in 2006 was based on a business model involving the actual physical swapping of CDs through the mail. Or as they not-so-humbly declared at launch, “The Largest Record Store on Earth.” The site would be full of album covers and users would check “have” or “want” and then arrange to send and receive via Lala’s Netflix-like shipping envelopes, for $1 each.

As the tide turned decidedly away from CDs and toward digital music purchases, along with pressure and legal action from artists and labels, Lala launched 2.0 by 2008. The new Lala was a music “community” from which you could play, share, and discover music. Essentially taking the ultimate music store and putting it in the cloud with licenses for unlimited listens of songs and album at a fraction of what iTunes and Amazon charged – about 10 cents.

Lala.com’s valuation jumped to over $100 million by the end of 2009, aided by a $20 million investment by Warner Music Group. Warner dumped both Lala and iMeem in May 2009 citing losses of $33 million. Lala was acquired for an alleged $80-85 million by Apple in December 2009 (or as low as $17 million and even $3 million if you ask some).

Today Lala is integral to the music industry and serves up one of Billboard’s few weekly charts based on Web-plays and purchases.

On May 31th the service will be put down and customers who’ve enjoyed the fast rise and faster fall of the service are not too happy about it and now have until June 14th to apply for iTunes credits.

I wonder how many or the services that I listed on my September 2008 Socializing the Music Industry Guide even still exist. Here’s a list of alternatives posted at RWW today. I’m fortunate to be an early user of Spotify.

Personally, I’m still happy to buy CDs directly from the bands at their shows or from the labels. Otherwise I buy mp3’s at Amazon. Apple is evil.

Official note from LaLa.com posted below:

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media Uncategorized

R.I.P. Studs Terkel

studs terkelOne of the greatest radio voices of all time, pioneering storyteller Louis “Studs” Terkel died today. He was 96. What he gave to journalism and radio storytelling has everything to do with my addiction to podcasts, public radio and journalism of the people for the people and to the people.

It goes without saying that Terkel’s unique traveling interview style, best illustrated on 1963’s “This Train” is the model for great audio and visual storytelling of today. While riding the train from Chicago to the civil rights march in Washington D.C., Terkel gathered the voices of anger, joy and ultimately optimism from people of all ages making that historic trip. Just listen to part one of “This Train” below and, suddenly, you won’t think This American Life is the most revolutionary program to hit radio.

Studs was a Chicago guy but his stories had a purely American bent, touching on difficult matters of importance and celebrating life coast to coast. I’m sorry that he will not be around to see Barack Obama become president, although he discussed as much with a Huffington Post scribe in the days before his passing. I’m also sad that the Cubs couldn’t pull it out this year for Terkel and other Cubs fans who’ve waited the better part of 100 years to see a championship.

Studs Terkel was an activist until his dying days, playing a prominent role challenging AT&T’s corroboration in releasing records to the National Security Agency in 2006.

I hope to locate the full audio of this amazing piece to post later. For now, here’s the first 50 minutes of “This Train.”

Video and more below:

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internet musica Uncategorized

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?