What do you listen to when you are in the car, working around the house, or just want something in the background?
When I was younger, I used to listen to music all the time. Now, for some reason, music doesn’t do it for me, it just doesn’t fill the void. I really don’t listen to very much music any more, just in the shower and sometimes when driving with others.
For a long time, I would listen to the radio, mostly National Public Radio (NPR), when driving, working around the house, etc. A couple of years ago, I had to give that up as well. I think it was the confluence of two factors. First, I used to love listening to Bob Edwards on NPR’s Morning Edition. There was just something about his calming voice and intelligent interviews that drew me in and made the show interesting and enjoyable. Another thing I liked about Morning Edition was that it repeated many of its segments, so I could listen to parts driving to, from and at the gym, and then catch most of the rest while showering and driving to work. This all worked for me. In 2004 the producers of Morning Edition decided to “freshen up” the show and replaced Edwards with new hosts. The new hosts were fine, but, frankly, the show lost something unique; it just merged in with all the other shows on NPR, and I lost interest.
The second factor was that I was getting tired of what I was hearing on the radio. It seemed like it was nothing but bad news, people trying to explain bad news, and people saying bad, and marginally true, things about other people. Radio was losing its allure. Bob Edwards moved the XM satellite radio and continued his intelligent interviews. I listened to him on XM for a while, but I was only in the car for a short time every day, and so I only caught snippets of his shows.
In 2005, with the release of iTunes 4.9, Apple included support for podcasts. I found that I could download episodes of Bob Edwards Weekend, burn them to CDs, and listen to them in the car whenever I wanted to. This was great! I slowly started to discover other podcasts which I also enjoyed. One of the first was Slice of SciFi, another show which I discovered on XM satellite radio, and which I also could only listen to in bits and pieces. With the podcast, I could listen to complete shows, on my schedule, and listen to some like minded folks talk about science fiction and other geeky stuff. These were my people, and I’m sad that, for reasons I don’t know, they don’t show up on iTunes very much any more…I really do need to see if I can listen to the show on their iPhone app….
…meanwhile, this opened up the whole world of podcasts to me. I discovered that, using playlists, I could essentially put together my own radio show for each day. Unfortunately, I learned quickly that burning daily CDs was not the way to go, so I had an iPod interface installed in my car and I was off. Since that time, one of the essential features for any car I buy is an iPod interface.
These days, I listen to a large array of podcasts that fill my mind with all sorts of fun and interesting information, with only a little bit of news thrown in to bring me down. So, here is what I generally listen to, in no particular order:
- NPR: Hourly News Summary Podcast
- APM: Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac
- Mac OS Ken
- Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast
- NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour
- APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegone
- This Week in Photo (TWIP)
- Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
- APM: Marketplace Tech Report
- APM: Marketplace Morning Report – First Cast
- NPR: Planet Money Podcast
- Pop Tech Jam
- MacBreak Weekly
- Martin Bailey Photography Podcast
- This American Life
- NPR Programs: Fresh Air Podcast
- Radiolab from WNYC
…and a sprinkling of others as they come to my attention from time to time. So, that is what I listen to, things that inform me, interest me, amuse me, and make me happy. What do you listen to, and why?