Lying Media Bastards

December 27, 2007

Pods of War

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I recently discovered a podcast that reviews political podcasts (“Podcast Liberally”) that happened to review my own podcast. Listening to a radio show in which someone talks about your own radio show is weird (even weirder when it includes an excerpt of you talking on your show). I think I’m going to have to play a clip of it during one of my upcoming shows, to make things as surreal/meta/Moebius as possible. Their conclusion: pretty good show, but too much damn music. They also don’t like my use of background music while I’m talking. Maybe they’ve got a point there… Thoughts, anyone?

I spend a fair amount of time these days commuting by car and walking for exercise, which gives me a lot of potential listening hours per week. In the past year, I’ve jumped on the podcast-listening bandwagon, and now try to cram my ears full of political/newsy audio goodness as much as possible. Some of the shows I’ve discovered since then are excellent. Some turned out to be duds, some I’ve tired of, some are too politically timid. I’ve also found that I can’t listen to daily podcasts very well; if I miss a day, I lose track and the unlistened-to shows just stack up in a tidy pile. But I thought I’d list some of my favorites, and ask for suggestions from y’all on shows that you think are worth a listen.

Background Briefing/Live from the Left Coast- I can’t praise this show enough. Very smart and informed host Ian Masters gathers very smart and informed guests, and asks them vital questions about issues and events that are, or may become very important– generally with emphasis on international politics and power games in Washington. Technically, these are two separate shows that air on LA’s KPFK, but they are essentially a single two-hour block, with the second hour containing longer interviews and call-in questions from listeners. I’ve been listening to this show regularly for around eight years now, and it is significantly responsible for my political smarty-pants-ness.

Antiwar Radio- Podcast feed made up of selected interviews by Charles Goyette of KFNX talk radio in Phoenix, AZ and Scott Horton of KAOS Radio in Austin, TX. Smart interviews with smart people on issues relating to the Middle East, the war on terrorism, the neconservatives in Washington, and attacks on American civil liberties. Both hosts are Libertarians, but their ideology doesn’t usually get in the way of their interviews (except for their occasional compulsion to spontaneously declare that presidential candidate Ron Paul is a paragon of virtue, made of solid love, who will smite our enemies and lead us into a new golden age).

This Is Hell- hosted by Chuck Mertz, out of college station WNUR in Chicago. Depending on the local sports schedule, the shows are usually 1 hour or 4 hours. Sort of plays at being a dumb, funny Morning Zoo, but it seems to do that to disguise its rich vein of intelligence and insight. For example, recent interviews on the show have discussed war in the Congo, Pakistan, the IMF, and corruption in the world of college sports. About 1/2 the show are serious interviews, maybe a quarter is interviews and rants from friends, and the rest is wacky antics. A little obsessed with branding and slogans, but a very good show.

Eat the Airwaves- Weekly half-hour discussion of news and politics with Geov Parrish and Maria Tomchick, editors of Eat the State (the Seattle-based alt-biweekly of “anti-authoritarian political opinion, research and humor”). Cuts to the down and dirty, central, behind-the-scenes reality of current events. Sometimes the show spends more time on local Seattle issues than us non-Seattle folk would like. The show is part of a larger block of public affairs programming called Mind Over Matters, hosted by Mike McCormick, but he really doesn’t speak much during the Eat the Airwaves segment.

Grist- weekly 8-10 minute podcast of environmental news from Grist Magazine. Good info, with a sense of humor and snark by host Todd Hymas Samkara. Occasionally makes me laugh out loud, and is the only podcast who’s intro song even comes close to being as good as mine (this is an epidemic, actually. Nearly all lefty radio shows and podcasts have terrible theme music).

Onion Radio News- quick, hilarious, fake news segments from The Onion, rarely lasting more than a minute and a half.

Onion News Network- short fake news video podcasts by The Onion, done in the style of a 24-hour cable news network. To be honest, I usually just listen to these while driving, so I may be missing half the jokes, but they’re still damn funny.

Weekly Radio Spin- five minutes of reportage about public relations deception, spin doctoring, propaganda, and the ways these forces interact with the news media, brought to you by the Center for Media and Democracy (aka PR Watch). For several months, a show of the same name existed, produced by average Jo(e)s reading news segments off of the CMD’s website. Now the CMD is producing the show themselves. Hosted by Judith Siers-Poisson and Patricia Barden.

Addicted to Race- [currently on hiatus]. Weekly show “dedicated to exploring America’s obsession with race”, hosted by Carmen Van Kerckhove. Discussion of race and racism as it relates to current events, media, and pop culture. Often includes a hip-hop song or two.

Bill Moyers Journal- weekly PBS news program hosted by progressive Bill Moyers, featuring some interviews by Moyers and investigative reports from his news staff. Takes on many important issues of the day, but often in a much more cautious tone than I’d like. Comes in audio and video versions, I’ve only checked out the audio.

Media Minutes- five weekly minutes of news about the media industry and legislation, brought to you by media policy reform group Free Press hosted by Stevie Converse and Candice Clement.

So those are the weekly/sporadic podcasts I like. There are a number of good daily ones that I just can’t keep up with.

Democracy Now!- far-left take on the news by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Flagship of the Pacifica Radio Network, also comes in TV format, and can be heard/watched via satellite TV as well. Good stuff, with maybe a touch too much sensationalism and self-importance.

Free Speech Radio News- my ideal for how news should be. If I recall correctly, FSRN began when there was a strike at Pacifica, and the reporters wanted to keep doing their work. Essentially, the program is a compilation of reports from local indymedia types around the world. Much more logical and cost-effective to have local reporters talking about the areas and events they know than to fly in foreigners to try to get a grip on the story within hours of landing.

There are also a number of pretty good podcasts via the BBC, Guardian and Radio4All websites.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Any thoughts or recommendations?

Posted by Jake on December 27, 2007 9:37 am


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    Reality Cast, a podcast about reproductive health and rights.

    Comment by Amanda Marcotte — December 28, 2007 @ 8:02 am

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    agreed too much music. although you play quality tunes and a great variety, more personal commentary would up the quality. I have playlists setup and music to jam too.

    Comment by Brian D — January 1, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

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    Hey thanks for the shout-out to Addicted to Race! :)

    Comment by Carmen Van Kerckhove — January 6, 2008 @ 2:18 am

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