An ode to podcasts

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By Jamie Sughroue, Opinion Editor

It’s summa-summa-summa-summa-time, summa-time…and ew, I can’t believe I just dredged up Will Smith’s old relic of a song.  As much as I love music, I tire easily of listening to the same songs found in my music library, and don’t have the extra income to routinely add to said collection.  So what’s a gal to do?

Turn to the internet.

Radio is so 2007. Podcasts are where it’s at.  If you’ve just mentally screeched to a halt at this still-relatively unfamiliar word, a podcast is defined as “a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the internet” by Merriam-Webster. They can be found both on the podcast host’s respective website as well as on iTunes, for example.  Many, but not all, are free and readily available for individual downloads as well as through a subscription program.

My iPod accompanies me through my more mundane daily tasks. My sojourns through campus, walking from class to class, find me now with one earbud in. I listen as Leo Laporte offers tips to fellow tech geeks on his Tech Guy podcast.  A solitary trip to the grocery store is now a pleasure as I catch up with APM’s The Splendid Table.  

A podcast can be an amusement, a comfort, a distraction, an annoyance, or an inspiration. I still crave beats and rhythms, howling lyrics and pounding bass on occasion, but podcasts are a nice alternative.  It all depends on my mood, what context and environment I’m in.  

Have to get up early for work and your roommates are being obnoxiously loud?  Slap on a podcast with a soothing baritone speaker, put your earbuds in, and you’ll be out like a light.

Here are a few of my recommendations, in no particular order:

SModcast:  It’s the original podcast on the SModcast Network, and in my opinion, the best. Director Kevin Smith and Producer Brian Mosier sit around chatting, and for some reason that’s best listened to and not explained, it’s highly entertaining — their early episodes especially.  Beware of the graphic nature of the content — if you are easily offended, this is not the podcast for you. Smith has a number of other podcasts as well: with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach; the Jay to his Silent Bob, Jason Mewes; and he has also recently embarked on a SModcast Internet Radio venture.

The Adam Carolla Show: Adam Carolla of The Man Show and Loveline fame has been ranting on his own podcast for a few years now.  He should be taken with a grain of salt, and an ear for tuning out sexist and racist comments.  If you can shovel those aside or attempt to see them in the context of comedy, the show is amusing.  He typically has guests on every episode, although occasionally he’ll take calls from listeners or just banter with both his newsgirl Alison Rosen or the drops man, Bald Brian.  

Craft: A video podcast for indie crafters, like myself.  They give you how-to tutorials, provide information about events such as the Makers Faire, and are basically just pretty awesome.  

Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me: I know, technically, this is a radio show.  But I’m often working or busy on Saturdays when it airs, so they have generously made it available as a podcast.  It’s NPR’s news quiz show hosted by Peter Sagal that often features Mo Rocca and other lively, comedic personalities.  It’s very informative — like The Daily Show for your ears.  

Stuff Mom Never Told You: This is my guilty pleasure; my information junkie-inner self eats this up like candy.  It’s brought to you by HowStuffWorks.com, which offers a wealth of other podcasts as well. Molly and Cristen, the hosts, bring forth loads of knowledge backed by statistics and research addressing various gender issues.  A particular favorite of mine is the episode called, “Do bras serve any purpose?”

I can name many more podcasts I subscribe and listen to frequently, but we’ll stick with this abridged list for now.  Broaden your auditory horizons, challenge where and how you listen to media. I haven’t even touched upon the allure of audiobooks and have barely skimmed the merits of video podcasts.  Chat up your friends, talk to your neighbors, see what’s on their computer or MP3 player.  Listening doesn’t have to be an individual activity; but the choice is yours alone.

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