worth a listen: Slate Political Gabfest Extra!

worth a listen

I started listening to Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast maybe 6 months or so ago, and it was a quick favorite. The hosts are smart and funny and not afraid to disagree with each other.  The Gabfest is usually posted weekly on Fridays, but they’re doing a daily short podcast during the government shutdown. I’ve gotten to the point where I really can’t stand listening to any not-really-news news about the shutdown, but I still enjoy the analysis and insight that I get from the Gabfest folks. Emily Bazelon is basically my hero. Listen on their website or download the podcast in iTunes.

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worth a listen: The Crash Reel on RadioWest

crashreel
If you follow extreme sports/snowboarding at all you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with Kevin Pearce. Prior to this year, all I knew was that he was an American snowboarder who’d had a serious injury at some point. I think I picked up on this while watching some of the Winter X Games in 2011 where many snowboarders were using equipment plastered with “I Ride for Kevin” stickers. I didn’t really think too much about it at the time, or even afterwards, until Kevin’s story came up on an episode of RadioWest back in January.

January is the month of the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where RadioWest is based, and the host, Doug Fabrizio, was doing profiles of some of the films that were being shown. One of these profiles was of the film The Crash Reel, which tells the story of Kevin’s rise as a pro snowboarder, the catastrophic effects of his traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the challenges he and and his family faced (and still struggle with) during his ongoing recovery.  The podcast is primarily an interview with the director of The Crash Reel and it’s star, Kevin Pearce. And it’s damn good. Doug is solid, as always, at leading the conversation down an interesting path; Kevin is endearing and thoughtful and not at all what you expect from a  pro snowboarder; Lucy Walker (the director) is insightful and passionate.

I had the chance to see a screening of The Crash Reel at this year’s True/False Film Festival here in Columbia; it lived up to and surpassed the expectations I had based on the interview. It deals with truth and fantasy and tragedy and the most committed love. It is thrilling and funny, heart-wrenching and disturbing, and, maybe above all else, it leaves you with something almost tangible that you can turn over and over in your thoughts.

You can listen to the podcast on RadioWest’s website here  (the interview was actually just rebroadcast a couple weeks ago) or subscribe in iTunes. And you can go to thecrashreel.com for a clip of the film, a list of screenings (minimal for now, but hopefully it will reach wider audiences soon), and info on Kevin’s TBI awareness campaign.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*

worth a listen: Culture Gabfest

illustrations_087_radio_crop-iphone_webThe Culture Gabfest is the one and only podcast that I never skip an episode of. Ever. The strange thing is, there’s really not anything all that special about. It’s three people (usually Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stephens, and Julia Turner) sitting around chatting about pop culture (but, please, let’s not confuse this with celebrity gossip which I have zero interest in). They usually cover a new movie release in each episode as well as some other current culture event (recent topics include the rise of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” the legacy of Dear Abby, and the new Vine app). They always end the show with endorsements–pop culture-y things that they’re currently into, like books, songs, and TV shows. Endorsements are not necessarily “new” things (Julia endorsed the early episodes of Law & Order recently), but I frequently get turned on to something new-to-me, and I like that.

I guess if I had to pin down what it is that I like so much about Culture Gabfest, I’d say it’s that it seems agenda-less and honest, and the three people are different enough that they have often have conflicting opinions and viewpoints. So it’s not just a bunch of culture snobs sitting around being highbrow and obnoxious. Or maybe I just like the way Stephen Metcalf says “Alright” (listen to 14:28 – 14:38 of this episode to hear it twice).

You can subscribe to the Culture Gabfest via iTunes or listen on Slate’s website here.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*

worth a listen: radiolab

“Radiolab is a show about curiosity.”

That’s how they self-describe, and, really, it’s pretty apt. The basic format is a collection of stories centered on a particular topic (so, similar to This American Life, but more research and less narrative). You never really know what you’re going to get with Radiolab, topic-wise. It could be about language, or space, or colors, and the angle is always unique and often surprising. Nearly every time I listen to Radiolab, I’m struck with one of those mind-squeezing moments where you can actually feel your brain working to process a concept. Lots of “ah-ha!” and “really?!” moments.

The most recent episode, “The Fact of the Matter,” was on facts and the nature of truth and what really matters when working with those two concepts. That sounds a bit dry, but things get pretty emotional, especially during the second story on the Hmong people. This part is especially interesting to me because the story itself is on facts/truth, and then, through a discussion between the show’s producers, you also see the concept being explained through the story play out in “real life,” in the actual production of the story. It’s a little too meta for me to describe accurately, but have a listen. It’s worth it.

You can listen to “The Fact of the Matter” and the entire Radiolab archive on their website, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*

worth a listen: this american life

colin warner on talOk, so if you listen to radio or podcasts or NPR at all, you’ve probably heard of This American Life. It’s the classic radio storytelling program, and it’s producers (namely, Ira Glass) nailed the technique a long time ago (true, that makes for a pretty predictable program at this point, but this hardly diminishes its worth).

I’ve listened to dozens and dozens of TAL episodes, and there are very few that I wouldn’t recommend. However, I was recently reminded of this one titled “DIY” about a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and the efforts made by friends and strangers alike to free him. The story is tragic but beautifully told; Colin’s words resound with an unexpected grace and the determination of his defenders speaks for something deeply human yet too often lacking in our judicial system.

You can listen to “DIY” and the entire This American Life archive on their website or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*

worth a listen: the moth

hemingway on bullfighting

If you like stories (and, honestly, are there people who don’t?), you’ll love The Moth. Their podcast features stories told by people of all backgrounds and levels of fame at live shows across the country. The stories come in all shapes and sizes, some hysterical, some heartbreaking, all engaging in the way any good story should be.

The story I listened to today was told by A.E. Hotchner, author, social-entrepreneur, and long-time friend of Ernest Hemingway. Plenty of people (especially women) don’t like Hemingway, but he’s a fantastic character in Hotchner’s story of unintentionally becoming a backup matador for a bullfight. It’s a short piece, light and fun, one of those fantastic tales of the trouble young men can get into when their full of wine and bravado.

You can listen to this story, and all of The Moth’s podcasts, through iTunes. Learn more about The Moth, their history, and their mission, on their website.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*

worth a listen

elna baker on radiowestThe latest podcast from RadioWest (which is actually a rebroadcast of a previous show) features an interview with Elna Baker, author of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. I haven’t read the book (yet), but in the show, she talks about growing up Mormon and the difficulties that came with questioning a faith that made up much of her identity for so many years. Baker shares a story that’s honest and poignant, and shows deep respect for her former religion, seldom an easy task for anyone who’s left their faith behind.

You can download the RadioWest podcast in iTunes, or listen to this episode here.

*I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Because I love to learn. Because it’s a medium unlike any other. And, mostly, because there are so many good stories being told through audio. Worth a Listen is my way of sharing things I’ve found that struck me as particularly thoughtful, or funny, or moving, or just…worth a listen. If you’ve heard something recently that’s sticking with you, please share!*