Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’

Holding the world to my ear

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Driving to and from work today, I listened to the latest edition of This American Life, consistently one of the best radio show/podcasts out there.  It was one of their ‘recorded in front of a live audience and beamed to theatres countrywide’ specials.

During his piece on being ‘culturally Catholic’, I was touched by Dan Savage‘s heart-rending tale of having having to tell his mother she was about to die. I lost a close friend in a traffic accident in January and we are praying for another good friend who lies critically ill in hospital as I type, so perhaps I am particularly sensitive at present. That said, having to relay to her the choice of spending perhaps days unconscious on a respirator or maybe a few hours on a forced air mask or otherwise just a few short pain-racked minutes saying goodbye seemed an unbearably awful thing to have to do.

I find podcasts to be a boon – a marvellous way to dull the tedium of a commute and a great way to access worlds, lives and points of view that would otherwise pass me by.  The output of New Zealand’s newspapers, factual television and radio is fairly parochial, usually delightfully so but occasionally, as has been the case this week, in a darkly self-absorbed way. This being the case, internet news sites and podcasts are a great way of accessing what interests me without having to tune out the noise.

As mentioned above, I listen to Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life as it provides great insights into real lives in the U.S.A. and helps to balance the impressions left here by the heavy diet of imported U.S. television.  Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase! provides light relief and entertainment in the form of first-person stories and tales from airline crew.  Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4 delves into research around issuing shaping society today and how people are dealing with them while Simon Morton, on Radio NZ’s This Way Up, looks at things we ‘use and consume’.  Stephen Fry’s Podgrams are an excellent example of the more indepedent podcasts out there and NPR’s Radio Diaries brings us full circle with insights into the daily lives of ordinary folk, albeit with a more historically angled ear.

My choice of listening changes all the time.  Firm favourites remain entrenched on my iPod but others quickly fall from favour and are ruthlessly deleted to make way for new discoveries.

What do you listen to?  Are there any ‘must-have’ podcasts I’m missing out on?  Let me know!