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◌  Some good podcasts

11 February 2009


Incomplete and in no special order. iTunes carries them all; links are descriptive.


Capital Radio 604 repeats shows first broadcast in the 80s by the eponymous Transkei station. It’s thick – often excessively thick – slices of Western pop culture in that decade as seen from the outside. It’s made me realize how little I know about everyday life in Apartheid South Africa compared to, say, in the Soviet bloc.

The interviews are often interesting. For example, Michael Bukht, now a celebrity chef in the UK as Michael Barry, said (24:42):

I do know that nobody knew how our newsroom operated. There was a wonderful occasion when, during the tire-burning period of trouble in Soweto, the police closed Soweto down completely to all journalists […]. Yet every morning, the next day, detailed reports of what had happened in Soweto were on our radio station.

And, in the end, a Colonel van der Muller[?] wanted to talk to me [laughs]. And what I explained to him was – and he was a bit confounded by this – was that we weren’t breaking any laws because the people who were reporting it were black journalists who had to go back to Soweto every night because they weren’t allowed to stay in Johannesburg.


The Economist. Fewer ads but briefer than the magazine. Mostly interesting for its interviews, because they have the judgment and prestige to pull excellent subjects. I especially enjoyed the lately cancelled Certain ideas of Europe for picking out obscure-sounding but pivotal people; for example, they had a talk with Geir Haarde not long before it started getting ugly (though adorable) there. The world next week is where I get my baseline news these days.


Radio New Zealand National’s Ideas often has solid science, travel, and philosophical features. Only about half the episodes interest me at all, but when they do they really do – say, the ones on political apologies, memory, and pedestrianism in Wellington. Like all the RNZ I’ve heard, the tone and production is perfect; there are other public radio programs called Ideas, but each of them grates a little. Chris Laidlaw is an outstanding interviewer (and a good balance on the also remarkable Kim Hill).


The Sound of Young America is a plain interview show. Jesse’s cheerfulness is excessive sometimes, and you have to skip an NPRy ceci n’est pas une advertisement every few minutes, but the guests are well chosen and he does good research. When interviewing musicians in genres I’ve never heard of, say, his questions are over my head, but crafted to elicit answers I can understand.


You Look Nice Today. A journal of emotional hygiene.