Monday, May 3, 2010

Old School Media, New School Style

Since I've been thinking about getting rid of that expensive cable TV service, I've been poking around the Internet to look at some alternate entertainment ideas. Here is one for us all: Radio!

Listening to radio via laptop is the perfect thing for me to do while working on something else--knitting, sewing, cooking, or riding the exercise bike (lol!). You can listen live, stream audio from the archives, or download and play the shows somewhere else on your portable .mp3 player.

I've tried out a few programs in the last week or so, and have been vastly entertained, while learning a lot. So, here is my beginning list of radio on the Internet. If you have other favorites, please chime in via the comments.

This American Life
I've always loved listening to this show live on National Public Radio, so it was the first one I turned to. Check out the radio archives, and you find programs all about [the darker side of] Babysitting (some pretty funny stuff that will make you gasp); True Urban Legends (Can a rat really come up through your toilet? Are there really alligators in the sewers?); or Origin Story, about how all kinds of institutions got their beginnings.

Radiolab from WNYC brings you culture, news, shows, and music. Here is what they say about themselves: Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we'll feed it with possibility. (Thanks to my son for suggesting this one).

Here is a sample from their latest program listings:
  • Limits - "a journey to the edge of human limits to find out how much the body and brain can endure"
  • Lucy - "chimps, bonobos, humans... we're all great apes..."
  • Animal minds - "...what goes on in the minds of animals..."
  • Numbers - "where do they come from and what do they do?"

From National Public Radio, On the Media explores how the media 'sausage' is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of "making media," especially news media, because it's through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.

I love the part about "threats to the freedom of information and expression," especially after my own brush with cyber-terrorism this week.

The newest listings, for instance, include reports on iPhone leaks, Goldman Sachs, cyberwar, and North Korean propaganda.

RadioLovers is a kick! Whether or not you remember hearing the really old-time radio shows, you can experience the good old days here, commercials and all. I listened to Father Knows Best (really funny to consider how far women have come...), but next I'm going to try Flash Gordon and Hopalong Cassidy. Hoppy was always a big TV favorite with me.

Science Friday is a weekly science talk show hosted by Ira Glass. I listened to a show on E.O. Wilson's book, Anthill. It was fascinating to hear how an author of non-fiction books made to switch to writing this work of fiction. Looking through the archives, I see shows on infection (yippee!), the Hubble Telescope, wind power, tornadoes, beekeeping--the list is, indeed, endlessly fascinating.


T Fab P said...

Two added places for listening for pure music - and Both are like radio stations you design without the commercials. In pandora you can specify a type of music by group and it will play their music and other similar style songs and you have the option of indicating that you do not like their pick. grooveshark lets you choose and group, pick out songs and then play them. I used both and enjoy them in the background when I write. Nice to have you back!

Beth said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Clair. I like This American Life, too, when I can remember to listen to it.

We've never had cable or satellite TV, and we really haven't missed it. Sometimes I do feel a little left out when others are talking about some cable show they've seen, but I don't think it's a serious social impediment. :-) We have been discussing the possibility of getting Netflix.

By the way, I don't watch much network TV either, but I was a huge Ugly Betty fan. I was pretty upset when they canceled the series, especially since they seem to have replaced it with some kind of weird, creepy show. I really do not think this country needs yet another weird, creepy show. It annoys me that people say they want good, family television that promotes positive values and teaches important truths, and yet when we have shows like that, they don't watch them. *Sigh*

Going Crunchy said...

Ooh! Great post! I adore radio, and found Prairie Home Companion vastly entertaining. NPR is always a classic - and All Things Considered is a goodie.