“There’s only so much truth you can keep in your bowl.” - Busdriver, Worlds to Run (feat. Milo and Anderson .Paak)
I consumed almost all my podcasts this week via NPR One (the app rather the website). I’ve been looking for a better podcast listening experience. I’m a relatively long-time user of Pocketcasts, and they do the best job of the different tools I’ve tried, but there were a few things that were frustrating to me, and it feels silly that there isn’t a purely lovely tool for listening considering how long this kind of audio storytelling has been around now.
NPR is heavily pushing the NPR One app, sort of. There’s been a lot of industry discussion about it. Also, in the corner of Twitter I play in:
The thing, though, that got me to download and sample the app was the opportunity to hear Pop Culture Happy Hour a day early if you’re listening via NPR One.
Then a funny thing happened, I enjoyed using the app. There are little things, like hearing radio news pieces mixed in with my podcasts which I don’t get in other experiences. There are big things, like the Explore section which is well curated and has some algorithmic logic that is getting good rather quickly at understanding what I like to listen to and suggesting them. And then astounding things, like suggesting podcasts from my local station that I didn’t even know existed.
So, here we go:
I talk about KCRW Press Play a lot. It’s my local news show. Madeleine Brand is my primary sherpa for figuring out what’s going on in Los Angeles and how we fit in the rest of the world. The April 8th, 2016 episode features seven minutes with Zoey Tur, the broadcast journalist that invented the car chase to talk about the particularly epic one we had this week.
There are sixty-three episodes of The Organist—a collaboration between KCRW and The Believer—and I had never heard of it before. How is this possible?! This episode is written by Buzzfeed Emerging Writers Fellow Niela Orr talking about LA Art-Rapper Busdriver’s new podcast and putting it in the context of the tradition of black activist radio. One of the best produced and best sounding podcasts I’ve heard in a long while.
I’m not sure I’m all in on Buzzfeed’s Internet Explorer. It spends an awful lot of time in areas of the web I actively try to avoid and it’s hosts are engaging but not necessarily charming and, I like charm. This mini-series, though, does an excellent job of reminiscing about these individual years in surprising ways. They also pushed me to think about what I was doing on the internet (besides working) in those years.
In 2010, I was blogging much more frequently than I do now and IMing with my long-distance fiancé, Tiffany.
In 1999, I ran an electronic pro-wrestling federation (hosted on Tripod) in which I would book and write shows and generate results using a text-based wrestling simulator that somebody far nerdier than I had created and shared for free online. As Katie Notopolous notes in the episode, wrestling was enormously popular at this time.
We Live Here is a podcast from St. Louis Public Radio. NPR One threw this in the mix while I was listening this morning cleaning the kitchen. The question: why don’t we (the collective, societal, we) believe poor people and black people when they highlight systemic issues? The answer is well told, leads to more questions, and has me clamoring to hear everything else in this series. Also, there’s a good dig at Vox thrown in there off-handedly.
I talked about Tripod last week. I’ll probably talk about them every week. This episode, though? I want it to be made into a movie. Also, if you ever want to understand how deep into slavery America was, consider that illegal/pirate slave traders from other countries would raise the US Flag in the 1800s to protect themselves from the British Navy who were aggressively seeking to end the trade after it was abolished in the early part of the 19th Century. It’s so deep. Plus, there's an Aaliyah song clip from her best album which is impossible to find on your favorite streaming services.
I doubt I could listen to every episode of Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing but Jimmy Fallon is such a good guest in this one—also an NPR One suggestion—that I will probably stick around for other episodes that the app recommends.
If you decide to try NPR One, let me know what you think. Also, how are you consuming podcasts beyond NPR One?