Friday, February 11, 2011

strange addictions

Once upon a time, when I used to drive for 30 minutes each way for my work, I became an NPR addict. It's not like it was my first introduction to National Public Radio. PBS and NPR played a large part of the background noise of my childhood, right along with Simon and Garfunkel and classical music on the record player. But it wasn't really until I was commuting that I really fell for public radio. Suddenly I was getting in my car early on Wednesday mornings to make sure I caught Frank Deford's sports commentary (and I hate sports!) and sitting parked in front of my school or house listening to the end of a story. More than collage or even my massive book reading habits, NPR broadened my world. And no, don't worry, this isn't going to be a political statement here, the timing is just coincidental, although, really? Cut Public Broadcasting? Sorry but I think that's crazy in so many ways.

But back to the story at hand.
One of the only things I missed about my working life when I started staying at home with the kids was that daily radio time. Sure, I could listen to the radio at home. All day if I wanted, in theory. But the reality was that Briton, and later Evie and I were busy making and playing and listening to children's music, so NPR became more of an occasional listen when we were going somewhere in the car.

Then I discovered streaming radio and I was back to my old habits. Particularly after getting an iphone. And not just NPR, a whole world of streaming radio opened up. Maybe you've been on this bandwagon for a while, but I'm not super technologically advanced so it took me a while. As did my appreciation for YouTube which only set in about three months ago when I realized I could watch Victorian Farm, William and Mary and Portlandia despite the fact that I don't get any of the channels that they air on. So now I spend my writing and cooking and working around the house time listening to Woman's Hour or On Your Farm (I have a farm thing, it's weird) on BBC Radio 4 and looking forward to The Writer's Almanac during my morning walk and Pandora, which I love, love, love. But it occurred to me that there is probably a whole world of fun and unusual things to listen to out there that I've yet to discover.

I know this isn't my usual fare, writing about technology type things, but I'm curious. What am I missing? What do you listen to online? Are you into Podcasts? I've looked at them but am overwhelmed by the options (I found a fun knitting podcast once but haven't ever been able to find it again.) What else is out there? What gets you though your day?


  1. I don't listen to the radio at all -- either in the car or at home. In fact, I tend to work in silence. But, if my husband works at home, I happily listen to whatever he's playing on iTunes.

  2. Well great. Now I am going to be addicted to Victorian Farm.
    I haven't dipped into podcasts or radio streaming yet. I like "This American Life" but I don't listen to it regularly because I can never figure out when it's on. My husband used to wake me up every Saturday morning to "The People's Pharmacy." I think someone told me it's off the air now. I try to listen to "Les Temps Perdu" on WNRN on Sunday afternoons, because I love old '80s music. I hate hate hate that satelite radio that comes in new cars. It makes me feel like a baby that's been given a rubber gorilla as a substitute for a mother.

  3. NPR was a big part of my childhood soundtrack as well... as was classical music! I also love NPR as an adult. Love Car Talk! And love their version of the news (although Jon Stewart puts a nice spin on things, too!)

  4. We listened to about 40 podcasts on CD that Greg downloaded last summer when we drove all over creation. You get tired of music when you're out in the middle of Nevada.
    He mostly downloaded ones from these two guys called Stuff You Should Know, from a site called They talk about all kinds of things, and do a pretty good job of researching it, but it's fun and interesting, not dry. They sound like two 30-somethings, very mellow. Chuck and Josh. Greg says he'd be glad to send you some of the ones we've listened to, but you could probably find it online a lot faster...
    I've downloaded audiobooks from the library for free, too.


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