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October 19, 2012

Audio: "This American Life" Should Be Required Listening For Anyone With An Ear



I'm a big podcast listener. I subscribe to a bunch of different podcasts, on different platforms (ios, android, zune), and I have different devices that I use to access and listen to the podcasts. Some are audio podcasts, and some are video podcasts.

I first discovered podcasts after installing iTunes on my windows computer, because I bought my first iPod, and had to sync the content. I didn't like listening to podcasts on the shuffle, so the few I listened to at that time were played directly on my desktop or laptop. I would listen occasionally, but not a lot.

Once I had an iPod touch, and could take the podcasts with me, my listening habits changed. At first I didn’t know that podcasts were digital radio shows. So I looked at the popular podcasts on the iTunes “sales” charts, and downloaded  a few of those, and through trial and error I found a bunch that I really liked, and I've stuck with them over the years and gotten a lot out of them. And they are free and cost nothing,

As an urban dweller in the middle of a big city who doesn't own a car, I tend to listen to podcasts when I'm en-route and going somewhere, whether on public transit or on foot. I listen when I’m at home too, though the podcasts have to compete with my computer, phone, television, kindle, and other gadgets, for my attention.

This blog post is a shameless plug for This American Life. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, and Ira Glass and his team of producers and reporters are some of the best non-fiction storytellers you will ever encounter.

If you’re not familiar with This American Life and Ira Glass, it's a one hour radio show that is focused on a different theme each week, and the segments in the radio show complement the theme. It's real people with real stories, and the show should be required listening for anyone with an ear!

Last week's podcast Episode #476: What Doesn't Kill You - about people's brushes with death was funny, frightening, maddening, heartbreaking, shocking and uplifting. I don’t enjoy the graphic details described in the episode, but I could not stop listening, and it was one of the best episodes ever. Please listen to it if you can.   

This week's podcast Episode #172: 24 Hours at The Golden Apple Diner was a repeat that was originally broadcast November 17, 2000, and it's just as fresh today as it was then. This American Life producers spent 24 hours in a busy Chicago diner, and they interviewed every customer who came to the diner in that 24 hour period. They edited their audio into a one hour show, and its compelling radio, that reflects 3 or 4 generations of a Chicago neighborhood - and everyone has a back story..

At one point they speak with a woman who is 75 years old, who was born in the neighborhood where the diner is located, and she’s lived there her entire life. This woman is honest and unaffected in her interview. She talks about her long life, and what’s important to her. Her sincere and honest nature caught me off guard, and one moment I found myself shedding a tear, and the next I was sad and disappointed. 

The program notes describe the woman like this: “An older lady who grew up in the neighborhood explains about her neighbors' feelings towards African-Americans and gays.”

I don’t want to ruin the listening experience, so I won’t say anymore. We all know someone like this, and have likely been confronted with these feelings before. This is a 5 minute clip of the Episode # 172 podcast.




You can subscribe and download the podcast in the iTunes store, or the Google Play store, or the Microsoft Xbox music/ Zune store. You can also download the app, or visit the show’s website for more information.

Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia co-wrote a film, Sleepwalk With Me. It’s funny and thought provoking, and I recommend it highly. See it if you can.

And tell me what you think!



straight talk in a queer world.     jiveinthe415.com          
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