BPP: Best radio program you've never heard
End December 3 Column

Me and my nano

About five years ago, I got an Ipod Mini. The mini classic available from Apple today resembles my mini the way a 68 GTO resembles a Prius; they both have four wheels and can be steered. Mine had 2 GB of memory and a black and white text-only screen, which I was sure was all I would ever need. And for a long time, it was; I used it for music and books on tape. It worked fine. I had an agonizingly slow Internet connection, so I didn't care that I couldn't play video, because it would take me the rest of my life to download a video. I live a LONG ways from the central office, and the fastest DSL I could get was 150k. I simply didn't trust cable-system high-speed Internet access. But Spike Grobstein (Dan's son), one of the smartest tech people I know, told me cable Internet was reliable. I switched about six months ago. I've never looked back.

This summer, when I started a serious exercise program, I needed something to listen to while I biked. Perhaps, if I had gone with Books on Tape, it would have changed my life in one way. Instead, I discovered podcasts, and my life went another way. I've been a little bitter about podcasts, because I was producing both daily and weekly Internet audio programs from 1997-2001. Podcasts, as it were, before the pod. We failed for many reasons, but one was the inconvenience of having to listen at your computer. I grokked podcasting the second I heard about it, but stayed away from it because I was jealous. Once again, I had been punished with failure for being ahead of my time.

Why don't I have a podcast now? Because this column is too random to attract a podcasting audience; I no longer have any other passion that would attract any listeners outside of my own family.

Anyway, I bicycle for 90 minutes a day, three days a week, and I needed something to listen to. I'm a news junkie, so I went with news programs. At the time, the BBC posted their hourly news summary (a podcast they have since dropped--I WANT IT BACK!), as did NPR. When the BBC hourly news went away, I added Radio Netherlands and Deutsche Welle, the German international service (English language service, of course).

You could certainly assemble your own list, from the iTunes store, or by surfing the web. The New York Times, the Washington Post (and most other US newspapers), as well as many broadcast organizations, especially NPR and American Public Media, have more podcasts than you can shake a stick at. If you want to see my own eccentric selection, with commentary, visit Paul's Podcasts.