Posts Tagged ‘media’

The Toob

The last time I had TV reception at home was in the last century.  Back in another era, when I was a newly-wed, we had a pilfered cable connection and a slate of shows that we watched diligently, at first during the appointed airing times, and eventually, by VHS tapes that we used over and over.I think I missed the last episode of Seinfeld by moving to the wilds of eastern Oregon just as it was about to air.  But I soon stopped caring about that program, or any of the others I used to follow so religiously.  First the local video store, then Netflix, then internet streaming video, satisfied all my desire for media, and more.

Yesterday we had a basic TV package installed at our house.  The reason for doing that is ridiculous– the company that supplies our internet also offers television and phone packages, and they offer discounts if you “bundle” more than one service.  Our monthly internet charge mysteriously increased by 40% last month, and after numerous, long, and frustrating phone conversations with various company representatives, we still haven’t figured out the reason, but it was determined that the only way to get our internet rate back to the original price would be to order another service, so that we could qualify for the bundling discount.

So the cable guy visited and hooked us up yesterday morning.  When we sat down in the living room, we thought we’d see how the reception was.  I was glad to see that we have a PBS channel.  Amazingly, when we surfed to PBS, Bill Moyers’ Journal, a show that we often stream over the internet, was just starting.  It turns out that this was Bill Moyers’ last episode, as he is retiring.  He chose Barry Lopez for his final guest.

I was amazed at the serendipity.  Not having been a television viewer for such a long time, I’m not used to the experience of having to fix yourself to one spot for the allotted program time at the risk of missing something– no Pause button applies (yes, I know that TiVo and DVR have changed that for many people, but I don’t have those).  And, I felt a bit proud to be among the thousands of viewers watching Bill Moyers’ last show at the same time, a kind of farewell sitting.

However, we didn’t get to watch the whole thing.  Bo woke me with a shake on the shoulder long after the program was over.  We had both managed to fall asleep to Barry and Bill.  I guess we’ll have to stream it on the internet so we can find out what happened at the end.


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Slate magazine is having a podcast pledge drive; it differs from other public TV and radio pledge drives in the fact that they are not trying to collect money.   And there are no tote bags involved.  Instead, they are asking listeners to get other people to subscribe to their podcasts.

I like the Slate daily podcasts for the most part, though I usually skip the weekly sports and money editions. There’s a political “gabfest” every Friday with three Slate journalists whom I’ve gotten to know well; they have a conversation for about half an hour on three big news topics in the political world from that week. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll read a news story about some legal decision on Wednesday and think, “hmm, I wonder what Emily Bazelon will have to say about that on Friday.”

But that’s not all, folks.  I love learning about literary history with Garrison Keillor each day on The Writer’s Almanac, and hearing Randy Cohen’s sarcastic pronouncements about his erudite correspondents’ ethical dilemmas on the NY Times’ The Ethicist podcast.  Recently, I started listening to a couple new ones:  NPR’s Intelligence Squared series, which presents a debate on a current political issue with a panel of experts arguing each side (for example, former California governor Gray Davis served on the “con” side in a debate over whether “California is the first failed state”)– and a weekly science podcast called Are We Alone?, hosted by SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.  As a former member in childhood, I was excited to see that this organization still exists –and then I couldn’t help myself; I joined Team SETI.

As I write this post, I realize that I subscribe to too many podcasts to list them all.  Some, I don’t listen to right away, especially if they are long or have poor production quality.  I used to listen to the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) podcasts regularly, until the speakers started to use so much visual material that every podcast had to have a spoken warning at the beginning, saying that this talk would really be unintelligible unless you watched the video.  But for the most part, I look forward to listening to every one, and sometimes look forward to tasks such as shoveling the driveway or folding laundry, because they will allow me an opportunity to catch up on my listening.

I remember when I first heard the word “podcast,” and it was definitely in quote marks.  It seemed like something to be skeptical of, and since I didn’t have an i-pod or a McIntosh computer, I forgot about them for awhile.  This was back in Dayville days, when the only way I could listen to the radio was by getting in the car and driving around, or by streaming it on the internet (this was right after I had the DSL hooked up at the house and therefore didn’t have to splurge on dial-up in order to listen to a few select stories from All Things Considered).  Podcasts seemed like yet one more incomprehensible technological thing that, if I ignored it for long enough, would go away.

Then I got an i-pod, and then before I knew it, I had realized that I could listen to the American Public Media program called Speaking of Faith anytime I wanted if I downloaded the podcast, which was nice, because I didn’t always get home by 7 on Sunday night– or because I still had hours of daylight ahead of me and wanted to be out walking the dog or gardening.

So that was the beginning of my asynchronous flirtation with the radio and the deepening of my audio relationship with print journalism.  I was reflecting on this post last night, what I would write, as I attempted to ski through deep new snow at Crater Lake National Park.  I suddenly realized that after spending most of the day poking through the park library and talking with the historian and museum curator about various projects, I had been away from the journalistic, feed-delivered, media-ridden world for several hours.  As I made my way through the darkening woods, I paid attention to the quiet of the snow-blanketed landscape and realized I didn’t miss all the voices that much.

Then I finished the loop, hopped in the car, and got back to this week’s This American Life story.

Interested in any of these podcasts?  You don’t actually need an i-pod!  You can listen on your computer.  Start here:


APM: The Writer’s Almanac

NY Times podcasts

NPR Intelligence Squared

SETI: Are We Alone?

Speaking of Faith

This American Life

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