Podcast Loving – Whisper House, Spacing Radio and Of Public Interest

A few months back, I commandeered Richard’s iPod mini so I could improve my podcast-listening experience away from my computer (podcasts and the iPod Shuffle…makes for a little too much indirection), and I thought I’d give a bit of love to ones I’ve been enjoying:

  1. Whisper HouseWhisper House by Duncan Sheik. This is a three-part podcast describing the making of Duncan Sheik’s latest album that flows between snippets of the songs, to descriptions of the play, and the process of creating both the album and the production. Don’t be scared off by the fact that the albu is attached to Whisper House the play — the songs contribute to it without relying entirely on the listener to know what’s happening for the songs to be enjoyable, something I really liked in contrast to his previous work for Spring Awakening. This podcast is a great introduction to the music as well as the story if you’re not able to hear Duncan fill in the gaps for you in person, as I did. (I had to special order Whisper House with my local record store to get it as a CD, so the podcast also helped me get my fix as I waited the week and a half for it to arrive at the store.)
  2. Spacing Radio. Continuing in the tradition of Spacing the print magazine and the Spacing blogs in Toronto and Montréal, Spacing Radio covers urban issues in a roughly 20-minute podcast format. So far, I like their catchy use of local Toronto music (which, let’s face it, I would never otherwise hear because I have absolutely no dedication to curating my musical diet), as well as their interesting and insightful interviews with players major and minor alike, such as Mayor David Miller and City of Toronto staff. They manage to keep the tone constructive and focused, while skillfully asking good questions about the policy direction and political will. Not critical enough for some who are closest to the issues, perhaps, but I think I prefer that over something that would make me grumpy or too disheartened. They’ve also done a great job merging the local interest with the international context, interviewing the London mayor responsible for their congestion tax in their first episode and, more recently, featuring a presentation of Janette Sadik-Khan talking about the awesome work New York’s Department of Transportation has been doing to promote cycling and walking in New York.
  3. Of Public Interest. Friend Sameer Vasta and his co-host Darren Chartier take a laid-back but thoughtful approach to the question of how the public service can and is adapting its thinking and culture as a result of “the age of participation” as enabled by the Internet, its various tools, and the broader social context shift. The format is super-casual, consisting mostly of back-and-forths between the two in a very conversational way. Occasionally they’ve brought on guest speakers; and thanks to them (by way of Marc Drapeau), I sometimes use the word ‘goverati’. The podcast is self-effacingly low-tech with the occasional flourish. (My only (small) gripe is that Darren and Sameer have very different mic setups and in some episodes, the volume difference in their voices can grate a little.) As someone super-interested in government, I appreciate the perspective they bring by sharing their conversations. Makes for good listening leading up to Vancouver ChangeCamp!

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