In Praise of Dailies and Michael Barbaro

I am enjoying this new trend of daily news podcasts and I hope this trend grows and continues.

The New York Times has an excellent daily podcast called, The Daily. Find it on the  NYT homepage.  I like a quick update on the news, I like a quick in-depth look at the news which this podcast provides and I like the host, Michael Barbaro. He is calm, inquisitive and self-deprecating. The loose, behind-the-scenes feel of this podcast is very enjoyable. And it is usually short. Hooray!

NPR First Listen also offers a quick, daily look at the news. This is one gives a better broad over view and is great for catching up what happened yesterday.

This trend of dailies makes me wonder if we are experiencing what is was like to have two newspapers published a day. I would love an evening news wrap-up podcast, though I know that could be hard. Someone, anyone? CNN?


What Do You Want from a Podcast?

Me, I want one of two of things: entertainment or education.  I want to relax or I want to learn.

I listen to podcasts when I’m cleaning the house or doing yardwork. That’s when I want to be entertained. Something light and fluffy and current. I turn to Bitch SeshJam Session, or one of the cultural review podcasts such as Pop Culture Happy Hour.  It’s like tuning into a conversation with friends as we talk about what we’ve been watching or reading.

On long car trip or walks, I want my mind to grow, or even be blown.  That’s when I tune into Stuff You Missed in History Class or Criminal.

There seem to be more of the latter, more deep learning podcasts. Which is great. But I need my fluff. Perhaps my problem is too much of the fluff is indeed too much fluff. For example, Who Weekly? is a lot of fun and should appeal to me. It’s just two people talking about famous people. I should like this and often do, but at times the two hosts spend way too much time goofing with each other.  This is my most repeated criticism of podcasts: too much time goofing around, not enough time on content.  If your content is goofing off, it’s not the podcast for me.

What’s your fluff listen?

Serial Season 3–Here’s what I thought. You?

SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS! If you haven’t listened and don’t want it spoiled, stop reading.

I almost bailed on this season several times.  I’m glad I stayed with it.  In the end, I found S-Town a complex look at a complex person. Which is to say a complex look at a person, something you don’t often see in the media.

While this story is set in the deep South, in a small town, I think you could find such a story anywhere–rural upstate New York, in the Midwest, on the moon someday. All humans are complicated and contradictory. We don’t all make mazes in the middle of the woods though. Maybe that was John B. McLemore’s unique gift to the world.

As for the podcast itself, I was often frustrated with it. Being from the South, John felt familiar to me. That smart, overtalkative know-it-all who everyone rolls their eyes at.  His suicide is shocking, however, and how it happens even more shocking. John kills himself while on the phone with someone.  What a horrible thing to do to someone! I wish the reporter had delved into this. The reporter also does not delve too deeply into John’s racism or the fact the he never made a will, despite having been suicidal before and leaving behind an elderly mother and a pack of dogs.

I thought the podcast could have been two episodes shorter and had a tighter focus.. I would have liked to have learned more about John and less about the bickering over his estate and supposed gold.  John was a smart, compassionate and complicated person with a lot demons, some very dark demons.  Unwinding and examining those complications was the best part of Shittown.

What did you think? Have you ever met anyone like John B. McLemore?