Radio, Radio

Maybe the rule is that outdated media will skip a technological generation before coming back into vogue. Take radio, for instance, which was ailing for a while under the decades-long, imagistic regime of television. It’s not exactly back at full health, but with the advent of Internet audio, it’s more interesting than it has been in a long, long time.

If you count podcasts as radio, which I do, then you can say that I’m an avid radio consumer. In fact, many of the podcasts to which I subscribe are produced by the various public broadcasters available in the Western world: NPR, obviously, as well as PRI and the BBC too, so long as we’re using broad categorizations here.

Which is why I approached NPR’s new ‘youth-oriented’ program, “The Bryant Park Project,” with some trepidation. Any time a media outlet publicly declares its intention to reach a younger demographic, chances are good that the results will make me cringe. And I’m not even young anymore!

But as it turns out, “The Bryant Park Project,” which debuted on Monday, is not rife with affected jargon, zany sound effects or comedic narrative. To be sure, it’s cheekier than your average NPR show, and it has more than its share of ironic commentary. But it also happens to be substantive and entertaining — like a less stuffy version of “Morning Edition” that, hopefully, isn’t going to spend a lot of time interviewing Bob Dylan about why he’s such a genius. (At least I hope not.) The best thing about it is that it spends zero percent of its time condescending to its listeners. Well, okay, there is a fractional amount of condescension to be heard, true. But there’s far, far less than you’d expect from a program like this. I like it a lot and, more than ever, I’m convinced NPR knows what they’re doing in 21st Century media.

A Face Made for Radio

In other public radio news: I’m on public radio! This thanks to my blog post from July about “Designed Deterioration” which has made the rounds to a far greater extent than I had ever anticipated. Believe it or not, it’s even found its way up to Canada. Canada, man! That’s over a hundred miles away. Though I think they call them kilometers up there.

To refresh your memory, this was a piece in which I observed that today’s digital hardware fails to age as gracefully as the goods produced a generation or two ago. &#40Also be sure to read the less popular but still close-to-my-heart follow-up about how this idea translates into software.)

Last week, I did a short radio interview on this subject with the very nice Nora Young, host of Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s new technology show, “Spark.” As of this evening, it’s up and available for listening on the Spark Web site.

I’ll confess: I have a bad habit of failing to review tape of my live performances. It’s just too painful; rather than face the ugly truth of my awkwardness and clumsy tongue, I prefer to just hope that I did well. So, that said, I have no idea if I did well at all on “Spark,” as I haven’t listened to it. I hope you enjoy it, but be kind if I sound like a doofus. It’s ’cause I’m a doofus.

  1. Nice Costello reference. I’m an avid NPR fan and jumped for joy when they released their collection of shows as free podcasts. I thought they were going to go the way of the Times (at the time) and charge for their product.

    I’ll definitely check this show out now.

    The only thing that drives me crazy about podcasts is I listen to far less music!

  2. Khoi,

    You sounded nothing like a doofus! Hell, you were way more informed than a lot of the “experts” that are often interviewed on tech shows. Bravo!

    I just wish the editing were better: the music and typing sound effect over your blog quotes were excruciating to listen to. Let the man speak!

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