After reading some of Culture Crossfire’s articles a thought came to mind. While every piece has its own voice, there are still voices yet to be heard and demographics yet to be reached. I am a dad, a relatively young father and husband (twenty-six years) with a four-year-old son, eighteen-month-old daughter, and a beautiful wife. This gives me a unique perspective concerning pop culture and media awareness. Some of this media consumption is more through osmosis, but there is some intentional in there as well.
The primary goal of this column is to briefly review kid-friendly and not-so-kid-friendly entertainment across most mediums, from TV shows to mobile apps and in-between. Don’t be surprised if some reviews span the entire column and others to be just a few short sentences depending on my knowledge and passion.
At the end of each review we will either discuss whether it will appeal to the parent watching alongside or if it’s even a good idea for the kid to be in the room. A good example of this would be stating that Pixar’s UP is a great children’s film that will appeal to an adult without insulting anyone’s intelligence. And the flip side would be that under no circumstances would I want my children to be in the room or even within earshot from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.
But enough about what to expect, this week we’re going to dive right into a topic near and dear to my heart. Podcasts. They’re great! Magazines for your ears and a great way to archive the classic radio show. Podcasts sure have gone a long, long way since a patent troll invented the format back in 1998. Just about every kind of Internet celebrity has a podcast or makes appearances on one. Instead of doing this A.V. Club style, reviewing each episode, we’re just going to look at two of my favorite podcasts.
Before diving in, I’d like to talk about pod catchers. A pod catcher is a program that downloads and possibly manages podcasts. My app of choice would be Doggcatcher for the Android platform, available on Google Play and Amazon App Store. With the housekeeping out of the way, here we go!
thisamericanlife.com – Public Radio has a stigma. Soft-spoken liberals talking about politics, psychology and the driest of culture e.g. non-fiction books not discussing exciting things like wars. This is what I earnestly believed until I heard Ira Glass on the radio one Sunday evening. It would be misleading if I were to tell you Ira wasn’t soft spoken and bookish in his tone, but there’s something in there as well, something warm and inviting. Each week is a new topic, which is fantastic. Even when a specific theme doesn’t reach out to me the production and writing always does. The regular and guest contributors add to the wonderful frame that Ira sets up around the show. There are some personalities you might recognize in author David Sedaris and comedian John Hodgeman. A great thing about the podcast compared to the broadcast is that appointment listening is thrown out the window. I don’t have to huddle up to the family radio at 6 PM and wait for NPR or PRI to beam out to me. I have a family and routines can change at the drop of a hat. The one downside of the podcast is This American Life only hosts the current week’s podcast with the exception of the Harper High School two-part special, which is highly recommended listening. However you can stream all 500+ episodes on the official site.
The enigmatic Ira Glass
Takeaway: Typically the subject matter is family-friendly or at least over listeners’ heads, but when it is not, Ira will let you know in time if you need to excuse someone or enjoy the rest of the show later. Suggested age would be 10 for maximum enjoyment however someone younger should be okay.
stuffyoushouldknow.com – Have you ever had a question you wanted to know the answer to, but never actually asked or bothered to research? Well the great news is that How Stuff Works’ flagship podcast, Stuff You Should Know has asked and researched in your stead. All you need to do is listen to the intelligent minds and voices of Josh Clark & Charles Bryant. Josh and Chuck are writers for howstuffworks.com. The parent site is typically the source for the topics of each episode. Rather than simply regurgitating the previously written articles, they take previous research, new research and conversational addendum to make an interesting episode. With an extensive library, a few of my favorites would be: Live At Comic-Con, How Cicadas Work, and How Music Sampling Works. The subject matter varies so much that there’s literally something for everyone in the past episodes. My best suggestion would be to listen to a couple episodes that pique your interest first and take off from there.
Brainy BFFs Chuck and Josh
Takeaway: Another family friendly podcast unless stated otherwise. Typically you’ll be able to tell from the subject matter itself, as adult language isn’t used to just enhance a sentence. I can listen to the podcast with my kids around without having to answer any awkward questions and I am excited to be able enjoy the show with my children as they become older. I can see that as a great utility to fuel new hobbies and visits to the library for further research. Suggested age would be 7-8 and certain topics might be more interesting for them than others. Just like everything, if you’re not sure, check out the episode first and decide then.
I hope this article has given you an idea of what to expect from my writing and some of the topics we will be touching upon. Agree, disagree, suggestions for reviews? Reach out to me via therealtsm.com or tweet to me @daileyxplanet.