Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Podcast Review

If you're like me, you think podcasts are the cat's meow. Right now, I listen to 15 or so on a regular basis, and I'm always looking out for new and original shows. But despite the fact that everyone is talking about podcasts and podcasting—so much so that the New Oxford American Dictionary named postcasting its word of the year for 2005—there are still a lot of people who don't understand what all the fuss is about.

In fact, I was speaking to my dad the other day about podcasting (in truth, we were text chatting), and he wasn't quite sure what it was, even after I explained it to him. I think the concept of on-demand media will always seem a little foreign to people who grew up huddling around a radio that only picked up one station to get their news.

In any case, I was googling for podcast reviews and found a few sites (,, and they are alright, but it's not like the Internet is brimming with them, so I thought I would start reviewing the odd podcast myself. Nothing pretentious or systematic, just a periodic description and overall rating of a podcast I listen to.

I'll start with Jay Ingram's Theatre of the Mind. Get the podcast feed here. Get the iTunes Music Store URL here.

Length: approximately 15 minutes, though the early shows were much shorter.
Subject: Consciousness and the brain

Sponsored by HarperCollins, the podcast is, it would seem, primarily a way to promote Jay Ingram's new book of the same title. But if so, it's a pretty soft sell. The show is co-hosted by David Newland, a Toronto-area singer-songwriter. The two make a good team and have a nice rapport. The podcast is non-technical yet interesting to those with a knowledge of science. Ingram is articulate and funny, yet obviously very serious about the subject. The show is well-produced and the sound is excellent. And yet in my opinion, part of what makes the podcast work is that it isn't over-produced. Ingram and Newman seem to be two people having a regular conversation over coffee. And you can tell some of the questions Newman asks are not rehearsed, because Ingram frequently just shrugs and says, "I don't know the answer to that," which is actually quite refreshing.

This is not one of my absolute must listens ever week, but it is an enjoyable podcast that is worth listening too, and it's not so long that it gets boring. I rate it a solid 4 stars out of 5.

If you have a favourite podcast you think I should listen to and/or review, please let me know either by leaving a comment or e-mailing me.

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