Happy Monday! Here's what I've been thinking about lately...
1. Public radio is evolving. Did you see this article about WBEZ's shift away from legacy shows like Car Talk and towards great podcasts like The New Yorker Radio Hour, Freakonomics, and Bullseye with Jesse Thorn? It says a lot about the future of public radio and the power of the growing podcast industry, I think. According to the article, the Chicago public radio station's listener base is dwindling. Ben Calhoun, WBEZ's VP of programming, said: "If people are turning away from us at particular times, we feel like they're telling us we need to do better ... We live in a time when people want to hear what they want when they want it." I know there have been mixed reactions to the news from WBEZ (mostly from listeners -- not from the podcast industry), but I for one am glad to hear that stations are paying greater attention to their listeners. Check out the article here if you haven't yet.
2. A new network discovery. I've been listening to the great show Nocturne for a while now, but it wasn't until last night that I finally headed over to the website of The Heard, the network of independent podcasts that it belongs to. I cannot believe I waited so long. The five other shows in the group (Neighbors, How To Be A Girl, ARRVLS, First Day Back, and Anxious Machine) seem fantastic. I listened to bits and pieces of their latest uploads immediately, and I can't wait to dive into their archives later today. Obviously now I can't stop thinking about the other networks of independent shows that I might be missing out on. So if you know of a great one, let me know asap either down in the comments or via email. I'm in awe of the communities independent shows are creating, and I'm dying to know about more of them if they're out there.
3. The perfect book for radio lovers. I'm currently halfway through what's probably the best book I've ever read -- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was last year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize and it's absolutely incredible. One of the things I love most about it (besides the characters and the beautiful writing) is the central role that radio plays. Werner, one of the two main characters, is an orphan boy in Germany's mid-1930s who falls hard for radio after discovering a beautiful French broadcast. This line from the scene (on page 48) stopped me in my tracks: "The Frenchman's voice is velvet ... so ardent, so hypnotizing ... Has anyone ever spoken so intimately about the very things Werner is most curious about?" It's a moment that I'm sure most podcast enthusiasts can relate to. It definitely brought me back to the very first time I stumbled upon a Radiolab broadcast seven or eight years ago, and I've totally been hooked ever since. Anyway, if you haven't read this book yet and are on the hunt for an incredible read, I'd highly recommend it. Any lover of radio would appreciate it, I'm sure.
4. A quick newsletter update. I've been brainstorming newsletter ideas for months and on Friday, I sent out my first email in a long while. You can sign up over on the sidebar to the right if you'd like! Here's what you can expect: a brief note from me every Friday afternoon about the best podcasts I heard all week, plus a few links to the things you might have missed on this site. That's it -- short and sweet, every Friday. Sign up if it sounds like your kind of thing.