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February 1, 2012

Culture: Podcasts you might be missing

Back to podcast basics

There are degrees of tuning in and tuning out. A few examples:

Dear Mary Welp,
I can count on one hand the total number of podcasts I have ever listened to. It’s too confusing to those of us who don’t even listen to music much on iTunes because of the extra steps involved in A) syncing iTunes and B) the “subscription” metaphor. It’s a relationship commitment when most people want a one-night stand.

Dear Ms. Welp,
I dig reading what you write, especially when you call Tom Friedman a douchebag, but I think we have to face facts. Most content we want online is a mere URL away. People simply don’t have the attention bandwidth for all of the downloading you go on about. Plus, speaking of toilet metaphors, too many podcasts have that “Wayne’s World” ass-suckiness to them.

Yo, Welp!
Shut up already about iTunes. Apple Corp. is the spawn of the capitalist devil.

Dear Mary W.,
Can you teach me how to download a podcast?

Dear LEO,
What is a podcast?

Let me begin with a confession that illustrates what an ignoramus I am in another technological arena: I do not know how to turn on the television. I am being neither modest nor effete. I honestly cannot get any TV in our house to come on with the simple push of a button. And because of this, I never watch TV. My husband and son call me names that went out of fashion in the late 1960s, names far more insulting than ignoramus.

But I am not going to call anyone names. What I hope to do instead is convey, in a few simple steps, how to download a podcast that does not suck ass and with which you can, in fact, have a one-night stand (for free), though you will probably fall in love and want to get a ring.

Let’s learn what a podcast is and how to get one into your eardrums. Say you are driving home (not drunk) from a pub. You turn on the radio, and you hear a woman saying, “Exactly. If we were more in touch with our bonobo side rather than our chimp side, we would be having orgasms all day long, women would be in charge, and we’d have no more wars.”

Whoa, Nellie! You think, I need to listen up, but then the host of the show announces that it’s the end of the interview. The program, he says, as you pull into your parking spot, is “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” produced by PRI, played on NPR, broadcasted locally by WFPL.

Now you have several options for finding what you missed. You could go to the NPR website and click through a bunch of pages. You could do the same thing at PRI, WFPL or TTBOOK, the creator of the segment. But it is actually far easier to find what you want by downloading the program’s podcast:

1) Go to your iTunes account on your computer. Chances are you have iTunes whether you know it or not. You definitely do on an Apple computer. If you don’t have one, go to Google, type in “how to start an iTunes account,” and you’ll have one in under a minute. Free.

2) On the far left side of the iTunes screen, in the skinny blue section, click on the little shopping bag icon that says “iTunes Store.” (You’re not actually going to spend any money. This is free, people.)

3) At the top of the iTunes Store page, in the rectangular search prompt, with the wee magnifying glass icon, type in: “bonobos to the best of our knowledge.”

4) Bingo! At the bottom of the screen is the precise interview you want to listen to: Sarah Gruen on “Ape House” from PRI’s Arts and Entertainment. You’ve got yourself a one-night stand. You can either listen to it right then and there or, if you have an iPod, iTouch or iPhone (not free):

5) Click on the little button to the right that says Free, and the interview will instantly download to your computer.

6) Click on the icon that says Podcasts (again, in the skinny rectangular screen to the left), and you will find the interview waiting for you on the Podcasts page. Still free.

7) Plug your iProduct’s cord in, and the podcast will sync to your iPod, and you can play it whenever and wherever you like.

OK, as with certain recipes, this sounds on paper like a lot of steps, but once you do it, you’ll see how easy it is to do all the time, and it will become second nature to you, even if you’re a person who doesn’t know how to turn on the TV.

Go on. Try it again. At the search prompt in the iTunes store, type in: “Desert Island Discs Morrissey.” You might be surprised by what you hear. 

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