65,000 Reasons not to buy from the iTunes Shop
I was upset recently when, listening to my iPod on the bus, I noticed that one of my favourite podcasts, "Music Exchange", had not updated. Sometimes, if we do not listen to a podcast iTunes will stop downloading, but that was not the case here. At home, when I accessed the podcast directory I saw that the entries were weeks old. A check on the web found that the BBC had moved Steve Lamacq's show (he is in the mould of John Peel) and the tie up between the BBC and KCRW was dead.
I have become so used to my own up-to-date music on Bangkok's buses, that I spent several hours digging deeper into iTunes podcast directories to see what else I could subscribe to. As there are some 65,000 podcasts listed, there is plenty to choose from. My own podcast (now at 65 episodes), which has been running for over a year www.extensions.in.th/postpod/extensions.xml is listed. (Note: if your browser does not handle RSS then you will not see this displayed properly.)
A quick run through found several heavyweights that have joined the party. The alphabet soup shows how important this medium now is: KCRW, WGBH, PBS, ABC, BBC, NPR, CBC, CNN, WNYC and others.
As well as such mainline sources, the podcast has empowered individuals and smaller operations. While some do not have much to say and fall by the wayside, there are thousands of others putting out good information and good music. With podcasting, the music is circulated and refreshed week by week.
An early podshow I still subscribe to is C. C. Chapman's "Accident Hash". Like several others, he uses the Podsafe Music Network. This lets small groups, and those not allied to record labels, to put their music online and have it played. There is a certain Darwinian concept in force here: the good groups (like the good podcasts) will thrive. As a direct result of listening to "Accident Hash" on a Bangkok bus, I have bought CDs online, from artists such as Ryan Winford and Ane Brun. Never heard of them, have you?
The podcasts online at the iTunes shop are greatly varied. I ended up subscribing to sites which had the most modern music as well as punk, electronic and jazz. These are podcasts such as the Tartan Podcast, IndieFeed, PUNKY and JazzStage Productions. I was also pleased to find sites of classical music: WGBH (a famous Boston source of music and TV programming); a six-entry listing from Deutsche Welle, including a live performance of Beethoven's Eroica; and while I was writing this, a new podcast from the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
My own iPod is one of the third generation and that does not handle either photographs or videos. That has not stopped me from downloading the video podcasts available. I have been subscribed longest to Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" a look (59 minutes, 5 times a week) at politics in the United States and elsewhere that does not follow party lines. Once downloaded I view these in iTunes, usually full-screen via QuickTime, and they make a welcome alternative to some of the weak cable TV offerings. If I want to save one of these, like the music, I drag it to the desktop.
Along with my wander round the music podcasts, I took some time to find some videocasts too. I added a couple on Mac use (like MacBreak) and was also pleased to find that National Geographic puts short cuts from its documentaries online: a couple a week. Although this is intended for a podcast, the quality was good enough for full screen display on the PowerBook.
Search for Thailand in the iTunes shop (which handles Thai characters), and there are Thai language podcasts, although these are few right now. As befits the nature of the medium, there were podcasts on design, a medical podcast, and one with some speeches of a media firebrand, although this stopped in mid-September. One on Indie music in Thailand needs reactivation as there is a good young music scene here.
I have contacted a couple of producers of Thai language podcasts who are waiting on data and intend to start again. I hope more people use the iTunes shop both as makers and users of podcasts.
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