Before we get to our Pod Pick of the Week, I just want to put something on the record here. You may have noticed that when I make a podcast version of a particular Slate story, I insert a link at the top of the Web page inviting people to "Download the MP3 audio version of this story …" Last Friday, I recorded a version of Jack Shafer's well-argued piece about the often-fawning press coverage for every new Apple gadget release. Wanting to acknowledge the minor irony of offering a podcast version of a piece critical of how the media slaver over new iPods, I decided to change the link in Jack's piece so it read, "Download the iPod-ready version of this story …"
But various bloggers, always on the lookout for hypocrisy, blasted Slate for not realizing the egregious irony of touting its podcasts in a piece critical of Apple (in fact, journalists were the target of Jack's rapier keystrokes, not the crowd in Cupertino). So, four things:
1) My apologies to Jack for putting him in the sights of the hypocrisy police.
2) I admit my joke was too subtle, but whatever its shortcomings, it was meant as a deliberate wink.
3) Podcasting is a new and exciting audio medium that exists independently of Apple. Saying something critical of Steve Jobs in a podcast is no more hypocritical than blasting Bill Gates in a Microsoft Word document composed on a Windows computer.
4) All that said, I adore my three iPods (slap the cuffs on me, Jack).
OK, record cleared: On to my pick of the week.
Imagine a New Jersey call-in radio show where the host doesn't want to talk to you. As he moans about having to deal with the public, he also berates listeners for not calling in more. When he answers the phone, he mockingly mutters the talk-radio clichés before they can: "Love the show," he says in his best bored curmudgeon voice. "First-time caller, longtime listener, blah, blah." He routinely derides the audience and his co-host as hippies. And he spends a good portion of his weekly, hourlong time slot asking his co-host when they can go home.
Now imagine that this is all hilariously funny.
The radio show, also available as a podcast, is called Seven Second Delay,and it airs on community station WFMU in Jersey City, N.J. (Podcast link click here; iTunes link click here; Yahoo! feed click here.) The curmudgeon is Andy Breckman, who has hosted the show for 14 years, along with station manager Ken Freedman.
Now, I have to admit I didn't like this show when I first listened to it. My friend Mike Pesca told me to download it, and at first I thought it was just one of those stupid banter radio shows—Ken & Andy in the Mornings!—that give me a headache. But Mike told me to try again, and this time he informed me that the Andy on the show was the creator of the TV show Monk,which I love. So, I listened again. And again. And now I'm hooked.
Breckman is part Larry David, part Eeyore, with a voice that reminds me of the old comedian Ed Wynn. The show is a long series of efforts by Andy to come up with clever ideas for segments that involve listeners, many of which crash and burn. But they're usually very funny. (In one of Mike's favorites, Andy and Ken brought in their kids and made a Solomonic listener declare which one was the better father.) Breckman also shares Hollywood stories from time to time, and the show's "benediction" sounds more like a prayer you'd hear at church or synagogue in Beverly Hills:
May My Show Succeed
And May The Shows of My Friends Fail
And Yet May I Still Be Perceived
As a Team Player
Of course, I'm certainly not hoping for other podcasts to fail, but I'd love it if you would help Slate's succeed by checking out what we did this week:
Oct. 21: How To Beat the NBA's New Dress Code (Slate piece)
Oct. 20: The Supercloners of South Korea (Slate piece)
Oct. 19: Fake News Finds Its Blowhard (Slatepiece)
Oct. 18: Doubting Darwin in Dover (Slatepiece)
Oct. 17: What Would Bush Do Without His Brain? (Slate piece)
And you can reach me at Podcasts@slate.com. (E-mail sent may be quoted unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)