Normally in this space I offer my Pod Pick of the Week. But last weekend, the medium's first major conference (which I attended) also held its first major awards ceremony. I'm guessing that this effort by the podcasters to recognize their own didn't make it onto your radar screen, so instead of my own Pod Pick, I offer you the winner of the first ever "Podcast of the Year."
The winner was selected by "an anonymous committee of podcasters, journalists and opinion leaders." (Hmm, podcasting isn't even two years old, and already we have a star chamber? I'm not sure I like that—and not only because no one invited me to join.)
The committee's criteria for selecting the top dog were as follows:
a) a podcast that stays on-topic and provides unique information to a niche audience not widely available elsewhere
b) a podcast with an informative Web site and (optionally) quality supporting printed collateral
c) a podcast with exceptional listener loyalty
And the Poddy* went to … Eat Feed, which bills itself as "the podcast that takes you back in time, across the country, around the world, and back to your own table." (Click here for the iTunes feed, click here for the Yahoo! Podcasts feed, or click here for the Web site.)
I had never listened to Eat Feed, but post-win I downloaded a few episodes. My reaction: It sounds like a solid public-radio food show.
That's not really a compliment or a criticism. I like a good radio food show. I find discussions of comestibles quite evocative—just hearing the words "tart cranberries" or "pumpkin pie" makes the taste memories barge into my mouth. (The two food radio shows that I've listened to the most also have podcasts: Good Foodfrom KCRW, and The Splendid Table—partial podcast only—from American Public Media.)
Eat Feed would be right at home on a public radio station, which is why I was surprised it won Podcast of the Year. I'll take the star chamber's word that EF has a loyal following, and I agree that its Web site is informative. But as for serving a "niche audience," I'm not convinced.
I was expecting the award to go to something that really highlights the differences between podcasting and broadcasting: something like our previous Pod Pick Fly With Me, produced by an airline pilot and presenting a cockpit's-eye view of the airline industry, or a truly niche podcast like KnitCast, which focuses on knitting nitty gritty. Very few radio stations would put a show like that on the air, yet I'm sure if I were a knitter I would impatiently wait for each new episode.
Nonetheless, I do think Anne Bramley of Eat Feed produces a quality podcast worth checking out if you're into food history (one episode you might find interesting this week is her recent discussion of the food served at the first Thanksgiving). But note to star chamber: Try to shock us a little more next year.
This week's Slate podcasts haven't been nominated for anything, but they do include our new daily audio Explainer (click on any of the links below to download or play the MP3 files, or click here for details on subscribing to Slate podcasts).
Nov. 18: Explainer: So, You Wanna Start Your Own Town?
Nov. 17: Explainer: A How-To Guide for Soldiers
The Old College Retry ( Slate piece)
Nov. 16: Explainer: Can I See That Presidential Paper?
Do Brits or Yanks Love Freedom More? ( Slate piece)
Nov. 15: Explainer: Did Saddam Make Mustaches Compulsory?
Bush's New Mantra: I Was Wrong, But So Were You
( Slate piece)
Nov. 14: Explainer: Where's My Arctic Oil? ( Slate piece)
Tom Cruise's First-Date Tips ( Slate piece)
Write us anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
*I believe I'm making that name up.