So many great responses to my musings on audio documentaries yesterday with lots of suggestions: Radioopensource.org, with the inimitable veteran Christopher Lydon and his equally inimitable producer Mary McGrath; 99% Invisible, hosted by Roman Mars; On the Media, which is probably the most useful sustained media criticism in American journalism, Hardcore History with Dan Carlin, which was new to me; and Stuff You Missed in History Class were among the many vote-getters.
I wanted to take the chance to plump for a show I’m always trying to get people to listen to, because I think it exemplifies what radio can do so well. Even though I’m not obsessed with popular music, I listen to Sound Opinions every single week without fail. It comes from WBEZ in Chicago, just like This American Life, and it’s executive produced by the same guy, Tory Malatia. And it’s very simple: two talented music critics, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, review a couple of new records, maybe host a short live concert, and often dissect some classic album or genre. (This week it’s a thoughtful take on the new wave of the 80s for any Duran Duran fans out there). It hits the perfect middle ground between geeky-obsessive and overly broad and obvious: that is to say, between the Internet and TV. It’s companionable, smart, and a wonderful hour. I keep pitching it because I don’t want it to ever go off the air.