Have you ever listened to a podcast, a quasi radio program that can be downloaded onto your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? If you haven’t you’re missing out on a wealth of information and entertainment. Podcasts are “the next big thing” in media.

I’m a devoted fan of podcasts, but when I mention them to friends they seem barely aware of this latest way of listening to audio where you decide what type of subject matter you want to hear and when you want to hear it.

A staggering number of podcasts is available on every topic you can imagine, and many you cannot or would just as soon not imagine. Besides the expected NPR programs, TED Talks and the New York Times “Daily” is an ever-expanding buffet of topics – comedy, theater, history, religion, cooking, and even language courses – nearly any area of interest you can think of. And there are plenty of podcasts for kids such as “Wow in the World” and “Storynory.”

A local note: In case you’ve lost track of Lynn Cullen, she’s still holding forth in her unique fashion, just as in her radio days, at “Lynn Cullen Live,” Monday through Friday, from 10 to 11 a.m. or any time thereafter, podcast on YouTube. Callers and emailers are encouraged, and even better, there aren’t any commercials.

The podcast that takes ups most of my listening time is the “The Bill Handel Show,” which emanates from KFI Los Angeles. Perhaps you’ve heard Handel’s syndicated show, “Handel on the Law,” on KDKA on Sunday afternoons. But his four hour news/talk show is heard during weekday morning drive time in Los Angeles, and is available in podcast form as “Handel on Demand” a few hours later, depending on your time zone. (In Pittsburgh it’s around 2 p.m.)

I appreciate the Handel podcast for many reasons not the least of which is that all commercials, all news updates, all sports, and all weather and traffic reports have been eliminated. Except for bumper music – snippets of topic-appropriate pop hits between segments – it’s just pure show. Four hours of ordinary broadcast time are condensed into less than two hours on the podcast.

Joining Bill for conversation are the news and sports readers, as well as the producer, who add spice to the proceedings, and there is a lineup of high-level field reporters and experts on everything from Wall Street to Military Monday – especially interesting at the moment because of the North Korea situation – to consumer guru Clark Howard with his “Deal of the Week.” This versatile cast provides a comprehensive menu of hard news and analysis, information, and humor. And with all of that, Handel manages to be non-partisan, which is a rarity in talk radio.

Handel’s style isn’t for everyone, but enough listeners appreciate him that he ranks No. 11 on Talkers magazine’s top 100 list of talk radio hosts and he has just been voted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

He is irreverent and proud of it, and he loves getting hate mail. But there’s a soft spot in his heart. Although it may be difficult to detect on a daily basis, it surfaces at holiday time when he devotes an entire show to raising money for a a worthy cause, a restaurant in L. A., the Anaheim White House, whose proprietor Bruno Serato feeds thousands of homeless kids every day of the year.*


On the web site Quora.com where readers ask and answer questions on a wide variety of topics, the question was asked, “What are ten things that are really worth your time?” I was surprised to find among several respondents’ answers this suggestion for using extra time: “You’re cleaning the house, doing your laundry, walking to the train stop, and although it is important to stop and smell the roses, a lot of that time could be put to better use with the magic of podcasts.I agree.

So regardless of your taste, try dipping your toe into the podcast pool. You can simply Google “Podcasts.” Or start your search with “Apple Podcasts,” Slate’s “25 Best Podcasts Ever” or Time magazine’s “The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now.”  

In podcastland you will discover a new way of entertaining yourself at home, in rush hour traffic, on long drives when you finally admit that you’re not enjoying the audiobook you brought along, or during those sleepless hours in the middle of the night.


*In February 2017 fire destroyed the Anaheim White House restaurant. The disaster made national headlines and was featured in a segment of “Sunday Morning” on CBS.

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 3:23PM by Registered CommenterPatricia P. Jennings | CommentsPost a Comment

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