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Podcasts: another tool for efficient info-gathering

By August 9, 2011Uncategorized

If you don’t listen to podcasts maybe you should. You only have so much time in your life, so don’t watch so much TV, especially “news” programs. The “news” to “information” ratio on TV, and other mainstream information sources, is nutritionally deficient. Trust me, I’ve given up those traditional sources and I’m learning a lot more, and doing it more quickly.

So let’s talk about how podcasts can replace traditional news sources.

I’m a big football fan, and have been since I was ten years old. I have a cable TV package that includes the NFL Network. There are two or three analysts on NFL Network that are worth listening to. And about twenty who aren’t. Most of those are retired headcases. Now they wear suits, and so they’re “respectable.”

Yeah, whatever.

Michael Lombardi is one of the top analysts on NFL Network. He was in the front office of several teams, and clearly knows the NFL world from deep in the trenches. More importantly, he’s smart and doesn’t say provocative things just to get attention.

Mike Lombardi was on the Bill Simmons’ podcast the other day. You know who Bill Simmons is, right? He used to work for Jimmy Kimmel as a comedy writer, but he knows a boatload about football and basketball (and other sports). He writes in a novel way: he’s a rabid fan (roots for the Patriots and Celtics) but still tries to present a balanced assessment. And, amazingly, he does.

The traditional press has as its #1 staple pretense the notion that it is unbiased, and therefore balanced. But above all, the traditional press purports to have a wealth of inside information. That’s why they hire all the moron ex-con players and put them in suits. That’s the clever ploy that is supposed to make us believe we’re getting access to rare information.

Except that’s not what you get. Have you noticed this?

Example: Michael Lombardi goes on the Bill Simmons podcast and talks about Albert Haynesworth going to the Patriots. It sounds like a private conversation between two really well informed NFL insiders. Bill Simmons is well informed, but not an “insider” in any traditional sense. There is no traditional mold you can put Bill Simmons into.

Anyway, on the podcast you can hear Lombardi say things that he’d never say on the NFL Network. Why is he more candid on Bill Simmons’ podcast? First, because less people are listening. So, when he says things like “most defensive ends dog it from time to time” he doesn’t have to worry that one of his “respectable” fellow NFL analysts will feel insulted. Same thing when he agrees with Bill Simmons that Carolina is always wasting money, and they’re doing it again this year.

Listening to podcasts like this is truly like being part of a private conversation between two people that you really want to eavesdrop on. The information comes out fast and if something is ugly but true you find out without a lot of hemming and hawing.

Mainstream media always has to make room for the ill-informed, and the slow-witted. If you have no trouble keeping up with information sources that assume a bit of base-level knowledge and common sense, then you should try listening to podcasts more. If you don’t want to try, that’s fine.

The less people who listen the better they’ll continue to be.

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