Turn The Radio On



Trying to find alternative sources for news can be difficult, with airwaves and print dominated by major publications such as CNN, The New York Times, and The BBC.  The trouble I find with mainstream media is that sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what exactly is going on in the world, and why… better yet, what about all the stories behind the scenes we don’t get to hear about?

Three particular sources have proved to be continually innovative in the way they report news, and all are convenient audio sources available with the click of a radio knob (or on podcast!):  This American Life, Fresh Air, and Planet Money.  When I got confused about the economic crises and the health care debate recently, these were the sources I ran to, and I feel like they did the most stand-up job at reporting in a clear, concise, and engaging way.

Not only do these three programs continually produce efficient news, but they also offer a pleasant respite from the surplus of negative commentary out there, with entertaining and thought-provoking true stories from real people, both big names and no-names.


1.  This American Life.  The first show went on the air on NPR in 1995, and since then host Ira Glass, (picture above in the funny glasses) has been producing some of the most eye-opening audio shows I’ve ever heard.  Each episode features a variety of “acts” on a given topic.  Topics range from uniquely informative (episode #375, “Bad Bank”, reveals how and why the U.S. banking system collapsed, and what is being done to fix it; #392, “Someone Else’s Money”, takes a deep look into health care insurance), to heart-wrenching (#322, “Shouting Across the Divide”, in which a Palestinian family is torn apart in America), to hilarious (basically any episode that features Adam Davidson or David Sedaris, two frequent contributors to TAL), and beyond.  If you’re already a listener to this fantastic show, I recommend checking their archives for some episodes you might not have heard! (TAL is available as a free podcast via iTunes, and also now graces television with technicolor shows!)


2.  Fresh Air.  “From WHYY in Philadelphia, this is Fresh Air…” Host Terry Gross has been in the radio business since the 70’s, and in 1985, she took over a little show called Fresh Air.  Since then, this enthralling interviewer has graced the nation with “probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights”, according to the show’s 1994 Peabody Award credits.  She has covered topics ranging from politics and war, to arts, science and pop culture, and interviewed way too many people to list (Spike Jonze, Bill O’Reilly, Marvin Hamlish, and Gene Simmons, to name a few).  I started listening to her show years ago, mostly for entertainment, but it has become a staple in my daily yearning to understand the world.  (available as a free podcast via iTunes, and on NPR)


3. Planet Money.  This NPR production is a newby, but a goody.  So good, in fact, that I have completely fallen in love with it, and want to go out and tell everyone that if the’re looking for a place to learn about the global economy, in layman’s terms, this is the golden goose.  In August 2008, they were looking for a name to put on their brilliant idea for a business and economics show, today they are the “captains of revelatory explanation regarding the rapidly changing global economy” (according to me).  Adam Davidson (the funny bloke who sometimes appears on TAL), Alex Blumberg, and Chana Joffe-Walt are a few of the correspondents for the show, and they manage to make international economics fun and even delightful.  Who knew economics could be enjoyable? (available as free podcast via iTunes and other sources)

Since I’m on a roll, I’ll go ahead and list a couple more audio shows that have thoroughly intrigued me recently.

Inside Renewable Energy:  This is the podcast for Renewable Energy World, a website and blog dedicated to its namesake.  Offers news reports about renewable energy in companies, products, and events, in countries all over the globe.

PRI’s Social Entrepreneurship:  Yet another fabulous free podcast about incredible things happening in small business around the world, particularly focused on developing areas such as Africa.

Listen up, great things are happening!

*cute radio image via: DayGlowVintage.blogspot.com


3 Responses

  1. I never have enough time to read all the cool stuff you have on this blog! Keep it coming!

  2. I totally agree! Brandon and I both love to listen to NPR 🙂 Great blog!

  3. I’m an NPR addict.
    I just ordered a “Fresh Air” T-shirt off the internet like 2 days ago.

    They found water on the moon! I listened 4 hours today total.

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