More Podcasts with More Content from On the Coast, please!

According to NPR, this is the year of the podcast. Here are a couple of paragraphs from a Washingtonian article by Andrew Beaujon:

Last month, for example, WBUR General Manager Charles Kravetz told ‘New York Times’ reporter David Carr public radio’s audience growth is “off slightly, probably in part because people are listening to on-demand programming on podcasts.” In other words, there’s no guarantee a listener will switch on their local NPR affiliate station after an episode of ‘Serial’ or the ‘TED Radio Hour’ finishes on their iPhone.

“I think what we’re learning in public radio is there’s mutual interdependence,” he says. The ‘TED Radio Hour’ has a larger digital audience than it does on terrestrial radio, and wouldn’t be sustainable if it were “just supporting itself off its radio underwriting revenue.” Listeners attracted to the deeper storytelling they encounter on flagship podcasts like ‘TED‘ may lead them to the network’s news products, Nuzum says.

So… what’s the public broadcaster CBC doing about that? After all, they’re dealing with the same concerns about  getting people to tune in and/or engage with the programmes as NPR is. Plus CBC has recently stated they’re promoting the web as a delivery platform for programming, with audio podcasts a perfectly obvious fit.

”On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

”On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

As discussed a few weeks ago, I’m listening to an array of podcasts at work instead of CBC’s On the Coast with Stephen Quinn. As much as I’d like to, I can’t afford to listen to the show as it broadcasts via the CBC Radio app, as my mobile data plan wouldn’t support the stream’s requirements.

Thus, I’ve been making do with the podcast version of On the Coast, but I’ve found it very lacking: it updates about once every fortnight, and only delivers one article of marginal interest lasting eight minutes.

What we get now is one short item of seemingly little importance, or at the very least is of the well, that was interesting to hear about, but it hasn’t informed me much variety. The past five episodes have been as follows:

  1. Lang Lang PuSh Festival show explores piano ownership and worship in China
    An unusual show at the PuSh Festival on Thursday night takes a close look at China’s most famous pianist, Lang Lang, and his influence on Chinese culture.
    7 minutes — February 8th, 2015
  2. PuSH Festival Dance gets local non-professionals learning moves
    Montreal choreographer Sylvain Emard uses amateur Vancouver dancers for his community dance project, Le Grand Continental.
    7 minutes — January 22nd, 2015
  3. More people trying poi for a mental and physical challenge
    An ancient traditional Maori dance that became a popular performance art at music festivals, is now becoming popular for people looking for a fun and challenging activity. You can now learn how to play poi in Vancouver.
    7 minutes — January 18th, 2015
  4. Farmed fish, cauliflower top food trends for 2015
    If you like cauliflower you’re in luck – the brassica will likely be heavily featured on menus this year, along with Israeli food, farmed salmon and lots of other vegetables. On the Coast food columnist Anya Levykh explains.
    8 minutes — January 5th, 2015
  5. Community helps family after fire
    The Edwards-Cyrus family gets a huge hand and big donations from the community, in time for Christmas.
    7 minutes — December 11th, 2014

Having the collected journalistic talents and story-telling skills of the team responsible for three hours of broadcasting each and every weekday distilled into 36 minutes of podcasts with only one segment being of anything but ‘lifestyle content’ is deplorable. Given it covers just short of two full months of broadcasting, the matter is deplorable. Whoever is responsible for selecting these pieces is either choosing things by what is of the least contentious nature (IE: ‘safest’ or ‘won’t potentially get anyone sending us eMail about the content’), or they’re determined to ensure no one bothers to remain subscribed to the feed due to its spotty frequency of output and lack of worthwhile, thought provoking, informative content. No matter what the guiding approach is, it’s certainly far from representative of the programme’s content.

This is very disappointing, as I miss hearing local stories about politics and current events in my city. At the very least what I would like to hear is one newsy item or a compilation of several reports & interviews on the same subject of major importance to the local citizenry each week. Frankly, I would really love to hear one every single day, as surely there’s one interview or item on each show that is either the most important or the topic of the most interest to people from that day’s broadcast? How tough would it be to ‘tear out’ one section from the broadcast and shove it at the CBC servers for dissemination to the masses before leaving at the end of each day?

Quite justifiably, reaction to my views above would be shut your pie-hole and buy a little radio for $20 at London Drugs, whiny boy! Sure, I could do that, you bet.

But here’s the thing that confuses me the most.

Someone is being paid to decide what goes into the podcast every so often. They should be paid, don’t misunderstand me. Plus someone should be controlling what goes into the podcast if they’re going to do it at all.

However, if they’re going to decide what will go into the podcast, as well as when it will be made available, shouldn’t it be useful and actually interesting material? You know: if you’re going to do something at all, isn’t wisest to ensure it is the best that it can be, rather than just some uninformative, place-holder, homogeneously neutral content; the audio equivalent of Lorem Ipsum? Apologies to those responsible for the pieces cited above; you know you’ve done better work than this, however.

Doing something in a half-hearted manner is not better than doing nothing at all.

I know the local CBC personnel can do better and I urge them — or those who decide these things — to strive for the excellence which is within their grasp, and that they are rightly recognized the world over for achieving.

NEXT POST: there are a dozen more podcasts I can recommend, and will.

Mood: uninformed and unsatisfied
Music: Nick Drake's Pink Moon (25 February 1972, Island Records)

Why I’m Not Listening to On the Coast Anymore

”On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

“On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

First off, I actually am listening to CBC Vancouver’s On the Coast, just not on the radio. I’m listening to it via their podcast [see image], because listening to them at the job would require either an actual radio, or an ‘all you can eat’ data plan for my mobile phone that I cannot afford; and I don’t get home until 5:45 pm at the earliest. So, it’s their podcast that means once a week or so I get to hear about ten minutes of their show and that’s all. As a result, I make do with listening to oodles of podcasts loaded on my iPhone. Sorry about the click bait.

The noise cancelling headphones I used to use have suddenly developed a super-crackley loose connection that makes me willing to gouge out my ear canals instead of using them (so I wisely have set them aside until they get replaced). Previously I had been listening to music (and “live tweeting” as I worked my way through the careers of people like David Bowie and The Beatles, including information relevant to the albums), but the headphones I’m using now are Apple’s earPods and aren’t all that great for music so I’m going with the simpler sound demands of the human voice: podcasts.

A bunch of them I think enough of to actually babble about here, and if you’ve not heard of Any of them I recommend you check them out for yourself.

“Serial” from NPR

“Serial” from NPR

The first, Serial, was the buzz of the entire world¹ at the end of last year. It was/is about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trials of Adnan Syed who was found guilty by the second jury to consider the matter, the 1st time the matter ended in a mistrial. He claims to be innocent not merely because it didn’t happen the way it is claimed to have, but it didn’t happen at all. Everyone’s got their idea in reaction to the details of the case, including me² [SPOILER ALERT: reading the footnote will reveal a fair few things and/or ruin your own unadulterated opinion of the case if you have not heard all twelve of the episodes], but the real fascinating part is the minutiae of the case being gone through at the time of the original investigation as well as hearing so many versions of the same story from so few people. Additionally, should the wheels of justice spin equally, no matter the end result, or not, and who really knows what ever happened ever? Do you know exactly what you did six weeks ago today (seriously, try to remember right now and try to avoid saying something like well, I probably was _______, but it was a normal day so I don’t really recall if you think you can). Intelligent crime reporting that isn’t really Crime Reporting. They’re coming back with a new season sometime this year, with a whole new story which hasn’t been revealed. Great stuff.

“Invisibilia” from NPR

“Invisibilia” from NPR

Next, Invisibilia, is the one everyone’s buzzing about now³, from the people who formative in creating This American Life and Radiolab. It’s ‘science without the science,’ or ‘science that focuses on the sociological impact of things you don’t think have any. It’s not your high school physics class, nor is it a watered down version of the latest findings of cool technical research; it’s about how scientific things have no… um… it tells you about things you’ve never noticed before that have no… It’s… oh for pity’s sake; JUST LISTEN TO IT AND IMPROVE YOURSELF, ALREADY, OKAY?!

“The Invisible Hand” from CBC Radio

“The Invisible Hand” from CBC Radio

Then there’s one from several years ago called The Invisible Hand, (which is sadly no longer available). Having listened to it at least twice now since it originally aired, then having heard a bunch of episodes of NPR’s Planet Money, I really do not understand why The Invisible Hand wasn’t renewed. I know it got a shit-load of criticism of the “how dare you shove economics at me, you bunch of Capitalistic Pig-Swine!” variety, but that sort of narrow-minded, knee-jerk, low-rent, ‘protect me from questioning anything I already think is right or wrong’ reactionism is exactly what’s wrong with the world today.

“Planet Money” from NPR

“Planet Money” from NPR

Frankly, if people want something to be irate about, NPR’s Planet Money should cause a good number of seizures: they’re investing money on the New York Stock Market right now, and they’re actually investing on the basis the stock market will go down! They’re betting that America will fail! They’re not making any money with this strategy, obviously, they’re illustrating how ‘sorting shorting a stock’ works in practice. However, imagine a CBC programme trying anything close to this as a way of explaining how stuff works: people would shit themselves! Personally, I love the fact the people at the show are doing it, as it totally clarifies things, and the notion of getting people to understand how that there Economy stuff works is exactly what this show does and the CBC’s 12-week summer experiment actually did. For some unfathomable reason, we’re happy to let the ‘experts‘ do it for us instead, which strikes me as being damned dangerous.

I wish The Invisible Hand had continued, as I really enjoy where they were going philosophically: questioning pre-conceived notions of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ about the economy–even challenging what the economy is for that matter–is both an intelligent and interesting way into any topic, especially this one. The fact it was able to do so without shoving ‘egg-heads’ at the listener made it all the more appealing to me. The economy doesn’t need to be as complicated as it is made out to be, unless you’re dealing with the really big stuff that the Governor of the Bank of Canada explains to people (with the hopes that some experts actually understand what he’s said, with the usual result of ‘no, no they didn’t‘).

There’s a bunch more podcasts I am listening to, but those will do as recommendations for now.


  1. …if your world is full of white liberal people and is limited to North America.
  2. First off, Adnan did it. Maybe it was an accident, maybe not, who knows. The State Prosecutor’s case shouldn’t have seen the light of day, never mind the Jury in the courtroom, it’s so much of a joke; there are holes you could drive several buildings through. The right guy was found guilty, just not at all in the right way. The real mystery here is this: there’s way more that happened that day which probably involved Jay, more than likely all of this un-known stuff took place sometime between 1:30 and 8:00pm when the cell phone seems to have moved all over Hell’s half-acre, and neither Adnan nor Jay are talking about it. I predict revelations about this eventually, but everyone in society will have forgotten by that time and no longer care.
  3. op. cit.

Uncle Warren is Watching

Because the thought that ‘Warren Ellis is staring in the window of my flat in order to determine what exactly I need to be told’ amuses me, here’s something from the very last bit of this week’s Orbital Operations:

Take care of yourself, avoid death, and find pleasure in the little things.

The newsletter about what he’s doing (or not doing, because he’s so busy just now) is where this is from. You will subscribe by clicking here:

You’re welcome. Again.

…and thank you, Uncle Warren.


Dean Del Mastro

what a fucking scum-bag

Dean Del Mastro [from his web-site]

Former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro [image, right] is a fucking scum-bag.

I have no problem saying this, as it’s just my opinion.

He’s been convicted of every single charge laid against him about breaking the election act during the 2008 campaign. He was also convicted of falsifying a document attempting to cover-up the fact. The Judge’s ruling was scathing:

In her decision, Judge Lisa Cameron said that in her view, from the timing of the contract and its language, it “is plainly a contract for election services.”

She also said that she found Del Mastro wasn’t credible, “frequently obfuscated” during his testimony and that there were a number of inconsistencies.

Here’s how recalcitrant he was right after the decision was given, amid suggesting that there would be an appeal filed (although his lawyer downplayed the idea):

The judge’s ruling “was not a final decision,” he added.

“I’ve in no way broken any of the laws governing elections.”

He seemed unfazed by the judge’s finding that his testimony wasn’t credible.

“I know what the truth is. That’s her opinion. My opinion is quite different.”

So… again, my opinion is that he’s a fucking scum-bag. He should be able to ignore me just as easily as he is Her Majesty’s laws.

Mood: irate

Something to Always Remember

Once more Warren Ellis says the right thing for me to hear, and the right time for me to hear it.

Have a great week. And if it’s a shitty week? This too will pass. There has been joy. There will be joy again.

Thank you, kind sir.

He has a newsletter about what he’s doing (or not doing, because he’s so busy just now). You will subscribe by clicking here:

You’re welcome.

Mood: tired
Book: Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul, Howard Schultz (with Joanne Gordon); Rodale, March 2011 [ISBN:978160961346]