Keith And The Girl

10 12 2008

Trying to find new things to write about for Fine Filter, specifically podcasts, is an incredibly laborious process believe it or not. Roughly 80% of the new shows that I listen to completely miss the mark as a result of horrendous audio quality, long theme songs, and painfully boring hosts to name a few. Luckily I can always count on Keith and the Girl to be there to remind me of what a quality podcast should be.

Keith and the Girl, or KATG, is a New York City-based daily comedy podcast hosted by the diverse duo of Keith Malley, a part-time stand-up comedian from the Pennsylvania suburbs, and his girlfriend Chemda Kahlili, an Israeli reggae singer. The two began the show in 2005 after being inspired by now rival podcast The Dawn and Drew Show and have since garnered a sizeable and dedicated fanbase allowing them to support themselves solely through podcast generated income. To the uninitiated, their brand of profanity laden humor may seem purposefully offensive in a shock-jock kind of way. Although they do employ some of this sensibility from time to time, after listening to several hundred episodes I can truthfully say that there is a wealth of substance beneath the expletives and hot button issues.

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Audio Dharma

19 11 2008

One of my favorite things about podcasting as a medium aside from portability is that it encourages diversity and innovation like no other medium has ever done before. At the same time that podcasting has given a voice to countless brilliant comedians that otherwise wouldn’t have had a proper format to express themselves, it has also given rise to educational and religious shows that are just as unique; in this case Audio Dharma.


Audio Dharma is a series of talks on Buddhism that are recorded live from the Insight Meditation Center in San Francisco. Each episode is about 45 minutes long and features a variety of speakers, Gil Fronsdal being the most frequent, discussing an aspect of Buddhism, it’s historical significance, and how it relates to modern life. As you could imagine, the show has a very relaxed atmosphere but not in the vague new-age-ocean-sounds kind of way. Every talk is full of useful insights on mindfulness and spiritual practice that are interesting regardless of your religion or previous knowledge of Buddhism.

There is a tremendous amount of archived episodes in the iTunes feed and many topics are divided into several episodes. As a result of the low volume level however it can be a bit difficult to listen to in noisy environments. Audio Dharma’s official website is here and the Insight Meditation Center in San Francisco occasionally offers retreats to those in the area.

Future Tense

19 11 2008

Future Tense is a short daily audio podcast that centers around the Internet, computer security, the environment, and a variety of other contemporary issues. Every weekday the show’s host, Jon Gordon, is joined via telephone by bloggers, CEOs, and anyone else making headlines in the technology sector. The podcast is under the umbrella of a Minnesota-based group called American Public Media and has an overall professional NPR kind of vibe.

One of my favorite things about Future Tense is it’s consistency in providing interesting stories that most other media outlets, both mainstream and otherwise, don’t cover. Additionally, the show is quick and palatable even when covering drier topics. Some episodes as of late have discussed a breadth of topics such as Obama’s video podcast, municipal wireless Internet, and the legal and moral aspects of adult listings on Craig’s List. Something worth noting however is that despite being around for quite sometime, Future Tense’s podcast feed in iTunes only offers the latest 10 episodes or so out of what is bound to be several hundred.

The following is a clip of Jon Gordon interviewing Alice Marwick about the concept of Internet celebrity.

Future Tense can be found in iTunes and the official site is here.

Scam School

18 11 2008

Scam School is another quality podcast from the Revision 3 network (Diggnation, Totally Rad Show) which follows Brian Brushwood as he teaches simple magic tricks and puzzles involving everyday items that can be found in any bar such as loose change, matches, and of course beer bottles. Over a couple pints, the spikey-haired host shows off the trick, explains it to new friends, and then has them try it out themselves, all in under five minutes. While some episodes lean a bit more towards the traditional side of magic, most tricks are specifically made to be done in bars and can be easily learned after watching an episode only once.

Aside from the tricks themselves, the show’s concept is both highly original and practical. Although I’m sure there are plenty of TV shows and podcasts that teach regular magic, Scam School managed to make it exponentially more interesting and less nerdy simply by adding the social element of a bar setting. Even though you won’t be cutting women in half any time soon, a well placed trick might just score you some free drinks on your next night out.

Scam School can be found in iTunes and the official website is here.

TED Video Podcast

6 11 2008

TED Video is a series of lectures on current issues released in video podcast form, each about 20 minutes long. The show features a variety of speakers including inventors, environmentalists, and most notably for me at least, comedian and author John Hodgman. There is currently a wealth of videos available for download in the feed that cover topics such as happiness, the Internet as a living organism, and alien life.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the TED Video speakers is their ability to convey lofty ideas in an entertaining and interesting way without detracting from the initial intellectual substance. This however is a very fine line to walk and as such some talks completely miss the mark and end up sounding more like college lectures you could easily sleep through. For the most part though, TED Video provides a healthy alternative when you need a break from watching surprise nut-punch and sleepy cat videos on YouTube.

ted-logoTED Video can be found in iTunes and the official site is here.

The Best Show On WFMU

24 10 2008

Welcome to New Bridge, New Jersey, an imaginary town that is the brainchild of Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster. With Scharpling hosting and Wurster being a frequent call-in guest who plays a myriad of characters, the most notable of which being an overly proud Philadelphia resident named “Philly Boy” Roy Zeigler, the two have created a world unto themselves and a one-of-a-kind radio show over the past eight years. Every week Scharpling effortlessly delivers “mirth, music, and mayhem” in an astounding three hour time slot that would intimidate most other radio hosts. Despite his recent threats to disband the show, Scharpling and crew are pushing along as strong as ever.

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Mr. Deity

24 10 2008

Brian Dalton’s podcast series entitled Mr. Deity is one of the few stand out comedy shows of the recent crop of DIY video productions that have been spilling out onto YouTube and the world of podcasting lately. Utilizing only the most fundamental requirements of cast and location, Dalton has managed to create a world of his own in Mr. Deity through original dialog, well built characters, and a distinct theme song which fits the show’s mood perfectly. Regardless of your belief in or knowledge of Christianity Mr. Deity offers something enjoyable for almost any audience.

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