Worth A Listen: Top Audio Tracks for May 26, 2013

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Photo courtesy SXC.

There’s a great big world of sound out there these days: according to recent research on podcasting, a recent Edison Research Study on the Podcast Consumer demonstrated that awareness of the medium has grown 105 percent since 2006, from 22 percent in 2006 to 45 percent in 2012. Likewise, the percentage of consumers indicating they have listened to an audio podcast has grown 163 percent, from 11 percent in 2006 to 29 percent in 2012. And that’s not even considering the vast numbers of terrestrial radio programs (most from public media, but not all) that are making their episodes available for consumption on iTunes, MP3 players, smartphones, and other digital devices. It can be hard to decide what to listen to – for business, pleasure or education.

Worth A Listen will be a regular feature of this blog, and will present several tracks that I think are exemplary uses of audio for one reason or another. Let’s dive into the first batch of links!

Adam Wade: Volcanic Chemistry

This track is part of The Story Collider‘s ongoing series of storytelling festivals that ask people to get up on stage and relate tales of how science makes an impact on people’s lives. Wade’s story is set in his high school chemistry class, but it’s really a tale of adolescent lust, longing, golf and prom. I find it hysterical, and he does a wonderful job of being just self-deprecating enough to show he’s gained some perspective since his junior year!

In Their Own Words, from “Thenceforward and Forever Free” |  Backstory

This seven-minute segment from the history podcast Backstory never fails to give me chills. The clip is part of a larger show on the Emancipation Proclamation, and this part shares the observations of former slaves, recorded during the Great Depression as part of a Works Progress Administration project. I’m thrilled that I can sit here in 2013 and listen to tracks from the 1930s that allow me to hear people talking about their part in one of America’s greatest turning points, which occurred during the 1860s!

Caroll Spinney on Creating Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch | Blank on Blank

Blank on Blank shares “lost” audio interviews with listeners. This one was recorded in 2007 by newspaper reporter James Sullivan for a story he wrote for the Boston Globe. Puppeteer Caroll Spinney talks about how he crafted the voice for two of Sesame Street’s most beloved characters, and also voices a couple of characters he created for a kid’s show in Boston before Sesame Street went on the air. Anyone of the generation that grew up on Sesame Street (that would be me …) will love this segment.

A Walk Across America: Advice For A Young Man

This 50-minute radio documentary, produced in conjunction with the audio education group Transom.org, is simply amazing. In late 2011, 23-year-old Andrew Forsthoefel headed out his back door in Philadelphia, planning to walk across the country and listen to the people he met. He asked them lots of questions about how they had lived their lives, and what advice they had for a young man like himself. He recorded more than 85 hours of audio. This program is a delightful mix of interviews with his new friends, observations by Forsthoefel about the people he met, and outtakes of his singing and mandolin playing, which was something he often did with the people he interviewed and stayed with.

(Warning: This show, and other fresh audio tracks like it on Transom.org, have been so popular that occasionally you’ll get a “bandwidth exceeded” notice when you click on this link. Be patient and return. It is very much worth it.)

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