You could say we live in the golden age of freeform radio right now, provided you define “radio” rather broadly. The freeform terrestrial stations like KCSB that we’ve come to know and love liberated creative programmers from the rigid structures commercial considerations impose. They thus took an important step forward for the medium; and somewhere in the last decade the internet opened the road for another step of at least equal length. Those who broadcast their own “radio” through this worldwide series of tubes find themselves unfettered not just by ad breaks but by broadcast length limits, by content restrictions of any kind, and, in some sense, by time itself.
This liberation works both ways, freeing radio listeners every bit as much as it frees radio creators. We do draw some joy, Luddite though it may be, from tuning into a super-local broadcast at the appointed hour and the appointed hour only, but we disregard the additional joy of listening to whatever we want, whenever we want, at our peril.
When KCSB began webcasting at the turn of the millennium, it empowered its fans to listen from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Now, certain programs have begun podcasting, i.e., offering segments as downloadable files listenable right now at your computer, or five years from now on your iPod, or later tonight on your Zune — whenever and however. When freeform radio meets the even freer form of podcasting, who can’t sense a real peanut-butter-and-chocolate sort of media synergy?
The Freak Power Ticket, profiled last April in The KCSBeat, often podcasts non-musical segments. (The way the Byzantine labyrinth of laws surrounding music rights currently stands, talk has an easier time reaching podcast form.) Ted Coe’s Monday-morning festival of modern counterculture has released downloadable versions of conversations with creators like Matt Harlock, director of American: The Bill Hicks Story and UCSB student poets Demi Anter, Sina Dailey, Chanel Miller, and Teagan Miller with UCSB art professor Kip Fulbeck. And despite what you read above, The Freak Power Ticket often podcasts musical segments as well, which usually feature live performances from bands eager to spread their sonic energy far and wide. Recent Freak-ish sets come from Jim Connolly and Rey Villalobos, Musical Chairs and Blvd Park, and Gardens & Villa.
Since I profiled it last June in The KCSBeat, Intents & Purposes has undergone a name change to Radio Causeway, but it continues to accomplish the Herculean feat of keeping morning radio actually listening. But if you’re no morning person — or if you’d rather listen, say, during your evening run — hosts Tim Grigsby and Pav Aulakh have you covered: They podcast the show mere hours after the live broadcast each and every week. You can hear Tim and Pav talk to UCSB biology professor Anthony de Tomaso about preventing organ-transplant rejection, postdoctoral research associate Danielle S. Bassett on what brain scans can predict about learning, the founders of the Notes for Notes foundation on giving local youth the chance to create music, and Guadalupe Cruz and Paul Monge-Rodriguez from UCSB Associated students about the new food bank they’ve opened.
KCSB’s news department also regularly posts its reports as podcasts. It also makes available special cultural segments, like Elizabeth Gutierrez’s interview with Parisian singer-songwriter Jessica Fichot, Nico Suarez’s interview with indie rockers The Outdoors, and an in-depth preview of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Other shows put out the occasional podcast too, as The Jazz & Bluz Cruz did with its conversation with comedian Danny McBride, Soular Hits did with its conversation with Zion I lyricist Zumbi, and No Alibis did with its School of the Americas report.
Basic principles of journalistic thoroughness dictate that I also mention my own interview program, The Marketplace of Ideas, which I’ve podcast since its KCSB debut in October 2007. If you missed my conversations with luminaries like alternate-universe pop star Nick “Momus” Currie, Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt, philosophical journalist Alain de Botton, New Yorker book critic James Wood, and marketing guru Seth Godin when they first hit the airwaves, you can still pipe them straight to your ears at a time of your own choosing.
And as for the Indy’s very own KCSB show, Poodle Radio, you already know where to find its podcasts… don’t you?