In an effort to be a non-wasteful, environmentally-conscious individual, I recently decided that I would not buy a new iPod touch if my old iPod — my very old iPod — was still working. Unfortunately, it is It doesn’t have touch (well, barely, if you count the touch wheel), and it doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity. Hell, it doesn’t even have a dock connector! But it’s swell-looking, feels good in the palm, kind of has a retro vibe to it (circa 2003), and I must admit to a bit of vanity here – I’m kind of psyched that I got on the iPod bandwagon before Apple become such a phenom and iPods were relegated to a commodity, like a toaster or walkman.
So I thought I’d dig it out of the shoebox where it’s been resiging for the past year or so, and put it back into rotation. I admit that nowadays, in the age of Pandora and Last.fm I don’t use iTunes very much any more. When I do, it’s just to play music that I’ve uploaded to my library. But I decided that it’d be great to listen to Podcasts on the walk to and from work.
I’ve listened to almost all of the TedTalks which are absolutely incredible and inspiring (audio podcast here), so I thought I’d poke around the interwebs for something new. I really listening to NPR, and one of my favorite shows there is This American Life. I just assumed that they would have a podcast, so I did a search on it in the iTunes Music Store. Sure enough there was a podcast, which was free to subscribe to (you have to pay for back-episodes!).
I subscribed, and as iTunes always does, it started to downloaded the latest episode. But I was confused when, upon repeatedly pressing the refresh button, no new episodes appeared – just the most recent one (called #88: Numbers)
, dated January 5th, 2009. Was there an error? Was something wrong with iTunes? Was something wrong with the internet? NPR is usually at the forefront of embracing new kinds of media, and I figured that podcasts are somewhat old-hat by now, surely this isn’t the first one they’ve put out, but this is the only one showing up in this This American Life podcast feed. I wonder if this is a cost-saving measure, or to encourage people to pay for previous episodes? Either way, it’s understandable. According to a post on the TAL website:
Last week, the economic crisis that we’ve been reporting on hit especially close to home. A dozen colleagues from our home radio station, WBEZ Chicago, had to be laid off. It costs the radio station around $150,000 per year just for the internet bandwidth to deliver the free podcast and web stream of This American Life. That’s not staff. Not computers. Just the bandwidth.
Wow! That’s a lot of money.
Even if there’s only one show available at a time, I consider it a gift and I’m so very excited to get to listen to TAL podcasts on the walk into work on my very old iPod. I plan on donating at least a couple of dollars so that they can keep this effort going; unsurprisingly. tough times hits public radio extra hard.
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