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Podcasts are a great way for busy geeks to stay on top of their obsessions when they’re stuck in traffic (or a cubicle). A good podcast can encapsulate your favorite TV or radio show and even have that feel of “old-timey” radio. They’re also a great way for independent producers of various content to get their stuff “out there.” All you need to get your silky voice out there is a computer, some kind of compatible recording equipment and a program like GarageBand or Audacity.
G4 (formerly Tech TV) is the home for gamers and gadget lovers on digital cable TV (it’s Channel 158 on Cox Digital in the Valley). G4 programs like Attack of the Show and X-Play have their own podcasts here, but so do their hosts, with such titles as “Sessler’s Soapbox,” “In Your Pants,” “Gadget Pron” and “The Feed.” The great thing is you can keep up with a lot of G4 content without paying for cable!
The ForceCast is the official podcast of TheForce.net, which is probably the greatest unofficial site out there devoted to Star Wars. Unofficial or not, they still manage to get great scoops and Star Wars insiders as guests, such as collector extraordinaire turned Lucasfilm employee Steve Sansweet. He has the largest private collection of SW memorabilia in the world (and I remember him introducing SW collectibles on QVC before the prequels came). Now he is “director of content management and head of fan relations” for Lucasfilm. That is one lucky geek!
Star Wars Roleplaying Game official podcast
This new podcast has the designers of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game from Wizards of the Coast offering advice for running exciting ongoing scenarios in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Order 66 (unofficial SWRPG podcast)
Before Wizards finally got on the ball this month with an official SWRPG podcast, a couple of independent podcasters had already racked up a couple dozen episodes on the same topic. Order 66, named after the Emperor’s order to exterminate the Jedi in Star Wars — Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, strikes a good balance of crunchy rules discussions, adventure ideas and humor.
Dungeons & Dragons official podcast
Game design gurus from Wizards of the Coast offer behind-the-scenes looks at D&D products as well as actual-play recordings, such as recent audio of the gamers from Penny Arcade getting their first experience with D&D Fourth Edition.
This “irreverent look at tabletop roleplaying games and a little bit more” is fun, witty, crass and a little dirty. It’s also all over the place, despite each episode having a basic theme — in other words, it’s just like hanging out with your gamer friends. A recent episode dealt with drawing out shy gamers, but also drifted into a nostalgic look at BattleTech Centers, which I thought was just something made up to fill unsold ad space in comic books, like Space Camp. (Kidding!)
Billing itself as “THE podcast for tabletop RPG gamers,” this tamer show seems to have a friendly (?) rivalry going with Fear the Boot. It’s on an extended hiatus, but the archives are extensive and the forums are hopping.
Secret Life of Girl Gamers
A curious coven of gamers dish on their newest favorites and tackle touchy topics in gaming (“Conventions, what are they, and how do I survive one?”; “In-Character Relationships…of a romantic nature”; “Gift ideas”). It’s a meaty spin-off of another gaming podcast, All Games Considered, which seems to have run out of steam lately.
Whether you’re a news junkie or just like a good laugh, NPR’s weekly current events quiz is worth checking out. You can listen to it every weekend on local NPR affiliate KJZZ, or you can catch the whole thing as a weekly podcast. Three panelists (from Mo Rocca to “Ask” Amy Dickenson to Paula Poundstone) answer questions about the week’s news, playing games such as “Bluff the Listener” and “Lightning Fill In the Blank.” Callers try to guess “Who’s Carl This Time?” and win veteran NPR Morning Edition host Carl Kasell’s voice on their home answering machine (!), and various VIPs get put on the hot seat about potentially unfamiliar topics in “Not My Job.” (Here you can listen to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s recent appearance on the show.)
Auto experts Tom & Ray Magliozzi solve caller’s car problems and crack a lot of bad jokes in this weekend NPR program-turned-podcast. Along the way, tune up your brain with semi-automotive Puzzlers and listen to the hosts squirm as former callers return to reveal the results of their sage advice. The humorous credits are not to be missed!
NPR’s Sunday Puzzle Podcast
Weekend Edition puzzle master and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz presents challenging puzzles and gives one listener a chance to play on the air.
Talk of the Nation Science Friday
This podcast is actually a recording of a weekly talk show of the same name on National Public Radio. Host Ira Flatow leads a discussion of science topics in the news, and the goal is “making science user-friendly.” I’ve been catching it on and off for years now, and it’s always enlightening — and sometimes even entertaining.