In my podcast listening, I find myself turning more often to Q, a CBC radio program hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. I was first intrigued about the program because that's where Billy Bob Thornton had an epic meltdown that alienated all of Canada (Jian had the nerve to ask Billy Bob about being an actor while Thornton was promoting an album). And then I was amused to see Jian, who I had known as the drummer of the Canadian band Moxy Fruvous.
But I continued to listen. I'm not sure how long the actual radio shows are (2 hours?) but the pods are about an hour long. It's basically a culture show, like Fresh Air but with a younger, hipper host (sorry Terry, you know I love you, but...).
There's a lot of random Canadian content for better or for worse (did you know Harlequin, the publisher of romance novels is a Canadian company?!), although I do like to sort of keep informed. I also give the Canadian bands a chance before fast forwarding. But that's the lot of podcasts, right?
What really blew me away recently, though, was the quality of guests. There is a certain amount of overlap with NPR's Fresh Air as authors or musicians or actors head to Toronto to promote their latest work, but recently Q featured substantial interviews with three great musicians I've never heard interviewed: Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Bill Withers. All three interviews were very different in tone and purpose: Van wanted to rant and found someone with a microphone, Tom was just joking around and seemed like a lot of fun and Bill was cranky and contentious as might be expected. What was nice was that Bill ended by saying how much he enjoyed the give and take he had with Jian. I certainly enjoyed listening in.
A cousin and I had recently debated the merits of Terry Gross and I have to say, while Terry gets more serious and has great talks with serious journalists about the issues of the day, on the culture front, I'm preferring Jian for many of the reasons the unnamed cousin and I had discussed. The main thing is probably just that it's a more natural conversation.
So, check it out: Q.