A reporter’s wish list

I’m hoping to beef up and replenish my kit bag with some new goodies soon. Here are my top five wishlist items.

1. The Nifty Fifty. My sweet little Canon Rebel, which I have named Rebelle, was plauged with problems for the first year or so (lesson learned re: second-hand cameras) but, after investing in some repairs and discovering an old 38-76 mm lens left behind by some long-ago Beaconite, we have hit a pretty good stride. This year I want to invest (not too much!) in something with a wider angle that will do better in low light. I think this is going to be the one.

2. A voice recorder. recorder
The sony recorder I used all through grad school (that’s it taped to a pole on assignment) was the best: recording time for days, easy on batteries, great sound quality, and played well with both my work desktop and my laptop. Then a few months back, I lost it. Since then I make do with either a very finicky borrowed recorder or my iphone’s voice memo function. Neither  are very fun.

3.Bluetooth headphones. Between the walking commute, transcribing recordings, and sittting at my desk listening to music, I spend a lot of time wearing headphones. It’s time to get some nice ones that I like and won’t have to work quite so hard to take care of.

4. An external hard drive. I’ve been backing up my stuff on discs for a while now, but between the aging laptop and my ever-growing collection of digital media (that includes the stuff I’m making and my entertainment), things are bursting at the seams in terms of storage. I haven’t great luck with them in the past, so I’ll be in search of durability for this one.

5. Some classy walking shoes. This one may not seem difficult but it’s actually my holy grail of work equipment because I walk across town for so many “fancy” assignments. No kidding, if I show up at the Premier’s Office in flip flops, they will not let me in. Same at the courthouse. And the House of Assembly. My multiple pairs of flats, while tolerable, are really not that comfortable. I think they were all made for sitting, not walking.

Listen up

The meat of my media diet, if you will, is podcasts. Especially if I am learning something while I’m listening, I just love them. My Beacon bro Eric recently hopped on the bandwagon and asked for some recommendations. In case anybody else is looking to add some audio to their life, these are my essential podcasts.

1. Radiolab: My very favorite podcast. Found the show when I was living in San Diego and listening to a lot of KPBS. It’s such delicious ear candy and always manages to balance entertaining and/or emotional stories with teaching science-y goodness.

2. On being: Scratches my spiritual itch, but is great even if you’re a secular soul. Most shows are interviews with religious leaders but there are also discussions about ethics generally and big life ideas.

3. This American Life: Most people know about this one already, and with good reason. They do great journalism and plenty of the kind of storytelling that may, in some cases, make me cry. I tend not to delete them, and I listen to my favorite episodes over again.

4. Snap Judgment: After I first heard this show not too long ago, I downloaded all the episodes and listened to them in what felt like one weekend. It’s almost all personal stories told in the first-person, with interesting sound production. Also, I always end up really liking the person telling the story.

5. 99 percent invisible: Really fun shorter podcast about different types of design, from monuments to money. If you’re a person who reads the plaque, you’ll like this show.

6. Here’s the Thing: Good, smart, conversation between Alec Baldwin and a kinda crazy variety of guests. Some weeks he’ll have superstars like Chris Rock or Billy Joel, but others it’ll be someone I’ve never heard of but who’s nonetheless really interesting, like the former executive director of New York Philharmonic, Zarin Mehta.

7. On the Media: Yet another WNYC show, and another one I first listened to on the radio. It’s basically a news magazine that covers different aspects of the media (technology, freedom of information, privacy, the First Amendment, etc.) but with such good humor that you hardly notice you’re getting your savvy media consumer booster shot for the week.

8. WireTap: Like a very literary sketch comedy show on the radio. And it’s Canadian. I feel like I’m not doing it justice, but it’s really good.

9. The Listening Post: The only video podcast on my list, it’s Al Jazeera English‘s answer to On the Media. From media liberalization after the Arab Spring to citizen reporters in Nigeria, their stories are generally pretty serious, and not ones I’d come across otherwise.

I also enjoy, when I have extra time, The Story Collider and The Moth. I subscribe to Big Ideas, but it’s hit-and-miss whether I’m interested in the lectures/speakers. I like and subscribe to View Source even though I have a fuzzy grasp on some of the nerdier aspects. If I happen to have a big crush (this week it’s Caitlin Moran), I’ll search their name in iTunes and listen to whatever free podcast episodes they’ve guested on, which is good times.