Podcasts worth listening to

One of the nicer side effects of having a job that requires you to be in front of a computer for hours at a time is that it gives you time to listen to a variety of podcasts. The mainstays of my listening day are the podcasts that Leo Laporte puts out on the TWiT network, but they're not the only ones in regular rotation on my iPod. The morning show done by Bill Handel on KFIis another I enjoy immensely, but for an international perspective there are a few you might not have heard of that are definitely worth listening to.

Some of the best are put out by the ABC. That's ABC as in Australian Broadcasting Corporation, who "got it" fairly early and began to make numerous radio shows available for download as podcasts. One, Late Night Live , is a serious yet light-hearted interview show hosted by Phillip Adams, who has been described as an Australian national treasure, and for good reason. He's the ex-Communist son of a Protestant minister, who made a fortune in advertising and now lives on a working cattle property in New South Wales where he collects Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. Back in the 1990s he was made an officer of the Order of Australia. If you don't find him and his program interesting, there's probably something wrong with you.

For equally fascinating conversation, I also like Conversations, hosted by the Australian comedian and broadcast personality Richard Fidler. Based in Brisbane, it's broadcast not on the ABC's national network but by ABC Local Radio, although for our purposes which terrestrial network it's carried by is irrelevant. Fidler is one of the best and most versatile interviewers I've ever listened to, and his program plays host to an incredibly diverse array of guests from all walks of life, Australian and otherwise. I can't recommend it highly enough; if American radio was anything like this, our country would be far better served (and vastly more entertained).

Finally, going from Australia to Europe, there's The Phileas Club, hosted by Frenchman Patrick Beja. The Phileas Club is a roundtable discussion conducted via Skype with participants from around the world, giving their perspective on the day's news and current affairs. There is occasionally a special episode devoted to a single topic; as of this writing, the current episode is devoted to the issue of healthcare, as discussed by guests from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, and Argentina. It's the kind of rational, polite and informative discussion that has largely disappeared from American airwaves, and Patrick does a great job of moderating the conversation and keeping it largely on track.

So there you have it--three shows, all intelligent, thoughtful and entertaining. If you're a Glenn Beck fan you probably won't like them, but for everyone else, I think you'll find them a breath of fresh air.