Some stories are just meant for the medium of podcasts, like the story featured on last week’s episode of the BBC Radio 4 podcast, Seriously… . What better way to dive into the cassette tape library of Osama Bin Laden and listen to the man who spent more than a decade picking through that library? And Seriously… wasn’t the only podcast doing some serious work last week. Here are some of the highlights.
Seriously… : When Osama Bin Laden fled his Afghan compound after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, he left behind decades worth of cassette tapes that were almost lost to history. The tapes, a wide mixture of recordings of speeches, sermons, music and other audio, were found in a small shop in Kandahar where they were being sold to people for re-recording purposes. Since the tapes were found, University of California-Davis professor Flagg Miller has spent a good portion of his life listening, interpreting and analyzing the meaning and importance of those tapes to Bin Laden and his followers. BBC correspondent Gordon Corera interviewed Miller about what he described as an “audio library for Al Qaeda operatives” on an episode of Seriously released last Thursday. On the podcast, you’ll hear some of the earliest recordings of Bin Laden as well as some of the varied audio recordings that went into the library, including a set of English lessons and music by a famous Jewish musician. Miller also discussed his broad view of the tapes, noting that the enemy mentioned most often on the tapes was not the U.S. but one much closer to home for Al Qaeda.
Love + Radio: Part Irish, part Lybian, Sam Najjair grew up living a fractured life straddling two “operating systems.” Nick van der Kolk interviewed Najjair on last week’s Love + Radio to talk about the wandering, rebellious path that ultimately deposited him in Lybia joining the revolution against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Najjair described his involvement in the fighting in detail, explaining his decision to become a sniper and his brigade’s charge on their home town and Lybian capital, Tripoli. It’s a revealing look at the internal thoughts of a revolutionary and the basis for Najjair’s book, Soldier for a Summer.
Tomorrow with Joshua Topolsky: Host Joshua Topolsky invited old friend and colleague Joanna Stern to his podcast to talk Apples and Googles, driving Corvettes, dog names, and more. Topolosky and Stern, technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, laid out a pretty good case for why Google is out in front of Apple when it comes to quality of software and services (from maps to photos to voice search), and how Apple’s iMessage is the hook that can keep people on Apple’s line. Stern also defended her recent article in the WSJ in which she named the Macbook Air as the best laptop for running Windows 10.
The Nerdist: Owen Wilson is out promoting his new movie No Escape! and he dropped by the Nerdist studios to have a chat with host Chris Hardwick. Wilson was refreshingly honest, open and of course laid-back funny in the interview, as he and Hardwick talked about Wilson’s long and varied career that started with the movie Bottle Rocket. Wilson also started a crusade to bring the term “the net” back 20 years after Sandra Bullock last tried.