Yet another “I can’t do more of this” media request!
August 25, 2020 3:58 PM   Subscribe

For the past, say, decade (?) I’ve just turned on NPR and left it on for basically my entire 10+ hour workday. This has become beyond unhealthy. Looking for an alternative *something* to listen to, that I can literally let run all day without interruptions.

Podcasts don’t work, because I have to *find something else* to listen to every 45 minutes or so, which takes a good amount of time away from work. Same with listenable YouTube videos. I’m too tired to make daily playlists on any platform.

I’m basically looking for good audio livestreams, with varied topics, that I can mindlessly turn on and remain at least somewhat interested in. I could list my interests, but variation is key.

Politics and world events are okay, but the endless loop of NPR News covering the exact same (heartbreaking) stories every hour-ish must be banished for a bit. I’m not hiding from the news — I just need a bit of variance from it.

I love the BBC World Service (not News Hour) that airs from about midnight to 5 am on WYNC/NEPM/WAMC/etc. in the American northeast. (One of my work days has me up during those hours.) But I haven’t found a livestream or station that has it running in non-weird times, and for longer than 4 hours.

What’s my “set-it-and-forget-it” listening in 2020?
posted by functionequalsform to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can listen to the BBC world service live (i.e., continuously) via their website. Here are the links for the live feed, and schedule with links.

But you can also stick BBC Radio 4 on too, and it will probably do what you need. That's what used to be called "The Home Service" - i.e., the more elaborate UK version of the World Service with more variety between comedy, drama, documentaries, news, etc. It has less news that the World Service, but the news it does have is UK-focused. Here's the link to the daily R4 schedule, and the R4 live feed.
posted by EllaEm at 4:31 PM on August 25, 2020 [11 favorites]

This is the schedule section of the Vatican Radio site. There is a lot of stuff there that is in other languages, but a lot of music from different regions of the world throughout the day you might find interesting. And news now and then in English.
posted by Fukiyama at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Podcasts don’t work, because I have to *find something else* to listen to every 45 minutes or so, which takes a good amount of time away from work.

Respectfully, maybe you're doing podcasts wrong? It sounds like maybe you're picking an episode in a web browser and playing it, then going back to the well to find something else when that's done. If you subscribe to a mess of varied podcasts using an actual podcast app, you'll have days upon days of episodes that will play one after the other (and load new unplayed episodes when the ones you've listened to are auto-deleted). No need to make a daily playlist, just let 'em play out in reverse chronological order. Assuming your interests are diverse, the podcasts should jump from topic to topic at random.
posted by mumkin at 4:44 PM on August 25, 2020 [21 favorites]

Tom Scharpling's The Best Show podcast (currently on hiatus) has thousands of hours of content going back 20 years (weekly show at 3 hours a pop). Listen here ... download WFMU-era shows here.

Some find it an acquired taste. It started in 2000 with a mix of music and interviews with fake experts. It was a call-in show, but early on most of the calls were either confused people or friends of the host. As it picked up steam, a lot of the callers became characters in and of themselves. It's a heady mix of real weirdos and people pretending to be weirdos. Tom's performative anger at bad callers is meant to be funny. Standards of discourse and humor were different 20 years ago, of course. Tom is generally rooting for the little guy and against the haters.

I discovered it back when I could barely pick up the New Jersey station in Brooklyn, then rediscovered it when I recognized the voice of Greg Universe. It's long-form comedy writ really, really long, with call-in characters who have been recurring for decades.
posted by rikschell at 4:49 PM on August 25, 2020

Best answer: PRX Public Radio Remix. You'll need a stupid app that doesn't tell you the name of the current show or episode. But, usually good and totally varied.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:51 PM on August 25, 2020

Best answer: You could listen to ABC, Australian's public broadcaster.

There is a national station or you could choose a broadcast from a specific city ie Sydney, Perth, etc.

Lots of soothing, friendly talk programming (Aussies are lovely!), and if you are in the US you'd be listening mostly to the night programming.
posted by lulu68 at 4:57 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: maybe you're picking an episode in a web browser and playing it

Not to threadsit, but nope! I use Overcast, with success when I have time to pay (at least) a little attention to it. (And also yup, I listen in reverse chronology.) I literally don’t want to look for podcasts, subscribe to them, and then delete them if they are annoying/show up in the feed too often/I get sick of them/the host is weird/etc. I’m a podcast nerd at night, but during the day, I Just Want A “Radio” Station. (But it’s always possible I *am* using my app wrong!)

Thanks for bringing it up, and I hope this clarifies!
posted by functionequalsform at 5:01 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: NPROne will produce an endless stream of podcasts based on your interests, although I've never tried it for 8+hours straight, so maybe it'll run out of material?

You could put on CBC Radio One and listen detatchedly to the news from a Canadian city of your choice (Ottawa! Toronto! Whitehorse!) that comes between CBC's fine long-form programming.
posted by GuyZero at 5:28 PM on August 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you can do video (and maybe not even watch at all) Live Schedule - TV | NHK WORLD-JAPAN Live & Programs is a bit like this. News at the top of the hour for 10 minutes or so. Some times an interview with some interesting person about some random thing. The rest is a mix of random arts/culture type things. It all sorta repeats every 4 hours so if you sorta half catch something in the middle, you can catch it the next time (or after a while, in the app/web). It's good continuous non-trite background media. No commercials, no ads, it just goes along from show to show.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:37 PM on August 25, 2020

Have you thought about tv? Like ESPN or some channel that plays poker 24/7 or ...AMC or the Yule Log?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2020

How about RUSC radio, just enter your name & email & pick a category & listen to hours of classic radio shows. I don't know how long each channel takes to repeat, you'd have to test that yourself.

My favorite categories are Detective, Thriller, & Sci-Fi.
posted by muddgirl at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Was going to suggest the CBC as well. Otherwise i’ve been known to just pick regular old terrestrial radio stations streaming on TuneIn. I occasionally pick ones from random english speaking cities just to hear different local news and traffic reports from places i won’t ever likely be. Morning and afternoon “drive time” shows work for this. Downside - radio ads.

(If you did want to rethink podcasts with Overcast subscribe to a few “daily” shows and create a smart playlist, newest to oldest — i call mine “daily”. Then turn on “continuous play” and “delete when completed”. It’ll just run through the day’s episodes until it runs out of content!)
posted by cgg at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also thought of BBC Radio 4. It will be a mix of news, features, interviews, but also some comedy shows and radio plays (and The Archers which is a long running audio soap). The news should be pretty measured and has a non-US perspective. I hate news and listening to NPR all day would definitely stress me out, but I can have R4 on with no problem.

Depending on where you are in the world, if you stream live, you might get some funny middle-of-the-night programming because of the time zone difference. But that may be a benefit.
posted by cpatterson at 10:42 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you enjoy the BBC, may I suggest Radio New Zealand National
posted by slightlybewildered at 11:08 PM on August 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (Assuming it’s not geoblocked?) you could also try BBC Radio 4 Extra, which is basically Radio 4 Gold, i.e. archival material and repeats. A mix of comedy, drama and documentary, no news. You might find the sheer Radio 4-ness of it a bit much, tbh, but perhaps it could fit in rotation with a couple of other options.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:53 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've enjoyed poking around on the TuneIn phone ap. The new user interface is a little weird, but they've got many hundreds of live English language non-music radio stations, including various options from the BBC, ABC, CBC, NZ, US college radio stations, and some English stations from non-obvious places. It's a pretty goodset it and forget it until you decide to pick something else alternative to broadcast radio.

(There's also Pacifica. But, if NPR makes you frustrated, it is unlikely to be an improvement.)
posted by eotvos at 1:21 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There’s comfort in listening to music radio stations broadcasting in languages you don’t understand or half-understand. Even if they have news bulletins, all you pick out are proper names.

Radio Helsinki is good, and I feel honor bound to recommend the Icelandic Rás 2, but half the fun is looking for new stations from around the world.
posted by Kattullus at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2020

Best answer: Seconding BBC Radio 4 Extra, which is not geoblocked in the US. It's my go-to. No news, no weather, no sports. Some of it is amazing, some meh, but nearly all is very well made.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2020

Radio FIP (French, mostly eclectic music, occasional short news reports in French)
posted by dhruva at 7:07 PM on August 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

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