There’s something about listening to a food show on the radio.
Of course I am endlessly entertained by TV cooking shows: a little pseudo-cooking from a well-coiffed celebrity host in a pristine, Sub-Zero-sponsored kitchen; or maybe the high drama of competitive cooking looking all too easy with flashy knife skills and careful editing. It’s performance television, and most of us view it with the same slack-jawed passivity we assume when watching a CSI marathon.
But there’s just something about listening to a food show.
There’s an intimacy and immediacy to the disembodied voice in your ear, a connection that is rarely found through the high-gloss visuals of television. Fans of the genre claim that at its best, radio taps deep into their memories, pulling imagery from their brains in a way that video never does.
Radio is accessible just about anytime, anywhere: you can tune in the local station through the FM dial, subscribe via satellite service, stream shows live online, or download podcasts to numerous devices. There are shows for every taste from the big city polish of Los Angeles’ Good Food and Eastern Iowa’s recipe-swapping Open Line, with its repertoire of icebox cookies and new uses for canned cream of mushroom soup. Niche podcasters play to cultish audiences with the practical, the edgy, and the strange like the dairy discourse of Cutting the Curd, school cafeteria reports from the Renegade Lunch Lady, and Mike and Tom Eat Snacks, known by its legions of fans as MATES, in which comedian Michael Ian Black and actor Tom Cavanagh riff on snack food, combining wildly improvisational comedy and surprisingly solid food reviews.
Tune in here, my friend; you look hungry:
- Cooking Issues brings one of our favorite blogs to life. Dave Arnold, the Director of Culinary Technology of The French Culinary Institute at The International Culinary Center, tinkers with the newest kitchen technologies, techniques, and ingredients.
- The BBC’s The Food Programme produces thoughtful, in depth explorations of a broad range of culinary topics.
- Dare we call it hipster radio? Snacky Tunes is a weekly Brooklyn-based happening hosted by identical twins Greg and Darin Bresnitz, a duo better-known as Finger on the Pulse, bringing together chefs, DJs, farmers, bands, DJs, restaurateurs, and record label owners for a discussion of things culinary and musical.
- The Menu comes from The Monacle, a global affairs magazine that’s become essential reading for the young, stylish, and moneyed, as well as those who aspire to a global jet setter lifestyle. The weekly radio show is a fascinating peek at that crowd’s need-to-know hotspots and personalities.
- American Public Media is still at the top of its game with the long-running classic The Splendid Table, combining recipes, cooking tips, chef interviews, and lifestyle segments.
You can keep the food talk streaming with a pair of food-focused radio networks:
- The Food Radio Network is a far cry from the cluster of food shows found on the lower end of the dial at public radio stations. Brazenly commercial, it can feel at times like ‘QVC Radio’ with sponsored segments like Pillsbury Makes It With Love, but in between the promos you’ll find some quality programming like the global kitchen of One World One Table and the totally tea-centric Steeping Around.
- The non-profit Heritage Radio Network presents an eclectic lineup of live webcasts aimed at a hip, green-leaning listener. Hot Grease follows the local food movement; Let’s Get Real sniffs out everything fake in food from empty health claims to self-righteous foodiness; The Speakeasy examines contemporary cocktail culture; and there’s a whole slew of shows for everyone from culinary do-it-yourselfers, to craft beer lovers, and culinary world insiders.