Regular NFN readers will have noticed that we have not made any Podcast awards for 2008. If the truth be told, the judging panel - Amy, my wheaten terrier, and myself - became a little dispirited last year when our highest award went to the Channel 4 News Morning Report show. After announcing the award - with more than a dash of hubris - on their website they then closed the show down a couple of months later. For the news, we now depend on the Guardian Daily podcast, but it's not getting an award because of the annoying number of times it repeats the URL of its website.
However, Amy and I have recently found a podcast which informs us and entertains us during even the longest, and often wettest, of our walks. It is a splendid example of how a small group of enthusiasts can launch their own "radio station" and broadcast to the world. Step forward Pacific Brew News Radio.
The radio station is run by a handful of beer enthusiasts on the west coast of America. The last few programmes have been hosted single-handed by a guy called Rick Sellers who is frighteningly knowledgeable about beer, but wonderfully infectious in his enthusiasm for the subject. In the most recent programme he drinks, and reviews, a glass of Rogue's Half-e-Weizen on air and you want to rush out and buy a bottle (this is difficult because, to the best of my knowledge it is unavailable this side of the Atlantic). He talks about the San Diago Brewers Fair and you want to buy an airline ticket. He describes some hidden beer enthusiast's bar he has visited and he makes you want to drop what you are doing and find the nearest decent pub.
The remarkable achievement of the podcasts is that they have the capacity to be so boring and so insular, and yet they are just the opposite. Even if you are not particularly fond of beer - in which case I grieve for you - I defy you to listen to one of the shows and not be tempted to try a sip of whatever elixir they are praising. So, Pacific Brew News Radio has to win my Podcast of the Month Award. I only hope that in bestowing the award I do not condemn it to the same fate as Channel 4 Morning Report.