The Comfort Zone

One of my favorite programs on public radio was one from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation called The Comfort Zone, where one could hear “[host] Alan Saunders debate and celebrate the cultural significance of architecture and design, landscape, gardens and food.” I started listening in early 2004, but sadly, its last episode aired on January 22, 2005 and was replaced by a general-interest program with a plan that sounds a lot like APM’s Weekend America. The show archives list lots of past programs I’d love to listen to, but they’re rather hard to come by. The weekly programs were available as a RealAudio streams, some of which I remembered to capture and save before they expired from the site. I checked into getting past programs on CD, but it’s expensive, as most custom-ordered copies of shows and transcripts seem to be. In this case, it’s AU$60.50 per program. Just over two years of programs are available, but that’s over 100 shows, or $6000, well beyond my weekly public radio expenditures. I even checked P2P filesharing networks, but This American Life and Wiretap are hard enough to come by, so it’s not surprising that there’s no Comfort Zone. Maybe some day the ABC will open up and just make old programs available, though I can’t say I’m that optimistic. Perhaps a bit more realistically, maybe they’ll dump more/all of their archives onto some pay service like audible.com. Though it seems less and less likely as time passes, there’s always the chance that a public radio organization in the US might pick up old episodes of the show. For now, however, these shows will molder away somewhere deep in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation archives.

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