Culture watch

PodCast bombast

Somewhere out there, an elderly antiques-hoarder with blue hair and a disdain for any retail store that doesn’t end in “shoppe” is desperately begging one of her put-upon grandchildren to install iTunes onto her aging Gateway PC. You guessed it: Biltmore Estate is now podcasting. Biltmore Insider began broadcasting in late March, and is currently being produced biweekly. In spite of covering such teenager-coma-inducing topics as gardening and cooking, the show ranked in the Top 10 Travel Podcasts within its first week. And it’s not just our local granny-traps that have gotten in on the podcasting craze. The iTunes Music store reveals more than a half-dozen local podcasters — everything from live recordings at the Orange Peel to the Mac Pro tech program to readings by Asheville Citizen-Times writers.

Always the bridesmaid …

Perhaps all that digital blabbing about Asheville is actually paying off. Our fair city was recently named the #2 Arts Destination City in the Small City category of AmericanStyle‘s “Top 25 Art Cities” poll. The craft/art magazine’s readers appear to prefer the fake-stucco facades of top town Santa Fe to our fauxhemian urban groove, but at least we beat out such passe locales as Key West and Aspen. Although Asheville doesn’t get so much as a fruit basket for coming in second, it will be briefly profiled in the magazine’s June issue.

On the air, kinda

Local author and UNCA Great Smokies Writing Program Director Tommy Hays will have excerpts of his book The Pleasure Was Mine read by radio host Dick Estell on the NPR series Radio Reader. Of course, no one around here will likely hear it, as there are no public-radio stations in the area that carry the show. Interested fans will have to do a little e-vestigating to find one of the many national stations that both broadcast the program and/or make their content available online. Further information and a few good leads can be found at dickestell.com.

Hungry like the Wolfe

Winners of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize — sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network — were recently announced, and local playwright/photographer/filmmaker/renaissance woman Lis Anna took home an honorable mention for her story “The Descent.” Top honors went to Gastonia-based author Sherry Shaw for her story “October.” It’s interesting to note that although the contest was national, all three of the top awards went to N.C.-based writers in a contest named after one of this state’s most notable literary personalities. The judging by Duke University alum Josephine Humphreys was completely legit and not biased in the least … really.

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