I love podcasts. I think I’ve said that dozens of times here already. I like them when I’m walking the dog, doing the dishes, folding the laundry, driving, and getting ready in the morning. It turns chores into an education and a boring drive into an adventure. I’m not sure it would be exaggerating to say podcasts are what get me out of bed in the morning.
The great thing about podcasts is unlike an audiobook, they’re relatively low commitment. Usually between 30 minutes and an hour and released somewhere between every few days and every few weeks, they’re like the bite sized snacks of audio-consumption. Best of all – they’re FREE. Just download the iPhone ‘Podcast’ app or, if you’re on Android, try the ‘Stitcher’ app.
Whether you’re a seasoned podcast listener or thinking of trying your first one, here’s the shows I recommend (in no particular order):
This American Life
Let’s start off strong, shall we? If you haven’t listened to a podcast before, This American Life is where to start. It’s one of the most award-winning, famous podcasts out there and the host Ira Glass has become the icon of an era. Each episode is based on a theme with different stories told on that theme. This American Life is one of the only media shows/publications still actually doing investigative journalism. Start with The Human Spectacle, Is That What I Look Like?, and Call for Help.
Radiolab is the other most iconic podcast. It’s told in a somewhat similar format to This American Life, but focuses more on science topics and breaks things up by placing “shorts” between their hour-long episodes. The hosts have a wonderful report and dialogue, and they often make interesting use of sound to tell their stories. Start with Rodney vs. Death, Straight out of Chevy Chase, and Patient Zero.
Stuff You Should Know
Instead of listening to every episode like I do with most podcasts, this one I pick and choose my favorite topics. Each episode explores a topic or question, which the two hosts do their best to explain in a clear way. Some episodes are more history focused, while other questions are more science focused, but no matter what they give you a clear run-down of everything you need to know to scratch the surface. Start with How Police Interrogation Works, How Dissociative Identity Disorder Works, and How Handwriting Analysis Works.
The Cracked Podcast
If you at all enjoy the Cracked website, you’ll dig their podcast. Following a similar format and featuring a rotating cast of editors with a very sharp wit, the hosts explore topics that range from interesting facts and stories you might not know to conjectures on reasons behind the modern condition. While this podcast can be more hit-and-miss for me, when they’re “on,” they’re roll-on-the-floor funny. Start with The 18 Most Impressive People You’ve Never Heard of and Why Our Favorite TV Shows Are So Bleak.
KCRW’s Good Food
This is the podcast for foodies like me. Basically the audio version of food porn, it’s packed with interviews with chefs and other food trendsetters, restaurant reviews, and advice on how to cook a variety of fruits and vegetables. Despite the fact it’s based in LA and they often discuss local restaurants and trends, it’s a great listen for absolutely anyone. Start with Food Language, ‘Latte Liberalism’ and Types of Torta and Cooking in Prison, The Art of the Work Lunch and Wild Food Lab.
You Must Remember This
One of the most unique podcasts I’m recommending, this show shares the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. The scandals, the romances, it’s all here. Some of the stars you’ll definitely recognize like Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart, but even if they fall outside of your celebrity knowledge, you’ll enjoy hearing their stories all the same. Start with The Legend of Frances Farmer and Frank Sinatra in Outer Space.
Slate’s Working with David Plotz
A simple premise with very fascinating results, this podcast features interviews with people from a variety of professions. In each episode, you get a behind-the-scenes lowdown at what goes on in someone’s average day at work. Slate’s newest podcast, this show started off strong with a killer interview with Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report. Although the following interviewees are less famous, they’re still just as interesting. Start with How Does Stephen Colbert Work? and How Does a Pastor Work?.
Slate’s Culture Gabfest
A show all about what’s hot in culture, from movies and books to art galleries and controversial essays. The three hosts are my absolute favorite of any podcasts – incredibly brilliant, wonderfully funny, and with such an articulate and thoughtful way of breaking down media and texts that they often make me see things in a new light. Without question the best culture critics out there. Start with the Live from Boston Edition and the Re-Stephening Edition.
Slate’s Double X Gabfest
Although it’s probably overkill to share three of Slate’s podcasts here, I listen to Double X religiously as well. Calling this a “feminist” podcast wouldn’t be quite correct, although all the women on the show undoubtedly consider themselves feminists. In it they discuss gender issues, women in the media, and so much more. Honestly, they don’t post nearly often enough. Start with The Collection of Body Parts Edition and The Lena Dunham’s Food Diary Edition.
The Joy the Baker Podcast
Co-hosted by Joy of Joy the Baker and Tracy from Shutterbean, this podcast is basically like listening to your two BFFs just gab. Sure, they vaguely have topics, and yes, they sometimes answer listener mail, but mostly they just chit-chat about “totally important, unimportant things,” cracking each other up and you in the process. Start with the most recent episode.
The first spin-off from the This American Life crew, Serial is the incredibly addictive show where instead of doing a new story every week, they explore the same topic over a number of episodes. In the first “season,” they’re sharing a true crime style story where they dive into the 1999 murder of a teenage girl and conviction by her ex-boyfriend. This is the same podcast I discussed in my recent video post, and it’s so juicy, you won’t be able to stop listening. Start with the first episode.
Elise Gets Crafty
One of the more “independently produced” of the podcasts I’m sharing here, I still really enjoy this one. Elise of the blog Elise Joy has a new episode every week where she brings a guest on to discuss a topic on blogging, business, creativity, inspiration, and motivation. Instead of listening to it beginning to end, try picking out your most relevant topics. Start with Episode 3: Developing an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog featuring blogger Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes.
Do you listen to podcasts? What are some of your favorites?