And I’m not afraid to say it.
What is a podcast, you ask? Well, according to Mr. Google, a podcast is “a multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.” Basically, you listen to someone blather on about something for a period of time. It can be specifically designed to be a podcast. It can also be radio programs made into podcasts. This is why I listen to lots and lots of NPR. (Nerd alert!)
But I don’t care because podcasts are awesome. (Yes, I did just say that in a surfer dude type way. Why do you ask?!) They are so entertaining and, honestly, I get bored easily. You want to know how to make a dull task more fun? Listen to a podcast! I listen to them constantly: while cleaning house, while running, while lifting weights, while walking to work, while riding the bus…you get the picture. And I’m constantly ready to hear new ones. So I love posts that talk about my favorite bloggers’ favorite podcasts. (Ahem, my nerdiness is on full blast today.) So, that’s what I’m going to do. Without further ado, here they are:
My number one is always gonna be Ira, beloved host of This American Life. It was my first, you know? Often the most popular podcast in the country, it is a true gem. As Ira repeats every episode, they choose a theme, and then bring us a variety of stories on that theme. For example, this last one was about infidelity, stories of cheaters, cheating, and the cheated. There were four “acts,” or stories, each one from a different person with a different perspective. It’s as though that person is sitting next to you, relating the theme to you in a very personal way. It’s great; trust me. And download it.
Next comes RadioLab. I really got into RadioLab during my senior year of college, the year I decided to always walk to class instead of taking the bus. Walking requires entertainment, at least for me, and searching for new ways to entertain myself, I stumbled upon RadioLab. RadioLab incorporates fascinating science into your everyday life. One episode titled Memory and Forgetting took “a look behind how the curtain of how memories are made…and forgetten .Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory.” It’s beautiful in the way only science can be.
I’ve never really understand economics, to be honest with you. That’s the boyfriend’s job. (He spends his free time reading The Economist, poor chap.) Planet Money is for people like me. As they say, “We think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the global economy. They know it’s affecting their lives. But they don’t know how to dive in, and they don’t find most stories in most media outlets helpful.” Truth. And they believe the show should be “economically smart, but not economically dull.” For a show about economics, it’s definitely not dull.
Along those same lines, there’s Freakonomics, a podcasts that comes from a book that comes from a newspaper article. Complicated much? There’s these two guys, Stephen Dubner (a journalist) and Steven Levitt (an economist) who met when Stephen was writing this article about Steven. The article was good and drew attention, so they wrote a book, named, surprisingly, Freakonomics. It’s all about how everyday things relate to economics, things like how backyard swimming pools might just be more dangerous than guns. (Read the book to figure that one out.) The podcast is along similar lines, relating soccer or baby names or rewarding kids with money for good grades. I never believed it before, but economics truly is fascinating.
This is where it gets truly nerdy. I have a feeling Terry Gross (who is indeed a woman and not a man despite the y in her name), the host of Fresh Air, is like me in many ways, but I’ll never admit it. Aloud, that is. Terry, or one of her coworkers, interviews subjects about a wide variety of topics: music, art, sports, actors, politicians, scientists…you name it, she’s done it. It’s a more nuanced interview than you’ll get anywhere else. Sometimes I skip over the music interviews, as they’re not my favorites, but I love hearing Rainn Wilson asked in depth about his Ba’hai faith or listening to a food scientist describe how food is the hidden driver of global politics. Yes, I know it won’t appeal to all or even most, but it’s something I truly enjoy.
So, what about you, dear readers? Do you listen to podcasts? Or do you prefer silence or even, gasp, music on your iPod?