I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasts lately. I accidentally overreached my data-speed limit (so my phone doesn’t cut out or charge extra, but it does slow down my data after a certain amount) by listening to so many, because sometimes even at home I had turned off the wi-fi settings. I would listen while driving, doing chores, and sometimes even running or walking.
I re-visited a list of podcasts generated for me almost a year ago by a friend whose tastes are similar to mine, and so whom I trust to curate media. His recommendations for listening and viewing content have always been pretty spot on.
I also had recently started listening to (see: binging on) a podcast my friend Catie had tuned me in to, called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. I really got into it, and managed to catch up right before they started in on the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (more on this later).
For my drive to Michigan (more on this later also), I pre-loaded a bunch of them so that even in dead zones with no reception, I would be able to listen to them.
I’m using Stitcher, the app for my phone, and have started using the “Listen Later” list. I have it set to download that content (dead-zone friendly), and so when I have time, I go in and add things to the list that have popped up in the podcasts I’m following. When I don’t have time to browse, I can just hit the list, and it will take me to stuff I’ve already picked out for myself.
I have a completeness complex, and it’s hard for me to popcorn listen to episodes without trying to also pick up the older recordings. Some of the podcasts actually do tell a story in order, so it makes more sense to start at the beginning, and others are topic-oriented and don’t require that at all. I’ve been slowly getting better about just picking a topic here or there to listen.
Some of them are informative, some are story-oriented (story telling, creative nonfiction type stuff), and others are fictional. I’m finding I enjoy the sciencey ones quite a bit. I have always loved learning new things, and while we all engage a lot of functional modalities in learning, I have always considered myself to lean on the aural side.
Some of these I’ve been listening to for a while (from the aforementioned friend’s list, but also from using the NPROne app). But in general, I like this more organized and systematic way to control what I want to queue up and when.
Some of my favorites lately have been:
Lore – “Each episode examines a new dark tale from history in a style similar to a campfire experience. Lore exposes the darker side of history, exploring the creatures, people, and places of our wildest nightmares.” I like Lore because it combines history with a sort of sense of the occult that I like. I’ve been listening to this one for about a year now, though I haven’t listened to every episode yet. Episodes run about 30 minutes.
Myths and Legends – “This show brings you folklore that has shaped our world. Some are incredibly popular stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories that might be new to you, but are definitely worth a listen.” I like Myths and Legends because I like stories, and I like learning about cultures.
Stuff You Should Know – This one is a new listen for me, and ranges all over the place. Pretty sciency, super interesting. This is part of the bigger How Stuff Works family. The topics seem random, but the podcast is informative and fun.
Radiolab – This one is also fairly new for me, though I’ve heard talk of it in the past (and it probably popped up from time to time on the NPROne app). Sciency, social-studiesy, super interesting.
Planet Money – Economics, of course. I started following this one as part of the NPROne App also. Episode lengths vary, but they’re usually quite manageable (around 20 minutes). I never liked much or understood economics in school but lately I find it fascinating.
Outside Podcast – I got totally hooked in the Science of Survival episodes first (freezing to death?! Dying in the desert?!). They also do interviews, but I’m not fully caught up yet. This is sort of like adventure stories plus some sciencey stuff.
The Black Tapes – This one is fiction, although it presents like investigative reporting. Really enjoying the story that is being spun so far, though I’m only about halfway into season 1. I don’t want to spoil anything, but… supernatural shit, y’all. Happenin’.
S-Town – This got some good PR a little while back, but I’m enjoying it so far. The vibe is similar to Serial. It’s a story, non-fiction, and the characters are really intriguing. Nine episodes, about an hour each, and really pretty website. Also the exit song gets stuck in my head every. single. time.
This American Life – The proto-podcast, in my mind… my podcast savvy friend was listening to this weekly on the radio back before podcasts were an on-demand thing. Of course this stuff is always interesting. Stories on a theme, nonfiction.
The Truth – “Movies for your ears.” Fiction, one-shot episodes. I’ve only just started listening to this one, too. They vary in length, and are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes reflective and thoughtful, so far, all interesting.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, as mentioned above, has me re-reading a beloved series and finding all kinds of new meanings in thangs. As mentioned, I rocketed through the first two books/seasons and am now reading along with season/book 3.
Sawbones – A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. I really really just started listening to this, but it’s showing promise: a physician wife informs her layman husband about the medical uses of some thing or other. It’s funny and informative, and I sometimes find myself laughing out loud.
So that’s the top handful for the moment…. My Michigan drive was definitely made better by a bunch of the above, mostly Lore, Black Tapes, S-Town, and Myths and Legends, plus Career Day (the episodes I listened to were all still “Career Day” episodes), and some Stuff to Blow Your Mind.
Do you listen to any podcasts? What do you like? Why do you like it? Leave a comment and tell me about it!