Monday, December 23, 2013

My Favorite Podcasts

It's that time of year. Hours and hours in the car driving to and fro house to house for holiday celebrations.  I need to prepare myself for it.

I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car, but I'm not going to lie to you, it has been challenging for me to put the books on my ipod. I am technologically inept.  So, I have started to listen to podcasts instead and that makes me happy (podcasts on an ipod are easy!).  I'm going to list some of my favorite podcasts here and then I'm going to ask you to weigh in and suggest some new ones for me.

Stuff You Missed in History Class - I tell everyone I know about this podcast.  The show just recently got some new hosts (Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson) and I'm not absolutely crazy about the direction it has taken under these hosts (ugh - a two part show on the history of a ride at Disney World almost killed me), but there are lots of awesome topics covered, especially in the archives. I'm fond of the host combination of Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty, but you may have a different take on it. My favorite episodes include The Bone Wars, The Match of Death, and Operation Mincemeat.

Sawbones - In this podcast, a husband and wife pair walk you through bad ideas in medical history.  The theme song that starts the podcast is painfully loud and screechy, so I have to fast-forward through it,  but then it is hilarious and informative. I can't really nail down one of my favorites. I'm still thinking about the Birth Control and Mercury episodes, but all the episodes are charming and quirky.

99% Invisible - Roman Mars has a sexy, sexy voice. He could talk about anything and I would listen to him. But he actually talks about the most interesting things - things in the world of design, architecture, and technology that mostly go unnoticed - but that have occasionally huge implications.  In one episode, he talks about the design of the basketball hoop and how cutting a hole through the hoop changed the nature of the game.  There are episodes on secret staircases, logos, bubble houses, and the design of paper currency, among others. The genius of this podcast is that it takes ideas that seem so inconsequential and makes you look at them from a fresh perspective.  I love, love, love this (and if Roman Mars ever wants to just call me and talk to me in his wonderful voice, I'd be okay with that).

The Nerdist Podcast - Chris Hardwick, the host of this podcast, knows lots of people and gets great guests.  I love the way Hardwick just talks to people on this podcast - I mean, he can slip into interviewing style when people aren't loosening up, but most of the time it's just people talking about things they are passionate about. There's a moment in an episode with Penn Jillette when Jillette starts talking about poem-songs that melted my cold heart and made me like Jillette a little bit because he was so excited to be talking about this offbeat hobby of his and people were listening.  In all honesty, I think Hardwick is sometimes insufferable (he swears randomly for NO reason! I'm not a prude! I swear sometimes! but it's for no reason at all!), but this podcast makes me laugh more than any other I can think of.

Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase! - A flight attendant tells stories about being in the air.  Sometimes she records stories with pilots, other flight attendants, or passengers, too. It's somehow ingenious and makes me laugh pretty regularly.

The Moth - This podcast features folks telling supposedly true stories. I have my doubts about just how true some of them are, but I don't care about authenticity. The stories are collected from Moth events throughout the country and the ones that make the podcast seem to fall into one of three categories - told by someone is moderately famous, is so heartrendingly poignant that you wonder how the person got through telling the story without breaking down, or is so funny you almost run your car off the road because you're laughing so hard.

I also listen to the public radio crowd - Planet Money, This American Life, Tell Me More, and Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! - but I imagine most people have already heard of those.  What podcasts do you listen to?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't tried any podcasts yet, but I've been meaning to. I don't have any problem getting audiobooks onto my mp3 player, but they get downloaded into the music file instead of the audiobooks file, so it's annoying. Sometimes if I move them they don't play right, so whatevs.

    Operation Mincemeat?! You mean the time a spy had to hide inside a corpse? That was one of the books of the year a few years ago on the New York Times Book List, and now I think I'll definitely pick it up if you found the story amazing as well.

    Happy Holidays!


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