My name is Sarah and I am addicted to Podcasts. I just love them. Once a voracious reader, I find I don’t have the free time these days to get lost in a book. Audio books are fantastic, but still a big time commitment. Plus, I’ve always preferred nonfiction so a Podcast is a little slice of knowledge to entertain my brain while my body is otherwise occupied. I pop one on while I’m doing the dishes, cleaning the house, raking or gardening, driving to and from work, cleaning up the restaurant after I’ve been bar tending all night, or even when I’m taking a bath.
For those who are new, what is a Podcast? By definition it is a digital, downloadable audio file, usually available in a series. There are podcast versions of pretty much every radio show out there, as well as others that are created solely to be podcasts. They come in many lengths from 10 minutes to over an hour, and on every subject you can imagine. If you have an iPhone you can easily listen to podcasts on a free app that comes standard on your phone, and through Android you can listen through purchased apps like Stitcher, Google Play, and Overcast, to name a few.
The app will help you to find a podcast you’d like by searching what’s trending, what’s new, and allowing you to search by subject. When you find a favorite you can “subscribe,” and each week new episodes will automatically download to your device. They are simple audio files so they don’t take up much space and they will automatically delete once you’ve listened to them. Through your app you can also listen to back episodes, and many podcasts have websites where you can download episodes, as well.
Here is a list of my personal top ten:
- The Moth: True stories, told live. The Moth Mainstage is a live storytelling show that takes place in cities all over the country. From these live shows, a radio show is created. The podcast is oftentimes the same as the radio show, but frequently you get extras, archives, and themed specials edited together especially for the podcast. This one is my favorite, I love hearing the voices of the storytellers and what you hear can range from hilarious to disturbing to heartbreaking, all in the same episode.
- Stuff You Should Know: Hosted by Josh and Chuck, two lovable goofballs who also happen to be fantastic at explaining EVERYTHING. Each episode (airing twice weekly,) is one random subject broken down into bite size pieces. No topic is safe from Josh and Chuck’s dissection; Play-Do, Peak Oil, historical murders, propaganda, magnets, Stockholm Syndrome, earwax, hookworm, sushi, Mermaids, Rodney Dangerfield, mosquitos, fasting, sword swallowing, you name it they’ve done it. In fact, no episode is complete without at least one of the guys wondering, “have we covered that yet?” Since they’ve been at it since 2008, usually, the answer is yes. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll love.
- Radio Lab: Hosted by Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad, Radio Lab is a philosophical and scientific investigation into broad topics such as time, morality, or color. It is unique, very well done, and chock full of fascination.
- Hidden Brain: A social science podcast exploring elements of human psychology and how they affect our lives. For a science podcast it is on the shorter side-only about 25 minutes-but that is one of its greatest qualities. Sometimes, you just need a bite.
- This American Life: I have loved listening to this show on NPR so I love that I can get it every week without stalking the radio. Hosted by Ira Glass, each show has a theme broken down into “acts,” which might be a journalistic piece, performance fiction, a personal story, or an essay. I enjoy the unique nature of the stories featured on this show.
- The Unschooling Life: This is my favorite of all the “home education” podcasts, and honestly, there’s not a lot of good ones to choose from. These are quick, 15-20 minutes filled with snippets of conversations with unschooling parents and kids about a particular topic. This show is no longer in production but I often go back to favorite episodes for encouragement and even validation on tough days!
- Freakonomics: Created by economists, of course, Freakonomics explores the hidden side of everything. That is, the economic side of everything. I have a degree in business and have studied economics thoroughly so I find the subject fascinating and I can understand it. I’m not sure how easy it would be to grasp some of the concepts without a basic understanding of economics, but it is very well done and poses some very relevant, timely, and fascinating questions.
- Star Talk: This astrophysics podcast is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson and a new celebrity cohost each week. Together, the pair discuss and attempt to answer questions posed by listeners about our universe. It is smart, interesting, and downright hilarious.
- Ted Radio Hour: If you like TED talks, you’ll love the Ted Radio Hour. Each episode has a theme that is presented and discussed via hand-selected, related TED talks.
- Reveal: This is an award-winning investigative journalism podcast that explores current stories that impact us today, and holds the responsible accountable. Al Letson, the show’s host, has a wonderful conversational approach, and he isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions in interviews. If you’re looking for unbiased journalism, investigative reporting isn’t quite it. The show definitely formulates opinions about what they are uncovering as it progresses, although usually, it’s something horrible and corrupt so it feels appropriate. I find it interesting, and their reporting has gone on to make real, almost immediate changes in the world.
If you have never listened to a podcast before, I urge you to give it a try. Search for a topic you are interested in like food, ghost stories, motorcycles, civics, fishing, or pick one from the top charts that sounds interesting. If you are a fellow podcast junkie, tell me your favorite series! I’m always looking for a fix.