I spend a lot of time in my car these days. And always one to multitask, I’ve discovered that I can spend my rides satisfying my curiosity about the world by listening to podcasts. They’re different than audio books. More engaging and lively somehow.
For a long time, I didn’t know what podcasts were. Years. I had heard the term but had no direct experience. Things have definitely changed since then, and I now subscribe to over 20 podcasts. There are a few I never miss. Here are my favorites.
Serial (Season One) -The is the first podcast I ever listened to- and I listened to the whole series. I’m a creature of habit. This means I prefer TV series over movies. I like knowing the context, the storyline, the characters. I care about them. I’m invested. Movies can be hard for me to get into, and it’s not unusual for me to wander away halfway through. This podcast met all my needs. It’s a series (hence the name, Serial) that follows one story throughout its twelve episodes. It’s a real-life unsolved murder mystery with excellent investigative journalism: a girl gets murdered, her boyfriend is accused, charged and convicted of the crime; he claims he’s innocent, and evidence against him is weak. At the time this aired originally he was still in jail, but this investigation opened new doors…listen to hear the whole story. (Note: I tried to listen to Season Two, but found it less personally compelling.) Bonus suggestion: the producers of this show created another series – S-Town – which was an amazing story about a brilliant man from Alabama who hated his redneck S#*%-town. Brilliant man, brilliant story. A little heartbreaking.
NPR’s Up First – The world is a scary place these days. There is so much bad news that only a little exposure leaves me anxious and stressed out. This concise little news podcast from NPR solves my problem. I can stay abreast of major events in under 15 minutes a day. It’s ready to download by 6am each morning, Monday through Friday. Then, I can move on to other, less terrifying podcasts.
TED Radio Hour – Ok, I really love this one! If you’re familiar with TED Talks you know about the fascinating topics that its speakers bring to light. This weekly show centers around a theme and weaves in several different TED talks, including more in-depth interviews with the speakers. Some of my favorite episodes are Networks, Everything is Connected, and Adaptation. Fascinating stuff, people. Makes you excited to be alive.
This American Life – Along the lines to the TED Radio Hour, this show also pulls different stories together around a theme, but instead of a wide angle, this show delves into personal stories. And it is so compelling. Their recent story, Heretics, about the evangelical preacher who denounced hell was a riveting listen. And I thought for a long time about what I heard in A Not So Simple Majority. And being a camp person, Notes on Camp had me missing my childhood summer camp in a bad way.
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday – I consider Oprah one of my mothers. She kind of raised me, at least from 4:00-5:00 pm weekdays in elementary, middle, and high school. I read all the books she told me to, I loved her favorite things, too and she taught me how to listen. She also brought many important teachers into my life. This podcast series shares some of the interviews from her Super Soul Sunday Conversations. Focused on spirituality and living a wholehearted life, these conversations are inspiring and soul-warming. Make sure you check out her conversations with two of my other sister-mothers, Brené Brown and Maya Angelou.