I must admit I am addicted to podcasts. I am currently subscribed to 30, yes 30, different shows. I can't help it. I need constant entertainment. As you can probably tell I love TV, I've only covered some of my favorite shows about five times in different articles but trust me, my DVR queue is untouchable. That's not all, though, I love movies, and books too. God, do I love books. I can and often do read until my eyelids hurt. But, podcasts are just as addictive. Podcasts are like books for your ears. They're like movies you can watch while working, doing homework, running, jogging, pretending to listen to professors during lectures, driving, shopping, or even falling asleep. Podcasts are the screen-less TV show you've always wanted. Podcasts are the saving grace to my eternal boredom at work. Podcasts are what keep me from losing my mind on a daily basis.
When someone comes up to me to talk whom I just can't stand I make the classic, I'm pressing pause on my ear buds wire move, but don't actually press pause I just turn up the volume, keep the ear buds in, nod my head and make eye contact in that "I'm listening to you so hard right now" way. I'm a genius, I know. Podcasts are the dose of reason I need to get through the day, they are a flash of color throughout my otherwise dreary and gray days.
Let's walk through some of my favorites now and give them the shout outs they deserve. If you're really lucky I'll go through all 30 I'm subscribed to and the 10 others I'm not subscribed but listen to fairly often but, who knows, my fingers might get tired.
-Oh, and a quick side note: I've spent the last 10 minutes trying to decide what order I should list these in be it favorite, genre, or amount of hours I've spent listening. I can't decide so I'm just going to list them in the order that they are in My Podcasts app.-
1. This American Life
"This American Life" is not only first in My Podcasts list, it is the first podcast I ever listened to. I was driving home after a study session late one night and stopped the radio on NPR and heard a rebroadcasting of this incredible episode about a town that had a fire underneath it. I came in the episode at a weird part and didn't hear what the show name was so I had to run inside and Google it. As soon as I figured it out I was downloading every episode. Something about Ira Glass' voice is hypnotic and once I start on a TAL binge I don't come out for several hours. It's a show of (usually) true stories with a few different chapters all revolving around one topic, a new topic every week. It's always exciting, fresh and one of the most intelligent conversations about America and the American experience I've ever experienced.
2. Snap Judgement
"Snap Judgement" - is 'storytelling with a beat' as they like to say. It's actually something I got into because of "This American Life." TAL played a short segment once that was credited to Snap and I tried out a couple of episodes and now don't miss one. It's sort of the urban version of "This American Life." This show mixes a little of "TAL" and the American Experience but more often than not the underground experience of the minority with a hip hop undertone, it's awesome.
3. Radio Lab
"Radio Lab" is a science show. Don't let that steer you away from this show as it did to me the first time I heard of it. It's like all of the interesting stuff about science that they never told you about in science class. It's the cool theoretical class that everyone loves but no one I know majors in because it's too close to being real science. This is not too close to being real science it's fascinating.
4. The Nerdist
I have been a "Nerdist" fan since the first episode. It used to be three nerdy guys sitting around geeking out on their favorite pop culture classics, discussing their struggling careers as comedians and cracking jokes. Three years later and the main host of the show- Chris Hardwick is one of the most popular television hosts and comedians in the country. Everybody who's even slightly dorky knows about the "Nerdist" and their whole enterprise. They used to just have interviews with their friends but now they have celebrity interviews as big as any late night talk show hosts. This show is very close to my heart as I feel like I watched (listened) it grow up from a little baby into a very successful adult and I'm just so darn proud of these guys!
"Serial" was very different from everything else I was listening to at the time "This American Life" announced its new spin-off "Serial" although, considering my love for "TAL" I decided to give it a shot. "Serial" is one season covering one story. The first season was entirely dedicated to the murder case of Hae Min Lee and the man convicted of killing her Adnan Syed. Sarah Koenig hosts the show and digs into the murder and the trial against Adnan. She presents a very unbiased investigation and finds many flaws in the case. More than once she admits that she doesn't know who did it but by the end of the season I think most people are convinced that at the very least there is a doubt that it was Adnan. The season ended with Adnan still in prison and a whole lot of people wondering 'who done it'. It's a true crime show which isn't my thing, but somehow this totally is and turned out to be a very slippery slope as you'll see with the next few shows.
6. Undisclosed: The State Vs. Adnan Syed
This is a show started by the Adnan Syed Legal Trust. It tends to be a bit dry, but it just covers the current legal stuff going on with Adnan in the wake of all of the questions brought up by "Serial." They bring up a lot of the technical things missed by Sarah Koenig in "Serial" and discuss the next moves planned in Adnan's defense.
7. Sword & Scale
This is another true crime show but nothing like "Serial." I came across this show on a blog about "Serial" a troller in the comments mentioned how much better "Sword & Scale" is than "Serial" so I thought I'd try it out. I don't agree with the troller, but it is a decent show albeit not for the weak of stomach. This show goes into all of the gory details and leaves nothing unmentioned. It tends to be ultra gross, on more than one occasion I have deleted whole episodes without finishing them because the content was so graphic. I like scary, I love gross, but a whole episode of a murderer's transcripts of internet discussions about eating children was just way too much for me to handle. Basically, if you want to try out this show I encourage you to do so but please proceed with caution.
Coincidentally, they're preparing to have an episode with Robert Cohen whom I covered last week. This is another true crime show. It tends to be shorter than most of the others I've listed so far and they rarely go into the legal aspect like the others just covering the crime itself usually. Although the host is usually pretty interesting and the case rarely is presented in a way you would expect.
9. Mystery Show
This is by far one of my favorite shows even though there are only six episodes right now. I guess you could call it another true crime/mystery show, but it's not really. The host Starlee Kine refers to herself as a detective solving mysteries, but the mysteries are hilarious. One whole episode was dedicated to finding out exactly how tall Jake Gyllenhaal is. Another is spent finding out what Britney Spears thought of a book she was seen holding. Another tracks down the owner of a bizarre breakfast themed belt buckle and so on. It's insanely funny although irregularly published which is annoying. It's November and the last episode came out in July. Before the July issue, there were three episodes in June, two in May and one in April. See? Irregular and obnoxious although the show is so good it's worth getting frustrated over waiting for the next episode.
10. The Heart
"The Heart" used to be called "Audio Smut" it's a highly sensual show of relationship stories. It's something I find hilarious to listen to at work as most of the episodes are very nearly X-rated. Thank god for earbuds.
11. Love + Radio
Very similar to "The Heart" but a little more lovey dovey and less graphic. Otherwise very similar. It's a weekly tug on my heart strings.
12. The Truth
This show is very close to movies. They're original audio plays. They're super well produced and the voice actors are amazing. The writing is out of this world. It's a new story every week and you never know what you're going to get, but they're all amazing.
13. The Message
OMG, this show is freaking amazing. It's another audio play, but this one is one story. Here's the premise: 70 years ago the US government intercepted an extraterrestrial transmission. The host of the show has been invited to document as the transmission has become unclassified and now is trying to be deciphered by an outside consulting decoding team. But, here's the catch, it has taken 70 years to decipher it because anyone who worked on it has died. Spooookey!
I'm still not sure about this one. It's another audio play, but it tends to be a bit confusing. Like "The Message" this story carries out from week to week which I like but after three episodes so far I still am not really grasping what is going on here. Again, like "The Message" it's an investigation story, but they're investigating the disappearance of an entire experimental town. They all lived in this commune for a science experiment but what they were researching is unclear. One day everyone in the town just vanished. The host has been clued in that maybe the people didn't vanish, maybe they're hiding. That's all I've gotten so far. This is another one with irregular publishing times. The first episode came out in July, then two in September, and one in October. This one doesn't have my attention to be patient for the next one, though. I might delete it from my queue before the next episode comes out.
15. The Black Tapes
I'll be really honest about this one. I just started listening to this one this week. I don't know if this is an audio play or if it's just weird. I really like it...I think. It's interesting, probably. It's a host and her sidekick scientist researching all things paranormal. If it's fiction it's cool if it's not then I've been listening to crazy people all week. Although, the one thing this "The Black Tapes" podcast has got going for it is that it is really scary. And I mean like SCARY-scary. There was a moment this week that I had a bit of an anxiety attack listening to it and then was afraid to get out of my car. That is almost worth listening to crazy people if it isn't fiction, well almost. Check. This. One. Out.
Anywho, I'll leave you to chew on these. Trust me and look into them. You're not wasting your time. The only thing they have in common is that they are all interesting and intelligent content. There is no chance that you won't at least learn something from anyone on this list. Just please try not to bash on any of them. Sometimes these shows are my only friends. Sad, I know.