Ever since the great iPhone purchase of 2008 (and, more recently, the great music-obliterating hard drive crash of 2009) I have become completely obsessed with podcasts. It doesn’t help that the iTunes store is one of the more addictive things in this world, and shows you all sorts of great podcasts you might like based on what you have already subscribed to.
You can find a podcast for anything! Want to learn Spanish? Try Coffee Break Spanish! Dig indie music? IndieFeed! Can’t get enough of LOST? The Lost Podcast is for you! There are more topics than I could ever name in one short article, but trust me: if you’re interested in it, it’s out there.
There are several factors that make me predisposed to podcast lovin’. I enjoy walking absurdly long distances. I live in a city where long public transportation rides are de rigeur, and some days my poor shoulder just cannot bear the weight of another book. Even were these not true, I would probably still be on the bandwagon. Podcasts are fun, they’re informative, and best of all: they’re free! Yeah baby – I said free!
A rundown on my favorites:
1. The brilliant storytelling on NPR’s This American Life makes it one of my favorite radio shows. It’s like an audio version of documentary film making, and I totally dig it, but I am never, ever near a radio when it’s broadcast on the weekends! Luckily, iTunes downloads me the latest episode as soon as it’s available. Though shorter and recorded live, The Moth is similarly a storytelling series, with an ever-changing cast of actors and comedians sharing stories from their own lives. Love. It.
2. Seattle’s indie music station, KEXP, has a Song of the Day podcast, so every day I get a new song from a sick new band that I probably never would have found otherwise! Browsing for that one led me to The Giant Golden Radio, a podcast made by a local Seattle fellow with killer taste in indie music, who lovingly crafts some of the hottest newer bands into killer one hour+ packages. These two really keep my cool quotient above water.
3. HowStuffWorks.com has a bunch of podcasts that I love love love, and this is really where my inner nerd comes out. Stuff You Missed In History Class covers one short, historical topic per podcast, and Stuff You Should Know covers one totally random topic, like lunar landings or the concept of habeas corpus – stuff that my trivia-loving self can’t get enough of. They’re cute, short, educational, and never, ever dry and boring.
4. I love to travel, or at least think about travel when I am too poor to actually do it. Enter a litany of travel podcasts: Amateur Traveler tries to help you find the best places to travel, while travel giant Lonely Planet takes you on aural tours of exotic locations and Frommer’s covers both destinations and more general travel information.
5. As a sort of combo of the two previous entries (nerdy + travel) I really love the Italian language podcast from LearnItalianPod.com. Like so many college students, I have felt the hard-learned language of my study abroad semester (in my case, Florence) slowly fade, and this gives me hope that it’s still in there somewhere.
6. If I need a laugh, I turn to the Ricky Gervais or Jordan, Jesse, GO! podcasts. I don’t think I can properly explain how much these make me laugh. When you’re stuck in the rain, or heading home after a genuinely terrible day, there is nothing like cracking yourself up in public to make life a little better.
7. In the same way I always miss This American Life, I am never home to catch some of the shows I would like to on TV. My current events faves like Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher are now both available via podcast, so I can listen on my own schedule. Genius!
8. The Gossip Girl Podcast. ‘Nuff said.
Now of course, in the writing of this article, I have subscribed to like two dozen more podcasts. I am still in the market for a good fashion podcast; anybody got one? Got any favorites of your own? Let me know! I’m gonna have to get a bigger iPod.