Wednesday, February 04, 2015

what are you listening to?

ever since serial, the fabulous podcast that changed the way we all think of podcasts, ended i've been a bit bereft and in need of other stories well-told. so i've been on quite the podcasting binge. of course, one turns to serial parent this american life, but you are quickly out of episodes of that as well, since they don't seem to leave them up for long. also a TAL spin-off is invisibilia, which is brand new and wonderful, tho' wonderful in a different way than serial. the hosts lulu miller and alix spiegel are charming and the episodes are self-contained, but fascinating in their mix of stories and science and they too leave you longing for next week's instalment. also arguably a TAL spin-off is startup, where TAL and planet money alum alex blumberg chronicles the start of guessed it...podcasting business. if you have an inner entrepreneur, you will find yourself practically taking notes and definitely encouraging all of your entrepreneurial friends to listen to it as well. reply all is the first podcast released by blumberg's gimlet media and is definitely worth a listen if you like the internet (which i assume you do if you're here). last among these good ones is criminal, the first podcast i discovered from the radiotopia collective. unlike serial, it explores, in self-contained episodes, short tales of often very strange crimes, including a baby-killing pig who was put on trial and hanged in 18th century france. as an example to other pigs, so they wouldn't turn to a life of crime as well. you can learn a lot listening to podcasts.

as i already said, in recent days, i've stumbled onto some podcasts that are part of a collective called radiotopia. 99% invisible's roman mars seems to be at the helm of this particular collective and his podcast is definitely worth a listen if you're looking for different stories. but my favorite of the bunch is probably strangers, which has a danish host, tho' she's been in the US so long you can't hear it. lea tau, the host, was involved in the moth at one time and that shows in her storytelling ability. another one worth listening to is benjamen walker's theory of everything, which did a recent awesome 5-part series on the "dislike club," his dream of a platform for people who are tired of facebook and twitter (the last episode of it is found on another podcast called radiotonic). snap judgement is interesting too, but love & radio didn't capture my attention at all.

the cool part of all of these podcasting collectives (feral audio is another one, heavy on comedians), is that they refer you to their other podcasts, so it's a little like following an endless string of hyperlinks and you can discover lots of cool stories. i don't subscribe to all of them. generally, i download a couple of episodes to see if i like them and then subscribe if i do. if they are so engrossing that they can make me forget that i'm mucking out stalls then i subscribe. radio diaries and the truth are also part of radiotopia and i haven't yet decided about them. i listened to a rather terrifying story on the truth (which oddly, isn't truth, but is small mini fictional radio plays, not reporting) while i did chores this evening. it was a story that will probably give me nightmares tonight. but i think it's good to have stories that stick with you. slumber party i downloaded only the episode with the oatmeal's matt inman, because i wanted to hear him. i will not be subscribing as the two hosts are rather full of themselves in that way that only people from LA can be and poor matt hardly got in a word edgewise, the way they prattled along.

hello internet is insufferable and i'll be deleting it. in fact, i just did.  i've listened to entirely too many of the thinking sideways podcast. the three hosts are just average people with mediocre brains, a marginal ability to google things and too much access to recording equipment. they prove that although anyone can put out a podcast, maybe not everyone should. i've only listened to as many episodes as i have because they do like to cover mysteries like the voynich manuscript and jack the ripper. however, because they seem to get all of their information by reading wikipedia, i suggest you take a shortcut and just read the wikipedia yourself so that you don't have to hear the one dumb guy say he's not an expert (as if you hadn't noticed) while the pretentiously-named girl devon tries to blame it all on aliens.

spilled milk is another one that proves that not everyone should podcast just because they have a microphone in their macbook. i loved molly wizenberg's blog and cookbook, but she and her sidekick (whose name i've blocked out) in this one just annoy the hell out of me. i only tried it out because they were going to talk about cocktails. the sublime one below it also contains a cocktail episode which i haven't yet listened to. i think spilled milk is another one i'll be getting rid of.  there are too many good podcasts out there to waste time listening to crappy ones. 99% invisible with roman mars, as i said above, is a keeper. big ideas features some longer, more professorial talks by scholars. you have to be in the right mood for those.

last up in this rundown is the moth podcast. they were telling stories before it became fashionable and they are damn good at it.

you may wonder when i'm doing all of this listening. generally, it's when i'm on a long drive. but since that doesn't happen all that often, i tend to put on headphones and listen while i'm making dinner, doing the evening chores or cleaning out the stalls on a sunday afternoon. i can also listen while i sew, tho' i haven't sewed anything much lately. when i can't listen is when i'm not doing something else...if i try to listen at bedtime, i fall asleep immediately and miss the whole thing. i also can't listen and read or type something, so i'm not listening right now. i will say listening to podcasts has cut into my netflix time, but i think that's quite all right.

did serial get you into podcasts? if so, what are you listening to? any and all recommendations are most appreciated.

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and in case this isn't enough, here's a list of the best podcast episodes ever (according to slate). and a whole language for talking about them from a critical perspective, in case you really want to nerd out.


Anonymous said...

Skipping all the ones we have in common (Radiolab, Serial, The Moth etc) here are a few I'm enjoying (though I acknowledge they are not for everyone!)

Good Job Brain!
No Such Thing as a Fish
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (from NPR)
Revolutions (by Mike Duncan - history)
Science Friday
Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project
Stuff You Missed in History Class (it can get irritating)
The Why Factor (BBC)

I stick them on in the evening while watching baby in the bath and making dinner. Occasionally on a longish car trip. Last night I caught up on Radiolab while crocheting a baby blanket while the hail came down outside.

Unknown said...

Agree with Science Fridays and you may also as a Mac girl enjoy This Week in Tech ~ they cover all kinds of tech stories, both Mac and the dark side...