by Risley

After being advised by my son for several months that I simply must listen to the SERIAL podcast (masterminds behind This American Life and available for free on iTunes), I finally downloaded the first season a week or so ago, and listened to the first few episodes on a drive to the other side of the state. Oh my — HOOKED!

For those who haven’t heard of it, season 1 is about a 15-year-old murder case (a HS senior was murdered and her HS senior boyfriend was tried, convicted and is serving time for the crime. He is now 32). The host, Sarah Koenig, interviews various witnesses and experts, as well as the defendant, and reviews all the evidence, presenting a case that (this far into my listening, at least) seems very far from cut and dried. Did he or didn’t he? I have reasonable doubts, to be sure.

I’m up to episode 8 now and am already mourning the impending ending of season 1. I’m so glad there are 2 more seasons left. (I assume each season presents a different case, but I’m afraid to look at the website in case there are spoilers. I was on there earlier, looking for Sarah’s Twitter handle, and already learned info about Season 1 that I didn’t want to know now). I didn’t watch Making a Murderer on Netflix, but I imagine fans of that show would love Serial.

Also at my son’s insistence, I started listening to Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. It’s interesting, but not nearly as riveting (to me) as Serial. DS and I recently flew together, and we spent the flight sharing headphones and listening to Revisionist History shows stored on his phone.

In addition to these new (to me) shows, I have always loved This American Life, The Moth, and a few shows on CBC Radio. And I’m sure DS will keep me apprised of any he gloms onto in the future.

I actually don’t make time in my week for podcasts. I don’t have much of a commute anyway, and on the 2 days I go to the office, I listen to Morning Edition en route there, and Fresh Air en route home (or I call friends/relatives to chat). On the other days, I don’t really have any spot in my schedule for podcasts. If I happen to catch these shows when I’m on long drives, I cheer and listen raptly; otherwise, I miss them.

Or at least, that’s how it was *before* Serial. Not anymore! Now that my son has gotten me hooked on this show, I’ll be finding pockets of podcast time in as many days as I can. Maybe while I walk the dogs, or while I do my 15 minutes/day of gait therapy on the treadmill? I can’t see listening to podcasts during more vigorous exercise, like spinning. But maybe as an alternative to reading, especially on nights when my brain’s fried from work? I don’t have a gadget to attach my phone to my pants, but maybe I’ll get one, and listen while I clean the kitchen? I’d listen to/from the cottage, which is my only regular drive over 20 minutes, but it’s rarely only me in the car then, and unless DH and the kids are at the same spot in the show that I’m at, it would be no fun for them to play it then.

What about you? What podcasts are you hooked on? When do you listen to them? Do you have a system for keeping your phone/iPod storage files cleared of old ones, so you can make room for the new? Are there any your entire family listens to together, or you and your partner? Are there any that you actually pay for?


56 thoughts on “Podcasts

  1. Podcasts I like: A Way With Words, Freakonomics (mostly), What You Missed in History (mostly) are the three I listen to the most. I don’t make time in my day or week for them, but tend to binge listen when cleaning house.

  2. I love Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. I listen to it on my longer runs (it’s my incentive to get out the door).

    When I’m cooking dinner, I sometimes listen to Planet Money, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Fresh Air.

    Growing up, my parents would have NPR on the radio so the whole family would listen. Now I’m the only one listening on my podcast.

  3. I haven’t gotten into podcasts, at all. I also don’t like talk radio except for Car Talk, or a baseball game, so I guess it’s not that surprising. I like to listen to music in the car and not talking.

  4. I’m like L; I’m still listening to audiobooks on CDs in the car (although I was forced to replace the factory radio in my old CRV, and I now have Bluetooth in one of my two commuting cars, so this is an intriguing possibility).

    I recently finished “Nightwoods” by Charles Frazier (“Cold Mountain”). Good.

  5. Podcasts save my life. I do so much driving (1-2 hours/day, more if traveling) I have about 20 I listen to regularly.

  6. DS introduced me to TED talks, which worked better than music at keeping me alert during a solo drive through the state. I could also listen to podcasts during my daily driving, but like Risley I don’t have obvious long stretches except when flying. The titles you have suggested so far are going on my list.

  7. I am totally into podcastsfor my car commute. I listen to
    WNYC Brian Lehrer Show (politics and serious stuff call-in show – most recent topics are “The Role of Big Money in Campaigns, Descendents of Slaves and Slaveowners Discuss Reconciliation, and NYC Health Commissioner on Zika Prevention)
    WNYC Leonard Lopate Show (that way I know what all the hot intellectual books and movies are about even if I don’t have time to read or watch them!)
    The Weeds (Vox)
    Ezra Klein (from Vox)
    Soundcheck (new music)
    The Sporkful (foodie stuff)
    Real Time with Bill Maher

  8. I don’t listen to podcasts very often, but DH does. He loves the Moth, and I just got him started on Alec Baldwin’s interviews called “Here’s the Thing” – I listened to one with Jerry Seinfeld, and it was great! I usually read about or hear about a podcast, and pass them on to him!

  9. I listen to Podcasts while walk to work & when I go for walks by myself on the weekends or at lunch.

    Presidential — Put out by the Washington post – one president a week from Washington to Obama. They are on LBJ this week. Most are very good, some surprisingly good.

    The Sporkful — a funny podcast about food with some deeper episodes about food/ethnicity/belonging, but mostly just kind of silly

    America’s Test Kitchen — Cooking/food podcast by the Cook’s Illustrated people. They take cooking questions, do interviews with food people, talk about recipes, talk about wine, and have this really pretentious guy from the New Yorker muse about nonsense like which specific type of jazz is best for a dinner party (I hate him & skip his part)

    Special Sauce — Another food/cooking podcast by the Serious Eats people. Usually interviews with figures in the food world. I skip the people I’m not interested in.

    Freakonomics/Planet Money (already mentioned – somewhat similar)

    Entertainment Weekly’s Game of Thrones podcast (when the show is airing)

    Revisionist History – some are better than others, but I do like Malcolm Gladwell


  10. Ivy, you have some good ones that I should try. I was aware of Revisionist History but hadn’t had time to check it out. I should also consider Special Sauce and the one on the presidents. Actually, my DS2, who also does podcasts, would like that one

  11. @MM – The Presidential podcast really is great. They done some really great ones on the obscure presidents, and some interesting ones on the more well-known presidents. Highly recommend! I bet your DS would like it too.

  12. @Risley: try Bluetooth earbuds. That way you can put your phone in your pocket and not have to worry about it.

    I am not a podcast person, nor an audiobooks person. I like music in the car and on my run, and between XM radio and the lovely ability of my car to play my playlists through the wonders of Bluetooth, I am rarely without acceptable music.

    I think with stories, I have to pay too much attention. Driving is a fairly active endeavor for me (stick shifts tend to compel you to pay more attention to the sound of the engine), and I am afraid of getting engrossed in the story and reacting that half-second late when someone starts over into my lane (or, less terribly, getting engrossed in the driving and missing a key plot point). I suspect this is part of the ADD hyperfocus and that others may not have this fear, but boy do I just get wrapped up in stories, so it seems safer to stay away.

    Music is easier, because I know the songs anyway, and so even if I tune out at “he was in a bind, ’cause he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal,” I can still pick it up at “now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his due.”

  13. A friend of mine does one called The History Chicks, which is both by women and about women in history. It’s won a couple of awards. I find it entertaining. Most recent episode is about Marie Curie.

    I also just realized that my Amazon Echo connects to Tunein automatically, and Tunein has a ton of podcasts. This could be very useful, since I don’t like to wear headphones in the kitchen. I can listen to Democracy Now! for my periodic leftist-pinko needs.

  14. LfB, it is weird, but I have the opposite problem – I can’t listen to music while driving, or doing anything else, because I tend to hyperfocus on music.

  15. I love podcasts and audiobooks. Like LFB I cannot drive and listen to either of those (same hyper focus issue,) so I listen to music in the car. I walk 3-5 miles a day so I get a lot of listening done at that time. I can listen to “light”podcasts while painting, but not an actual book. My favorites are: Serial, This American Life, Startup, Reply All, Planet Money. I also listen to the NPR Politics podcast, – I find it very entertaining to listen to all the biased reporting while they bend over backwards to pretend they are balanced. I thin the TED talks are very uneven so I need a specific recommendation and same with the Moth.

  16. Anna Dewdney, Author/Illustrator of LLAMA LLAMA Series, 1965-2016
    6 SEPTEMBER 2016
    Penguin Young Readers joins the world in mourning the passing of Anna Dewdney, the author and illustrator of the beloved multi-million-copy bestselling Llama Llama children’s book series. She died in her Vermont home on Saturday, September 3, 2016, after a fifteen-month battle with brain cancer. She was fifty.
    Dewdney’s soothing tales are synonymous with calming early-childhood anxiety. She was praised by the Chicago Tribune as a “geographer extraordinaire of the emotional terrain of preschoolers and their mothers.” Books in her Llama Llama series, which have almost ten-million-copies in print, include LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA, LLAMA LLAM,A HOLIDAY DRAMA, LLAMA LLAMA MISSES MAMA, and LLAMA LLAMA TIME TO SHARE. LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA was chosen as Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book in 2011, setting the world benchmark for the most readings of a single book in one day.
    Llama llama booksDewdney was also the author/illustrator of Nobunny’s Perfect and NELLY GNU AND DADDY TOO. She had just completed work on a new picture book, LITTLE EXCAVATOR, scheduled for publication in June 2017 by Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Netflix is in production with an animated Llama Llama series, scheduled for release in 2017.
    Jen Loja, President, Penguin Young Readers said, “The entire Penguin Young Readers family is heartbroken. And as we grieve, we also celebrate Anna’s life, in dedicating ourselves to carrying forward her mission of putting books into as many little hands as possible. We will miss her so, but consider ourselves so lucky to be her publishing family and her partner in her legacy.”
    Ken Wright, Vice President and Publisher, Viking Children’s Books commented, “Anna was an extraordinary talent. But much more than that, she was a dear, dear friend to so many of us at Viking and Penguin, and she will be deeply and personally missed by her entire Penguin family.”
    Anna Dewdney was born in New York City on December 25, 1965. Before becoming a full-time author and illustrator, she worked as a rural mail carrier and taught at a boys’ boarding school for many years. She lived with her family and three dogs in a restored home from 1820 on the site of an old stone mill, where she actively worked on the gardens.
    She was an outspoken advocate of literacy, and believed that the act of reading to a child fostered empathy and kindness in that child. In a 2013 article for The Wall Street Journal, she wrote, “When we read books with children, we share other worlds, and even more importantly, we share ourselves. Reading with children makes an intimate, human connection that teaches that child what it means to be alive as one of many beings on the planet.”
    In lieu of a funeral service, she asked that people read to a child instead.
    Anna Dewdney is survived by her partner Reed Duncan, and two grown daughters, Berol and Cordelia Dewdney.

    My son loves the llama llama books

  17. So weird none of you have mentioned the Inside Carolina podcast…

    In addition to those listed already, I would also recommend Invisibilia; Motley Fool Money; Quiet, the Power of Introverts; and Harry Potter and the Sacred Texts (great one for listening to with kids, although we’re only through a couple episodes).

  18. I tried TED talks for a while, but they always made me giggle – the topics were so pompous

  19. I never heard of Llama Llama. What era were they?

    My DH was really bemoaning the fact that we no longer have kids of Sandra Boynton age, so he doesn’t have an excuse to keep buying new music from her

  20. Once you finish the first Serial, listen to Undisclosed–it is the follow up podcast, but it is not by Susan Koenig, but by a group of legal researchers on the misinformation and followup to the first Serial. The second Serial is on Beau Bergdof and is also interesting. I love Moth, TED talks and the rest of the NPR lineup, but I tend to listen to them live rather than in their podcasts. The podcasts I listen to are usually former NPR shows–like the Dinner Party Download, or Splendid Table that are no longer in our local NPR lineup.

  21. Regarding TED talks — A few months ago the New Yorker ran a humor piece called “Obituaries My Mother Wrote for Me While I Was Living in San Francisco in My Twenties”. One of them reads:

    Today we said goodbye to Bess Kalb, beloved daughter, sister, and former reader of serious books. After years living in the Bay Area, her brain essentially atrophied beyond the point of return, forcing us to make the brave decision to let her slip away peacefully. Shortly before the end, Bess spoke with genuine enthusiasm about a TED Talk—a pat distillation of a zeitgeisty subject spewed by some billionaire narcissist in a headset, accompanied by inaccurate line graphs. Weeks prior, she had used the word “impactful” in a sentence. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the Bess Kalb Fund for Adult Illiteracy.


  22. I like to listen to podcasts while I’m traveling, on the train, and walking. However, I’m not organized about getting them downloaded. Is there an app that allows me to subscribe to particular podcasts and then automatically downloads them all to one place? The Apple podcast app I have doesn’t seem to download them automatically but I’m probably doing something wrong.

    I was obsessed with the first Serial podcast, unusual for me because crime/legal dramas are not really my thing. But I found the narrator’s voice to be very engaging.

  23. CoC, I use iTunes and move them to my nano. I used to have a regular big capacity iPod, which had a far, far, far better user interface. The nano is horrible device for podcasts but I don’t know what else to use. I feel like Apple makes its UIs worse on every iteration.

  24. Like many of my kind, I pay $400/year to subscribe to EM:RAP – 6-7 hours a month of continuing education podcasts. Solid content, occasional juvenile humor. I’m not much of a podcast person, but I do like feeling like I am getting smarter. The thing about practicing community medicine is that I am fully isolated from big conversations about changes in practice. Despite CME requirements, it is easy to not follow along with newest recommendations on anything. CME can easily be done by learning things in your niche or personal interest area (Oooh…let’s go to Nicaragua and listen to people talk about tropical disease!), so that you fulfill your requirements without actually updating the important stuff.

    If anyone is interested in medical stuff — the same people behind the wildly lucrative EMRAP do a free podcast called “This won’t hurt a bit.” Recent topics include concussions, caffeine, extreme running, food poisoning. They are at a smart, non-medical level – likely appropriate for an interested older child as well.

  25. I have not gotten into podcasts…driving to/from work, doing errands, etc. I just put on the NPR station first. If that’s not interesting, mostly on weekends, I’ll switch to good old FM music/ Sirius XM music/comedy/sports.

  26. I listen to Conversations with Tyler. He is an economist, so he often has economic type topics. Most recently, he had the person mostly responsible for writing obituaries for the NYT. I also listen to Google talks. These are videos of people invited to give talks at Google somewhere. These are on YouTube.

  27. @ CoC – my apple podcast app just downloads them automatically when they are released. Are you sure you are subscribed to them? That’s an extra step, but once you are, they should download automatically.

    @ Ada, thanks. I just subscribed to this won’t hurt a bit. I’m always on the lookout for ones I can listen to with the kids.

  28. I am also adding Undisclosed. I have a 7 hour drive coming up (and then 7 hours again a few days later) so I’m very excited to have all these. Makes the time fly for me.

  29. I am going to try Quiet. I loved that book.

    I listen to a certain show from my local public radio (just the episodes on topics I’m interested in). A podcast specific to a health condition that has been very helpful. And Happier with Gretchen Rubin which I think someone on here mentioned before.

    I listen in the car when I’m alone or sometimes at home.

  30. Ah, I just saw this when I went to the Apple app “My Podcasts” section:
    This podcast has stopped automatically updating because you haven’t viewed or played any episodes recently. Tap to resume

    I only listen occasionally, and when I would go check they weren’t updated so then I stopped listening because they weren’t updated. . . . Now I know.

    Thanks, Lark.

  31. I’m onto season 2 of Serial now. Not nearly as compelling as Season 1, but still good.

    I’ll look at the Serial follow-up, tax girl — thanks for the tip.

    Lots of other interesting sounding ones mentioned here today, too.

  32. I have never listened to a podcast, though it sounds like there are some out there I would enjoy

  33. @MM – I agree about the TED talks. LOL at the parody Milo posted. I had not seen that. I have been forced to watch some for work (because of my industry, not my function), and I’ve always had trouble keeping from rolling my eyes.

  34. I am said about Anna Dewdney. We have all of the Llama books. My kids like them because Llama is a little rascal. I don’t listen to podcasts. Sirius in the car and usually the house.

  35. I always tell people to listen to the Thrilling Adventure Hour. The podcast itself, which used to be weekly, is winding down, but it has years of material in the archives. DH and I just saw a show of theirs in Brooklyn and are in love again.

    It’s a podcast that’s done in the style of old time radio. Famous people have recurring guest roles and some have cameos (in Brooklyn, Jon Hamm was our guest star).

  36. I listen to the radio–nearly always NPR, although occasionally an indie station.

    On a tangent–apps! Does anyone have a good one for keeping track of weight lifting?

  37. I listen to a lot of the podcasts listed–Gretchen Rubin, Serial, Freakonomics, Planet Money, etc. One that I love that hasn’t been mentioned is Hardcore History–especially the 5 part series on Genghis Khan. That’s the only podcast that I actually pay for, though plenty is available for free on iTunes. Death, Sex, and Money is also good.

    I listen to NPR on the way to work, and only get to my podcasts during my walks. Speaking of which, I need to start walking again, as I’m getting behind on my podcasts!

  38. houston, I listen to Hardcore History. I had forgotten about that one. I find him a tad histrionic at times, but where else can you get your Genghis Khan podcasts?

  39. In the ongoing saga of “What happens to all the female engineering majors?”, I just learned that I woman I know who went to Caltech and majored in CE is now a part-owner of a fitness center and does Dave Ramsey financial “coaching”.

  40. I use Pocket Casts as my podcatcher app (on my phone) and listen in the car. It automatically downloads the last few episodes of what I’m subscribed to (you can set the number of episodes to keep specifically by podcast) and I listen to a filtered playlist of the most recent ones.

    I listen to Hardcore History (but I haven’t heard one for a while), Revolutions (currently doing Simon Bolivar et al), History According to Bob, Irish History, Tudor History, various language podcasts mostly from [language]pod101.com and RFI’s Journal en Francais Facile, Marc Gunn’s Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and Renaissance Festival Podcast, the Partially Examined Life, the Cracked podcast, the Harmonia Early Music Podcast, Lynn Rossetto Kaspar’s show, A Way With Words, News from Lake Wobegon, Wait Wait, Ask Me Another, The Hidden Brain, 2 Dope Queens (has Jessica Williams on it), Mortified, Skeptoid, Naked Scientists, 60 Second Science, Reduced Shakespeare, and I’m sure I’ve forgetten some.

    I just added Ada’s suggestion, the Gladwell one, plus that reminded me I’d meant to add Hamilcast for my daughter. No wonder I never get through all my podcasts!

  41. BTW lately my daughter has been singing Lily Allen’s song Fuck You all the time. I never thought I’d miss hearing Hamilton so much.

  42. HM, between the amount of stuff you read and the stuff you listen to, I have no idea when you sleep.

  43. RMS, it’s not like I’m catching every episode. My filtered playlist draws from that pool, there’s always something ready to go when I get in the car, and if I want to make sure I catch a particular one I can pull that one up specifically either on my podcast app or just ask the Echo in the kitchen to play it while I’m cooking. But I miss plenty of them, and I’m ok with that.

  44. Ooooh, podcasts! I love this! I’m currently addicted to Common Sense with Dan Carlin (politics with the Hardcore History guy – love those too, but they’ve been mentioned), Tim Ferris, and Men in Blazers (so funny for those of us who love English Premier League soccer! Wait. What? That’s not a thing here?) I agree on Gretchen Rubin, Freakonomics, Revisionist History, Serial, and Planet Money. Stuff You Should Know is a family favorite.

  45. Strangers
    Radio Lab
    Risk (not safe for family listening)
    Mortified (a podcast in which adults read from their teen diaries – usually 15-30 mins only) Hilarious and comforting as a parent of a teen that they can be weird and end up ok. Not safe for family either.
    Fresh Air because Terry Gross is my spirit animal.

  46. Secret tip to get Hamilton tickets. DH and DD were able to get two tickets $25 above face by waiting until the absolute last minute on Stub Hub. Literally bought tickets at 7:52 for 8 pm show. You do have to print the tickets so you need to do this from a business center at a hotel or I don’t know if there are other venues where you can print. Wonderful, unexpected surprise. He said they went from $900 at 7pm to just above face at 7:52 – don’t despair he said they were still at $600 at 7:45. It is a bit of a gamble but there are a lot of other things to do there if it falls through. Also he said the show was amazing and worth every penny and the sprint to the theater.

  47. I don’t listen to any podcasts, although I used to listen to a few geared toward teaching a foreign language (would recommend but would be identifying).

    Usually I listen to Sirius in the car and kidz bop the rest of the time. If I’m trying to calm them down I put on classical music.

    Now that I have two in school all day I can start to think about something other than preschool-geared TV and music, for which I am very grateful….

    Second the request for an app that tracks weightlifting! I need to get going on that now that I can go to the gym.

  48. Louise, I don’t picture you as being as teaser at all! Was there friendly teasing in your childhood?

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