Greetings! February is knocking at our door with optimism and a fresh perspective on the year. As I say my farewells to January, I am looking onward to new and continuing short-term goals, as well as updating and reminding myself of longer term goals for my blog, my professional life, and my personal self. One particular goal of mine is to explore a new-to-me form of media that is intellectual, entertaining, and worth sharing with others. The podcast is this form of media.
Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, which means I am definitely late to the party. Although I have listened to a few programs during my time in college and a few more here and there, I want to find one or two that I enjoy listening to regularly. I have a handful of favorite television shows that I watch religiously, so there’s no reason I can’t sit down a couple of times a week to listen to a podcast.
Of course, as with my Reading Challenge, I’m reaching out to you, reader, to encourage you to join me. Now, if you have never listened to a podcast, or, like me up until recently, have only heard of the word but never understood what exactly a podcast involves, do not worry. I have combed through “best podcast” lists, blogs run by podcast-listeners, and my favorite media agencies and have selected five podcasts to pay attention to during February. I am hoping that by focusing on five, I will be able to find out what I like and what I don’t, and perhaps discover other podcasts to enjoy. I’m really hoping that I don’t like at least one, because if I become obsessed with all five I’m really going to have an overload problem on my hands. But I won’t worry about that just yet.
I will introduce the five I have selected in just a moment, but first, I would like to address the podcast-lovers and dedicated listeners who have already compiled their own favorites. Drop your suggestion(s) in a comment below and share the podcast knowledge! I am thinking about selecting five new podcasts every month, so I would love to feature your favorite(s) in the future. Thank you ahead of time; here are my inaugural selections:
Modern Love: The Podcast
The New York Times
The commencement of this podcast was announced just over a week ago, and is fitting for February, or should I say Valentine’s Day, which will be here before we know it. This podcast is inspired by the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times, which is described as “a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.” Each week, a “Modern Love” essay will be read and then discussed; the topics vary and so do the voices – Jason Alexander is heard in “One Last Swirl,” for example – so I do think there is a story, and narrator, for everyone.
New Episode: Every Thursday
Listen: On iTunes or through WBUR.org
This American Life
WBEZ and Chicago Public Media
Perhaps one of the most well known and listened to radio shows, This American Life chooses a theme for their stories each week, and broadcasts the stories on public radio and television (have you heard of the show Serial? It shares creators with This American Life). From science to sports, politics to summer camp, and just about everything in between, there is a wide range of topics covered which makes this podcast a great starting point for someone new to this kind of media, or for someone who is looking for something exciting to talk about with friends and companions. It’s a truly great podcast to spend time with.
New Episode: Every Friday
Listen: Just about anywhere. Subscribe and/or download here
The Writer’s Almanac (with Garrison Keillor)
American Public Media
I was introduced to this podcast in an American [I think it was Short?] Fiction class at UMaine, and I’ve been listening to it off and on since. I would make this a definite must-listen because it’s short, it’s literary and arts based, and the text is included if you would like to read along or read later. From poems, condensed biographies, and birthday celebrations, you will learn about people and works you may not know anything about or you will learn something new about a favorite subject.
WTF with Marc Maron
Squarespace and others
On a different note, this podcast is led by stand up comedian Marc Maron, and he invites fellow comedians, actors and actresses, journalists and writers, critics, producers, musicians, and a plethora of other people who are truly interesting and admirable. The episodes are a little on the long side (an hour or longer), especially those with more than one guest, but they are captivating enough so your attention will be strongly held.
New Episode: Every Monday and Thursday
Listen: On Howl Premium or wtfpod.com
Disclaimer: Foul language
This podcast is “about the internet,” but this is an extremely broad description, as you will find out with a listen to any of the episodes. It’s more about how the internet, or technology in general, is used – and as it’s such a big part of our lives, these stories are about that: life. Not every episode will be for you, but there are so many that you are sure to find a discussion that sparks your interest; this podcast is one on my radar because I like that the creators sought out a fresh way to have these discussions, by using something so familiar to us for [likely] unimaginable yet imaginative stories.
New Episode: Every Wednesday
Listen: On iTunes, Soundcloud, and Reply All