I jumped on the Podcast bandwagon back when Serial exploded and everyone was listening to find out the fate of Adnan Syed, a young man who was arrested in Baltimore, Md., in 1999 for the murder of Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, and his ex-girlfriend. Spoiler: There’s still no satisfying resolution to this true story/mystery.
But there was a happy ending for me (wait…is it in bad taste to say there was a happy ending to a podcast about a probably-wrongfully-imprisoned man and a dead teenage girl? Whatever..it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want) because I, like 10 million other people at the time, discovered podcasts.
They are nothing new. Podcasts have been around for more than a dozen years, or at least since the invention of the iPod for which the audio podcasts were named (though I doubt anyone listens to them on an actual iPod today), but nobody really listened to them.
Then Serial happened and hooked the whole nation on talk radio and podcasters came out of the woodwork to produce shows about everything from shoes to books to politics to popular culture to puppies to pizza to professional development.
The best estimate is that there are more than 525,000 active podcasts and that number is growing daily. Most (if not all of them) are free, though many of them ask you to support the show with regular donations or buying merchandise, or supporting the show’s advertisers (a la public TV and radio).
Some Podcasting stats:
I listen to podcasts on my phone using the Podcast Addict app on my phone. I subscribe to several podcasts, but do not have it set to automatically download new episodes because A.) I like to chose which shows I am interested in and B.) I’m conserving space on my phone. I download (using wifi) the episodes I want to listen to so I can then listen to them anytime (no wifi required once they are downloaded). I have the app set to save podcasts to my phone’s micro SD card and the app is also set to automatically delete episodes after I have listened to them.
I listen when I walk, when I drive, sometimes when I run (though…I prefer music), when I cook/clean/garden or otherwise work around the house, and when I want to blot out the voices of the people I live with (it happens…teenagers, you know).
What do I listen to? That list is long and growing…seriously, I just added another one today (Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard….can’t recommend it yet..haven’t listened to one episode even). I regularly look for new stuff and usually try a few episodes before I subscribe. I also regularly unsubscribe is a podcaster is annoying or the podcasts starts to bore me. So many podcasts…so little listening time.
Here are some of the podcasts that I’m listening to or have listened to (Some, like S-Town, are only a few episodes). They may not all be for you. I find podcasts are, like books, very subjective. But, if you’re looking to try it out…here are a few (or more than a few) that I can recommend:
(P.S. Pardon me for not linking you to all of these, but…I’m lazy like that. You can find most of them on Stitcher’s Top 100 list.)
- Crimetown (Mafia ….and it is fascinating)
- Science Vs.
- Heavyweight (though I do find this podcaster annoying…I don’t get the bit with him annoying his sister at the start of every episode.)
- Death, Sex and Money (podcaster Ana is awesome.)
- Fresh Air with Terry Gross (Literally the best podcaster/interviewer in the biz)
- On the Media
NPR (honestly anything from NPR is awesome)
- Hidden Brain
- How I Built This (really interesting stories of entrepreneurs)
- Invisibilia (not updating now, but…back issues are good)
- This American Life (the Gold standard for podcasts)
- TED Radio Hour
- Runners’ World’s Human Race (they’ve not been updating, lately, but…)
- Sincerely X (Anonymous Ted Talks)
- Katie Couric (I hate her cohost and wish she’d dump him, but…I love Katie)
- Longform (They interview writers, which, as a writer, I find it fascinating)
- On Being (a little hippy-dippy/religious-y sometimes, but I like the host and I find most of the topics interesting/inspiring)
- Dirty John – A serial story of true crime (interesting, but the main woman is so stupid I kinda hoped he’d kill her).
- S-Town – Another serial story that defies description – a crazy story – like a train wreck. You can’t stop listening. I binge listened to this one in like two days.).
- My Favorite Murder – the hosts (two women) are hilarious. Lots of F-bombs and bad language though.
- Oprah’s Super Soul (Sorry, not sorry…I love Oprah).
Here are a few podcasts that are hit-or-miss with me (I download episodes if I’m interested in the topic):
- Stuff You Should Know
- The Chasing Joy Podcast
- WTF with Marc Maron (I fast-forward through the first 5 or so minutes when he just whines about himself. But he has great guests…like OBAMA…and a variety of celebrities.)
- Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin (Same comments as above. Basically, Alec talks about himself too much, but…has good guests and is a real left-leaner, which we all know I like.)
- The Ezra Klein Show (Ezra is a writer for Vox)
- Rolling Stone’s Music Now
- TED Work Life with Adam Grant