Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I hope the smoking man's in this one

While podcasts have been a thing for awhile now, I did not get into them until a few months ago. There were lots of reasons for, I suppose. I didn't know how to get them to automagically update and load to my listening devices and didn't have enough interest to remind myself to going looking regularly (See Also: TV shows that are not on Hulu Plus). I'm a visual person and don't get into audiobooks/talks on tape/etc. as much. If I'm going to listen to the spoken word, I need it to be either be easy enough to not require my undivided attention to catch everything, or I need to make it my main focus.

Whatever the reason, they weren't my jam, and that's okay. But a few months ago, when I started walking Malcolm on my own for long stretches of time (our average 4 miles takes about 70 minutes and yes, apparently everything lately comes back to having a dog now) everyday, I quickly realized that listening to the same music playlists over and over was going to get boring and if I put on streaming music, I'd be skipping stuff occasionally and I really didn't want to have to pull out my phone every few songs. I just wanted to set it and forget it, slow cooker style.

I'd been hearing things about a podcast called Welcome to Night Vale. I really didn't know what it was about, but lots of people who like a lot of the same pop culture I do were talking about it, so I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the podcast app to my phone, subscribed to this show, and listened to the first episode. Since walking is pretty simple, I figured it would give me the focus and the time the spoken word requires.

I was hooked immediately. It was delightfully quirky and weird and incredibly well done. From the show's website: "WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events." 

Basically, it's a town where all the conspiracy theories are not just true, but normal. Luckily for me, the show had been running for two years and for the next couple of months, I listened exclusively to this podcast while out walking the dog without Blake.

Once I caught up with it though, I needed something to listen to in between episode release dates. So, I've been "auditioning" other podcasts. Here are a few of my other favorites:

Bellwether Friends - I am actually friends with the hosts of this show, Carolyn and Anna. They are librarians discussing popular culture - what they like/don't like. We have lots of similar tastes (we are friends, after all), so I really enjoy listening to my friends chat with each other.

NPR's Ask Me Another - Trivia! Music! Word games! The one man house band is Jonathan Coulton, who I love. The first episode featured John Flansberg of They Might Be Giants, one of my absolute favorite bands. I mean, what's not to love here? I'm actually going to try and be a contestant on this at some point.

Stuff You Missed in History Class - I actually don't know that I'd get along with the hosts in real life, and I can't put my finger on why exactly. But the subject matter is cool - In depth stories from history you probably don't know. The most recent one I listened to was about the first person (a woman) who brought a live panda back to the United States. I don't feel compelled to listen to everything in the back catalog of this show, but there is enough to interest me.

Generally, I only listen to these on walks, but I've been known to finish an episode of something in the car or after I get home if the walk ended first and it was handy to have a few on last weekend's road trip. I've tried out a few other podcasts, but these four are my go to choices right now. I think I'll try Serial next.

Do you listen to any podcasts? What else should I be listening to? 


Anne said...

I'm so glad you like WTNV! I fell in love with it pretty quickly, too, and have been anxiously awaiting each episode since I got caught up. I also love Bellwether Friends and NPR's Ask Me Another! (You've got great taste in podcasts!) I also really like NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, which talks about all manner of pop culture. Also Wham Bam Pow! which talks about movies, especially sci-fi. I also listen to The Indoor Kids, which is focused on videogames - 99% of which I don't play, but I find the couple who do the podcast really charming and I just love listening to their take on things, even if I'm not playing the specific games they talk about. Those are the ones I listen to most, though I'm sure I'm forgetting others!

Giggles said...

I don't listen to podcasts for pretty much the same reasons you listed. But if I ever find myself with alone time like walking a dog or long drives, I'll have to look some up.

Lala said...

We love Stuff you Missed In History Class and I am totally addicted to Serial(like I will do my most hated chores in order to listen to it at the same time...) I also really like to listen to Radio Lab, This American Life and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me since I never seem to catch them live for some reason. Can't wait to try out the others you suggested too!

Heidi said...

Now that I have a legitimate commute (15 minutes to American Fork didn't count), I'll have to find some podcasts!