Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Newly Found Love of Podcasts - June 11, 2015

I brushed off the idea of listening to podcasts over and over and over. People would suggest them to me - usually specific episodes - and I'd come across interesting-sounding concepts here and there. I'd download one...two...and I'd put them on and realize, 15 minutes later, that I hadn't heard a single word. I have the same problem with audiobooks - my short attention span and insistence on multitasking, even when it's not the best choice for the situation, just made listening to long-form stories impossible for me.

But then, along came Fitbit, of all things. When I first got my Fitbit - on super sale on Black Friday, bought by combining Ebates [referral link!] and Kohls cash and sales and rebates and on and on - I lamented that it was OMG SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to ever get 10,000 steps a day. And by "anyone," I meant me. I'd hit a wall with my Weight Watchers Activelink - I no longer cared if it lit up all the way around, I'd just laugh at it. It would nag me and I'd roll my eyes. So I wanted the Fitbit to get me active again - and at first it didn't work that way. I'd get to about 4,000 steps and sit back down. I needed a bit more motivation.

Enter Serial.

"You HAVE to listen to it!" every single person I knew (or, well, at least five) chanted. "No, really. It's amazing!"

"I don't do podcasts," I insisted. And again, I put one episode on my computer, put on headphones, and listened-not-listening and rewound, relistened, and gave up. And yet - I caught just enough to be intrigued and then the obvious solution hit. I loaded Serial onto my phone, stuck my headphones into my ears, and went for a walk. And walked and walked and and walked and listened - intently, catching every detail. As you probably know, Serial was pretty amazing. It kept me walking - I paced the halls during my daughter's physical therapy appointment. I walked around my little city. I walked and I listened. I hit my goal of 10,000 steps. One day. Two days in a row. Every day.

And after that, there was no stopping me. I finally gave in to Welcome to Night Vale, which started out slowly but picked up for me at about episode 8 and from there....I was hooked. I pulled Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and This American Life because those were easy, but I wanted MORE. I started asking around and paying more attention to mentions of podcasts. My subscription list grew. My playlist grew. And I'm still walking and listening and looking for excuses to walk and listen a little more. (Podcasts are also great for long, boring periodontist appointments, by the way.)

I've learned that what I like is long-form, engaging storytelling (fiction or not). I don't usually like random roundtables of people yelling at one another or discussing a single topic. I like in-depth interviews. I like advice shows, even if - this surprised me - I cannot identify with the question at all. And I like a peek into celebrity lives.

Podcasts. The new blog. The new zine. The new it thing. And finally I'm into them too, perhaps a bit late but here at the party.

Because I have an Android phone and can't use OMGITUNES, I settled on managing my podcasts with Podcast Republic.

Here's what's currently on my subscription list - the serious, the silly, the frivolous:
  • AJC Breakdown - the AJC's answer to Serial. It's a little clunky but the story itself is engaging and there is all sorts of tangential information about how Georgia runs its legal system that I've found even more fascinating than the core story itself. (You have to subscribe to the AJC to get the extras though, which is both a smart business strategy and annoying as hell.)
  • Dear Sugar Radio - Cheryl Strayed, what can I say? Love her. Love her. Love her. Perhaps not as enamored when Steve starts talking (though I loved Candyfreak!) but overall, a good listen.
  • Invisibilia - I tore through season 1 and am anxiously awaiting the start of season 2.
  • Let's Talk TJs! - I'm a fan of the blog "What's Good at Trader Joe's" so I figured I'd check out this brand new podcast from those folks. I was worried it would be more random roundtable and less discussion but the first episode was fun and friendly. I'm giving it a go.
  • Love + Radio - Inconsistent but when it hits the mark, it's just so good. 
  • Radiolab - My current favorite. When my playlist is empty I go download back episodes (there are many - I'll never catch up). While I walk and listen, I find myself laughing, crying, gasping, and perhaps muttering (hey, it keeps people from bugging me!). This podcast is everything I want.
  • RuPaul What's the Tee with Michelle Visage - Light and fun. These two are a hoot and I feel like a fly on the wall listening to two pals chat. 
  • Savage Lovecast - It amuses me greatly to listen to this one on my walks. I'm very tempted to spend the money for the magnum episodes.
  • The Sporkful - Another new one for me, found due to a mention in Death, Sex and Money (which is not on my subscription list, I just realized, but probably should be - UPDATE: It is! And it's rapidly becoming a favorite. But I digress.). Food talk - dovetails with my love of food writing. I skipped the one about sausage (hi, vegetarian here) but devoured (ha) the one about marijuana edibles. I probably will be delving into the back episodes deeply in the coming weeks.
  • This American Life - You know what it is.
  • Welcome to Night Vale - My other favorite. I binge-listened to every single episode of this one over the course of several weeks and felt a pang when I finally caught up and now have to wait two whole weeks between every episode. I haven't yet bought the bonus live shows (nor could I afford to go to the recent tour, boo hiss) but I probably will. 
Other podcasts in my playlist that I haven't yet hit subscribe on (I found several of these from a Facebook thread and haven't listened to all of them yet) include Freakonomics, Call Your Girlfriend, How Did This Get Made?, KLAM Radio, Mystery Show (A new favorite!!!! And through this I now am also a big fan of Reply All), Black Girls Talking, Longform, 99% Invisible, and Gravy. And with all of that said, I think it's time for another walk...

No comments:

Post a Comment