A while back, I mentioned that podcasts are a parenting (and life) hack that everyone should be clued in on, and promised I'd share what's in my ears here on the blog.
Why podcasts, you ask? So glad you queried. Podcasts are reading for busy people. Podcasts are a way to expand your mind, change your perspective, learn something new, de-stress, recharge, laugh, cry, pass the time, distract yourself on the third mile of a run—yes, they can do all of these things. I started listening to podcasts regularly when Charlie was a few months old and found an antidote to the occasional mindlessness of everyday tasks like diapering, breastfeeding, laundry, and cleaning.
Since I'm a writer and a parent, this list includes several podcasts specific to writers and parents. Others are fantastically suited for everyone (although watch out for swears if that bothers you; I note which ones tend to throw in the well-placed cuss word). Without further ado: my top 10 favorite podcasts.
1. This American Life
Hands down, This American Life is still one of my favorite radio programs on NPR, and—surprise!—they have a podcast. This is one of those shows that have an archive dating back years and years and touches on practically every subject. Ira Glass is an idol of mine—his storytelling, his voice, his thoughts on art—and I've rarely listened to an episode I don't enjoy in some way.
2. The Longest Shortest Time
This show is just back from hiatus, and it's one of my favorite parenting podcasts. Host Hillary Frank has a great radio presence and organizes shows in a funny, relatable way. She covers all parenting-related topics, including (my personal favorite) episodes where kids ask comedians their craziest questions.
3. Oh No, Ross and Carrie!
This podcast is a gem I found somewhat randomly. According to co-hosts Ross Blocher and Carrie Poppy, they "show up so you don't have to" and investigate "fringe science" and "claims of the paranormal." They've reviewed everything from Scientology to Myers-Briggs personality testing, and always make me laugh. Yes, this podcast contains language, and yes, it's by nature a tad irreverent. But it's funny, and the hosts are balanced enough to respect people's beliefs and traditions while rating their basis in science.
4. TED Radio Hour
Did you know TED Talks can talk in your ear, too? The TED Radio Hour is TED Talks optimized for a radio audience. If you're familiar with the wildly popular genre of TED Talks, you know that these episodes cover a variety of topics and can be incredibly interesting. Plug in and learn.
This is a newer NPR show that's currently in between seasons, but I loved every episode of it when it was going. Invisibilia derives its name from the Latin term for "invisible things," and examines the parts of life that we can't see but impact us dramatically—things like fear, thoughts, and assumptions. It's wildly interesting and well-produced. I'm a fan and can't wait for more.
This podcast is just gaining momentum, and I've been pleased with its content. Hope*Writers itself is a community for writers set up as a support system and a coaching mechanism to get you toward your goals. I'm not a current member, but this podcast gives me sips of inspiration and a nudge toward the page when I need it. Topics include: what you should know before writing a book, whether you should be blogging, and using social media as a writer.
What podcast list would be complete without the One That Started It All? Well, Serial was actually a latecomer to the podcast scene, but it broke many a record for the most-downloaded podcast. The famous podcast's premise is to tell "one story, week by week" (now with the tentative addendum, "sort of"). I fell in love with Sarah Koenig's obsessive and thorough journalism style during the first season (who didn't?) and have listened to most of season two. Season two is much slower than the first season, but it's still good. It's impeccably produced, deeply researched, and can be downright thrilling.
8. One Bad Mother
Another parenting podcast: this one is newer for me. This one is not for sensitive ears, and I'm hesitant to say all of the four-letter words are well-placed. But the hosts certainly cover some of those crazy, emotional, incredible parts of parenting that we all want to relate on. Note: one of the host's voices is a little over-the-top for me, so I tend to only listen to this when I'm feeling high-energy and do not have a headache.
9. The Liturgists
This Christian podcast by artist Michael Gungor and Mike McHargue (better known as Science Mike) is a gem. Both Gungor and McHargue are fairly skeptical individuals, and if you identify as a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical and conservative, you may find their liberalism and open-mindedness uncomfortable. That said, we should all get uncomfortable once in awhile. Whether I agree on every episode or not, I find myself nodding along with their commitment to inquiry, grace, and discussion.
10. 99% Invisible
I only recently started listening to this show, but it has been recommended to me several times. This show, like many others, covers a wide range of topics all under one umbrella: for this podcast, the umbrella is "unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world." It's a fascinating listen, and every time I learn a tidbit that sticks with me.
I hope you find a few new shows to listen to while you're running, driving, diapering, or making peanut butter and jelly. If you have a favorite I missed, please share! I'm always looking for new podcasts.