First things first, if you’re not listening to the podcast Serial, you should be. That’s all I’ll say about it, because everyone and their mother, including my mother, is talking about it. I’ve been listening to podcasts since before Serial came on to the scene, and I love them. I usually listen to them during my hour-long commutes on the mètro, if I’m cooking or walking somewhere by myself, and even when I go on runs. I’m not a huge music person in the first place, and I love listening to podcasts rather than music because you’re (usually) learning something through what’s basically osmosis, which I am totally qualified to say because I listen to a lot of podcasts and I science now.
Here are some of my favorite podcasts at the moment. Check them out as you fly/train/drive to your holiday destinations, and then when you get there you’ll have plenty of new topics to talk to your relatives about! Or you’ll be hiding in the bathroom trying to finish listening to all the episodes of Serial before your Aunt Marge spoils them all for you.
1. Slate Serial Spoiler Special
Since Serial is only once a week, and no one else in my life is up to date on the episodes (Mom and Moonie, I’m looking at you), this podcast helps me get in a little more of my fix. S.S.S.S. is released Friday morning, and it’s a perfect debrief on each episode that really makes me think about the aspects of the case differently. In my opinion, it’s way better than Serial Serial, but I’ll admit that I listen to both because I have a problem and I’m addicted but I admitted it so it’s okay. I’ve also linked to Slate’s entire webpage dedicated to Serial, so you’re welcome for that.
2. This American Life
Basically, have some respect and check out Serial’s roots. Sarah Koenig, the narrator on Serial, started out on This American Life, and TAL provided most of the funding for this season. And Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, is also the Editorial Advisor of Serial, and I think he’s awesome. Their stories are different each week, and they’re told beautifully. I’ve been falling asleep while my parents listen to this program on the radio in the car for decades (slight exaggeration), but I’ve only recently started to appreciate the quality of TAL.
3. TED Radio Hour
TED Radio Hour is the podcast that started my addiction to podcasts. I could spend hours watching TED Talks, but now I listen to this 50 minute podcast instead. The episodes are curated on a different subject each week, with three or four TED speakers highlighted and interviewed by Guy Raz. Sometimes they replay episodes, but I would recommend going into the archives and checking out Success, Overcoming and Getting There as well as subscribing to the weeklies. TED Talks are all about changing your perspective, and this podcast often blows my mind.
4. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
This is a quiz show about the week’s news, both the relatively normal and very strange. The narrators and weekly guests are all hilarious. I should warn you to be careful when listening to this in a public place, because I can’t tell you how often I get weird looks from people and then realize I’m walking down the sidewalk smiling or laughing on the train (this behavior is especially strange in France).
5. Pop Culture Happy Hour
This one is kind of my guilty pleasure, but not because it’s a bad podcast. Let me explain by starting with a confession: I don’t watch a lot of movies… I mean, I do, but the list of movies I haven’t seen would probably horrify you, especially if you’re a *Movie Person*. Most of the movies I watch are on Netflix, and I don’t really watch new movies in theaters. I DO watch TV shows, but apparently not the ones that end up getting talked about on this show, so far. Anyway, here’s the part I really feel guilty about: I often use the conversations in this show to cheat and talk about movies or TV shows I haven’t seen when people bring them up in conversation… Yeah, sorry, and mostly I’m sorry to myself because I think I just revealed a lot about myself to all of you. BUT the group of people on the show are interesting and funny, and I couldn’t make a list of my favorite podcasts without including it. So, I’m giving you permission to listen to this podcast even if you’re not a *Pop Culture Person*.
I hope this post inspires you to venture outside of Serial and try some of these other podcasts. I have at least ten podcasts downloaded and waiting to be listened to, but these ones are my tried and true favorites. Let me know what you think, and if you listen to any others please share them with me!