There was a time when I could only remember what day of the week it was after I thought about what show I was going to watch that night.This was before the time of Hulu/Netflix/DVR, so my life was pretty strictly tied to an show’s scheduled air date. If I was going to watch 7th Heaven that night, that meant it was a Monday. If I was going to watch Buffy and Angel, that meant it was a Tuesday. Wednesday was Dawson’s Creek, Thursday was Survivor. (It appears I’m still living in the 90s). Now, I have a new way of knowing what day of the week it is. Podcasts.
Monday: NPR Politics. Tuesday: Savage Lovecast. Wednesday: Fernando and Greg. Thursday: The Read.
The joy of podcasts is that they keep me from nodding off in my cubicle. The difficulty with podcasts is that I can’t just listen to them anywhere or at anytime. I can’t listen to any on the train, because I inevitably miss crucial parts and will quickly lose interest (I never made it past episode 4 of Serial because I unsuccessfully attempted to listen to it while standing on the caltrain platform). My favorite times to listen are at work, if I’m doing something mindless, or if I’m driving or cleaning the house.
Here are my favorites/recommendations:
1) Savage Lovecast
My FAVORITE one. I’m not exactly sure what google search caused me to stumble upon Dan Savage, but I unabashedly love EVERYTHING he says. This is a podcast where people call in with questions, typically relationship/sex stuff, and he responds. He starts each podcast with a political rant and ends with caller responses to prior episodes. I would say I agree with 99% of his opinions, and he has made me think differently about the way things should be, in relationships and in life. I don’t have to be very focused on the podcast to follow it, which is great. His political rants keep me up to date on current issues, callers questions fulfill my desire for smut, and his responses make me feel like I’m maturing as a person. As a sidenote, I am weirdly obsessed with his husband’s Instagram; his husband seems to be a stay at home dad/swimsuit model and posts the most hypnotizing shirtless pictures of himself.
Episode Suggestion: Occasionally he has themed episodes but usually the questions in each episode are pretty diverse so you could listen to any of them and get a good idea of what he talks about. Episode 488‘s opener is a pretty good summary of his views on normality/kink though.
2) NPR Politics Podcast
I did not expect to like this one because I don’t particularly care about politics but this podcast does a REALLY good job of piquing my interest. They have a weekly episode and if something important happens, a quick take episode, where a group of NPR correspondents get together and talk about US politics. My favorite correspondants are Ron Elving and Nina Totenberg who have such great voices for podcasts. The podcast does a great job of summarizing what happened, why it happened, and what the future impacts might be. This involves a higher level of listening commitment, but it’s a nice variation from my usual political consumption (ie. Samantha Bee and John Oliver).
Episode Suggestion: Inside HBO’s Confirmation: When NPR Broke the Anita Hill Story
3) Planet Money
This NPR podcast explores pretty much everything and anything with an economic perspective. You end up learning about a lot of little random things, which I love. They’re relatively short, but do require some amount of listening attention, so I end up either not listening to any or listening to four at a time. I’ve found that this is my favorite podcast to exercise to, because the intervals are perfect and the podcast is tightly edited.
Episode Suggestion: 417 Lance Armstrong and the Business of Doping
4) The Read
This podcast is by two friends who comment on black culture and it’s consistently one of the top downloaded podcasts on iTunes. This one takes zero attention to follow, but I admittedly do not know what/who they’re talking about 30% of the time. I do not agree with the majority of their advice, but I think they’re funny, they bring high energy and it’s just very easy to listen to, no matter what I’m doing at the moment.
Episode Suggestion: Best Of on 1/1/2015
5) Fernando & Greg Sideshow
This is just two Bay Area DJs talking about random shit, with their friend Heklina and Jason, their producer. I love this one because for the most part, it takes zero attention to follow this podcast, so I can listen to this while doing anything, and they are the most sexually explicit of my podcasts (in a different way from Dan Savage) so it feels gossipy.
6) What’s the Point
This podcast is similar to Planet Money, in that they focus on a topic each time, but this has a data slant. The episodes are slightly longer than Planet Money though, so more in depth though I think Planet Money just covers a LOT of ground in a short time, whereas What’s the Point is more conversational, between the host and their interviewee. They cover very interesting and relevant topics.
Episode Suggestion: A Privacy Mea Culpa
Things other people like but I don’t:
– Ted Talks: I just CANNOT get into these. The descriptions tend to be more interesting than the podcast itself. I just lose interest too quickly, usually even before the one minute mark.
– This American Life: In theory, I can understand why people would like to listen to this, and I really did try to like this. I listened to at least thirty, thinking the entire time that I was the problem. Each time I’d finish a podcast and think, well … I didn’t really care about any of those three stories! Eventually when you have forty episodes built up in your queue and you have no interest in listening to any of them, it’s time to unsubscribe.
– Unqualified with Anna Faris: I liked Anna Faris and I liked Chris Pratt, not obsessively, but enough to be willing to watch their interviews on youtube if they were ever on a media circuit. But listening to Dan Savage has spoiled me because now if I don’t agree with someone’s relationship advice, I cringe SOOO hard. And I listened to one episode where Chris Evans was on and I cringed SOOOOOO hard at Anna Faris’ advice and Chris Pratt’s reactions and then I felt disgusted in MYSELF because I actually agreed with fratboy idiot CHRIS EVANS and it was just such a gross experience to find myself on the side of Evans vs. Pratt and Faris that I never listened to this again. I think this is an instance of celebrities needing to set up a higher boundary between themselves and fans.