Six months ago, I didn’t know what a podcast was. I would occasionally hear friends talking about them, but didn’t fully investigate them until I needed something to pass the time on my work commute. And since I hate the radio and can’t afford to buy 10 Audible books a month, I gave them a shot, and now I’m addicted. I tried to explain what a podcast was to my dad, and the best description I could come up with, being someone who thinks fax machines work by using magical messaging fairies floating in the sky, my best answer was: “It’s like a radio show that you download, and then listen to every week.” Here are my favorite five:
THIS AMERICAN LIFE – Broadcast weekly from WBEZ Chicago, hosted by Ira Glass – each show has a theme, and the hour-long program is broken up into acts. The themes are sometimes heavy, and sometimes they seem to come from left field, but I’m usually able to relate to every episode in some form or another. One of the first episodes I listened to was about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so I cried, I don’t know, 11 times. One episode was about misunderstandings, and I laughed (out loud – a real LOL) like I was listening to a Comedy Central sketch. I find myself genuinely disappointed that the end of the program is here in 60 short minutes nearly every week. It’s hard to nail down what this podcast is “about,” until you listen to the show and refer to the title. Then it all makes sense.
THE LONGEST SHORTEST TIME – I heard about this podcast through a friend, when she invited me to a Facebook group called “Longest Shortest Time Mamas” and I was like, “Longest what the what?” It didn’t take long to figure it out though, after a few weeks of being in the group, when I realized a bunch of moms got together in a safe, non-judgmental space to share their experiences, good and bad, with each other. The podcast wasn’t too different, and listening to the host and creator, Hillary Frank made me feel like I was having lunch with a friend that I could share anything with. There’s been some recent drama (PODCAST DRAMA, WHO KNEW?) in the Facebook group, but honestly, the podcast is where it’s at. The title refers to the time phenomenon that happens when you’re raising people, but it’s not just for parents. I’d totally listen to it even if I didn’t have a little person.
THE MOTH – I love, love, love listening to stories. Real, human stories. The Moth features stories from The Moth Mainstage, StorySLAMs and MothSHOP Community program, where REAL PEOPLE come together, enter their names into a drawing, and if picked, tell a story based on a theme. I feel a range of a million emotions when I listen to these stories, and these people are REALLY GOOD storytellers. They also teach storytelling workshops, and who doesn’t love that? I find myself listening to these over and over again in the bathtub, when I need a little getaway. I travel with the storytellers to exactly where they are, and come back home in less than 10 minutes. This is one of my favorites to discuss with Marc, because he adds a different perspective I don’t always see, and it’s all full circle for me.
SLEEP WITH ME – Sounds sexy, right? This podcast is the opposite of sexy. Like, COMPLETE opposite. Scooter is the host, and he is pretty darn good at his job: helping you fall asleep. I stumbled upon this one when browsing through popular podcasts, and was immediately drawn in. Lately, I haven’t needed his help to get to sleep, since we are cramming 4 life events into one quarter, but sometimes, it will come on in my car, and it takes away anxiety very quickly for me. You don’t really “listen” to the podcast, because there is definitely not a beginning, middle, and end to anything Scooter says. He just babbles, and kind of mumbles, which is a glorious combination if you’re needed to chill the f-ck out, which is me, all the time.
SERIAL – I ‘ve got to be honest that this season of Serial has me a little bored (Sorry, Bowe Bergdahl), but last season of Serial had me listening to host Sarah Koenig and dying for next week’s episode like it was a soap opera. She basically takes a sort-of-unsolved criminal case, and opens it up, starting from scratch and investigating the crime from start to finish. Spoiler alert if you want to listen to last season, which I recommend you do: we still don’t know what the bleep happened, and if that kind of stuff haunts you, then you’re gonna be upset. In my humble and unqualified opinion, though, it’s worth it.
BONUS! And maybe (definitely) my favorite of all:
WOMEN OF THE HOUR – If it’s my favorite, why the hell isn’t it first on the list? Unfortunately, for us, the season is short AF. Lena Dunham is the host, and she had me sitting in my car, late for everything, because I was so sucked in. It’s an hour-long show broken up into segments, and features a bunch of amazing stories from equally amazing women and their experiences. The entire season was five episodes that mimicked the chapters in her book (also the best) and each and every episode, for me, was empowering, inspirational, thought-provoking, and educational. I miss her.
I hope you find time to listen to something that lifts you up, or allows you to get away from the craziness that life can bring. If you need me, I’ll be in the tub soaking and laughing. Actually, I’ll be packing because we MOVE TO OUR FIRST HOME in 10 days, but same thing, right?