For me podcasts are like little windows into different worlds, and the closest thing I've had to lectures since leaving graduate school. I was one of those nutty kids who really enjoyed going to class, because I got to listen to a very smart person talk about something they really cared about.
But my love of listening (as opposed to reading or watching) the news started when I lived in Texas as a pre-teen. My big rebellion at the age of 13/14 was to stay awake until 10pm (I think) and listen to the BBC World Service on NPR and hope that I didn't get caught staying up so late. (I'm drafting this post at 9:53 pm and wondering how long after 10pm I will be able to get to bed!)
Podcasts have this way of settling me down and allowing my mind to be taken to a different place. This is great for when I'm in a situation where I need to sort-of focus, like when driving long distances or when trying to go out on a long hike.
In fact, one of the ways I was able to stay so active this winter was that if I walked I would get a chance to listen to my favorite podcasts.
And there are so very many favorite podcasts.
Generally my listening habits can be broken down into a few categories of podcasts; the storytelling podcasts, the educational podcasts and the advice podcasts.
The storytelling podcasts have a habit of making me cry, from The Heart to The Moth to This American Life, these intimate pieces find their way into your heart and soul and make it impossible to ignore the humanity within us all. Even The Sporkfull, the one for eaters, brings together humanity around the experience of eating (and Dan Pashman is a funny dude).
The Educational podcasts, like Planet Money, 99% Invisible and Under the Influence, help me learn about economics, design and marketing, respectively, and make sure that my brain remains active, and I get to engage with a topic that doesn't come up in my day to day life.
And the advice podcasts are just fun! I consider The Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage to be my candy. The good, but irreverent, advice that Dan gives his callers has been keeping me company for almost 10 years (how on earth did that happen!). His was the first podcast I started listening to, and now 444 episodes and 9 years later I look forward to hearing Dan give advice, as much as I did back in undergrad.
I know many people discovered podcasts for the first time with the pop culture phenomenon of Serial, but looking back I've been listening to podcasts since around 2006 (I think I started when I learned about the Savage Lovecast before it was called the Savage Lovecast). The only other thing that can give me the same experience, is audio books, and even then I like the variety of podcasts to listening to a book.
So what are your feelings on podcasts? Are you a fan, do you have any great recommendations for one I should be listening to? Please share any suggestions in the comments because there aren't nearly enough hours in the day to listen to all the podcasts out there, but I seem to always be running out of new ones to listen to.
P.S. I managed to get this post ready to go by 10:30, so not too late at night, but a bit late to catch BBC World Report back in 1998.