Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Discovering Podcasts

I haven't written a real post in some time (all the ones that have posted recently were scheduled quite a while back), and I think that is mainly because I am struggling with my next Sunday Salon post. It will not be in the vein of the "How Important is _____ to You?" though I DO plan to return to that series. Eventually.

But this week, more than reading, I have been discovering podcasts!  I don't know why I never listened to them before.  I think I had an idea that they cost money, though many of them are free.  Which is awesome.  I like to listen to them when I go to the gym now, as then I can just listen to a show and by the time I'm done with it, I'm also done with my workout!  It's nicer sometimes than listening to music, which can get very repetitive and boring.

What podcasts do you listen to?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  The ones I currently subscribe to are:

NPR - This American Life
NPR - Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me
NPR (WNYC) - Radiolab
NPR - Planet Money
BBC History Magazine

I am a huge fan of This American Life and of NPR in general.  Realistically, if I had time, I'd probably subscribe to many more of their podcasts (such as Prairie Home Companion).  It is interesting because in some ways, the ability to podcast has given radio new life and really made it relevant to so many more people than before.  I never realized how much information could be shared in such interesting, dynamic ways, through sound.

My current wish list podcast is one I heard about through BBC History Magazine.  It is by Amanda Vickery, whose book The Gentleman's Daughter I thoroughly enjoyed.  Her other book, Behind Closed Doors, is also on my wish list.  I found out that she did a series of thirty episodes on private lives through British history- from the time of the Tudors through the Victorian era.  She includes private diaries, first-person accounts, songs and all sorts of exciting things!  I want the collection a lot, but am not currently willing to pay for it.  But if anyone already owns it and would like to share it with me... I'd be ok with that :-)

So now I'm a podcast addict!  I have a long plane ride coming up in a few weeks, numerous trips to the gym before that, and a long car trip after.  If you have any podcasts you swear by, please let me know!  I'd love to subscribe and discover more.


  1. You've got three that I like listed: Wait, Wait is my absolute favorite! We got to attend a taping of it last year, which was really fun! I also like This American Life and Radiolab (which I have only heard a couple times). Terry Gross' interviews on NPR are also interesting, depending on whom she is interviewing.

  2. The good folks at Books on the Nightstand do a wonderful weekly podcast about books. Check it out here: http://booksonthenightstand.com/

    Also, if I'm feeling especially limber, I'll crank up the NY Times weekly Book Review podcast: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/books/books-podcast-archive.html?ref=books

    Finally, I did a podcast of my own - which, based on the dearth of comments, wasn't quite as successful as I'd been hoping. Oh well - live and learn. :)

  3. I love podcasts, but have to be very careful with them as our satellite internet connection (the only broadband available where I live) limits our downloads to a ridiculously low amount. If I want to do anything big, or long, then I either have to drive into town and use the library's connection, or do it between 2 and 7 am. A TRUE BUMMER.

    I did last year do a podcast from Alexander McCall Smith's where the London Tribune??? introduced his latest "Corduroy Mansions" one chapter every night. It was fabulous!!

    I can't wait to carefully (one a day) check out the sites you and others have listed.

  4. I go through podcast phases. I loved them when I discovered NPR's last summer, but I can only handle listening to talk radio for so long.

    I love love love NPR's Talk of the Nation. There are usually four segments a day on different topics, and I love how it's a DISCUSSION, not a rant. NPR's Fresh Air is also pretty good sometimes. And of course NPR's Books (and I love Wait Wait). To get a quick world news update, I listen to the BBC's Global News podcast. Sometimes I do Slate Magazine's Daily Podcast. I've tried to do This American Life but Ira Glass' voice just irritates me to no end, so I can't stand listening to it.

  5. I listen to a lot of podcasts at work: i'm doing a lot of residential repaints so I'm working alone often, and spoken word stuff makes the time go by nicely.
    here are some of my favorites:


    starship sofa
    (science fiction)

    pseudopod (science fiction)

    escape pod (horror stories)

    h.p. lovecraft literary podcast

    radiolab (science/whatever)

    risk! (stories/comedy)

    the moth (stories)

    the memory palace (history)

  6. I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but when I do listen, I like the ones focusing on book reviews. They also have a few that are like serialized audiobooks, though they are really hard to find. I also like a lot of the NPR ones as well. If I still had a commute every morning, you can be sure that I would be listening to tons of them, but since I don't, I rarely find the time to fit them into my day. Hmm, I just went over to my itunes account to grab a list of some of the podcasts I subscribe to for you and discovered that they have all been wiped out! I guess it has been awhile since I listened to them! I am going to have to ask my husband about this!!

  7. I've never listened to a podcast...

  8. Helen- I love Wait, Wait, too! I wanted to go to a taping this summer, but it didn't work out. Maybe another time- it's mostly in Chicago, so I think I'll be OK :-)

    Greg- Wow, lots of book podcasts! Weirdly, I don't know if I want to hear podcasts about books... I feel like that's what all the blogs I follow are for, and I can use podcasts to expand my mind in other directions. I don't know, though. I will try one of those and see.

    Tina- Oh, that is annoying about the connection! I could see that being very difficult and frustrating.

    Kari- I don't like listening to talk radio on music stations, but I'm ok with NPR, really :-) I like Talk of the Nation when I hear it on the radio, for sure. That's so funny about Ira Glass- I really like his voice, personally. I know a lot of people strongly dislike Garrison Keillor's voice as well.

    Chris- WOW, thank you!!

  9. Oops, I mislabeled pseudopod and escape pod for content. Switcheroo.
    The sound of Garrison Keillor's voice makes my brain itch. The guy from Originz talks like the Geico lizard.

  10. I love love love NPR too. Others have already mentioned Fresh Air with Teri Gross and Talk of the Nation which are some of my faves and probably relevant to your interests. So I'll just add On Point. Politics might not be up your alley, but I find this show almost always fascinating and nonpartisan (which is such a breath of fresh air these days) and Tom Ashbrook's voice is amazing.

  11. I listen to a couple that you mentioned, and another one is Stuff You Missed in High School which are podcasts about very events or people from history.


  12. I've listened to podcasts before, but I don't do regularly. I feel like I am not that often doing activities (like exercising, I'm ashamed to confess) that leave me enough attention left over for listening to a podcast. Although I have recently acquired the Arkangel Shakespeare (BBC radio versions of all Shakespeare's plays) and been listening to those this week at work (very slow week, lots of indexes to proofread). They are lovely. David Tennant was Mercutio.

  13. Zibilee- Well, if you find them again, let me know :-)

    Amanda- I am new to them, but for what it's worth I highly recommend them! Some are REALLY good, such as the BBC History of the World in 100 Objects, of which I have listened to 4 episodes of today.

    Chris- Thanks for correcting that. I personally don't mind Garrison Keillor's voice. I think it's hilariously affected.

    Jade- Ooh, I don't know Tom Ashbrook! But if his voice is THAT GOOD...

    Marg- Yes, people really like How Stuff Works!

    Jenny- I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of. I only started working out a couple of weeks ago, but I also just like to take walks, etc., so I like the podcasts for that instead of listening to the same songs over and over.

  14. I've recently started listening to audio productions while I walk around the city (which I do a lot), and I hadn't considered podcasts! What a good idea. I'm almost done my current audio series, and I'll check out some of the podcasts you recommended as soon as I've finished it.

  15. I think I checked into the NPR ones before but never listened to any. I need to check out the links and thanks for telling us about them. I need to get some of this stuff loaded onto my Ipod for the gym!

  16. Podcasts are great for long walks or time on the stationary bike! Radiolab is my favorite right now but there are many great ones out there. Thanks for the reminder, Aarti.

  17. I listen to two of the podcasts on your list, Radiolab and BBC Magazine. I also like Chris Hutson's list. I listen to quite a few on that list. The Moth podcast there can be great fun. Occasionally you can get a poor one. Sometimes they get so caught up in the technique of storytelling that it derails the story but mostly it's very good indeed. History podcasts are my favourite. Binge Thinking History has been doing a history of the British navy recently. The Norman Centuries by Lars Brownworth is knocking about in the 10th and 11th centuries following the stuff those rapacious Normans were getting up to back then and of course there's my own podcast, Historyzine. I produce a history magazine show in which I talk generally about a variety of history topics in the first half - including history podcast reviews and my linguistic history trivia bit - and The War of the Spanish Succession in the second bit. I enjoy it thoroughly although don't get the time to produce it anywhere near as often as I'd like to.

    Finally sympathies to Tina.
    In this world of high speed broadband it sounds incredibly frustrating to share the meagre offerings of that satellite link.



  18. I have yet to delve into podcasts. These look great though!

  19. Hi Aarti! I like To the Best of Our Knowledge (they recently had a show called Scandinavian Death Trip about the Stieg Larsson novels & others) and Tell Me More with Michelle Martin on NPR....Oh, and you have an award at my blog;)

  20. I'm a big fan of all the book podcasts:

    NPR Books
    NYTimes Book Review
    anything involving Nancy Pearl!

  21. Would just like to state that someone off-blog recommended the BBC's History of the World in 100 Objects to me and I am OBSESSED. They are short podcasts, but fascinating! If you like history, I highly recommend them! Totally addictive.

  22. I hate to be the one to admit this, but I don't really get what Podcasts are. Do you download them and listen to them later? Or can you listen to them in real time? LOL--! Hate being out of the loop!

  23. Hey Trish- I admit to not really being sure. You can listen to NPR podcasts in real-time, for sure, as they are just recordings of the shows that come on the radio. But just like you can DVR a tv show and watch it later, you can download a podcast and listen to it whenever you want. As I don't really have a set schedule and never know when certain shows run, I think podcasts work best for me in radio situations.

  24. Aarti, do you have a link for that BBC one that you mentioned?

  25. The History in Objects one? Yes, here it is:

  26. Wow, loads of good ones to try here. I just discovered podcasts, I listened to a couple of book-related ones from The Guardian. I'm intrigued by you listening to them at the gym, I started running and I didn't think that anything without a beat would work, maybe I'll try podcasts now. :-)

  27. I never listen to Podcasts and I often think that should change, but I have no clue when I would have the time to listen.

  28. I like BBC In Our Time on Radio 4. If you like the history ones I think you will like these as well. :D

  29. I love podcasts. My current faves are Astronomy Cast and Persiflager's Infectious Disease. The last one is cont ed for infectious disease docs and runs about a half an hour, it's just kind of fascinating.

    BBC History & in 100 objects is new to me! thanks! You might like the British Library podcasts too.

  30. I was listening to podcasts for awhile, but my mind tends to wander when I listen to audip without visual. It's why I can't do audio books.

  31. BBC World Book Club

    Writers and Company


  32. I listen to a number of podcasts, all of which I definitely recommend ...

    Book Lust with Nancy Pearl
    Books on the Nightstand
    Guys Can Read
    KCRW's Bookworm
    Nancy Pearl Book Review
    Slate Audio Book Club
    This American Life
    World Book Club
    Writers & C ompany


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