Throughout March, many of the podcasts I listen to promoted Trypod, a podcast awareness campaign encouraging listeners to recommend podcasts to friends and family who may not be familiar with podcasts. I figured I would take this opportunity to talk about some of my favorite podcasts and simultaneously expose what a jobless bum like me does with the many hours of free time that come with being an unproductive member of society.
Besides the hours I spend going to Norwegian class, watching TV shows, staring at my dream dog, rewriting blog posts that never come to fruition, and playing Super Mario Run, I spend most of my waking hours in my kitchen mangling ingredients and attempting to make them edible. Sometimes I call it "cooking." I also call it my podcast-listening time. And because I prep food at the pace of a one-armed sloth whose arm has fallen asleep, I have a loooot of podcast-listening time.
If you're looking for a good podcast player, I recommend Pocket Casts. I've been using the $9 web version of the player since last fall to manage my 60-something podcast subscriptions (many of which I have yet to listen to but plan to get to before I die, assuming I'm not going to die soon). I only listen to podcasts on my computer, but if I listened to podcasts on my phone, I'd buy the mobile app as well.
Here's a list of 16 podcasts I've particularly enjoyed in March (and have had new episodes in March), plus some info about each podcast. If you have other recommendations, please let me know in the comments!
S-Town: This new podcast hosted by Brian Reed is the latest show from the people behind Serial and This American Life. I wouldn't normally recommend a podcast without saying what it's about, but in this case I think the less you know before you listen to it, the better. If you like Serial and TAL, you'll probably like this too. If you've never listened to Serial or TAL before, you should check them out as well (with TAL, start in the "Favorites" section of their website). All seven episodes of S-Town were released on March 28, so if you like what you hear, you can binge the whole show in one go. I finished it in three days.
A Way With Words: Author Martha Barnette and dictionary editor Grant Barrett host this fun show about words, idioms, slang, grammar, and more guided by language-related questions and anecdotes from listeners.
BackStory: On this show, U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly, and Joanne Freeman discuss American history through topics related to current news. It's roughly five bajillion times more interesting than the U.S. History classes I took in high school.
99% Invisible: This podcast is mostly about the stories behind everyday design and architecture from the past and the present, things you may have seen before but never really wondered about. I first started listening to 99% Invisible after watching host Roman Mars's Ted Talk about good vs. shitty flag design. If you didn't think you cared about flags before, you will after watching that video.
Twenty Thousand Hertz: Like 99% Invisible, this podcast hosted by Dallas Taylor illuminates design in everyday life, but focuses on sounds—the iconic NBC chimes, the different sounds a car makes, the components of a movie soundtrack, and more. These episodes are in the shorter side, mostly 10-15 minutes long.
Criminal: Some time ago I had found a list of recommendations for crime-related podcasts and intended to try a handful of them out, but after listening to this podcast hosted by Phoebe Judge, I didn't feel like I had to try any others.
Adam Ruins Everything: If you've seen clips of Adam Ruins Everything on YouTube, you know each episode features an expert to help debunk the episode's featured topic who talks for roughly five seconds before disappearing to make room for something flashier. If you've thought, "I'd like to hear that expert talk for more than five seconds," that's what this podcast is for. Host Adam Conover's casual interviews clock in closer to an hour with seemingly little editing.
Planet Money: For someone like me who doesn't have much aptitude for or understanding of economics, this long-running podcast makes economics more accessible and interesting. Most episodes of Planet Money are fairly short (about 20 minutes long) stand-alone episodes, but there are two series that I want to point out: Planet Money makes a T-shirt and Planet Money buys oil.
Science Vs: In this fun podcast, host and science journalist Wendy Zukerman uses good ol' science to investigate topics of debate like gun control, organic food, immigration, and climate change.
Embedded: As the name suggests, in each episode host Kelly McEvers goes deep into a story from the news. The latest episodes are packaged together as a series on police videos, while previous episodes go into a variety of unconnected news stories: gang killings in El Salvador, an HIV outbreak in small-town Indiana, what it's like to play on a D-League basketball team, and more.
Throwing Shade: "Comedians Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi take a weekly look at all the issues important to ladies and gays...and treat them with much less respect than they deserve." The podcast's own description is better than what I could come up with, so there ya go. I first became familiar with Gibson and Safi back when they were hosts on InfoMania (2007 - 2011, RIP [SOB]). I only found out last month that they've had a podcast...for the last five years. They also started a talk show this year with the same name, but I have yet to watch it.
They Call Us Bruce: Hear about what's happening in Asian America through casual conversations with hosts Phil Yu, the blogger behind Angry Asian Man, and Jeff Yang, a journalist with decades of experience as a professional commentator on Asian American issues but might be better known to some as the father of the kid who plays Eddie on "Fresh Off the Boat." They just started this podcast less than two weeks ago so there are only a few episodes so far. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Missing Richard Simmons: If you're like me, you've never cared about Richard Simmons in any particular way, nor did you know he went "missing" from the public eye a few years ago. Thanks to host Dan Taberski's search for Simmons, I now care more. With just six episodes, this is an easy-to-binge podcast.
Auralnauts Podcast: This is an intermittent podcast from the duo behind one of my favorite YouTube channels, Auralnauts (a channel I've mentioned before on this blog). In their podcast, Zac and Craven talk about how they make their videos and music, recommend movies they've enjoyed lately, answer fan questions, and talk about whatever else they feel like.
The Cracked Podcast: The audio extension of Cracked.com hosted by Jack O'Brien and Michael Swaim features long discussions and interviews about random things related to pop culture, current events, and history. It's usually funny and sometimes serious.