I drive a lot and spend a lot of time on a computer because of the nature of my job as a photographer, and after listening to the same stations on Slacker over and over and letting my XM subscription expire; I needed something new to drown out the protests of the procrastinator living inside my brain who tells me I can "totally get that done tomorrow and should go to the beach instead."
That brings me to the point of this post... Podcasts! Yeah, yeah, there's a million lists out there of the "best" ones, but my journey of becoming a listener to different podcasts was completely by accident. I had heard of "This American Life" before but never listened, then I downloaded their app, and consumed almost every episode that was available to me over a couple of months. It was a total relegation because Photography can be a really isolating profession. Sure, I'll answer emails, make phone calls, and interact with my clients during their sessions with me; but when I am driving, or editing for hours at a time, I'm alone. That can drive you nuts! I've always considered myself more of an introvert, so being alone all day and working in my pjs sounded like a dream, and it was...for all of 5 seconds. So anyways, my point is, podcasts make it seem like you're overhearing conversations in the cube next to you, and collecting information without being required to actually participate in the conversation.
Here's the list of podcasts I enjoy and satisfy different parts of my personality, and hopefully it will help you navigate the sea of podcasts out there and help you find something to listen to on your next road trip, or even your morning commute.
1. Required listening for all podcast virgins: Serial
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of Serial, and maybe you've already listened to it, in which case, skip to #2. Still with me? Okay. Serial comes from the creators of This American Life and over the course of a season the host, Sarah Koenig, investigates and tells a true story. The first season investigates the murder of Hae Min Lee, and the teenager (now adult) convicted of her murder, Adnan Syed. It includes jailhouse interviews with Adnan, and there are a ton of twist and turns that will keep you hitting "play next episode" until you reach the end. Season 2, may not have lived up to hype of Season 1, but I think it still merits a listen. It's not a sensational murder, but rather more of a personality study of Bowe Bergdahl who was kept prisoner by the Taliban for 5 years. I remembered hearing about him on the news but knew nothing about the story and why there was so much controversy, so S2 was still interesting to me. Serial has won a ton of awards and has great reporting and production value which make it an easy listen.
2. If you enjoy listening to stranger's conversations in restaurants: Beautiful/Anonymous
Every episode, host, Chris Gethard, spends 1 hour on the phone with an anonymous caller. There aren't many rules except that Chris doesn't know who you are, he is not allowed to hang up (but you can), and after 1 hour, the call will disconnect automatically. Some eps are heavier than others, some will make you want to scream, another you might choose to abandon halfway through because you are just not vibing with the conversation. Despite a listening experience that could be described as a "mixed bag," Chris is delightful and funny. He does his best to help the caller open up while still being respectful of them...also the music is great.
3. If you enjoy a good cry in the morning: Terrible, Thanks For Asking
Much like Beautiful/Anonymous, Terrible, Thanks for Asking tells stories about people during points of their lives when they are not "fine." It's a refreshing release from the mundane and almost robotic response we all give when someone asks us, "how are you?" Guess what? Most of the time, the answer is, "not great, actually pretty terrible." I just listened to the episode about coping with the death of comedian Harris Wittles. That I thought was a nice tribute and accurate description of the type of grief that I feel after my father passing. One thing I took away that I thought was really great was that people always say grief goes away or gets easier with time, but that's not really true. Sure it changes, and you'll be able to cope with it and move forward in your daily life and find comfort, but it's always there.
4. If you love all the memes and get joy from all things relating to the Internet: Reply All
What is there to say about Reply All? It's great. The production value is wonderful, the hosts are funny, and the episodes are short and digestible. Even if you don't know much about the subreddits they're referring to, or you don't spend a whole lot of time on Twitter, there will still be little nuggets in the episodes that you'll connect with if you've spent any time on the inter webs. I like to listen to them on shorter commutes since most eps are between 25-40 mins long. Not great for marathon editing sessions.
5. Since you can't binge on the latest and greatest Netflix series while driving: Homecoming
Gimlet media describes Homecoming as: "A psychological thriller from Gimlet Media, starring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer." That's all I knew going in and I'm glad because it made the story more enjoyable. The production is great (although the music in S2 is a bit jarring...but forget I said anything!) and it takes you on a journey that its your imagination run wild. It's not just people talking into a microphone either, you can tell when characters are walking, or when their outside. The sound effects paint a subtle picture for you and let you fill in the blanks with your own mind, which is just great.
6. If you're the kind of guy who laughs at funerals: My Favorite Murder
Okay, I don't mean, literally laugh at funerals, but if the way that you like to deal with the anxieties and ugliness of life is with humor and sarcasm, and you are into true crime (think, Dateline, Forensic Files, Unsolved Mysteries) you might enjoy the very funny ladies over at My Favorite Murder. It's hosted my Karen Killgariff and Georgia Hardstark, who try their best to still be sensitive to the victims of these horrible crimes while still doing their best to keep it light. It's not for everyone, and you may not agree with some of their opinions but it is what it is. I've abandoned episodes halfway through which is totally okay! You have my permission ;) If you like comedy and true crime, you might like this. If you don't, skip to #7!
7. If you like Gilmore Girls and want 3 hour long episodes to listen to: Gilmore Guys
Okay, so if you really like Gilmore Girls, then you've probably already listened to the Gilmore Guys. But maybe you like Gilmore Girls but don't listen to podcasts, that's cool. This show might be a good intro for you because the hosts, Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe recap every episode from two perspectives. Kevin is a big fan, Demi has never seen it before, and often times they have funny guests as well, let the hilarity ensue! The show is now over because there are only so many episodes of Gilmore Girls, but they still have a pretty big following of Gillys online. If you like to listen to two people banter and looking for something to listen to in the background on a loooooong drive (I'm not kidding, there is a 5 hour episode of this show) this might be for you.
Now it's your turn
Got any recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments below!