Podcasts: my #trypod

This month, podcasts are urging us listeners to tell our friends about the podcasts we enjoy by using the hashtag #trypod. Here I go.

Since July 2016 when I was finally convinced to try podcasts, I’ve been listening intently. I listen when running, commuting, sometimes when cooking. I subscribe via the Apple Podcasts app so that I can listen on 1.5x speed (med school training ftw), but you can also listen on Spotify. on podcast websites, or other subscription services.

Podcasts are designed for multitasking. They don’t demand visual attention (no visuals, after all), account for listeners who get distracted for seconds at a time, and are meticulously produced for clarity. Unlike public radio of old, the modern pick-your-own adventure technology encourages podcasts to specialize and cater to their audiences. Maybe that means I’m being brainwashed a little by the podcast creators, but alas. The primary objectives of these following podcasts are education and storytelling, and everyone could use more of that!

Planet Money

What’s not to love about a gaggle of enthusiastic economists geeking out? They view the world through the lens of money and commerce, but everything in the world involves value, and they explore all of it! You learn about markets and spaces and interests you never know existed. You tag along as they travel around, geek out with even more economists, and make economics fun. 

Listen on npr.org/money. Some recent standout episodes are #756 on America’s annual bee exodus, #742 on the Knights Templar and their bank.

99% Invisible

Hosted by Roman Mars, public radio and design/architecture extraordinaire, 99% Invisible reveals the thought that has gone into objects, designs, and ideas that we don’t think about. He’s quirky, perceptive, suave, and tells his tales of design in a way that just gushes enthusiasm. What’s fascinating is that he takes design — a subject that is often primarily guided by visuals — and tells purely auditory stories about them.

Visit 99pi.org. Try #213 on Taipei’s garbage trucks, or #232 on McMansions. Or watch his TED Talk on vexillology (study of flags).

The Moth

The Moth is a series of live storytelling events where people stand on a stage with nothing but a microphone in front a crowd of strangers and tell their stories. The podcast curates some recordings for us to enjoy. I’ve attended a couple events in NYC as a listener, but it’s one of my aspirations to tell a Moth story someday.

Visit themoth.org. I just spent half an hour digging up some of my recent favorites, told by storytellers as varied as an ER doc, a high schooler, a comedian, an astronauta dad

Modern Love

The New York Times runs an excellent weekly column of reader-submitted essays about love in all its forms. This podcast invites in talented readers — like Hollywood and Broadway actresses and actors — to help bring the column to life. They also invite in the author to provide updates since publication. The essays are top-notch (they got published in the Times, after all), and the readers and audio production really draw you into their stories.

Listen on wbur.org/modernlove. Try stories about online dating, an autistic son, or groomzilla.

I’m actually subscribed to 8 podcasts total (9 if you count Invisibilia when it returns). These are the others:

Freakonomics Radio

A podcast by economist Stephen Dubner about economics, psychology, and sociology in the modern world.

 How I Built This

An NPR podcast by Guy Raz about entrepreneurs.

Hidden Brain

An NPR podcast by Shankar Vedantam about psychology.

 This American Life

An NPR podcast by Ira Glass about… stuff.