Podcasts: A Beginner's Guide

The other day I read an article on Hello Giggles that described their "beginner's guide to amazing podcasts".   Their list included 5 addicting, interesting, easily accessible podcasts, including This American Life and Radiolab, two of my all time favorites.  Of course, being the complete public radio addict that I am, I immediately felt the need to add a few of my personal favorites to the list as well.

If you are not already a consumer of podcasts, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon.  There are countless different types and genres of podcasts to choose from and therefore truly something for everyone.  I tend to ascribe to the more heady, academic, story-telling types. Some may refer to this as "nerdy"; I call it "awesome".

So if you tend to swim in my pond of over-analyzing, emotional, random fish, I think you will love this round up of podcasts as well.  Like I said above, my list would never be complete without This American Life and Radiolab--as far as I'm concerned, they set the bar for podcasts.  But in the spirit of collaboration, here are a few that were not included on the Hello Giggles list:

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1- Serial.

Here's a brief synopsis, from Serial's website:  "On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared.  A month later, her body turned up in a city park.  She'd been strangled.  Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.  The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan's friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body.  But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae's death.  Some people believe he's telling the truth.  Many others don't."

While I think the overview of this crime is enough to get anyone hooked, the style of storytelling only adds to it's appeal.  Every week a new chapter of this story is released.  Host and Executive Director Sarah Koenig is researching the story and discovering and unearthing mounds of information and details about the case almost at the same time that you are listening to the chapter.  She still isn't sure exactly how the season will end, which makes it all the more addictive.

You can get caught up on all the episodes thus far on their website, or subscribe to have the podcast delivered to you directly every week.

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2- Meet The Composer.

Let me stop you right there before you scroll past this one because you're not a musician and therefore think it does not apply to you.  This is a podcast for non-musicians and musicians alike.  Host Nadia Sirota introduces the listener to a new composer every week and leads engaging and intriguing discussions with the composers that make you feel like you're getting a backstage pass to the music.  Even if you have no experience with or interest in classical music, I bet you will leave feeling engaged and mesmerized by what you hear.

Start with the first episode on John Luther Adams and his beautiful, haunting, vivid impressionist compositions that evoke the simplest of birdsongs to the unbelievably terrifying landscapes of the Alaskan wilderness.  Trust me:  If you have ever fallen asleep and dreamed, you will be able to appreciate this music.

Catch up on all of the episodes thus far, subscribe directly to the podcast, and check out special "bonus tracks" from the featured composers on their website.

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3- Death, Sex, & Money.

There was an episode of This American Life that included a version of a story about Death, Sex, & Money host Anna Sale and her totally unconventional love-and-relationship gurus, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson and his wife, Ann.  I listened to it, and immediately subscribed.  I was hooked.

This podcast discusses, as Anna describes at the beginning of every episode, "the things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more".  Every episode explores one or all of the title topics with wonderfully relatable and totally relevant people from all walks of life.  Like I said, I started with "This Senator Saved My Life" about Anna and her now-fiancé's quirky relationship with Al & Ann Simpson.  But I think my very favorite episode to date is "How to be a Man with Bill Withers", probably because I already thought that Bill Withers was a total badass, but this episode just totally confirmed that assumption.

You can catch up on all the episodes on their website, or subscribe on iTunes.

Tell me, my dear internet cosmos, what podcasts did I miss?

Happy listening!

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