I’m a music academic by day, and I hardly ever listen to music in my spare time. (I don’t think this is altogether uncommon for our field.) I do have to spend a fair bit of time in the car, and don’t want to ride in silence, and so I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here are some of my favorites.
I assume if you’re reading a blog on the internet, you’ve probably heard of podcasts. I listen to them on my phone using Overcast, which I highly recommend! Most of the podcasts I listen to are just people talking about things they find interesting. To me it doesn’t really matter what they’re talking about: I could basically listen to anyone talk for hours about something they’re super into.
Some episodes are instant listens: they jump to the top of the list when there’s a new episode.
Hello Internet. This is a two-dudes-talking podcast with two YouTubers: Brady Haran and CGP Grey. Presumably they talk about making a living on the internet, but really they talk about whatever they want.1
Cortex. Another two-dudes-talking podcast, with Grey (again) and Myke Hurley. Here they talk mostly about productivity and business-y things. I came to this one before Hello Internet, and found Grey to be an interesting guy.
Reconcilable Differences. Yet another two-dudes-talking format, this time with Merlin Mann and John Siracusa. I’m still working my way through the back catalog on this one, so I’ve listened to a lot of this lately. They talk about various nerd-related topics. I find John to be a fascinating guy as well.
These are shows for which I listen to almost every episode, though I’m not as diligent about catching them when they first come out.
Comedy Bang Bang! This is a comedy/improv show, hosted by Scott Aukerman. I really like this one, although it’s definitely not for everyone. Usually Scott has a number of guests on: one real person, and one or more improv characters. Scott always plays the straight man, which gives the improv bits grounding that I usually find missing in these kind of shows. If there’s one of these with Paul F. Tompkins, it jumps to the must-listen list.
This American Life. A weekly NPR show that everyone knows. Like every other middle-class left-leaning white dude, I like this show too, though it can occasionally be a little too earnest. (I’m behind on this one since the election.)
The Paceline. This is a cycling podcast…if you have no interest in cycling, you can ignore this one. If you do, it’s the best one I’ve found. It’s a three-dudes-talking podcast: Michael Hotten, Patrick Brady (both of Red Kite Prayer) and Fatty (whose real name I don’t know offhand), formerly of Fat Cyclist. (Though they announced this week that Fatty is being folded into the RKP family.)
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People. Hosted by Chris Gethard, this is a show where random people call in and talk to Chris on the phone about whatever they want. I like this one a lot, though I’m behind: a lot of the callers seem to be slightly-unhappy people in their mid-20s.
The Pen Addict. Two dudes (Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley), talking about pens. I like this show a lot, though I’m getting foundered on it a little bit.2 This show is how I happened upon Myke and his company Relay FM, which opened the door to Cortex, HI, RecDiffs, and lots of others.
There is a whole other set of podcasts I used to listen to, or listen to only very occasionally.
WTF. Everyone knows this show: it’s Marc Maron talking to famous people in his garage. I listen if there’s someone I really like on. If you haven’t heard his show with Barack Obama, you should listen.
Penn’s Sunday School. Hosted by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) and his friends. I used to like this show a lot, but I sort of stopped listening when they started talking about weight loss all the time.
Serial. Everyone listened to Season 1 of this show; the second season was meh. I’ll listen again when a new season comes out.
Nerd Poker. This was a Dungeons & Dragons podcast with Brian Posehn and some of his friends. I listened to the first campaign (episodes 1–73), which was great (if you like D&D). It’s now defunct, and I haven’t listened to anything after Episode 73.
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus. Another improv podcast: Lauren’s a frequent guest on Comedy Bang Bang, and I listen to her show occasionally. Sometimes long-form improv makes me tired, so it’s not a regular listen for me (though Lauren is very funny).
Welcome to Night Vale. A Lovecraftian fiction podcast about a fictional desert town. I listened to the first season of this and haven’t returned, though I keep meaning to.
I’m tired of typing now. I’ll listen to one-offs of other shows, if someone tells me I should. This covers most of them, though. If there are others I should know about, let me know on Twitter!
- Fun fact: Carolyn really hates this podcast, because she listened to the most boring episode of all time (if you don’t follow the show) on a long trip to Indiana a year ago. I definitely wouldn’t start with Ep. 56, “Two Dudes Counting.” ↩
- founder (v.) – to grow tired of. This is a usage that I think is exclusive to my father and his family, but that I keep around. If you “get foundered” on something, usually it’s something you used to really like but you’ve had too much of it and so it’s getting a little old. ↩