Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Nine Best Podcasts. Ever.

You guys, I am a podcast FANATIC.

Just blows my mind that podcasts are not only one of the most educational and entertaining of all of the potential things you could slap on your iPod, but they're also free. Free as in, like, zero dollars. How crazy is that?

I remember the first time I was rambling around the iTunes store and decided to explore that unknown button on the top menu panel - revolutionary. Bus trips and chores were forever improved!

Basically, if you catch me while I'm updating my class spreadsheets, doing laundry (by hand in our kitchen sink, but that's another - glamorous - post), or walking to grab groceries, chances are I'm listening to one podcast or another. Love the natural bit of multitasking that comes with learning something with your ears+brain while your body is working on a different To Do List item. Bonus points, all around.

As you can see above, my iTunes gets quite the workout keeping up with all of my subscriptions, but I've narrowed it down to the best of the best: the nine podcast series that rock my audio world. Behold.


1. NPR Planet Money (A light look at current events)
Let's just say that economics classes did not bring about my top marks in uni, which makes me love the Planet Money crew even more for making complex topics, like the whole Eurozone mess, ever-so-accessible. They also have a lot of fun examining the economics behind pop culture topics, like the rise of K-pop. I never miss an episode.
Fave Episode: Why Preschool Can Save The World

2. Stuff You Should Know (Trivia night prep)
I know everyone already listens to this one - you do, right!? Just in case someone has missed out on the genius that is this podcast's roundabout explanations of the most random of subjects, SYSK absolutely must be included on the list. Also: for posterity. Hosts Josh and Chuck banter and babble and tackle topics you assumed you knew all about and others you've never thought to even think about.
Fave Episode: How Barbie Doll (c) Works

3. Triple J's Live Music Podcasts (Ridiculously good tunes)
From the best radio station in the world comes these recordings of two different shows: 'Live at the Wireless,' which is basically live sets plus short interviews by brilliant bands, and 'Like A Version,' which is the coolest music podcast idea ever. Basically they get some of the hottest artists around to come in for a chat, play an original tune, and play a cover they've prepped. The covers are seriously so good that some usually end up on the Triple J Hottest 100 Lists.
Fave Episode: Like A Version - Owl Eyes
(Bonus: Subscribe to Triple J's New Free Music for a new and delightful free track from an up-and-coming artist every couple of weeks. Perfection.)

4. BBC's A History of the World In 100 Objects (Anthro lovers unite)
This has to be one of the coolest concepts for a podcast series in the history of humanity (get it!?). The first episodes start way, waaay back, covering items like a Clovis spearhead; then the episodes progress in chronological order, using various historical objects from the British Museum's collection as storytelling devices. The end result finds you winding your way through the cultural, economic, biological, and technological evolution of humans to explain how we all got to where we are today. Addictive.
Fave Episode: Object 95 - Suffragette-defaced Penny 

5. KEXP Live Performance Podcasts (Lush live sets)
(Loss of hipster cred in 3.. 2.. 1..) Got to admit: I've never heard of a bunch of these bands. But after I listen to the recordings they've popped up on this KEXP podcast, I usually end up seeking their other stuff out. Mixed in with the more eclectic selections are a few sets from well-known indie darlings, and they sure don't disappoint either.
Fave Episode: Alt-j

6. This American Life (Soulful miscellaneous bits)
Again, not the most original choice, but needs to be on this list. I could listen to Ira Glass' voice for afternoons on end. Have, in fact. These hour long podcasts are usually themed with a few different stories, each exploring a different aspect of the topic at hand. Subject matter ranges from the seemingly mundane, to the heavily emotion-inducing, and sometimes even to the side of controversial. 
Fave Episode: Red State Blue State

7. BBC Witness (History from the horse's mouth)
Pretty cool to hear about epic and/or mostly unknown events in history from people who were directly involved. These ten minute long episodes provide ample background on each topic, and are formed around interviews that get right down to brass tacks. Definitely feel like I've got a more well-rounded view of world history after getting a year or so worth of these under my belt.
Fave Episode: The M Room

8. Stuff Mom Never Told You (Ladies be researchin)
These extroverted gals don't shy away from dissecting hot topics in gender politics, the sociology of what crazy nonsense is going on in society, or the biology of what's happening 'in there' with the hormones and such. Witty and chock full of research and random facts, I always enjoy these, even when the topic sounds like it could be a bore.
Fave Episode: What is Femmephobia?

9. The Economist: Editor's Highlights (Makes me feel smart)
Sometimes I go a day or two without catching all the international news that's about, and these weekly sets of short opinion pieces catch me up while supplying ample critical analysis opportunities. They're full-on about current events, not just about straight-up stats and figures, pinkie-swear!
Fave Episode:
China's Population


Do Tell: Okay - I told mine, now it's time for you to tell yours! Only fair. Please do share your fave podcasts in the comments - I would love to find a few new ones!

xx Lady Expatriate

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