As I look back on the last year, I've been trying to think of things I've accomplished that I'm proud of. The obvious graduation/thesis combo easily tops the list, but it also took a toll on some of my other goals, meaning that I read fewer books, watched fewer movies, and generally consumed less quality content than I would have otherwise due to the lack of higher brain function I had on reserve after my work for the day was done.
Sahalie, you're asking, if you didn't read, watch TV, or find a job, what exactly have you been doing with your life? Making ice cream into flowers, for one. And as of last year, I have fulfilled my high school ideal of becoming Someone Who Listens to Podcasts.
Try not to be bowled over by how quietly informed I am all at once. Getting into podcasts felt like diving into a whole world I didn't know existed, and it took some treading water to figure out what I liked, what I was interested in, and what was entertaining enough to block out dudes catcalling me on the street through my headphones. So I've put together a list of some favorite podcasts, all by different producers and organized by when I discovered them. If you're looking to start indulging in some sweet sweet ear candy, click the logos to go to their websites and give a listen.
I know this is a boring way to start out, but it really was the first podcast I really committed to. It's the kind of true crime that doesn't go to fast or too slowly for you to follow, and its factual basis doesn't limit any of the suspense or mystery. Also, SNL did a parody and it was great.
(Narrowly escaping this list is S-Town, which is also from This American Life - it's even shorter and just thematically wonderful.)
2. Reply All
I can't even describe how much I love this show. I have listened to every single episode, many of them more than once. While I wasn't especially seeking out a podcast focused on the internet, I was immediately sucked in to the way hosts Alex and PJ form craft every episode into narratives that are so well-reported and fascinating that they feel like more like short stories than journalistic investigations. Reply All is about the internet, but it also touches on law, medicine, ethics, conspiracy, religion, and pretty much everything in between.
I also advise you to check out every show that Gimlet has made ever, including Every Little Thing, Science Vs., Startup, Crimetown, and so many more.
3. The Black Tapes
The Black Tapes was my first foray into fictional podcasting, and I definitely lucked out. My homesickness, in part, drew me to Pacific Northwest Stories and the Seattle setting they choose for their narratives. The Black Tapes is slow-moving but addicting, and the occasional melodrama is offset by creativity and genuinely interesting characters. Also by PNSW: Tannis and Rabbits, which have a very similar feel.
Thanks to a particularly arduous day at an internship, I listened to all of Limetown in one 8-hour sitting. The story is formatted in such a way that the initial episode lead to many a google search of "is Limetown real?". The rest of the show is a perfect mix of creepy and conjectural, dipping its toe into ethics and science in a particularly creative fashion.
If you're new to fictional podcasts, this is a great one to get started with!
5. Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
The charm of this podcast comes not only from the well-researched and hilariously told history, but also from the chemistry between Justin and Sydnee McElroy, a husband and wife duo who come from somewhat of a podcasting Royal Family - Justin and the other McElroy brothers host the better known D&D podcast The Adventure Zone, while also doing numerous podcasts with their wives. Sydnee hosts another podcast with her sisters and occasionally promotes her father and uncle, the co-hosts of their own show.
Even if medical history specifically is not your thing, I'd recommend giving this a listen. It strikes a wonderful balance of fun and informative, making you feel like you were tricked into learning something by the end.