Podcasts are a major part of my life. I devote hours each week to keeping up on the latest updates, and every couple of months I discover a new one to love and slowly go through its entire backlog of episodes.
I’ve meant to write about podcasts for some time now. Podcasts are good for subway rides, waiting for the subway, walking to the subway, walking from the subway (turns out a lot of my life revolves around taking subways), listening while working, listening while taking a bath, listening while eating breakfast, listening while taking a walk, listening while jogging (which I admittedly don’t do often enough). Pretty much any time I’m not talking to someone. And because I don’t have to drive in New York, I never have to feel guilty about popping in my earbuds in transit.
I rarely listen to music anymore because of it. My younger self — always interested in discovering new music or old music that was new to me — would have been stunned. But maybe that’s just part of getting older. I’m less interested now in keeping up with what’s cool in music and more keen on listening to interesting recorded conversations.
These are the three podcasts that have stood the test of time and I’ve never become bored of. They are my tried and true favorites that you should definitely try out if you haven’t already.
NPR Fresh Air
The ultimate radio show. In my opinion, Terry Gross is the best interviewer alive. I will be crushed when the day comes that she announces her retirement. Let’s hope that is still many years away. In addition to interviewing people I already know and respect, her other interviews often introduce me to people, shows, books, and movies I had never heard of. The only part of Fresh Air I sometimes don’t take interest in is the review component. A couple of the contributors are a pain to listen to, particularly John Powers. But that’s a small matter in the big scheme of things, because Terry Gross totally nails every interview, as does Dave Davies. Thankfully with the podcasts broken up into each segment, you can easily listen to the interviews and skip the reviews.
I really don’t know why I haven’t yet upgraded to the double-length Magnum episodes because Savage Love is never a letdown. Just when you think you have heard all the call-in sex and romance questions this could exist, a new and bizarre one will pop up that Dan hasn’t addressed. I used to be more interested in the calls than the opening monologues, but I think over the years Dan Savage has polished the monologues to a point where now I look forward to them as much as his advice for listeners.
Ira Glass is the king of podcasting, and deservedly so. The stories on This American Life are fascinating glimpses into humanity, on all manner of topics. I wish I could pick a favorite, but there are just too many to narrow it down. I will say, though, that my favorite one in the last few weeks is the one about the car dealership on Long Island and how the different personalities there work together to try to meet the monthly sales quota. It’s a testament to the quality of TAL that when they replay an old episode you’ve heard before, it is still worth listening to from start to finish.