Living abroad is not that hard, in my circumstances at least. Compared to the ‘moved with nothing’ immigrants who have toiled to achieve prosperity, I have it pretty damn easy. But there are still aspects of home, mostly people, who I miss.
Pile on that the absence of what has been the most reliable aspect of my life since birth, more sacred than any Worship–weekend NPR programming–I’ve found tremendous solace and comfort in podcasts.
I thought I’d share my favorite Podcasts (and my favorite episodes) with you:
NPR & Learning
The King Kong of my podcast play-list is This American Life. Ira Glass is the voice of White Liberal Guilt, but he and his contributors create a sort of literature/audio art every week.
- This past year they worked with people from NPR to make the best journalism about the current real estate & bad debt financial crisis, starting in February with The Giant Pool of Money, which examined the mechanics of the financial idiocy that led to the economics of ruin. They won a Peabody for that one, and followed it up recently by revisiting the main characters from that episode.
- A two part episode discussing the Health Care Economy is great: More is Less and Other People’s Money.
- TAL is not usually a financial or economics show, but I have too many favorites to list. Ok, just one: Spies Like Us.
Apparently the crew that produced the Giant Pool of Money episode spun off into their own Podcast, Planet Money. It is a consistently fascinating journalistic endeavor into economics and finance from top NPR reporters. Their coverage of post earthquake Haiti should win them many deserved awards.
The Moth Radio Hour Podcast: unscripted, note-free monologues from people funny and not, famous and not, compelling, and sometimes, not. I found this through This American Life.
The Memory Palace are 4-6 minute historical vignettes, each a compelling story about a forgotten historical giant, a twist on common lore or whatever wackiness the host wants to deliver into your brain. So short it’s impossible to skip.
If I’m the first person to introduce you to TEDTalks, well, I guess I get credit (and a cut) of whatever inspiration you get from watching them. These are the GREATEST TREADMILL MOTIVATORS EVER. I hate treadmills, but damned if I’ll stop before a TEDTalk ends.
Another Podcast that’s in the rotation thanks to Ira Glass is RadioLab, a really innovative show that plays with your mind and your ears while examining myriad subjects from Placebos to Numbers, to an hour long show with They Might Be Giants playing Science Rock.
This is perhaps a guilty pleasure, and I don’t listen to nearly all of them since (1) I have completely given up on American Football, and (2) chauvinist douche-bags aren’t really my forte. However, listening to Chuck Klosterman challenge the Sports Guy‘s logic on even his hair-brained theories about reality TV shows, well, it’s enough to have me giggling under my breath or actually cracking up fully on the train.
A few years ago, two Canadian guys start recording a Skype Podcast about the NBA and the Toronto Raptors at 5 am, to fulfill their Basketball Jones. I found them somewhere near episode 5, and I’ve been listening ever since. They’ve made Basketball a full time job, and they do a video podcast now. 20 minutes of Basketball talk and kickin’ interstitial tunes. I’m still listening, even though I no longer care about the NBA.
Despite my love of Footie, I don’t listen to much content about it — the high quality stuff is about leagues I don’t follow, and the MLS/USL chats aren’t very good, except the occasional series Waiting for Gaetjens. I miss Timbers Army Radio, but poor Bruce has enough on his plate.
If Siskel & Ebert argued about Rock & Roll, they’d be the two guys on Sound Opinions. They’re even from the Sun Times and the Tribune! Great guests, occasional genre retrospectives and a really original rating scale: “Buy it, Burn it, Trash it.”
I’ve discovered been introduced to more amazing music via NPR All Songs Considered than any other source since I lost access to my college radio station’s vinyl archives. Newest discovery: The Mynabirds.
Do you have a favorite Podcast? Share in the comments!
Next post: China & Chinese, Environment & Business, and Random Chat/Comedy podcasts!