Podcasts that Valerie Likes
For several years, I was stuck spending a ton of time shuttling
kids around in the car and standing at the schoolbus stop waiting
for a kid's schoolbus, and that time felt really badly wasted to
me. One year I calculated that it was about eight hours a week that
I spent on these things! To me, podcasts are an amazing solution
to all that dead time. Since I discovered podcasts I've learned so
much, and been entertained -- it makes that eight hours into a time
that I look forward to instead of a nasty chore that is eating up
my life. It's definitely worth finding podcasts that work for you
-- there are plenty that do feel to me like just a waste of time.
But some of the good ones are (in my opinion) very much worth
listening to. Especially compared to just standing around waiting
for the schoolbus with nothing to do.
Some podcasts that I like are:
- Gastropod - a super well-researched food podcast
- Flash Forward - starts by enacting a scene from the future if
some current trend continues, such as "What if all the honeybees
were gone?", and then talks to experts about what that would be
like if that really happened. Also its spinoff podcast Advice From
The Future is excellent too!
- Imaginary Worlds - talks about how fantasy and sci fi work
- Stuff Mom Never Told You - feminist topics
- Stuff You Should Know - two guys research a topic and then tell
you what they learned; covers a wide variety of topics
- The Longest Shortest Time - weird parenting stories (now off
the air, but hopefully there are archives -- look for the series
called "The Accidental Gay Parents," or the episode where the
podcaster was curious about whether those fake babies that are given
to high school students to carry around as an example of parenting,
to prevent pregnancy, really work)
- two TED Talks podcasts
- Hidden Brain - non-obvious stuff that we think about
- Invisibilia - ditto
- Planet Money and its spinoff The Indicator - really interesting
variety of topics, even if you're not into finance
- The Axe Files - David Axelrod interviews an awesome variety of
people -- political figures and others, and gets them to talk about
their area of expertise; starts with biographical stuff and then
usually revs up into a really interesting topic
- Undiscovered - really interesting science topics
- Only Human - ditto
- 99% Invisible - theoretically is about design, but in reality
it's an interesting take on a wide variety of topics.
- On The Media - a public radio show that I like too much to miss an episode
- Savor - a food podcast, formerly called FoodStuff
- How I Built This
- I can't decide if I like Reply All. They come up with some
really fascinating episodes, but the podcasters cross boundaries
that I'm not always comfortable with.
- I can't decide if I like Malcolm Gladwell's podcast Revisionist
History. He has some neat insights, but seems to think that the
only people in the world are male, which drives me crazy. I once
decided to send him an e-mail to point that out to him, but there
were noooo ways available to contact him, which I thought was
- The Ezra Klein Show - Ezra Klein is brilliant, and he
gets a variety of really interesting guests to talk about interesting
things. The episode on Modern Monetary Theory was really dense to
work through, but the idea that the government actually can just
create money to pay for certain things, without breaking anything,
blew my mind!
- The Daily - a news podcast from the New York Times. They have a
knack for finding a topic that I needed to know more about and
delving into it in just the right way to make it really informative
Yes, this is only my favorites among the podcasts that I listen to!
I spend far too much time listening to podcasts.
You can increase the speed that you listen/watch at, and it makes
a HUGE difference to the frustration of speech being so much slower
than reading. I switched my podcast player to 1.3 speed playback,
and then when I got used to that I went up to 1.7 speed, and then
from there to 2.0 speed, and now often to 2.5 speed. For material
that is dense or speakers with a difficult-to-understand accent I
need to slow it down, or if I'm multitasking with something else.
But podcasts and video at speeded-up speed are amazing!!!
Last updated January, 2021
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Valerie - January, 2023