Audiobooks and podcasts are my sources for alternative listening, and a great way to learn about new subjects. I have a fairly decent amount of listening time between my commute to the office and any time spent at home performing tasks. It’s nice to listen to something other than “today’s top 40” or similar stations (especially with all of the commercials). Today, I’m talking about my favorite podcasts – I’ll leave it up to you to discover your own audiobooks.
What are podcasts?
In case you’re just hopping onto the podcast bandwagon, or you’re still confused, podcasts are basically talk radio programs on a variety of subjects. Essentially, it’s talk radio — but not your parents’ (conservative) talk radio — for hipsters (or millenials).
Well, not quite. My wife got me back to podcasts, which is odd, because she’s very anti-talk radio. But she found some great programs that cover the gamut of interests. And that’s the great benefit about podcasts, they’re variety shows on a number of different subjects. More especially, podcasts are on-demand and (semi) commercial-free, usually about 30-45 minutes.
My favorite programs.
In my repertoire of programs, I tend to find one podcast and listen to all of the programs before moving to another. Part of the reason is because I’m “discovering” the programs for the first time, and there are many different episodes, and another part is because I store up multiple episodes before listening to them all — I like to listen in strings or long stretches.
Right now, my listening pleasure is The British History Podcast — I’m way late to this podcast game, since the first episode aired May 28, 2011. This podcast covers the history of Britain (thanks, Captain Obvious) from prehistoric times until present, although the most current episode, number 269, is barely covering the middle ages, Wessex and Mercia. It’s best to listen to this program in order, so set up a listening playlist on your favorite app (see below) to stream continuously.
Okay, now that I’m over discussing my current obsession, here’s my list of ten great podcasts and a short summary (and none of them is Serial) in no particular order:
- ONE Extraordinary Marriage — this weekly podcast is a companion to the website and book of the same name, which discusses sex, love, and commitment challenges in marriage and relationships, and ways to increase intimacy between couples. You can skip around on these episodes, but definitely check out Episode 1, Episode 9, and Episode 13.
- Welcome to Night Vale — this is a twice monthly podcast styled like an old-time radio program, featuring quirky and creepy events, announcements, and characters. You should listen to this podcast in episode order.
- The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian — this weekly podcast is geared towards young listeners, featuring stories about space, aliens, kid explorers, and robots. You should listen to this podcast in episode order.
- The Life Coach School Podcast — this weekly podcast is a companion to the website of the same name, which discusses “life coaching” topics geared to helping you become a better person — “coaching” yourself. You can skip around on these episodes, but definitely check out Episode 177, Episode 179, Episode 197, and Episode 199.
- Every Little Thing — this weekly podcast answers questions about life’s small, quirky, mysteries. You can skip around on these episodes, but definitely check out, What Would Happen to Your Body in Space?, Are “Speed Enforced By Aircraft” Signs a Lie?, and The Case of the Missing Armadillos.
- The Walk — this weekly podcast puts you into the story as “the hero.” Your mission is to carry a secret device to Edinburgh, Scotland. You should listen to this podcast in episode order.
- Ridiculous History — this is a weekly podcast from some of the folks at How Stuff Works, which explores more oddities of historical significance. You can skip around on these episodes, but definitely check out, The Wild Hippos of Pablo Escobar, How White America Tried to Destroy Chinese Restaurants, and How a Grudge Match Launched the Ford GT40.
- Lore — this podcast is about true life, scary stories. You can skip around on these episodes, but definitely check out, Episode 8: The Castle, Episode 12: Half-Hanged, and Episode 34: All the Lovely Ladies.
- Sleep With Me — this weekly podcast is a little goofy, but the design is to put you to sleep; unfortunately, because I listen at 2x speed, it doesn’t work for me. But it’s a great podcast for mindless stories. You can skip around on these episodes.
- The History of Rome — this podcast discusses Rome’s rise and fall (I’m on a history kick, can you tell?) You should listen to this podcast in episode order.
Send me your suggestions — leave a comment or shoot an email — for the podcasts you think I need to listen to.
Listening in, the how to.
Listening to podcasts is easier than ever, and the number of podcast apps available from Google Play is significant. The Play Music app even supports podcasts, but there aren’t a lot of additional listening features, such as accelerated speed.
My favorite app is PocketCasts. This app features advanced playback settings, including speed and volume boost, which makes it well worth its price at $3.99. I also love their web player — an additional cost of $9.99 — that syncs your devices with the cloud.
Inside whatever app you choose, finding a podcast is easy. Simply search for the show or subject, and subscribe. All episodes will be available, and you can listen to whatever one you please.