the wonderful world of veena.

09 February 2015

what i'm listening to.

I go through phases when it comes to podcasts. I love them a lot, so I have a tendency to try to listen to too many. As the episodes build up, I get overwhelmed and give up. It's a vicious cycle, but it has become an ongoing one in my life.

I got back into podcasts because of Serial [yes, just like everyone else]. I downloaded all the available episodes when Christina and I were going to the Packers game in November, knowing that we would have 3.5-hour drives between Chicago and Green Bay. Before the end of the first episode, we were both hooked, and I was back on the podcast bandwagon.

Through the last few months of the year I kept adding to and deleting from my list of podcasts. I still try to listen to too many, but I am slowly coming to terms with it. Today I thought I would share the ones that are currently on my rotation.

In no particular order:

Tuesdays With Aaron. A weekly podcast with Green Bay Packers quarterback and all-around awesome human being Aaron Rodgers? No further information necessary.

Serial. Also known as, The Podcast that Captivated America. It was ridiculously addicting, and I was not emotionally ready for it to end. I know there have been a lot of follow-up interviews and articles written since the podcast ended, but I've not had a chance to read them all. All I know is, the second season of this podcast might just be the most highly anticipated thing to happen this year.

This American Life. The podcast that everyone knows and loves. After Neil Gaiman, I'd love Ira Glass to narrate my life.

Stuff You Should Know. A quirky show that explains how things work. From discussing book banning to the Peace Corps to juggling, Josh and Chuck discuss pretty much everything under the sun. The episodes are usually around half-an-hour and are sarcastic and informative at the same time.

The BS Report with Bill Simmons. I have loved Bill Simmons for nearly 15 years now, so there's no way I can pass on the opportunity to hear his voice nearly every weekday. And while he covers mostly sports, just like his columns, the podcast also includes numerous pop culture references and digs at celebrities. And with appearances from Cousin Sal, Jacko, Bill's Dad, Grantland staffers like Zach Lowe and Andy Greenwald, and random celebrities from time to time, it's chock full of awesomeness.

Serial Serial. The podcast from The Onion where members of the AV Club break down recent episodes of Serial and discuss the bombshells and the remaining questions. This began around the 7th or 8th episode of Serial, and it was great to know there were other people in the world who had the same questions about the case as I did. And as a bonus, even though Serial itself has concluded, the Serial Serial has continued to publish a few more episodes following up on new information and updates to Adnan's appeal.

Freakonomics Radio. If you read and enjoyed the books, you'll love the podcast. Stephen J Dubner, one of the co-authors of the bestsellers, continues to explore the "hidden side of everything" in weekly episodes, covering such topics as education and energy efficiency, to name a few. I have really enjoyed listening to these during my commute and tend to feel just a little bit smarter by the end of them.

Here's the Thing. Alec Baldwin chatting with other celebrities about their careers? Sign me up. I started from the beginning and am listening to select episodes, and so far my favourites have been Lorne Michaels, Kristen Wiig, and Kathleen Turner.

TED Radio Hour. I love TED Talks, and I used to subscribe to the daily video podcast, but the videos just kept piling up and I could never seem to be able to make a dent in the list, so this is a great compromise. The Radio Hour pulls together snippets from people's TED Talks around common themes and then also does brief interviews with those speakers. I don't necessarily listen to all of the episodes, but the ones I have listened to have been phenomenal - especially the one about education and the one about secrets.

I Love Memphis Podcast. Hosted by Holly Edwards, author of the ILoveMemphisBlog, and Kevin Cerrito, radio and trivia host, this podcast highlights special events happening in Memphis, and each episode includes an interview with a special Memphian. It's been a great way to keep up with the goings-on in Memphis even though I'm not there anymore, and I especially love the interviews. January 2015 featured Paula Raiford, owner of Paula and Raiford's Disco in downtown Memphis, and was spectacular.

Reveal. This is a new one for me - I just discovered it about two weeks ago - so I am still deciding how I feel about it, but my initial take is that it's rather fascinating.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! NPR's hilarious weekly trivia podcast. I like listening to the panelists and their antics, and it's a quick way for me to catch up on the big headlines from the previous week and see how much I know about what is happening in the world.

Slate's Hang Up and Listen. Slate's weekly sports podcast. It covers all the big and also not-so-big sporting events from around the world, and it has been one of the few podcasts I've kept up with for over two years.

Radiolab from WNYC. I have been trying to figure out how to describe Radiolab and have been drawing a blank, so I'll just use their description: "On Radiolab, science meets culture and information sounds like music. Each episode of Radiolab is an investigation -- a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea". That's pretty much it, and it is fantastic.

Stuff You Missed in History Class. The podcast for the history nerd within us all. I made the mistake of trying to start from the beginning and listen to every episode, and I still have about 260 episodes to go to catch up. I've skipped a few that didn't sound too interesting to me, and some have been a little disappointing, but for the most part I have really enjoyed this podcast. Some of my favourite episodes include the ones about the Winchester House, the Hearst Mansion, the Medici family, WW2 codebreakers, and the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby, just to name a few. The archive is close to 600 episodes now, so it might appear a little daunting, but there are some really interesting ones if you have an inkling to check it out.

Criminal. In short this is a podcast about crime, but it's really so much more than that. I don't fully know how to explain it, but it takes everyday crimes and tells you the backstory to them. I started listening to it in December, so there have only been about 3 or 4 episodes, but they've all been really interesting to listen to.

Slate's Political Gabfest. Slate's weekly political podcast. I am not one who is good about keeping up with politics in the US, mostly because it often makes me mad, so this podcast is a good way for me to know what's going on without having to watch the news.

How to do Everything. I feel like the name gives you all the information you need about this one. It's pretty interesting and tackles some questions you wouldn't necessarily think of on your own but that are pretty thought-provoking. Just last week I learned that the plural of Lego is in fact Lego. I've been saying it incorrectly my whole life!

HuffPost Weird News. Again, pretty self-explanatory. I listen to this one pretty intermittently, but it's generally pretty interesting and quirky.

Invisibilia. Another new one I am just getting into. It's all about the invisible connections that control our lives, and I kind of like it. The recent episode entitled "Batman" was really great. It launched in mid-December and is already the number one downloaded podcast on iTunes.

Call Your Girlfriend. "The podcast for long-distance besties everywhere". I discovered this in early January and have been enjoying catching up on the back episodes. Hosted by long-distance best friends, I especially love it because my own best friends are spread across the US, the UK, and India, so no matter where I am in the world, I am always separated from someone. Ann and Aminatou talk about current events, music, the pressure of making it through friends' wedding weekends, their periods, and everything in between. Parts of it are pretty funny, and I think I'm a fan. I also like that their website includes links to everything they discuss so you can follow along if you want.

I know I know, it's far too many. But they're just so addicting! Past ones I have also enjoyed include Lexicon Valley [which I still return to every once in a while]; BBC Global News; and Slate's The Gist.

What podcasts do you enjoy listening to? I am always up for rotating a few new ones into my playlist!


  1. Replies
    1. I love Chris Vernon, but 3 hours a day is too much for me. I'll leave it to you to listen and give me the highlights!