I love podcasts. I think it has something to do with my experience as a military brat way back in the day. We lived overseas, and my biggest form of entertainment (aside from reading) was listening to Armed Forces Radio Network and enjoying old timey radio shows like The Shadow. Storytelling of this nature made me a hardcore fan of A Prairie Home Companion in its heyday. Because that is what a teenager who is channeling her inner elderly loves.
These podcasts go beyond storytelling and offer something valuable from this genre of entertainment, seeking to educate and enlighten. But also, there is humor. Because there has to be.
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
You don’t have to be a fan of Conan’s television career to enjoy this show. I like it because he includes his producer in discussion, and she regularly laughs her face off at his commentary. She doesn’t even try to play it cool and stop herself. When I recommend this to anyone, I always give them the entry point of Conan’s interview with Dave Grohl. Mostly because Grohl gives input on what pleases his palate. In this case, Champagne and fried chicken.
My Favorite Murder
I like crime stories. They can be excruciating to listen to, and also not as gory as you might think. My Favorite Murder explores all extremes. Sometimes the weather is the murderer. Sometimes it is a knife wielding maniac. Sometimes it is a spreader of disease. In Episode 105, hosts Karen Kilgariff and Geogia Hardstark cover the murder of Christa Worthington and Typhoid Mary. If you want to skip straight to Crazy Mary, I mean Typhoid Mary, be my guest.
Favorite quote from this episode, “I just need to stir this soup with my hand real quick.”
You will learn that there is such a thing as a comedy podcast about murder, and it works.
Food with Mark Bittman
When a food journalist who used to write for the New York Times starts a podcast, sign me up! I don’t care about your stance on the NYT as a news source. Their food section is stellar, their recipe app is the bomb, and the IG feed they offer that is focused on food is what often gets me through a hard day. Yes, beautifully shot food photos can heal psychological wounds. Try it sometime. Anyway, Food with Mark Bittman. Dial it up. You will like it. Your introduction is his interview with Stanley Tucci, who apparently has lived a foodie life since exiting the birth canal.
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris
I might be in love with Dan Harris. Okay, no. That is not true. But I am in love with his story. Harris is an award-winning journalist who reported from combat zones and mass shootings. His career saw him working the anchor desk at Nightline and co-anchoring the weekend edition of Good Morning America. In 2004, he had a panic attack on camera. Today, he leads a business that focuses on the benefits of meditation.
My favorite thing about his approach in this podcast is that he is always willing to say things like, “My 35-year-old self would second guess all of this.” He admits that his embracing of meditation and Buddhist practices were not easy. And in admitting this, he is saying to you, “If I can do it, you can do it.” He believes these practices have served to both enhance and save his life. Why else do I love Dan Harris? We have the same birthday. Done and done.
The Way I See It
The Way I See It is no longer in production, and that makes me a little sad. Why? Because what a GREAT idea for a podcast. Brought to us by the team at MoMA and the BBC, this is a bite sized report on specific pieces of art, and the impact they have on us as individuals.
Host Alastair Sooke gets into conversation with actors, writers, and even a composer and stand-up comedian about how a certain piece of art affects them. The guest gets to choose the work, and the episodes are between 13-15 minutes long.
Here is an episode that I hope gets you going; a conversation with Irish actor Fiona Shaw that revolves around a piece by Georgia O’Keeffe. Why did she choose this particular work?
Click the link and find out.