I listen to a lot of podcasts. Almost entirely at work. It all started for me right before Christmas in 2014. In October I had started my first job after graduating from college at an architecture firm in Philadelphia. The office’s official stance on the use of headphones was that they were “generally discouraged,” it was one of the only things that really bothered me about the sheet I received on my first day titled “Office Protocol.”
Anyone who has been to architecture school knows that many long and mindless hours are spent in the studio just producing representations of a design you’ve made up in your head to try to communicate it in the most impressive possible way to your teachers and peers: drawings on paper, 3D computer representations, physical models, interpretive dance, a sculpture cast out of a mixture of human tears and sawdust, I digress.
During my time in architecture school I had developed a workflow that heavily relied on a small corner of my computer screen devoted to a constant cycle of series on Netflix (much to the chagrin of my brothers, who shared the account with me). To go from a student working culture of constant stimulation and distraction to a professional one where the only audible noises included the steady clacking of keyboards, hushed phone calls, and occasionally the sound of a senior staff member clipping his fingernails, it was an adjustment to say the least.
The first week was by far the most difficult. It was a real struggle for consciousness at times. As time went by and my responsibilities grew it was far easier to stay awake, but by Christmastime the office was starting to empty out for the holidays and work slowed down again. My supervisor was on vacation for the week and I was left to build a 3D model in Revit, an activity that doesn’t require much critical thinking. With most desks empty and no one paying attention to me I thought maybe…just maybe..I could slip my headphones on and nobody would notice.
It started with NPR radio, but after a few days of this I was reminded about the podcast Serial. The New York Times called Serial “Podcasting’s first breakout hit” and it was one of those things I just kept hearing about. So I thought I would give the little purple app that came preloaded on my iPhone a try, and there was no going back!
I devoured the thirteen 1-hour long episodes of Serial and quickly started branching out into other podcasts. Since then, hardly a working day or travel journey has gone by without a podcast playing in my ears. They come in all durations, about all sorts of things, and they’re free! What really excites me about them is how easy they are to make. I even fancy that maybe I’d make one someday. But I’ve barely even started this blog so…one thing at a time.
I recommend listening to podcasts every time I get the chance, and I’d like to share some of my favorites with you!
Serial, Radiolab, This American Life, and Invisibilia
These podcasts are the most famous, and for good reason. They present emotional, eye-opening, and often jaw-dropping stories that are perfectly tailored by professionals in the radio business. Every moment is presented deliberately and beautifully.
Reply All, Mystery Show, Startup Podcast, and Sampler
Gimlet is a podcasting company that I love. Listeners get to know their company very intimately in the first season of Startup with chronicles the very beginnings of their business. After the first season they start telling the stories of other startups, which has introduced me to the lingo and inner workings of startup culture. Each of Gimlet’s shows has a different host. The best host, in my opinion, is Starlee Kine of Mystery Show, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next season of for what feels like forever! Mystery Show is funny, engaging, and adorable. I really love it. Perhaps my favorite Gimlet podcast however, is Reply All which presents stories about the internet. The two hosts have a great repartee and manage to find the quirkiest and most hilarious stories the internet has to offer, and unlike Mystery Show, they produce their podcasts on a fairly regularly schedule. Sampler is a new show that pulls the best moments from other podcasts together and so far has been really good. The only thing is, I’ve listened to all of the episodes and so far they’ve only presented one podcast that I started listening to regularly (2 Dope Queens, see below). That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, because just because I don’t want to subscribe to a podcast doesn’t mean the story about the person who makes it isn’t interesting. The only Gimlet podcast that I’m not really a fan of is Surprisingly Awesome. So far I’ve only found their Chumbawumba episode to be at all awesome, the rest of the things they cover are just as boring as you think they are.
The Moth Podcast, The Mortified Podcast, StoryCorps, and Snap Judgement
These podcasts record people telling short stories to a group of people. Each episode usually features about three different stories centered around a common theme. Honestly I don’t know where time goes when I listen to these podcasts. They are so engaging that they’re over before I know it! They are very easy to listen to and only the best stories are featured on the podcasts, so they are really emotion-packed.
2 Dope Queens, and You Made It Weird
I had a surprisingly hard time finding good comedy podcasts. I think it’s because comedians jokes are their livelihood so they are weary about giving it away for free via podcasts. 2 Dope Queens features various stand-up comedians and two great comedian hosts. It’s a relatively new podcasts but one I really look forward to. It’s one of the few podcasts that makes me lol in the office and I hope they keep it up! You Made It Weird is hosted by comedian Pete Holmes and mostly is just him interviewing other comedians. Recently he’s ventured out into non-comedians but I prefer his comedian interviews far more. Pete is extremely personable and his humility makes him very relatable. You can also tell he’s just genuinely interested in engaging with his guest, and he puts a lot of himself into the interviews and really opens himself up to the audience. It’s refreshing to hear from someone so unguarded.
Ted Radio Hour, Hidden Brain, Planet Money, Freakonomics, and Stuff You Missed in History Class
Wanna learn a little something? Start a life of endless-learning by picking up any of these podcasts. But do not fear, none of these podcasts feel like you’re sitting in a lecture. If you know me, you probably would not guess that pass my days listening to podcasts about economics, but Planet Money and Freakonomics manage to present them in an understandable and interesting way. Now, I have to admit, none of these are my absolute favorite podcasts, but every once and I while one of them will really blow my mind.
Criminal, and Sword and Scale
These are pretty self-explanatory. If you love TV shows like Snapped and Unsolved Mystery, then you’ll love Criminal and Sword and Scale. Criminal tends to be shorter and has more delicately presented stories. Sword and Scale is presented by a very passionate man who doesn’t shy away from gore and likes to add his own commentary and opinions on the stories he’s telling. The episodes are usually long and depressing, so listener beware…but hey, sometimes you’re in that kind of mood.
Watching Dead – Walking Dead Podcast, and Game of Thrones The Podcast
These are my guilty pleasure podcasts! I’ve been a fan of Walking Dead and Game of Thrones since they started. All of my classmates and I would gather every Sunday and watch together and discuss together. Perhaps since we all graduated and I now watch on my own, I turned to these podcasts for the discussion I’m missing. I really think listening to these podcasts has actually made me enjoy the shows more. Of course there are a lot of podcasts about these two shows, but I chose the ones presented by Jim and A.Ron from Bald Move. They are clearly very good friends and they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Their arguments remind me of the ones me and my friends have. They are also true fans and do a lot of research, since producing these podcasts is their full-time jobs. I also find it nice that I have the same guys doing the podcasts for both shows.