I’ve been an NPR junkie for years. Since the end of my college days, actually. I’d listen every time I was in my car. Once I finally broke down and bought an iPod in 2008, I discovered podcasts, and I could finally listen to every single episode of my favorite NPR shows any time I wanted. And they all fit in my pocket and were completely free. If you love listening to smart or cool people talk, you’re probably already into podcasts, and if you’re not, you’ve got to get into it. They’re the ideal way to stay entertained and informed while working in your cubicle, while you’re on a road trip, or while working around your house. And did I mention, they’re absolutely free? Yeah, that’s super awesome. Here are some of my favorites.
If you’re a food blogger, or even if you’re just a human with a sense of humor, you need to subscribe to the Joy the Baker Podcast. It’s the only non-NPR production to make my cut. It’s co-hosted by Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, and Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean. It’s basically two best friends getting together to talk about “totally important unimportant things,” like food, blogging, boyfriends, cats, hot dogs, Google auto-fill, and cutting yourself out of your underwear. It’s real life, and it’s hilarious.
Pop Culture Happy Hour is an NPR Podcast, but not an NPR show. You can’t hear it on the radio, but you definitely shouldn’t miss it. It’s four witty and wonderful NPR writers and sometimes hosts chatting about their opinions on all things pop culture including books, TV, movies, video games, comics, podcasts, and theater. If the PCHH crew says a movie is good, I’ll usually go see it. I’ve also been caught bursting out into raucous laughter while listening to this at work, and with segments like “Regrettable Television Pop Quiz,” how could you not? I’ve also been moved to tears from time to time by the discussions on this show. I won’t miss it.
The Splendid Table is hosted by the fabulous Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and this lady knows everything ever about food. This is usually a weekend show, so it’s not always easy to catch on the radio, but if you subscribe to the Podcast, it’s there waiting for you. There’s a mixture of interviews with chefs, in-depth food news, and call-ins from listeners. The highlight of every year is the live Thanksgiving call-in show where people can call in with their Thanksgiving emergencies. Lynn has a fix for everything. If you’re a foodie, you must listen to The Splendid Table.
The TED Radio Hour combines excerpts from TED talks and interviews with speakers to focus in-depth on a given topic each week. I absolutely love listening to smart people share ideas about how to make the world a better place. I am constantly amazed when I listen to this podcast. It gives me so much to think about without having to sit in front of my computer watching a 20 minute YouTube video. Nerds rule!
Saving the best for last, This American Life will blow your mind. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, always poignant, this show is a hipster nerd’s dream come true. With contributors like David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Mike Birbiglia, the content on this show is always diverse, and deeply human. The host, Ira Glass, is basically as cool as a human can be, in my opinion. I never miss an episode of This American Life, and I’m never disappointed.
If you have an iPhone, you can subscribe and listen with the built in app in your phone. If you have an Android phone, I recommend Podkicker, which is free. If you have none of these, you can subscribe to all of these, and many more podcasts through iTunes on your computer. And in case I haven’t already said it a hundred times, they’re completely free. It’s just too awesome!
Did your favorite podcasts make the list? What do I absolutely have to check out right this minute?
Go grow your brain, have a laugh, and make your day a million times better.