I love podcasts! I listen to them in the car and on the metro and even while cooking or cleaning the kitchen and they keep me entertained and engaged. And they all meet one of the other top requirements for a podcast — they are all divisible and interruptable witout too much bother so easily adapted to any time period available for listening. Here are some of my favorites, all free and available online and via iTunes.
- The Slate Culture Gabfest is a lively conversation about the top stories in media and popular culture each week. The current episode includes John Mayer’s controversial interview in Playboy and the updating of the all-star “We are the World” for the Haiti relief effort. I like the way they invite listeners into the conversation via their Facebook page.
- The Slate Spoiler Special is the kind of discussion all movie critics wish we could have because instead of explaining whether you should see a movie while trying not to give away too much it is a conversation for those who have already seen it with Slate’s sweet-voiced and always-astute critic Dana Stevens.
- NPR Culturetopia is a round-up of the best of NPR’s arts, culture, and media coverage with interviews, commentary, and reviews.
- The Moth has live performances of true stories told with no notes, each under 10 minutes or so. You never know what you will get — a best-selling author, a cop, a movie star, or a teenager participating in a workshop, a story to make you laugh or cry or give you goosebumps — or all three. But every single story has been utterly gripping and I have listened to many of them more than once.
- This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 70,000 have been recorded by famous leaders, great thinkers, and ordinary individuals. There are Nobel Prize winners, statesmen, teachers, writers, clergy, and artists. There are two different podcasts available — one of new essays and one from the archives of the original series back in the 1950’s.
- Ted Talks are brief presentations by some of the most provocative and inspiring thinkers of our time. Challenging, informative, touching, mesmerizing.
- Smithsonian Folkways is an enthralling exploration of music of all kinds. Folkways Records & Service Co. was incorporated in 1948 to bring the entire world of sound to listeners. The Smithsonian took over in 1987 and now operates it as a non-profit. The podcasts, some hosted by Michael Asch, the son of Folkways co-founder Moses Asch, explore the richness of the archive and the many cultures it represents.
- Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! is NPR’s weekly news quiz, funny, sharp, and of course very topical. One of the highlights each week is a visit by a celebrity, always someone very cool, who gets to chat with the host before being asked to answer three questions on a topic as far removed from his or her area of expertise as possible.
- StoryCorps like The Moth, is a podcast of true stories but these are less polished and more intimate and authentic. The mission is to honor each others stories by listening and these stories of struggle, learning, devotion, love, laughter, prayers, and joy are breathtaking.
- Legacy of Laughs is an archive of radio in the days before television when stars like Jack Benny, Martin and Lewis, and Edgar Bergen were as important to American culture as “Seinfeld” and “Friends” were in the heyday of the sitcom. It’s a lot of fun to listen to these vintage shows, commercials and all.