By KASEY McDONNELL.
The podcast is one of the most interesting forms of entertainment in our modern age. Although binge-listening to a good one isn’t as popular a pastime as watching a TV show or web series, many podcasts have a cult following, with thousands of dedicated listeners.
Even without large mainstream support, podcasts are pumping splendid, informative, creative content into the largely music-filled audio entertainment industry.
Whatever your interest, there’s a podcast to fit it. Like Doctor Who? There are dozens of podcasts analysing old and new episodes, news about the show and rumours about future instalments of the classic British series.
Perhaps you like tech, or comedy, or celebrity interviews; the networks of the podcasting world delve into nearly every imaginable category. But, getting started in this fantastic world can be a bit daunting. So, here are my top picks for podcasts in every major category, for your listening pleasure.
Material, a podcast that focusses on the Google and Android tech worlds, is great listening to catch up on developments, rumours and reviews for the newest mobile technology. Andy, Yasmine and Russell form a charismatic team of presenters that is a joy to listen to, and work well to debate and discuss phones or software. The show lasts around an hour and, as with most podcasts, is something nice to listen to and have a chuckle at while doing menial chores.
Ctrl Walt Delete
Ctrl Walt Delete is a production of The Verge. Unlike Material and Upgrade, which focus on niche markets of technology, anything goes in terms of topic discussion. Like with articles from The Verge, the details of the technology discussed is less important than the cultural ideas and the big picture stuff that it represents. They discuss the issue of ad-blocking on the internet and the future of television and consumption. Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel host and inspire some interesting discussions about technology as a whole.
Myke Hurley and Jason Snell host this technology podcast which, although having a wide scope on the topics they could cover, focusses primarily on reviewing and reporting on Apple products and services. The show has a few segments like ‘Myke at the Movies’ where they review classic ‘80s films nearer the end of the podcast. The show is quite lengthy, averaging about two hours. Although it demands a lot of time, as an Apple consumer, I find it good for keeping me updated with technology upgrades.
Simply put, 99% Invisible is inspiring and personal. Its goal is to explore the invisible aspects of design that make everything around us work, the 99% of design that nobody really thinks about. Roman Mars talks with you rather than to you, and the dedication and devotion to the stories he and his team tell about everyday design is heartening. The show is only about 20 minutes long, which makes it perfect for a short ride in the car or on a lazy Sunday. There’s too much character in this podcast to simply explain with words.
The Incomparable Radio Theater
Written as a ‘50s radio drama about fantastical adventures in exotic locations, even the advertisements of the Incomparable Radio Theatre are hilarious to listen to. It’s retro in a modern context and innovative in how it tells stories. Furthermore, the episodes are self-aware, poking fun at exposition and talking to the audience that shouldn’t be there. With episodes lasting only 15 minutes, the short radio performance is easy to keep up with without being too dedicated.
Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is another radio drama, this time presented by a community radio host in a small desert town where every conspiracy theory is true. The show is hilariously twisted and uses your imagination to describe fantastically impossible things, like a five-headed dragon named Hiram McDaniels. Characters in the story are deep and intriguing, and once you get hooked you’ll be wishing the release schedule was more frequent than every two weeks. Stay tuned to TEARAWAY for more on Night Vale next month!
One story told week by week, Serial’s first season is incredibly addictive. The story follows Sarah Koenig as she tries to understand the murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed in 1999. Over 12 episodes, the listener is taken through police reports, the trial and interviews with the big players 16 years ago. The podcast became a phenomenon in 2014 when it started, and as season two begins and the next story unfolds, it looks to become just as engaging.
This American Life
This is one of the most popular podcasts in the United States and for good reason. This American Life aims each week to tell a myriad of stories from people about a particular theme, be it the nature of status updates in our lives, or more recently, the value of home movies. The stories that are told are surprising and absorbing, and can make for some very entertaining and thought-provoking listening.
Presented by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab is in some ways similar to This American Life – in its endeavour to investigate intriguing stories and people. However, the scope is far wider. Radiolab explores science, philosophy and humanity and how they can interact in the strangest of ways. It follows one story each episode rather than multiple, and the stories are usually stranger and more complex than it might seem at first glance. The most recent stories are diverse in their context, like learning from Norse medicinal books to cure modern super diseases, or the journey of a gay Israeli couple looking to have children through surrogacy. You’re never certain what you’re going to get and finding out is incredibly interesting.
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Christen Conger and Caroline Ervin host one of the most honest podcasts on the internet. Stuff Mom Never Told You is famous for being truthful and shameless in dealing with the topics that conventionally people don’t want to talk about. Sex, breaking gender roles, anxiety and health, nothing is off the table, so long as it’s something people don’t usually want to discuss. The podcast is sincere as well as entertaining and informative.
Dear Hank and John
Although this podcast is under the comedy section of the iTunes store, the Green brothers spend more time talking about death and the complexity of life than making jokes. Their advice on this podcast is dubious, but what makes Dear Hank and John special is their personas. In essence, the brothers Green are really entertaining to listen to, in this light-hearted podcast that almost comically questions the complexity of death in human society.
This podcast is hard to describe outside of ‘two dudes talking about stuff’, which really doesn’t capture the scale of the stuff the two dudes talk about. CGP Grey and Brady Haran are the two dudes, and the stuff they talk about can range from AI to the benefits of electric toothbrushes to other podcasts to YouTube half-assery to basically anything that they want to. The first episode was about 45 minutes long, and now the average length is about 2 to 3 hours. That may seem like a turn-off, but Hello Internet is my favourite podcast of all. You’d be surprised how much time you can make for a podcast that is easy to love, like this one.
Although all of these podcasts are fantastic, and you’ll be sure to find one in the mix that caters to you, the podcasting world is so expansive that it’s impossible not to find many podcasts that interest you. Getting started can be a bit daunting but once you’ve found a podcast to love it’s all worth it.
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