Are you unfamiliar with podcasts?

Reading time: About 2 minutes

Don’t be afraid to try something just because it’s relatively new. My life has been greatly enriched by the addition of podcasts…

I’ve been recently transformed from a mild-mannered editor, writer, and trainer into a raging podcast enthusiast. Talk to me at a party and I’ll bend your ear about the exploits of American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, or Stephen Dubner’s theories on the economics of sleep.

But this is a recent transformation. For many months, my adult kids had been urging me to try the relatively new medium but I’m sometimes slow to try new things. I regret not doing this sooner!

If you haven’t dipped in to the world of podcasting, let me give you a primer:

  • Podcasts are 100% free. You can download the software for your cellphone at no charge. (All cellphones are different so I can’t give you instructions.) Once you have the software you can subscribe to any show you like, using a “search” button. Ask your friends for recommendations or check out my own list at the end of this column. The show will be automatically downloaded to your phone whenever it’s released.
  • Podcasts are like narrative radio, but with a modern punch. With podcasts, you can listen to shows whenever you feel like it and stop whenever something else draws you away. The software will mark your spot and, when you return, take you directly back to it. The convenience is terrific.
  • The variation in quality of shows is quite large. I get impatient with poor production values and rambling hosts so I tend to unsubscribe quite quickly if the show doesn’t meet my expectations.
  • Politics, media, lifestyles, sales, analysis. Podcasts cover all of these issues, and more. Identify a topic that captures you and look for a podcast.

My gateway drug to podcasting was a show called Serial. A spinoff of the program This American Life, from National Public Radio, Serial uses investigative journalism to narrate a nonfiction story over many episodes. Season 1 — which was insanely gripping — told the story of the 1999 murder of an 18-year-old student from Baltimore. So popular, the season has now been downloaded more than 80 million times.

Here are the podcasts I highly recommend. Most are somewhere between 25 and 60 minutes and they’re easy to delete if you find you’re not interested.

The only thing I don’t like about podcasts? When I’m walking I now usually have earbuds stuffed into my ears. This is interfering with my thinking-about-what-I’m-going-to-write time. Sigh. I’ll have to figure that out because I’m not prepared to give up on podcasts.

If you have any podcasts you particularly like, please be sure to share them in the comments section below.


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