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the island of conclusions

December talking meme: Podcasts

the island of conclusions

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December talking meme: Podcasts

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Finally getting this baby started!

twasadark asked me to talk about podcasts, and I am delighted to do so!

If, like me, you like to listen to things—and/or have more time to listen to things than you do to sit down and read—podcasts are awesome. Also, the seemingly DIY, anyone-can-make-one, aspect is very appealing. I’ve linked to the podcasts’ own websites below, but I mostly access them through itunes on my phone, and I kind of love the way you can search the itunes app for a writer you’re interested in, and it will throw up podcast episodes of said writer reading or being interviewed.

Here are some that I listen to regularly, with apologies in advance because they are mostly about books.

But to get the obvious out of the way first: like the rest of the podcast-listening world, I’m addicted to Serial. I eat it up like cake—I find the presentation ridiculously compelling. I also find myself surprisingly interested in all the furor/speculation around it, focusing on Sarah Koenig as a character herself and her construction of the narrative. I don’t read Reddit or any of the blogs about the case, but I do listen to the Slate Serial Spoilers podcast, which often brings in some interesting guests.

I also listen to Welcome to Night Vale, though I have to say my enjoyment of it varies. My kids like it, though, so following it gives us something fun to talk about. I’m not sure I’d carry on with it on my own.

Podcasts about books:

My favorite podcast for readings is the one put out by The Free Library of Philadelphia. The episodes are pretty much unadorned broadcasts of their great, varied, series of readers—from Ann Rice, to Walter Isaacson, to David Mitchell. I like getting a taste of a book I might want to read, or hearing an author answer questions about one I have read.

I also like the podcast from the New York Times Book Review. It is mostly interviews with authors whose books are reviewed in the weekly supplement, but it also has “publishing news” and “bestseller news” features. Like the similar podcast from The New YorkerThe New Yorker Out Loud, which interviews the authors of their long essays, it’s clearly designed to lure you behind the paywall to read more, but there’s no obligation. I already get The New Yorker, and often the interviews on the podcast do get me to read the essays in question.

Others I’ve listened to once or twice, and would again if they featured an author I was interested in: Slate’s Audio Book Club, All Write Already, Book Fight.

Other stuff.

Over the summer, I was listening to Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files. I loved The X-Files while it was on, but was completely unaware of fandom at that point in my life, so I was enjoying his simultaneous history of the show, its fandom and the television industry. He never has exactly my take on the show, but he’s infectiously enthusiastic about it, and he has good guests. I only stopped listening because I couldn’t keep up with re-watching two episodes a week so as to listen to him discuss them. I’d like to go back to it, though—he’s had some great guests on recently: Darrin Morgan, etc.

The BBC has a bunch of podcasts, always, and I’ve just been listening to their broadcast of Atul Gawande’s Reith Lectures on the Future of Medicine. He’s a fascinating speaker, of course, and the lectures seem to have drawn a lot of other prominent doctors, so the questions he gets asked are interesting, too.

What do you guys listen to? What am I missing?

(and I have room for some more questions, if you want to drop one in the comments)
  • Yay!!! Thank you so much for this amazing post! Lots to look into here. I tried Serial and agree that it's completely addictive, but I had to stop listening to it because it was freaking me out - the whole "all murder all the time" thing, haha.

    I've intermittently enjoyed On Being, which examines religion and social issues. I love Krista Tippett's warm, soothing voice, and the skill she uses to draw her guests out.

    I adored 12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth. It's fascinating history of a time and place largely neglected by the Western world.

    The rest of the time I listen to audiobooks free from Librivox.org or the local library. History is my usual drug of choice. :-)
    • ooo! thank you for the cool suggestions! I listen to a lot of audiobooks from the library, too--I've listened to some great things I would never have heard otherwise that way. I also love the idea of librevox, but have never actually listened to any of their books--must put that on my list to try!
  • This is so interesting. I haven't gotten around to Serial yet. I listen to a lot of the Slate podcasts: the politics and culture ones, occasionally the Gist. If they're doing a podcast for a show I'm watching I listen to that too. I like the Firewall and Iceberg TV review podcast too. I stopped listening to Nightvale, no particular reason. Sometimes I listen to The Splendid Table, about food.
    • I liked the Splendid Table, too! I get their emails, and sometimes even try the recipes.

      I've never tried the Firewall and Iceberg one--thanks for the rec!

      You might like Serial--but it might have assumptions about law/lawyers that would drive you crazy. Be interested in what you thought, if you do listen.
  • I have not tried either Serial or WtNV yet, despite feeling fairly sure I'll love both when I get to them.

    I used to follow gobs and gobs of podcasts, though over the last few years I listen to more archived OTR/Golden-Age programming than anything else.

    I'm woefully behind on both of their original on-going serials (one 1940's superhero/spy caper, one post-war private-eye yarn), but I love Decoder Ring Theatre an awful lot.

    The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company does some original productions as well as fun dramatizations of existing stories, like "The Shadow over Innsmouth".

    Second Shift found three kids unexpectedly zapped from the campus pizza joint where they all worked into a fantasy world with magic and politics and so on that they don't understand at first. The second season is (and seems sadly likely to remain) unfinished, but the first season comes to a reasonably complete ending.
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