On Monday, I started a new contract gig for a media company that’s based in Santa Monica. Because of traffic, it takes me about 2 1/2 hours to get there and about the same time to get home. I have a solid iTunes library, and I put my iPhone on shuffle in the morning to help me zen out on the freeway / get pumped for work. But because I don’t have a lot of time to read during the day, I feel insanely out of the loop news and culture-wise by 5 p.m. To help combat that feeling, I’ve gotten really into podcasts. I listened to a few before, but now I’m obsessed. Here are the ones I’m currently loving:
I originally found out about Another Round via Ezra Koenig’s Internet radio show on Beats 1, which I’ve been meaning to blog about (but that’s another post for another day). Heben Negatu and Tracy Clayton interview some really incredible people, like a journalist who writes about school segregation and an artist who has spearheaded a street art campaign about harassment. They also do some awesome games, like asking the editor of NPR’s Code Switch to connect random concepts to the problem of housing segregation in six degrees or less. What I like about this podcast is that I feel like I’m learning tons. It’s expanding the discourses of race and gender for me, even though I’m crawling on the 405 Freeway. This podcast is a Buzzfeed production, but it is really too good for Buzzfeed.
Now that my best friend Paige is living in Washington, I completely understand the ethos of Call Your Girlfriend. This podcast, touted as “a podcast for long-distance besties,” features one of my favorite writers, Ann Friedman, and Aminatou Sow. They talk as if they’re on the phone with each other just chatting about what’s happening in pop culture, and the audience just happens to be there. I like hearing about what other smart women close to my age group find interesting about culture and how they’re talking about it. Pro tip: They’re going on hiatus for awhile for tech upgrades, but past episodes are still good to listen to.
The best way to describe Limetown, I feel, is to say that it’s Serial meets The X-Files. Limetown is an entirely fictional story about a remote town in Tennessee, which was built for and centered around a research facility. One day in 2003, hundreds of people just go missing. A young journalist decides to find out what happened, and gets sucked further and further into the mystery. There are also some flavors of government conspiracy and the supernatural. I will warn you that the first episode is awesome and gives you a lot of important background information, but really sets up the second episode as a doozy. It’s so incredibly well-written and produced that I was frustrated I couldn’t binge-listen. (I don’t know if that’s a word but I’m making it one now.)
I found this podcast because I follow Tyler Green on Twitter. Every week the show starts with a digest of interesting modern art exhibits happening around the country, and I like hearing about what’s going on beyond my little Los Angeles museum world. I also like how he interviews people from all aspects of the art world, because people like the conservators and art historians are just as important as the curators or artists themselves. On Monday I listened to one from last week where Green interviewed a curator for a Mark Rothko exhibit in Houston, and I learned so much about Rothko’s career and how he viewed his own art.
I love, love, love Man Repeller. I love Leandra Medine, who I see as a role model in the murky world of new media. I love Man Repeller’s editorial voice. I love the content they put out on all of their channels. So I was overjoyed that they started up a podcast where their friend Jay Buim interviews women about their professional success. I find the concept to be refreshing and inspirational, and I like hearing from women who have been in my spot and are successful now. So far, my favorite episodes have been with Leandra herself, Stacy London, and yesterday’s Payal Kadakia. Pro tip: Skip the second episode, because that’s the only one so far that has been Not Good. You’ll thank me.
Occasionally I used to listen to this in the car with my mom, and I’ve started listening to it again. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! is NPR’s weekly quiz show. It has a few different segments with different call-in participants, which all test the participants’ knowledge of current events. It’s performed and recorded live in Chicago, and the energy of the studio atmosphere translates really well to audio. I giggle throughout the show along with the audience, which in a way makes me feel looped into what’s going on in the news. In addition to being funny, it’s wickedly smart. I think that’s what I love about all of these podcasts in general. It has become one of my new favorite ways to stay connected to culture. And for that, I’m giving all these podcasts the biggest gold star.
Do you love podcasts? Give me your recommendations in the comments.