Podcasts today are like blogs were ten to fifteen years ago. They began as media channels for the fringes and perhaps even the marginalized. They had a limited appeal, as they were difficult to get a hold or required some digging around for anything worthwhile. They existed more so as personal projects than widespread entertainment.
But soon enough, they gained traction as media consumers were drawn to their old-school appeal and functionality. Podcasts are the new radio, but- dare I say- better? They’re portable and streamable. They can be catered to your interests. They offer bite-sized chunks of information at a rate you can customize. Play half on your way to work. Don’t like it? Easy, just delete the cast and find another. Fast forward through drawn out dialogue or irrelevant rambling (if you want, although I think that’s part of the fun.) Podcasts- even more than blogs- are in the hands of the consumer.
For a little over a decade, podcasts have been working their way into the contemporary mainstream. In 2014, the popularity of Serial forced podcasts into the public eye, but they are still overlooked by many who think they are one-dimensional or favor audiovisual entertainment.
You can’t compare podcasts to television, really, nor radio for that matter. But you can appreciate them in their own right. For their often DIY ethos, their niche categorization, their relatively loose rules regarding censorship and their ability to connect with listeners in a way that not many other forms of media can.
If podcasts are akin to a chat with friends, then here are a few of my favorite conversations. No matter your interest, there is surely a cast you can connect with.
For the girl’s girl –Lady to Lady
This podcast follows three funny ladies (plus one weekly guest) as they discuss life, love, drugs, pop culture and whatever else happens to pop into their minds. If you enjoy listening to others’ stream of consciousness babble, then this one’s for you. Seriously though, you’ve gotta just go and listen to Lady to Lady because it’s a lot better than I’m making it out to be. In all honesty, I didn’t love it at first. I thought the hosts were vain and stupid (sorry). But truth be told, they’re actually really smart, strong, insightful women whose guests fall in that same category. Lady to Lady is like brunch with *certain* friends: it’s mindless and gossipy but may also challenge your perspective, and will definitely make you laugh.
For the struggling artist- Creative Pep Talk
Andy is the illustrator behind many well-known graphics for clients including Google, Converse and Nickelodeon, just to name a few. Don’t worry, he’s not here to spout off some self-help bullshit or sell you e-books. He genuinely has an interest in living and promoting an authentically creative lifestyle. (I’m judging myself for writing that in earnest, but w/e.) Andy’s the real deal. He’ll teach you how to set yourself apart, find time and energy for your underlying interests, reject anxious thoughts of not being good enough to try/succeed… And you’ll meet some pretty cool people in the field along the way.
For the curious George –Baby Geniuses
Another one from Max Fun, Baby Geniuses is hosted by comedian Emily Heller and cartoonist (of Bojack fucking Horseman) Lisa Hanawalt. The show is an interesting mix of fun facts, both educational and amusing. You can look forward to segments such as “Chunch Chat” (all about Martha Stewart’s pony, Ben Chunch) and “Wiki of the Week” (where random wiki pages are pulled from the dredges of the Internet and assessed by the hosts). They love any niche subculture or nugget of undisclosed information that you didn’t know was relevant until you hear it through your headphones, then can’t stop thinking about. (Say, for instance, the phenomenon of “anti-Barney humor”.) This cast never gets old, with a rotating roster of quirky guests and even quirkier stories.
For the spirituality-seeking skeptic- That’s So Retrograde
I’ve gotta start with a disclaimer that I actually… sort of… get bored with this podcast sometimes because I’m like “been there, done that ladies”. Like, “kombucha was so 2010, why are we still talking about it?” But then I instantly check myself and thank goddess for this podcast because, although topics at hand sometimes seem a bit outdated, they go into more depth than I would probably reach on my own. I’m talking everything you’ve ever wanted to know about flower essences, flotation tanks and planet alignment. Each segment has a different topic picked from the world of health and wellness and broadcast from LA (but of course). The hosts, Elizabeth Kott and Stephanie Simbari enjoy green juice and meditation but also whiskey and weed, fully embracing both yin and yang elements in their lives. They provide an insightful look at what you can do for a bit of a health boost without losing friends or fun in the process.
For the chronic dieter- The Fuck It Diet
Yes, this one is also hosted by a comedian. (Really, what podcast isn’t?) But Caroline Dooner is more than that. She also acts, sings and teaches rigid food obsessives how to fuck rules and restriction around their eating behavior. Like what the hell, eat whatever you want in whatever amount you want and why do we have all these rules and where did they come from and how privileged are we to even question what’s in our food or whether we’re eating the perfect amount or whether anyone else gives a shit? Caroline explores all this plus more and is a serious influence in my battle against ED behavior. So give her and her wonderfully rebellious, anti-diet guests and her post-interview sing-alongs a listen.
I’m always on the metaphorical hunt for some captivating new casts, so don’t hesitate to throw me some suggestions. What are your current favorites?
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