Most people have heard of the term “podcast”, but it’s surprising how often I bring the subject up and am met with a confused look. For those of you still living in 1943, podcasts are sort of like re-occurring radio shows which you subscribe and listen to at your leisure. Although the term “podcast” drums up images of horn rims and a pocket protector, the process is actually extremely easy to set-up, and can provide you with some phenomenal audio content, usually for the price of zero. If you still cannot conceive what I am talking about, check out this GUIDE TO PODCASTING. I love podcasts, and am constantly blown away by the wide variety of high quality content which they offer. The following are some of my favorites.
This American Life: This is the grandaddy of podcasts, and is ALWAYS in the first or second slot in the iTunes top ten. It’s an hour long, and a offers a new episode every Sunday. It features a team of skilled reporters who present stories about a wide variety of fascinating topics, some of which would never seem interesting until presented by their talented reporters. This American Life have provided me with countless conversation starters, and the interesting stories presented are perfect to tell friends and co-workers; I can’t recommend this podcast enough.
Stuff You Should Know: This bi-weekly podcast, brought to you by Discovery’s HowStuffWorks.com, is the perfect mix of entertainment and education. It features Chuck and Josh, two funny chaps who present half hour long episodes on topics ranging from serial killers to quantum mechanics. Despite oft-occurring tangents about 80’s cartoons and ninja’s, Chuck and Josh are great at presenting the necessary elements of each topic in an easy to understand manner.
Planet Money: This bi-weekly NPR podcast features a highly skilled team of financial reporters who somehow make confusing economic concepts interesting. Their coverage of the recent financial crisis and President Obama’s healthcare package was absolutely brilliant, as was their exploration of “toxic assets”. This podcast feels like a well-taught economics course, but without the hassle of tardies or term papers.
The Onion: This daily podcast presents one or two fictional news stories, all while somehow packing an hour of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm into about 3 minutes. There is no way to explain The Onion, you will just need to check it out to understand.
New York Times Front Page: This podcast presents the highlights of the daily New York Times in about 7 minutes. It’s the perfect way to quickly catch up on current events, and features a narrator with the perfect “news voice”.
Ask a Ninja: Podcasts are not just audio, they can also be video-based. Ask a Ninja is one of the first successful video podcasts, and features a ninja answering questions about how he lives life as a ninja. Most of the time it’s pretty hilarious; occasionally it’s just confusing.