Friday, August 15, 2008

The 5 best podcasts you may not know about

If you listen to podcasts and/or NPR, you probably already know about Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! (the radio news quiz show-- it's funnier than it sounds) and This American Life (a variety of stories on a theme). Awesome shows. Both are weekly. If you're rather savvy and maybe sciency too, you probably listen to Radio Lab (an exploration in which the "boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience"), except when they go on hiatus (they only make 5 shows at a time!?). Well, I do a lot of driving, so I need more than these three shows (and the obligate NPR Story of the Day sorts of shows) to keep my brain occupied. I've found a few that you might also enjoy:

The Moth Podcast
People tell true stories without notes (or props) to audiences in NYC on a regular basis. The Moth records these stories and podcasts them for your listening pleasure. Some of their stories have recently been used on This American Life. (Remember on the "Fear of Sleep" episode, there was the guy who was at La Quinta and in his sleep decided he would jump out the window like the Hulk? That was from The Moth.) My favorite is still the first one I heard, by Jeffery Rudell. It's not available by podcast anymore, but it's featured at PRX.

Live Wire!
Oregon granola produces a variety show of skits, musical acts, interviews, and comedy. It's fun. I've gotten some great lesser-known music from the show (Storm Large, for example), and other stuff too. The best way to really understand is to listen. I recommend the July 5 episode featuring Christopher Moore (available on iTunes).

B Side Radio
Youngish people produce a variety of stories on a theme... wait, this sounds like This American Life, doesn't it? Well, I guess it sort of is. But it's not as deep. For example, listen to this episode promo about underwear.

The Concert
The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum hosts a twice-monthly classical music concert, which they record and podcast. It's introduced by someone who sounds like they know what they're talking about, and it's about 30-45 minutes of classical music.

Ideas worth spreading. At annual conferences, rich, famous, and smart people gather to present their ideas. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and the talks center on those topics, though a lot of them are about programs in developing countries to help with one of the many issues there. The podcasts are available from iTunes as audio or video (with audio), and they're also archived at their website. Some of my favorites are Karen Armstrong on religion, Ze Frank on simple online creativity tools (his website is awesome too), and Thomas Barnett on the future of war.

Occasionally, I'll share particular episodes in my files (look to the left, under Feed). Whether or not they're podcasts, those links are always to web pages (blogs, news items, whatever) that I found interesting for one reason or another. You might, too.

By the way, if you like cephalopods, look at this shirt and this wall decoration. Awesome.

Do you have any favorite podcasts I haven't mentioned? I'm always looking for new ones, so let me know!


  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Nice podcasts...I also found a web site that has a lot of interesting museum related podcasts at: in fact, it had a link to this article.

  2. What a great resource! Through this website I found out that the Peabody museum (where I volunteer) has its own podcast! I never knew. I'll definitely take a listen to these. Thanks!

  3. been loving "the moth". laughing out load in the lab by myself while running flies. i think i've listened to all the ones i can download for free. Holly and I are going to go see a live show on tuesday night. i'll let you know how it is. maybe something worth "going to the city" for, maybe. alice

  4. Yes, do let me know! I'd like to go to a show here sometime.