Podcasts I listened (2017)
Zack Scholl — December 15, 2017
I’ve spent days sitting in a dark room looking into a microscope. Lots of the time I listen to music, but I’ve started to listen to podcasts. I’ve found a lot of great podcasts out there. I think my number one category of podcast is “the podcast about the small things.” Its always a welcome relief from the mainstream media which focuses more on the hyperbole of small things. I do like some news, but I’ve found some great podcasts that pitch the news in a more informal and friendly way. These are my favorite podcasts discovered this year, I hope I continue to discover new ones.
The basic premise of the podcast about the small things is always to find some small thing that no one thinks about and talk about it for 20-30 minutes and often interview the main players involved in the production of the Small Things. I think the major bastion of this type of podcast is 99% invisible, which is devoted to illuminating “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about.”
There seems to be a cottage industry for these types of podcasts, and I love them all. There is Every Little Thing which is “a show about the small stuff.” There is Revisionist History which is Malcom Gladwell’s show about “Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” but mostly its just small things that Mr. Gladwell finds fascinating. There is Undiscovered which is a podcast “about the all the stuff that gets left out of journal articles,” and while nominally science-based it often seeks out big stories from small things. There is Twenty Thousand Hertz which is more sound-based but still aims to fill the divide because “you may not think about the sounds you hear every day.” There is Invisibilia which “is about the invisiable forces that control human behavior” and then there is Surprisingly Awesome which attempts to find fascination in the world even though “lots of things in the world seem ordinary.” For a more food-related one there is The Fridge Light which looks at “the hidden stories of the things we eat.” Another food one is Why We Eat What We Eat which “investigates the unseen forces that shape our eatings habits.“ Though its not around anymore, I loved listening to Mystery Show that simply “solves a minor mystery which cannot be solved with search engines.”
My other favorite podcasts are the news ones that are toned as if you were having a beer with the podcasters. They still relay information, but in a way that is so informal you barely realize that they are relaying some information that they spent their week learning. For politics, there is NPR politics and often (nowadays) This American Life, for art there is A Piece of Work, for science there is Science Vs., and for music there is All Songs Considered and for culture there is Pop Culture Happy Hour. I love these podcasts, but I have to pace myself with them because the constant loose informality of the tone can become disingenuous and grating after awhile.
I have some favorite podcasts that are just funny or amusing to me, and not entirely educational. These would include Why oh why which accounts for dating in the real world (though sometimes fictionally). Another great one is Beautiful Anonymous which is sometimes about dating, but it is mostly about the real world. Then there is just the improve humor of My Brother My Brother and Me which I enjoy just to hear people crack themselves up.