Podcasts Worth Checking Out

Written by Bev. Posted in miscellaneous, Musings, Reviews

Podcasts are a godsend for commuters. Or, for those of us who like to fall asleep while listening to something. There’s tons of entertaining and engaging podcasts to be found on iTunes or Podcast Alley. Everything from language learning podcasts to comedy podcasts to religious sermon podcasts and everything in-between, there is a plethora of podcasts to discover. Below are some of the ones I listen to on a regular basis and recommend checking out. I’m also always on the search for interesting, new podcasts to subscribe to so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

[ I’ve left out all vodcasts (video based podcasts) because I tend to not subscribe to those; however, Best Week Ever’s vodcast is pretty good if you’re into celebrity gossip and Strong Bad Emails and More! is great for H*R fans ]

  • *A Top Pick* This American Life: Probably one of the most notable radio programs on Chicago Public Radio, TAL is hosted by Ira Glass and features short stories, essays and general non-fiction readings from various authors. Or, as described by The O.C.’s Summer Roberts, it’s the “hipster know-it-all show about how fascinating ordinary people are”. Each episode features a theme and each act within the episode revolves around that theme. For example, in episode #182 entitled Cringe, different types of cringe-worthy stories are told, including one from host Ira Glass. I was first introduced to the program through my hunt for more David Sedaris audio content. As you may already know, he is a popular author of humourous autobiographical books such as Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) and makes regular appearances on public radio. So, if you are a fan of David Sedaris and enjoy his kind of writing, you will enjoy This American Life. You can also check out its TV show on Showtime or stream some episodes online.

  • *A Top Pick* TVGuideTalk: TVGuideTalk is a podcast by TVGuide.com that features TV and movie commentary and reviews. The TVGuideTalk crew includes “TV Scoop guru” Michael Ausiello, “savvy movie critic” Maitland McDonagh and the new addition of Matt Mitovich. Until recently, Dan Manu was “the moderator” in the TVGuide podcast crew but he left to do bigger and better things and his pressence is sorely missed on the podcast. Not as entertaining now as it lacks some “zing” without Dan but it still has a lot to offer in terms of television discussion and the occasional news scoop.

  • *A Top Pick* NPR: Talk of the Nation: National Public Radio (NPR) has a large mix of podcasts that cater to different interests. Talk of the Nation happens to be one of their podcasts. Hosted by Neal Conan, it covers a spectrum of current event topics, including general interest news and politics. As a podcast that comes out every weekday, it also features “Science Friday” every Friday with host Ira Flatow. It employs various methods of audience participation during the course of the [live] show, including blog commenting, phone in segments, and instant email feedback, making it a truly interactive experience. If Talk of the Nation isn’t your cup of tea, you can still visit NPR’s HUGE podcast directory to see if something is more to your liking. I’m sure you’ll find something you will enjoy.

  • On The Media is a weekly program hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone. Academics in media/communication studies will remember Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “The Medium is the Message”. With this in mind, On The Media examines the way news stories are covered or packaged and how it attempts to skew the message for media consumers. Taken from its Wikipedia page, “Stories regularly cover such subjects as the use of video news releases, net neutrality, digital broadcast flags, media consolidation, censorship, freedom of the press, the influence of 24 hour cable news coverage, media oppression, and how the media is changing with technology.” If you are at all interested in the media industry or want to know how a story is spun for you, you’ll want to listen to this podcast.

  • Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing: Need some help in understanding grammatical rules (which, I’d say, is almost 99% of the general population), want to expand upon your knowledge or are you just a grammar snob, striving for perfection in writing? Whichever category you may fit into, Grammar Girl’s podcast is worth listening to. Each podcast is around the five minute mark (give or take), giving you a “fun and friendly dose of writing advice”. Grammar Girl covers everything from punctuation and grammar to style and voice. She also goes over common mistakes in rhetoric, such as addressing the debate of whether addicting or addictive is correct. I’ll admit it, even though I like to think of myself as a kind of “grammar connoisseur”, I’ve learned a thing or two thanks to Grammar Girl and I’m sure you too will find it a worthwhile resource.

  • The Best of As It Happens on CBC Radio is similar to NPR’s Talk of the Nation in that it too is a current affairs program that delves into topics to gain a greater understanding, but it differs in the way that it’s from a Canadian perspective. That doesn’t mean that all the stories it covers are based in Canada, though a majority are in the front half, it takes a look at big stories happening all over the world.

  • On a related note, I wish Wiretap on CBC Radio would release the content in podcast format. Jonathan Goldstein’s telephone conversations and monologues are really insightful and entertaining to listen to, though you may already know that from his frequent appearances on This American Life. Unfortunately, the audio available on the site is in Real Player format so you’d have to download that to play it.

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I enjoy pop culture and traveling so mainly I blog about that.

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