Podcasts I Like

I’m such a podcast fan, though a relatively late-comer to the party. I “discovered” podcasts while working at a hotel in the Outback sticks of Australia–I needed some kind of entertainment while making beds and cleaning guest rooms. Now they are indispensable for my workouts: music just isn’t quite engaging enough to make up for the fact that exercising sucks. I also find them helpful for big mountains of dishes or long cooking projects.

Most of the podcasts I listen to I believe are the same ones everyone else is listening to (This American Life, Radiolab, Stuff You Should Know, 99% Invisible, The Moth, TED Radio Hour, Revisionist History, Savage Lovecast), but I felt like sharing a few maybe less common ones I’ve really been enjoying.

What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law. Roman Mars (of 99% Invisible) discusses one aspect of constitutional law, as it relates to the evil cheeto, with a constitutional law professor (Elizabeth Joh) per episode. They discuss, among other things, whether trump actually has the power to do something he tweets that he’s going to do, how trump stands in relation to the emoluments clause, the definition of treason, most of the amendments in turn, and what it takes to impeach a president.

Conversations. This is a prolific Australian podcast where the presenter has an in-depth and wildly interesting discussion with a different expert on diverse topics practically every day. I’ve learned some of the most fascinating and random things from this podcast: stuff about jellyfish, outer space, what drugs Hitler was hooked on, Australian milk bars, how color pigments are made . . . Plus there are interviews with people like Elizabeth Gilbert and Eric Idle, and, extra bonus, this show has no ads.

Civics 101. Because I spent most of my school career resolutely trying not to learn stuff about racist, Indian-killing dead white men, and recently discovered that I actually do want to know how the government works. This podcast (absolute basics but definitely for adults) has fixed much of that educational gap for me.

My Dad Wrote a Porno. Apparently actually a wildly popular podcast, so maybe should be listed above not here, but basically the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to (if it were in a different format I still think it would be the funniest thing I’d ever watched or read). I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud at something so much and I therefore don’t recommend this one for public places. It’s not just the fantastically witty repartee between Jamie and the two friends he is reading his dad’s erotic literature aloud to, though that alone would be funny enough, and it’s not just the hilariously so-bad-it’s-good nature of the porno itself. It’s the fact that Rocky Flintstone (author of the “novel”) is such a literary novice that through his entire lack of self-filtering he comes up with things so off-the-wall they are almost surreal. You might think, on starting this series, how can this stay funny for four seasons? It does. Trust me. It only gets better as Rocky gets cooking. Plus there are footnote episodes with special guest fans like Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen, Daisy Ridley, Ben Barnes, and Emma Thompson, to name a few.

Reveal. In-depth independent reporting with real-world consequences. A recent episode I listened to traced suppression of climate change studies within the National Park Service of the current administration–Reveal’s investigation created enough scrutiny and pressure to ultimately get the study they were reporting on published. Episodes about things from the Pentagon Papers to Pussy Riot.

People Fixing the World, by the BBC. Slightly lighter reporting than one might like, but nevertheless a welcome change from doom and gloom. Each episode takes a problem and instead of dwelling on it interviews people who are doing things about it. One of my favorite recent episodes was about projects aimed at restoring coral reefs.

What else is out there?

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