My podcast diet
I listen to a lot of podcasts.
I don’t listen to music as much as I used to, and I almost never listen to traditional radio — but I spend a lot of time with earphones in.
So here’s a breakdown of the stuff I listen to regularly. (I may update this over time, or I may do new posts every few months as my habits shift.)
These don’t stack up on my iPhone, because I listen to them within a few days of them coming out.
Slate’s Culture Gabfest
This is my desert island podcast. Force me to name a favorite and this is the one. I love the interplay between Stephen, Julia, and Dana (and with Julia on maternity leave, June Thomas is an excellent alternate). They cover an engaging mix of high, low, and middlebrow cultural happenings, and contribute distinct perspectives.
Slate’s Political Gabfest
Same strengths as the Culture Gabfest, but I’m marginally less interested in politics than culture.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
More pop culture, different group of panelists, different topics. The regular crew has a fantastic dynamic, and cover a diverse selection of pop cultural interests. Guest panelists are hit-or-miss, but that’s a quibble.
I love advice columns, and I love Dan Savage, and it turns out that he’s as good at speaking his advice as he is at writing it. I’m about to upgrade to the Magnum twice-as-long-with-no-ads edition.
America’s Test Kitchen Radio
My most recent addition to the upper tier of shows. I’m a sucker for call-in advice, and each episode includes a good range of reviews, cooking tips, tastings, and interviews. And I’m generally on Christopher Kimball’s wavelength, as a food guru.
Ask Me Another
My favorite quiz show out there right now. (Suck it, Wait Wait.) Snappy questions, creative rounds, and a great host in Ophira Eisenberg.
It’s like Radiolab about language. Minimal peeving, maximum investigation. I can’t wait for this to come back from hiatus.
I enjoy these, but they may stack up for a few episodes.
Good Job, Brain!
A fun, conversational trivia podcast. I’d like to know if my regular team could take ‘em at quiz night, though.
This is a can’t-miss podcast except for the weeks where I just don’t care abou the topic.
A Way With Words
The other great language podcast I listen to. This really only stacks up because I save episodes to listen to with the kids; my 7-year-old is fascinated by many of the questions.
Thrilling Adventure Hour
I like this a lot yet feel like I don’t appreciate it enough — I can put off listening to episodes for weeks, then binge on several in a row. Radio plays that don’t drive me nuts. (Favorite segment: “Beyond Belief.”)
Welcome to Night Vale
Thoroughly odd, like a Brundlefly-esque hybrid of SNL’s “Delicious Dish” sketches and an H.P. Lovecraft story. Start at the beginning.
Slate’s Double X
Solid topics, but rarely achieves the magic of the two best gabfests. (And please, Hanna Rosin, STOP GASPING INTO THE MIKE.)
Slate’s Spoiler Specials
I like listening to Dana Stevens talk about movies, and I like spoilers. (Or at least I don’t mind them.)
Like I’m an Idiot
Josh A. Cagan is a great host and titular (make-believe) idiot, but the shows sink or swim based on the guest and, to some degree, the topic.
When I’m in the mood, it’s a great deep dive into philosophical issues. When I’m not, it’s impossible to listen to.
Still an engaging show, but I’m not as crazy about it since Mark Garrison left — though they’d used up most of the straight-up food discussions before then. I like Dan Pashman a lot, but he hasn’t quite found his new groove.
This American Life
I’ve been listening for what, 20 years almost? We’re in a comfortable relationship at this point.
These tend to stack up just because they’re dense and hard to listen to while doing anything else. A testament to their power, yet harder to find time for.
Post-Kickstarter I haven’t really re-engaged with this, but I still like the show.
I have about 15 episodes stacked up and I feel guilty, though I still listen to them now and again. I used to listen faithfully twice a week, and the show hasn’t really changed. These only suffer because I’ve found so many other shows to listen to.
I either listen to Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me within a day of downloading it, or I delete it. It loses flavor almost as quickly as a croissant.
Planet Money is a solid show that suffers because I’ve found so many other shows I’d rather listen to. I catch about 1 in 4 episodes; they’re always good, but never head of the pack.
Slate’s Audio Book Club
Entirely depends on whether or not I’ve read the book. Usually not.
And there are several internet-, design-, or content-related podcasts that I listen to, which I’m not getting into here because a) I feel guilty that I don’t listen to more and b) holy shit this is already a long post.
How I listen
iPhone 4S, Instacast 3.