Audiobooks (instead of music) have been my listening choice since before I owned my first iDevice. Libraries have a great selection of titles on CD, and I am a notoriously slow reader. It just made sense to me to use my travelling time to be absorbing books instead of repetitively listening to the same songs on the radio, or worse my own discs in the car. In fact, where I have said on this blog that I “read” The Salmon of Doubt, by Douglas Adams, I was actually listening to the audio book.
The purchase of my first iPhone meant that I could carry my books with me anywhere, and continue to enjoy them whilst doing anything. If you spend a reasonable amount of time with earphones/buds on/in then I recommend you give the spoken word a go. Think it might be odd to have someone read you the latest Stephen King? Well then perhaps you should go with well produced public radio.
Not too long ago I was having a coffee with Aaron Blissett (must be time for another catch up, sir) and he put me on to Podcasts. We share a love of well told stories, and he recommended This American Life, a weekly one hour Podcast which generally tells a few stories around a common theme. This would be a way of getting new listening content, totally free, every week. I tried it, and was hooked immediately. I searched for other content, and below is my top 10 Podcasts, in no particular order, that I listen to every week.
This American Life – iTunes Link
Official free, weekly podcast of the award-winning radio show of the same name. First-person stories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny and surprising hosted by Ira Glass. Producers/Presenters from This American Life have gone off to do their own shows, including the next two on the list.
Serial – iTunes Link
A podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial unfolds one true story over the course of a whole season. It is the difference between watching Ken Burns 60 minute documentary on the Statue of Liberty and watching his 9 part series on Baseball. The first season is over so you can binge listen to the 12 episodes of this story, which examine the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed arrested for her murder. Adnan is still in jail at the start of episode one, and still professing his innocence.
Start Up – iTunes Link
A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one. Alex Blumberg, formerly of This American Life, goes off to start his own Podcast business. This podcast follows him as he starts his business, raises capital, locates premises, finds business partners, and shows the personal and professional successes and failures along the way. Absolutely fascination. Start from episode one.
RadioLab – iTunes Link
Science meets culture and information sounds like music. Each episode is an investigation, a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centred around One Big Idea. There is an enormous back catalogue here, so if you like the show there will be plenty to keep you entertained.
99% Invisible – iTunes Link
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. Roman Mars hosts this weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. A member of Radiotopia where you can find plenty of other podcasts to check out.
Freakonomics Radio – iTunes Link
Exploring “the hidden side of everything” while teaching us to think a bit more creatively, rationally and productively. Prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged, but definitely surprised.
Stuff You Should Know – iTunes Link
Explore everything from sky writing, stem cells, socialism, sugar, skateboarding, sign language and the space race. With a couple of episodes released every week, you will be able to find out about everything you wanted to know and heaps that hasn’t even crossed your mind.
The Bugle – iTunes Link
John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman, the transatlantic region’s leading bi-continental satirical double-act, leave no hot potato unbuttered in their worldwide-hit weekly topical comedy show. Want to be thoroughly entertained whilst feeling that you’re getting a good dose of news of the world? This is for you.
The Atheist Experience – iTunes Link
The Atheist Experience is a weekly call in public access television show in Austin Texas geared at a non-atheist audience. Theists are encouraged to call in and discuss their beliefs with the atheist hosts. This discussion between two people with fundamentally opposing views is a great way to hear both sides of an argument.
Unbelievable – iTunes Link
Sort of the opposite of ‘The Atheist Experience’, this is a Christian podcast that explores a different topic each week, and invites a non-Christian to debate a believer. Hosted by Justin Brierley, himself a Christian, this is another great way to examine the important aspects of religion and the belief in God.
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