I have two bad habits: succeeding at jobs that no one else wants and obsessively exercising. These lifestyle choices have not gone unnoticed and people often ask me, “Kristen, how do you do it? How do you measure marsh grass for 8 hours and not get bored?” or “Hey, crazy girl, what can possibly keep you jogging for over an hour?” The answer to being a great field scientist or fit in your thirties is simple: Podcasts. Sure, the person you see crying softly on the treadmill is listening to This American Life. And yes, once that catalogue is exhausted, he or she often moves onto The Moth. But what if you have many more hours to fill because those snails aren’t going to count themselves? If you are like me and you have burned through Fresh Air, Studio 360, Selected Shorts, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, check out these ten podcasts. I promise that you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you won’t want to them to end.
1. NPR’s Culturetopia “Happy Hour” episodes
Do you like Slate’s Culture Gabfest but get sick of having to look up vocabulary words or having your favorite pop culture items poo pooed? Try NPR’s Culturetopia! Usually this podcast is a mix of culture stories from NPR, but once a week the Happy Hour group gets together to talk about some fun things without making you feel like you should hate yourself (I’m talking to you, Slate). Or if you want something nerdier (and I usually do), the podcast Extra Hot Great can be a lot of fun, though it is hit or miss depending on your interest in their pop culture topics.
2. WNYC’s Radiolab
Yes, you probably already listen to this, but if you don’t, you must start right this instant. Specifically, the episodes Lucy, Numbers, and Placebo. They will make you cry, blow your mind, and convince you that your brain can do anything, respectively… well, and collectively, too.
3. Creative Screenwriting Magazine
This podcast features in-depth interviews with current movie’s screenwriters. If you already listen to Meet the Filmmaker and Filmspotting (and if you don’t, check them out), but want to know more about the creative process from the writers, this podcast will chew up over an hour of your time.
4. Doug Loves Movies
Comedian Doug Benson hosts a panel of other comedians and then forgets to interview them because he is so high. They (attempt) to talk about movies and play games, most of which Benson has made up. He gets great guests, like the cast of Parks & Rec, Director Edgar Wright, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, and Sarah Silverman. I regularly laugh out loud, and then get sad because I wish that I could be their friend.
5. New York City History: The Bowery Boys
You don’t have to live in NYC to want to learn about Subway Graffiti from 1970-1989 or Mark Twain in the city.
6. KCRW’s Unfictional
This podcast features short radio documentaries, interviews, and storytelling. It is part This American Life, part The Month. It isn’t always perfect, but it can be very satisfying.
7. PRI’s The Sound of Young America
While I’d like to count myself as part of America’s youth, this title is misleading. The host (who is almost thirty and questionably no longer part of his own group), interviews writers, comedians, and musicians. It is like the episodes of Fresh Air that you listen to, but you don’t have to shamefully delete the ones about jazz singers or politics. If you like it, but wish it had more dirty words and laughs, check out Jordan, Jesse Go!
8. Sound Opinions
NPR’s All Songs Considered will introduce you to the best depressing indie music, which has value, but Chicago based Sound Opinions will discuss all music genres. I like hearing smart, funny music critics argue about Katy Perry or interview Superchunk or talk the history of the business of Hip Hop. They also make lists! This podcast is one of the major ways I discover new music, indie or otherwise.
9. APM’s The Dinner Party Download
I’m not exactly sure what the premise of this podcast is (to give you something to talk about at dinner parties?), but I love learning a history tidbit followed by a cocktail inspired by it.
10. How Did This Get Made?
If you love terrible movies and the TV show “The League,” this podcast is for you. I realize this is a very limited demographic, but if it fits, you can hear Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas spend a half hour talking about some of the worst movies ever made. I haven’t seen even one movie they have discussed, but some how they make “Battlefield Earth” and “Drive Angry” sound appealing as they hilariously tear it apart.