Podcasts I Have Loved…

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting
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Sarah asked me to post about some of my favorite podcasts and I love to oblige requests!  🙂

I don’t know when I started listening to podcasts – probably sometime after the purchase of my first iPod in 2005.  As I blogged about before, I am an avid audiobook listener and so listening to the radio is not how I like to pass my time in the car.  I am not opposed to music – maybe sometime I’ll blog about my music listening habits – but I am purposeful about what I listen to and the radio can be too random and unsatisfying.

Probably the very first podcast I ever listened to was The Satellite Sisters.  I used to try to listen to their radio show whenever I was in range (which wasn’t often at all – a few times a year?) and I loved their book and blog, so when they started putting their radio show on podcasts, I signed up immediately.  It was a three hour radio show, condensed down to an hour forty or so and it was bliss!  It was a little overwhelming, as it was a daily show (6 days a week) and my commute was only an hour a day, but I did the best I could.  Then the sad news that their show was going to be off the air came and I was very sad!  But they continued to create a podcast, not as many hours long and not daily, and that appeased me for a while.  In the years past, they stopped making a regular podcast and got regular jobs but now they just started again – making one weekly podcast with different sisters appearing when they can.  So when there is a new Satellite Sisters podcast, that gets high priority in my listening queue.  They just archived over 200 shows onto their website and iTunes, so if you want to hear what I’m talking about, there’s lots of material to choose from!

Lian (the youngest) branched off on her own and has created The Chaos Chroniclesblog and podcast and that is a close second for my listening pleasure.  She wrote a book, “Helen of Pasadena,” and I drove to Edina to meet her and get signed copies of the book. They are a remarkable family and my friends know that I think of them as friends.  I will often bring them into the conversation (e.g., “Well, you know Liz?  She’s my Satellite Sister in CA, and she just got back from Iraq!” or “You should hear Julie’s sobering tales from North Korea!” or “Julie told the funniest story about a man who wanted her dog’s tennis ball!” or “Sheila just reviewed that movie and it was hilarious!”).  Good stuff.

Me with Lian Dolan, author of "Helen of Pasadena"

So the Satellite Sisters probably got me started on podcast listening but I have branched out!  Others that I listen to weekly are:

  • Filmspotting:  A weekly movie review podcast featuring Adam Kempenaar and Matty Ballgame.  They discuss one or two current movies, play Massacre Theatre (wherein they massacre a scene from a movie and you enter online to guess the film), discuss listener’s picks, and close with a Top 5.  They are funny and can be pretentious but it’s a good listen.  Matty is from Minnesota and Adam is from Iowa and they record in Chicago.  Good stuff.
  • The Moth Podcast: True stories told live.  There is almost nothing better than a great story told aloud, especially in front of a live audience.  Another thing I love about The Moth Podcast is that the stories are usually just over 15 minutes long, so you can listen to one in those weird times when you don’t have much time.  Or you can crank out a bunch of them in an hour.  They are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes raunchy, but always good.
  • Spilled Milk: Sarah and I read “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg and then I discovered her blog and followed her podcast with Matthew Amster-Burton, another food writer.  They are HILARIOUS!  Their show is also usually about 15-20 minutes at most and they talk about one thing.  Their last show was about RICE.  And before that it was about MEAT STICKS.  They include recipes and are very fun to listen to.
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour: I’m new to this one but find it absolutely fun!  It’s about an hour a week, published on Friday, and about pop culture!  It’s four or five people sitting around talking about TV, movies, comics, Broadway, music… whatever pop culture is relevant for the week!  They end the show with “what’s making them happy this week,” which is a great way to end a show.  I now follow them all on Twitter (not stalkerish at all!) and they are all very fun on there, too!
  • NPR: Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!: A radio show that I usually miss on the weekends so I’m thankful for their podcast!  Funny, clever, show.
  • This American Life: A topical radio program, also often missed on the radio!  Thankful for the podcast and love the themes of the show!  I love themes!
  • Radiolab: I’m fairly new to this one and truthfully don’t listen regularly, but it’s a bit like This American Life, in that it’s topical stories, but with a focus on sounds.  They are clever and creative and good to listen to.
  • APM: Marketplace Tech Report: This is a short little podcast – 5-6 minutes daily – and I listen now and then, but truthfully started downloading it because of the host – John Moe.  A very sad podcast day for me was the day that Weekend America with host John Moe went off the air.  How I miss that show!  I follow him on twitter (@johnmoe) and he’s hilarious.  He now lives in St. Paul and I really miss that show.  It’s fun just to hear his voice in the Marketplace Tech Report and feel nostalgic for Weekend America.  🙂

That’s it for my regular listening and my favorites.  For a while this winter I listened to Lori & Julia from Talk 107 in the Cities, and it’s very fluffy.  I listen to the smart Pop Culture Happy Hour instead and so have dropped that from my list.  I know there are so many out there… smart, funny, fluffy, pretentious and boring!  But this is my list and I’m open to new ones if you have something fun to add!

Whew!  Off to read!

Audiobook Week 2011!

It’s Audiobook Week, hosted by Devourer of Books (http://www.devourerofbooks.com/) and I couldn’t let the week go by without writing about my love of audiobooks!  (Although I’m SUPER-DUPER frustrated right now because for some reason WordPress is saving my document as BLANK!  Third time is the charm???  I’m learning and actually typing this into a word document so that I can save it and see if I can eventually publish it!  Yikes and Ugh!  Has this ever happened to anyone???)

As I say over and over again, I am currently listening to the Harry Potter series on audio and enjoying every minute of it (when I’m done I’ll have to figure out exactly how many minutes I spent listening!).  I cheated and didn’t listen to book 1, as I forgot what was book 1 and what was book 2 and so I started with book 2.  I’m currently on book 6 and really looking forward to book 7!  It has been some years, but I read all of the books before and some of them I remember more than others.  Listening has just brought them to a whole new level.  Jim Dale is an incredible narrator, providing voices for all the characters that are recognizable and not at all distracting.  What an incredible series.

I have been a commuter for 18 years, driving at least 30 miles one-way each day.  I have never minded commuting because I choose good stuff to listen to in my car.  I am totally unaware of top-40 music, but I am well-read!  I frequented the small-town library where I lived, and they had an extensive number of audiobooks so I read every book that I wanted to, and even some that I didn’t know I wanted to read.  I have listened to memoirs, thrillers, non-fiction, children and YA literature, and fiction.  When I bought my car in 2005 it only had a CD player, so I had a cassette player installed so that I could continue my habit!  Fortunately, books are now on CDs (and they were in 2005, too… just not as many!) and with the purchase of my iPod I also checked out digital audiobooks from the library system.  I live in a bigger city now and the library audiobook section is overwhelmingly large, so I often reserve a book I want to listen to rather than browse the many shelves.

Some of my favorite audiobooks include:

  • Diane Mott Davidson’s catering mysteries are always light and fun
  • Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who… books are also always light and fun
  • Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series were unexpectedly interesting to me
  • Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries were also fun and interesting – Kinsey Milhone
  • Audrey Niffenegger’s books were good listens, although The Time Traveler’s Wife was difficult to follow with the dates and ages changing at the beginning of each chapter
  • Life of Pi was a beautiful listen
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was fun to listen to because I felt like I was in the boy’s head
  • Same with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (although I missed the visuals that are in the print version, so I re-read that one)
  • Anything written and read by Bill Bryson is a good time – he’s witty with a dry humor
  • Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto was a beautiful book, beautifully read

The thing I love best about audiobooks is that it fulfills my wish to be immersed in a story at all times.  I can listen while cooking dinner, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn and vacuuming, exercising, and driving.  Someone complained to me recently that they dreaded the tedious drive down Broadway, but getting into the car is something I rarely dread.  Thankfully my commute never entails rush hour traffic, but I think with a good audiobook I could even abide stop-and-go traffic.

I remember things differently when I listen to them rather than read the print version.  When I listen to a book I remember fewer details – like names and dates – but I remember more about the visuals drawn by the author’s words and the feelings that are evoked by the story.  So listening to a book I’ve read or reading a book that I’ve listened to is never a bad thing.  Each provides a different experience.

What are your favorite audiobooks?  What’s the longest audiobook you’ve ever listened to?  Do you find you remember things differently by listening?

Well, off to read!