Tuesday, December 26, 2017

6 Podcasts That Hooked Me on Podcasts

Podcasts are the undeniable breakout star of 2017.   Once upon a time, podcasts belonged to a specific subset of the Internet with a niche cult following like subreddits and the black Twittersphere.  Sure, there was the breakout hit Serial that permeated the earwaves for a few weeks in 2014, but it certainly wasn’t standard dinner party conversation to talk about what podcasts, plural, that you’re listening to.

But then, media companies eager to source revenue streams beyond print invested heavily and your high school classmate discovered it’s fun and inexpensive to inhabit the authority of a talk show host. All of a sudden, podcasts were everywhere.

My inner contrarian who religiously avoids cultural phenomena like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter was quick to deny the proliferation of podcasts as being overhyped.  But there’s only so many times that you can listen to Ctrl on your morning commute before needing some variety.

It took some trial and error, but call me a convert.

Unlike television, podcasts are an inherently accessible medium and require minimal effort on the part of the listener.  You can listen at work, on your commute, while making dinner, at the gym.  And because mainstream media capable of securing high-profile interviewees have validated podcasts, the content is top-notch.

I’m still what I’d consider a Podcast novice. But here are the six podcasts that got me hooked.

1. “Chimamande Ngozi Adichie,” The Atlantic Interview

I’ve already waxed on about the genius that is Chimamande Adichie after reading Americanah but hearing from her first-hand brings her experiences to life.  And she doesn’t disappoint.  Within the first ten minutes, she delivers this zinger, “Yes, white people are assholes to other white people, but there’s a particular kind of assholery that white people reserve for black people. And I think black people should be trusted to interpret their own experiences.”

2. “Behind the Highlight Reel Ft. Hannah Bronfman,” Naked Beauty Podcast

Brooke Devard is a fellow Stanford graduate, an enthusiastic fashionista and the host of The Naked Beauty Podcast.  She delivers weekly hour-long episodes with everyone that you follow on Instagram –or should (@chrissyford @lowcheekbones @omndi) about mainstream beauty standards, navigating your career as a woman, et. al.

3. Oh Boy
I discovered the Oh Boy podcast produced by Man Repeller seemingly after they’ve stopped producing interviews. The last episode is from 2016, but the archive is a treasure trove of female entrepreneurs and go-getters about their upbringing and what influenced their trajectory.  Some standouts interviewees include Tyler Haney, the Founder of Outdoor Voices; Aurora James, the Founder of Brother Vellies; and Karley Sciortino, Vogue Columnist and Founder of Slutever.  Sometimes, the host Jay Buim seems too wedded to the concept of a fixed narrative and is genuinely perplexed that the women’s lives aren’t linear, but nonetheless, this pod is worth the listen.

4. “A Good Walk Spoiled,” Revisionist History 
Confession: I’ve never read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but after listening to Revisionist History, I’m convinced that I should.  In “A Good Walk Spoiled,” Gladwell probes the wealthy’s obsession with golf and in the process delivers a thorough philosophical investigation about ownership and the value of public land.

5. The Daily!

The Daily, produced by The New York Times, humanizes the news in a commuter-friendly length, clocking in at about 20 minutes per episode.  I download each day’s episode before I leave my apartment and finish each a more informed citizen right as I arrive at the office.  Each episode is devoted to a current event and the host Michael Barbaro interviews the stakeholders to each key issue, providing the rare holistic lens to the news.

6. We Met at Acme
When the New York dating scene overwhelms you, We Met at Acme serves to remind you that we’re all going through it.  Named after the popular Noho nightclub, this podcast is tailored for a niche audience of twenty-something, lower Manhattanites, but if that’s your demo, it’s certainly worth a listen.

Please let me know what podcasts I missed. I'm confident they're out there.


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