Since last September, I’ve been doggy-paddling through the bottomless pool of podcasts on my daily commute (which can sometimes take over 2 hrs each way). I’ve subscribed and un-subscribed to quite a few over the last few months – some are just too heavy, or not very interesting, or simply just hard to listen to if the host has annoying voice or mannerisms!
Anyway, sometimes people ask what I like to listen to, so I thought I’d share a short list and a few blurbs about my favourites you might enjoy on your summer travels or whenever you’re looking to fill the silence of 20 – 60 minutes.
My Favourite Podcasts of the last 10 months (in no particular order):
1. The Drop Out
Fascinating to the very end, this deep investigative look into the failed multi-million dollar start-up, Theranos, and its allegedly fraudulent founder, Elizabeth Holmes, put me right back into Silicon Valley and the highly competitive “I’m going to save the world with product X” mentality. I had a couple of interactions with the enigmatic Ms. Holmes when I worked at Stanford and lived in the area, yet the web of deceit that went on for years at Theranos still baffled me completely. Highly recommended and completely binge-able at 34 – 45 minutes each.
2. The Irish Times Women’s Podcast
This podcast can be quite hard-hitting in terms of women’s issues in Ireland and around the globe, but I appreciate its honesty, candour and variety of topics and guests. Usually hosted by either Kathy Sheridan or the melodic voice of Roisin Ingle, I always come away from each episode having learned something. Try Episode 301, ‘Top 100 Irish American’, Mary Pat Kelly or any of the Book Club episodes (304, 268, 245…) for an easy start then work your way up to the tougher ones like Episode 243 HEROIN: Grace Dyas and Rachel Keogh or Episode 275 Ireland’s Midwives: “Stretched to beyond the point of breaking”. Episodes can be anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes in length.
3. Spilled Milk
And now for something completely different – I bring you a very funny “cooking” podcast that is more banter, “memory lane,” a bit of research, and listening to hosts Molly Wizenberg (author of “A Homemade Life”) and Matthew Amster-Burton (not Hamster-Burton, author of “Our Secret Better Lives”) eat something, while “you can’t have any.” While I sometimes fade in and out when they’re off on a tangent, I more often find myself laughing out loud at their puns, slightly inappropriate humour, and totally relatable food impressions. They talk everything from cocktails to candy to nostalgia baking to international fare and I can’t wait to hear what they eat next. Try Episode 359: Stuffing (which came out before Thanksgiving), Episode 374: Hot Toddy or Episode 379: MSG for starters. Episodes are between 30 – 40 minutes.
4. The Daily
The Daily, from the New York Times, is my go-to podcast. I don’t list to every episode (it is daily, after all), and there are, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of posts about President Trump and all the drama of his administration, which my heart can’t take on a regular basis, BUT – pretty much every time I listen to an episode I just marvel at each feat of journalism they bring to the table. It’s just so. well. done. Highly recommend any of the following episodes for starters. Episodes are a very manageable 25 – 35 minutes.
This podcast comes out a few times a month and while not all are to my taste, the ones I’ve listened to are really fascinating and typically take me on a journey to find something I never knew existed. Take the Fu-Go episode from April 26, 2019 or A Clockwork Miracle from Dec. 28, 2018 – incredible stories told in a unique and fresh style. Typically episodes run about an hour.
6. Deeply Spiritual But Rather Uncertain
I was on the lookout for a Christian podcast for a while but nothing was really hitting the mark, to be honest. Then a friend of mine from college put up an Instagram post about this podcast from his dad, Skip Collins, who is an American pastor in Durban, South Africa. I gave it a go, and it’s been just what I needed. I really appreciate its no-nonsense, non-preachy tone, while still being a solid study on what Christianity means and how questioning our faith is actually pretty fundamental. I only just started listening to this podcast a week or so ago (and it’s only been going for under a year), but I find it an encouraging, thought-provoking listen. Very digestible in 25 – 35 minute episodes.
7. The Bowery Boys
If you’ve ever wanted to know every detail of NYC history, this is the podcast for you. From re-living stories like the ones my Grandma and Dad would tell me about automats (Sept 7, 2018) and Ebbett’s Field (May 18, 2018) to learning entirely new sagas like The History of the Bagel (May 17, 2019), The Story of the Collyer Brothers (Jan 10, 2019), and Murder on Bond Street (Nov 16, 2018), there is just an endless supply of great material from which to choose. Even looking back at the episodes I haven’t heard has me mentally earmarking many. The hosts actually do walking tours around the City as well, so if you’re in the Big Apple, check them out! Episodes are on the long side, usually about an hour or a little over.
8. Sports! Sports. Sports?
This weekly show is my vice when I’m missing a bit of ‘Murica. Produced by some friends of mine from Anderson University, Ind., each episode is a run down of all manner of sports – from college football to horse racing to hockey to baseball…. in a conversational style between three guys. One is a sports fanatic, another more of a “normal” spectator, and the third doesn’t care about sports at all (offering pop culture references and comic relief). At an hour long, I’ll admit I don’t fully listen to every word of every episode, but it puts me in the mood of tossing back a bottle of Upland Wheat and some seven-layer dip in front of the Super Bowl. Only while on a bus in Ireland. In June.
9. The Teacher’s Pet
This is one I debated listing but I keep going back to. It’s an investigative series from The Australian about a unsolved mystery of a woman who disappeared in 1982, leaving her husband (a well-known rugby star and high school teacher) and their two young daughters. There is plenty of suspicion of foul play as the husband was having an illicit affair with his 16 year-old student/babysitter, yet the police reportedly never investigated properly. It’s a pretty riveting story, but occasionally the episodes drag a bit and there are at least 16 of them (of which I’ve only made it through half). Still, I’ve got to find out what happened at the end, and they are well done – just extremely thorough reporting (which I’m sometimes not up for at 6:50 am). Spoiler warning – this show is from 2018, so if you Google it, you may discover the outcome before you’ve heard the end (which I’m trying to avoid myself). Episodes are in the one hour range.
Now, the real question is, what would you think if I did a podcast one day??? 😉