Just Listen

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March 6, 2013 by drandmrso

At the risk of getting all sorts of boos and hisses: I’m just not that into music. There are certain styles that I enjoy, and I absolutely love to dance, but if I’m on a long drive or doing housework or making dinner, I much prefer to listen to podcasts rather than music. It’s more enlightening: they often inspire conversations or little writing projects. For those unfamiliar with the podcasting phenomenon, imagine a radio show that you listen to whenever you want on your phone/computer/tablet. Yes, yes, some of them have visual components, but all of the ones I listen to are purely audio. I highly recommend you give these a listen (listed in alphabetical order):

60-Second Science

1. 60-Second Science. Simple. Quick. A little nugget of often eye-opening scientific goodness from Scientific American. A new episode very week day.

2. Domestic CEO. This one is pretty new to me, but I already love it. Host Amanda Thomas gives quick but thoroughly explained tips on how to run a happy household (think “how to clean stainless steel” and “how to freeze 60 pounds of vegetables”). New episodes weekly.

3. Freakonomics. From the authors of the book by the same name comes a weekly exploration of interesting topics through an economics lens. Examples: Why don’t host cities make money on the Olympics? Should online gambling be legal?

4. Grammar Girl. I want this woman’s job. She discusses how the English language is supposed to work in glorious, grammatically impeccable detail. Nerd alert! New episodes weekly.

5. Money Girl. Listening to this podcast has made me much more confident with my money. She tackles topics like how to roll over a 401k, which debts to pay off first, what goes into your credit score, etc. New episodes weekly.

6. The Moth. Real people tell real stories to real audiences. I have laughed, cried, marveled, doubted, and/or applauded during every weekly episode.

7. Planet Money. The folks from the eponymous NPR blog put out this weekly podcast that (much like Freakonomics) uncovers intriguing economic aspects of current events or other popular topics. In one of my favorite episodes, they do the math on why Lebron James is actually underpaid. In another, how the mega-beer companies in America avoid anti-trust allegations.

8. Radiolab. Of all the podcasts on the list, you MUST listen to at least one episode of Radiolab (and please let that episode be “Colors” or “The Dark Side of the Moon”). They do amazing sound editing and the content never fails to blow my mind. A new episode roughly every two weeks.

9. This American Life. This American Life is a weekly collage of stories and reports surrounding a particular subject, like “Getting Away With it” or “Original Recipe.” The stories are diverse and well-told. One of the most popular podcasts out there for good reason.

10. Stuff You Should Know. Last but not least, the podcast that I have certainly listened to most often. In the twice-weekly episodes, Josh and Chuck have a conversation about subjects as varied as “How Sweat Works” to “How Dejavu Works” to “How Mexican Wrestling Works.” The hosts are funny and seem like totally cool guys, which makes listening that much more enjoyable.

You can download the podcasts above–probably for free–from iTunes or a podcast app. I use one called Stitcher that compiles the newest episodes of my favorite podcasts into one handy playlist and even suggests new podcasts based on my preferences (no, I’m not being reimbursed in any way for this endorsement). What podcasts do you listen to? Am I crazy for preferring them to music?

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Dr. O is an otorhinolaryngology resident. Mrs. O was an English major and is easily grossed out by blood and guts. This is the blog where Mrs. O documents their adventures in (not bloody) detail. Enjoy!

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