If I know of something current or trending or super smart, it’s usually because of Twitter. The people I follow there seem to always know what to listen to, what to watch and what to read. Towards the end of last year, Twitter suggested I listen to the podcast, Serial. Everyone seemed to be fascinated with the unique format and compelling true-life story that gradually unfolds during each weekly episode. At the time, I didn’t even know how podcasts worked. I’m a late adopter of virtually every technology (we JUST started streaming things on our television about a month ago) so it took awhile for me to figure out how to access the content but after one episode of Serial, I was hooked.
For me, Serial was the gateway drug to all of NPR’s podcast content. I quickly added several of their shows to my phone app including, This American Life, Invisibilia and Planet Money. It’s just such interesting, intelligent reporting and storytelling. It’s like PBS for your ears.
My favorite of the bunch is probably StoryCorps. The mission of StoryCorps is to capture the stories and history of individuals from around the country and record them as a historical record. It’s founded on the notion that everyone has a unique story to tell. The podcasts are a quick listen but always, always captivating since each episode shares one or more of the stories that have been recorded and preserved through StoryCorps. Oh, you guys, people are so, so interesting. Since I am generally pretty nosey and love to hear all about other people’s lives, I find this podcast FASCINATING.
Sometimes a StoryCorps episode is funny, sometimes it’s quite serious, other times it is incredibly moving. Listening to people tell their own story, with their own words, using their own voice can be especially poignant. Take a few minutes and listen to a recent episode titled, Listen Closely, at the link below.
My absolute favorite thing about this episode of StoryCorps is that in each person’s story, there is someone – a kind teacher, an eager father, a complete stranger – that intersects their life when they need it the most, providing support and encouragement. Isn’t that amazing? Did you pick up on that theme in each of the three stories? Can you imagine if we all tried to be THAT person for others? Our world would be an excellent world.
Another favorite story-telling podcast is The Moth. It’s a longer-format show with each episode highlighting stories told by performers who are brave enough to deliver their tales, unscripted, in front of live audiences at venues around the world. You can listen to my all-time favorite episode of The Moth at the link below but you MUST listen all the way to the end. It’s amazing.
If previous generations of stay-at-home mothers had soap operas and romance novels, I guess you could consider podcasts my “stories.” I have earbuds in whenever I’m loading the dishwasher, folding laundry or out for a walk. They make the mundane very, very interesting. More importantly, I think they’ve now proven that you actually get smarter if you listen to This American Life every week.
Now, your turn. Tell me, what podcasts are you listening to? Let’s all make ourselves smarter and the world brighter through intelligent listening!