Curiosity is probably my most aggressive personality trait. It never takes a back seat. Ever.
I always wonder, about everything. Pick things apart. Unfold arguments. Find a layer deeper than the one I’m aware of and see where it leads.
It fuels my need to explore outside, and it fuels my need for knowledge – to learn something every day about me or the world around me. It’s why I’m so grateful for podcasts. They’re like a window – no, like a bank tunnel thingy in the drive-thru – to everything.
I’m almost always plugged in. On my long commutes to and from work. While I’m cooking. On road trips with Ron and the kids, who love Wow In the World, by the way. While I’m in the shower. Before bed. Any. Dang. Time.
I’m the dork who is up to date on This American Life, waiting for new episodes to come out. I’m also the dork who stalked the Serial podcast for new episodes, waiting for the new one each week as Sarah Koenig played fly on the wall at a Cleveland courthouse. And I devoured S-Town.
RIP John B. McLemore.
And once in a while, I’ll lean over to my co-worker, Josh, and tell him the craziest thing I just heard – about conspiracy theories or privacy or some wacky investigation – and down we go into the rabbit hole of the things we’ve heard.
So before I dial up another, I thought I’d make a little list of my favorites in case anyone else wants to dive in. If you want specific episodes, I’ll totally dish. Just ask.
The Joe Rogan Experience. When I tell people about this podcast, I always say that it’s the only one where I actually like the ads. Because Joe swears. And it’s super funny to me. The guy is way smarter than most give him credit for, and he’s a student of the world. He invites in an incredibly diverse roster of guests and keeps them around for a couple hours. I’ve never ejected from an episode. Check out the Mike Tyson, Macaulay Culkin or Jonathan Haidt shows.
Today Explained. This is quick and dirty news in a way you can digest it – usually about the biggest or sometimes the most intricate story of the day. It’s only ever about 20 minutes and the experts have earned their knowledge. Also, my former colleague is frequently a guest. So, it’s nice to hear his voice.
Reveal. This is dig-deep investigative journalism that brings to light stuff you never knew you needed to know. From investigations on concussions among high school football players to finding the origin of a Hillary Clinton internet rumor. It’s amazing. And compelling. And usually about an hour.
Outside. Because, obviously. But also, because they go into topics again that I’m not wondering bout until I’m listening to it. They look at human endurance (a story that literally took my breath away), climate change and issues related to public lands. I think they’re usually about an hour, too.
Up First. It’s my coffee, basically. I inhale the 15-minute NPR newscast while getting ready for work every morning.
This American Life. Oh, Ira. He’s the king of storytelling. And he finds some serious doozies. People who listen to the hour-long show in their cars have said that they often park and wait to hear the end of the show. It’s deeply connective and gets you right there. Right where it counts.
Radiolab. I’ve written about this specific podcast before, because it’s amazing. The hosts generally break down scientific concepts for schmos. And I can’t get enough. They did a fantastic episode on an NHL all-star that was never supposed to be an All-Star and it had me cursing at my computer. At work! They also did a series on human reproduction that came with a theatrical delivery unlike anything I’ve ever listened to. And the concepts stuck in my brain, too. So, total win.
I also listen to Armchair Expert, The Daily, CBS Sunday Morning, The Tim Ferriss Show and The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe. Oh, and Ted Radio Hour (lordy, I listen to a lot of podcasts), which is SO SO good. They break down Ted talks into themed, hour-long shows so you get a taste of all different kinds of people.
They’re all a brain infusion, in different ways, offering diverse flavors of knowledge. And I’m so happy they exist.