by Crystal Zhao
Any time is podcast time, but autumn is an especially superb season for enjoying the art of audio media. School and associated activities are taking up more and more time, but it doesn’t take long at all to pop in earbuds and select a great podcast. As always, one benefit of this activity is that a listener can occupy their physical body with one task, like strolling, baking, or doing chores, while their mind is light years away. Finding a new podcast to love is a unique joy. Every episode opens the mind to new ideas, new lifestyles, new ways of seeing the world. This fall, old favorites like The Moth, Radiolab, This American Life, and Welcome to Night Vale will continue, but if you’re looking for something different, here are a few brilliant new podcasts to choose from.
Limetown – Two-Up Productions
Overview: Investigates the disappearance of over three hundred citizens from a small scientific community in Tennessee. As a disclaimer, you should know that this is a fictional story and the host is not, in fact, an American Public Radio journalist. I only realized this after two whole episodes, but I’ll spare you the embarrassment. This podcast had me hooked on the first episode, and since then, I’ve been eagerly waiting for every new episode and for another piece of this complex tragedy to fall into place.
Hidden Brain – NPR
Overview: This is the newest of NPR’s collection of podcasts. It is a lively and entertaining dialogue about the strange, thrilling, and mostly unobserved patterns of human behavior. Host Shankar Vedantam keeps the neuroscientific aspects manageable and even plays amusing games with the esteemed researchers he invites onto the show. I’m a definite fan of this podcast.
Magic Lessons – Elizabeth Gilbert
Overview: The author of Eat, Pray, Love has struck gold again with this podcast on creativity and the challenges that come with it. She welcomes bloggers, authors, and artists to explain how they tap into their creative geniuses. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but maybe listening to this will help me with my creativity, too!
The Message – Panoply/GE Theater Podcast/Cyphercast
Overview: Follows the decoding of a message from outer space received in the mid 20th century. Like Limetown, this is a fictional radio drama. The significance of this podcast is its masterful use of sound technology to bring the story alive. If you’re into science fiction or even just great stories, check this out.
The Bill Simmons Podcast – Bill Simmons
Overview: It physically pains me to have this on the list, but I can’t not mention it. This is the all-time most downloaded sports podcast of all time. For a short period of time, it was the number one podcast on the iTunes podcast charts. I’m not big on sports myself, but I did subject myself to one episode. He was discussing football with much vigour, and my father, an actual sports fan, really did like this podcast a great deal. Despite my aversion to the topic, I enjoyed his jokes and familiar radio presence. To anyone who like sports, this is for you.