Blogging, Habits, Personal growth, Podcasts

My top 3 favorite podcasts. What’s in your ears?

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I am a big fan of podcasts. Some might say I’m obsessed. On headphones or on my handy little portable speaker, a podcast is almost always playing. Someone talking in my ears has replaced the sound of music.

I could blame my oldest daughter for my latest obsession. A few years back when picking her up from law school for a holiday visit, she introduced me to “Serial”. The NPR podcast series was red-hot at the time. After consuming a few consecutive episodes,  I was hooked.

The attraction to podcasts can probably be traced back further. As a child, we all loved to have a story read to us. Podcasting is storytelling at its best. I have a renewed love of a story and appreciation for how many stories there are to be told.

Podcasts are not new. They started as an outgrowth of Apple’s iPod. It was an effort to bring original programming to MP3 devices. Back then, getting access to most podcast shows was a pain, not nearly as easy as it is today. Listening to your favorite shows no longer requires the laborious steps of downloading to your computer, plugging in your iPod and then transferring.

Smartphones have made it easy to access podcasts and has grown the audience by leaps and bounds. New apps allow the opportunity to listen to shows directly. Cars equipped with Bluetooth connections play audio from smartphones through car speakers without plugging in.

The popularity of podcasts is definitely growing. Edison Research says podcast consumption is surging. People listening to podcasts every week listened to an average of five programs per week. I count myself in on these stats. 

Certainly, room to grow the audience. Asking my journalism students, who has listened to a podcast recently … or ever, only a few hands raised in response. Forcing them to choose a show to give a listen, I heard lots of positive comments about talk versus music in their ears. Perhaps the audience of podcast listeners has grown, just a bit.

The library of podcasts on my phone continues to grow. Here are a few of my top three  current favorites. I highly recommend adding each to your library and giving talk versus music a try. I’m eager to hear what you think. If you’re a podcast listener, I’d love to hear what’s playing in your ears.

#1 Reveal – 

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As stated on its website — “The Center for Investigative Reporting’s award-winning journalists hold the powerful accountable and reveal government fraud and waste of taxpayer funds, human rights violations, environmental degradation and threats to public safety. We consistently shine a bright light on injustice and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Their mission is noble — “We engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy.”

Launched in 1977, the organization has been serving as a watchdog for more than 40 years. Voice of REVEAL’s podcast, Host Al Letson takes his job seriously and it shows in every broadcast.

Favorite episodes: 

Where criminals get their guns

This episode: “Across the country, criminals are arming themselves in unexpected ways. In Florida, they’re stealing guns from unlocked cars and gun stores. In other places, they’re getting them from the police themselves, as cash-strapped departments sell their used weapons to buy new ones. On this episode of Reveal, we learn where criminals get their guns and what cars can teach us about gun safety.” – REVEAL

Rise of a movement

This episode:  “While covering Sunday’s “Rally Against Hate” in Berkeley, California, today, Reveal host Al Letson witnessed a man being attacked by a group of protesters. The man was balled up on the ground, fending off blows from several people. Al jumped in front of the batterers, protecting the man from further injury. On this special episode of Reveal, Al talks about what happened and how the battles between right- and left-wing protesters are playing out.” REVEAL

#2 – How I Built This with Guy Raz

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Guy’s voice alone will reel you into this podcast. His interviewing style and genuine curiosity about everyone’s success story is infectious.

As described on website: Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Favorite episodes: 

Starbucks: Howard Schultz

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Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

“Jerry Murrell’s mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,400 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America.”

Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman

Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has an annual revenue of $100 million.

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#3 The Daily

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This daily rundown of current news is a great way to stay informed on the latest happenings. Part of the New York Times news network, The Daily is hosted by seasoned journalist Michael Barbaro. The 20-minute podcast focuses on a top story of the day, bringing in the reporter who covered the story for an insider view. This leaves the audience knowing a bit more than most people. Each episode ends with a brief rundown of other news you need to know. Worth 20 minutes of your day.

Serial – best of the best

If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, best place to start … Serial – season 1. There are 12 episodes. Trust me you’ll want more when done.

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Blogging, learning

Three lessons learned from my favorite tree falling

before - last view

I’m not necessarily the tree-hugging type. Although these days my husband and a few family members might disagree. Having to cut down a big beautiful tree in the front yard of our cottage touched me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

A huge limb randomly fell from this beloved tree the other evening. Sitting on the patio, we heard a strange crackling sound. We turned our heads to watch a big branch break away and fall onto our neighbor’s roof and yard.The sound was startling, the falling limb frightening and the experience one I won’t soon forget. Thankfully no injuries to report, however it has left a very obvious void in our yard.

limb down limb decay

Viewing the decay causing the limb to fall, it was apparent the tree had to go. The process was not going to be simple. The Box Elder tree was enormous and tucked tightly between cottages in our yard. A crane was required for the job. The four-man tree removal crew included a guy who’s job involved riding up with the crane into the tree and repelling to cut limbs for the crane to lift onto trailers. It’s a skill the young guy in his 20’s learned from the 70-year-old owner of the company, who was up in a tree himself repelling and cutting within the last year. Owning the tree company for 40 years, John has climbed lots of trees and cut many limbs. Only a few years ago he began employing the help of a crane operator to expedite the removal process.

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Cutting down and removing the entire tree, which they estimated to be more than 60 years old after counting the rings in the base, was an amazing process to watch.  I never realized such equipment existed to do these kind of jobs and the type of skills and training required. I have tremendous respect for the crew involved in each part of the removal process, from limb cutting, log loading to stump grinding.

stump counting lines

As the “family photographer” I recorded the entire procedure and shared photos with my husband while he was stuck working. Included below is a collection of photos of the tree removal experience.

tree & crane

Along the way, I took away a few lessons that I never expected. Here’s a rundown of what I learned from the loss of our favorite tree.

  • Embrace change … of every shape & size. I consider myself a change agent. I typically welcome change. However, when it involves removal of a tree, particularly a tree that has a very long history, that tends to strike a different nerve. Following the tree removal, I admit to appreciating the additional sunshine in our yard. I’m coming around and getting used to it being gone. .
  •  Don’t get too attached … probably easier said than done. In the case of our beloved tree, it served as our umbrella over our fire pit and shaded our yard. However, the sunshine is nice and we shall buy big umbrellas to keep on hand,
  • Appreciate good service … the tree company we hired was a small local guy, referred and highly recommended by a neighbor. Good idea and good job done! With 40 years experience, it’s easy to see how this 70-year-old has built a solid business cutting down trees. His knowledge, experience and care for doing the job all the way to the end is clearly why his business has thrived for all these years. And he has hired and mentored an enthusiastic crew.
  • Crane operating is great business … in watching the entire process it hit me — the guy who owns/runs the crane has a pretty good thing going on. He was young, maybe early 30s, had purchased the crane (a very big investment), was trained in operating it and subcontracts himself and his crane out for hire. Not a bad gig, considering John our tree cutting owner says he’s given this crane operator about $68,000 in business in the last year, and he’s only one of the crane operator’s clients. Heads up to all the young guys (or gals) out there wondering what major to choose in college.

upside down tree in air tree stump cut tree man tree limb guy tree in air tree in air over Barretts tree decay tree coming down stump rising stump in truck log in air limb on crane limb in air limb cut last branch cut stump cut broken limb