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 –
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.
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
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
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.
#3 The Daily
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.