My husband had barely gotten his foot in the door last Tuesday when I pounced. I grinned up at him, “I learned how to do podcasts today!” I could feel my whole body sparking with excitement.
He looked at me blankly, suitcase in hand. Like most of the world, he discovered podcasts years ago. “You mean you learned how to make one?” he asked.
My shoulders drooped a little and he tried to hide his smile. “Or you learned how to listen to them?”
“Well, I learned how to download them onto my phone, too.”
That day, I had listened to Terry Gross interview David Sedaris while I ironed. I thought about the first time I heard David Sedaris on the radio, singing “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R” in his Billie Holliday voice. I stopped ironing and wrote the story down. When that piece ended, I listened to Terry interview Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, author of Zoobiquity: What Humans Can Learn From Animal Illness. During their conversation, they discussed the topic of fainting, which was riveting to me, especially as a fainter who is writing a story about fainting. They discussed fainting (also known as syncope) in the animal world – that fear can trigger not only fight or flight as an anti-predation response, but also fainting – and how the syncope response could have evolutionary benefits. I took notes for my story then packed up the ironing, which I had finished.
I loaded up my phone with more Fresh Air episodes, then added RadioLab episodes, and This American Life episodes. For Wednesday was cleaning day.
The following day, while I scrubbed bathtubs and sinks, I listened to This American Life, to a young man’s journey across the country on foot, pushing his backpack in a baby stroller across the desert, asking folks along the way, “If you could go back and, taking all of what you’ve learned in your life, tell your 23-year-old self something, what might you say?” On Radiolab, I listened to a longtime believer suddenly lose his faith in God while I swept and mopped, and I learned about a deaf man who lived without language – no sign language, no lip reading – into his adult life. He finally learned language as a grown man, learned that a table has a name – it is named “table” – and he fell in love with words like I fell in love with my husband. The Words episode of Radiolab is possibly my favorite podcast so far.
At the end of the day, my mind felt invigorated, and I swear my IQ jumped 15 points.
This Wednesday, I discovered Book Riot’s new podcast, and while I cleaned the stove, I listened to BookRiot.com editors Rebecca Schinsky and Jeff O’Neal discuss The Great Gatsby hype and the publishing strategy of female authors using initials instead of their full names so that men won’t automatically dismiss their titles as “women’s lit.” While I cleaned bathrooms I listened to the Surgery 101 team explain how to avoid fainting in the OR. While I swept and mopped, I listened to Lee Gutkind describe the Creative Nonfiction movement. While I made salsa, I listened to Natalie Goldberg read from her new book, The Great Failure, and while I set the table I listened to Dinty W. Moore discuss “Writing it Short: The Guide to Brevity.”
Now, I’ve got a good 13 podcast episodes lined up for when I work out, for when I fold laundry, for when I unload the dishwasher. For when I shake a cocktail at the end of cleaning day to celebrate my budding genius.
Here are the podcasts I currently subscribe to. Show descriptions are lifted from their About pages. I’m still looking for great podcasts, so if you have any favorites, please share them in the comments. Thanks!
All Songs Considered: All Songs Considered is home to the best new music and a community of fans always ready to share their opinions on the current music scene.
Bookrageous: Serious about books…but not exactly serious.
Book Riot: A weekly news and talk show about what’s new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of BookRiot.com
Fresh Air: Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries
Podlit: A podcast devoted to the creative nonfiction genre and other aspects of the literary world. It’s the podcast for writers, readers, students, teachers, and anyone else seeking the newest reports and latest discussions of the literary and publishing industries. Brought to you by Creative Nonfiction Magazine.
Radiolab: Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
This American Life: This American Life is a weekly public radio show produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International.
The Writer’s Almanac: Daily poems, prose, and literary history with Garrison Keillor