Hi, my name is Garrett, and I am a podcast junkie. [Hi Garrett.] I could literally listen to them any and all times...commuting, running, working, sleeping, writing this post...
I'm going to be saying goodbye this view of my NYC apartment to embark on a summer road trip. I'll be leaving from Wisconsin to drive to the West Coast & back again. By myself. AHH! I'm exciterrifited. It's one of those things that I want to do now while I'm young. Plus, I've realized lately that I need to do some personal recalibration, and spending a bunch of time by oneself on the road seems like a great way to do that.
BUT I need your help. I have a feeling I'm going to blow through my podcast library at some point during the trip. So if you have any podcasts you'd recommend, PLEASE leave a comment below!
I'm also going to share my personal favorite podcasts. I was going to do five, but let's be honest, there's too many good stuff out there not to share. Also, let's assume that you've This American Life, StoryCrops, The Moth, Invisibilia, On Being, Serial, etc. and want MORE. I gotchu.
1. 2 Dope Queens
First on literally everybody's list to download should be 2 Dope Queens. Comedians Jessica Williams [you probably recognize her from her INCREDIBLE report on street harassment for The Daily Show] & Phoebe Robinson [you might not recognize her but you'll want to be her BFF] bring in the best of the best stand-up comics, storytellers, and all-around hilarious people. I've LOL'd in public too many times listening to this. Episodes 6 & 9 are personal faves of mine.
2. How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black
On How To Be Amazing, comedian Michael Ian Black conducts incredibly interesting hour-long interviews with various amazing people talking about what they do and how they got to where they are today. They're great reminders that everyone's path to where they're meant to be is different, and often not direct. He's had guests like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amy Schumer, Audra McDonald, Ingrid Michaelson, David Sedaris, Dan Savage, Jim Gaffigan...come for the names you recognize, and stay for the ones you don't. There are some truly amazing people on this show!
3. The Compass
Mandatory listening for any early-career artist should be Leah Walsh's podcast The Compass. She begins each episode by asking her guest, "What do you do to keep yourself from going to the dark side as an artist?" Yeah. No beating around the bush here. But rather than sinking into existential dread after listening to each interview, I find myself inspired. Leah is opening up a space for important conversations about surviving as an artist, balancing work & life, and the importance of having touchstones for yourself as you navigate a crazy field. Plus, she's an awesome person who's making her own work through this podcast. Go take a listen!
4. that's what she said
Another friend of mine who's started up a cool new podcast is Therese Barbato, who's that's what she said features extended conversations with her female friends about love & life. They're so beautifully candid, you feel like you're sitting at an intimate party with friends rather than on the crowded downtown 1 train. If you like stories & like your podcasts with a shot of empathy, this is definitely one to check out!
5. Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People
In Chris Gethard's show Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People [Beautiful Anonymous, for short], he gets a phone call from a random person who has the opportunity to talk to him for one hour. He can't hang up, and his job is to listen to the person on the other end of the line talk about whatever they'd like. For me, the callers on this show offer a really different perspective that what I'm used to hearing in NYC. Another show with a concentrated shot of empathy!
An NPR podcast hosted by Kelly McEvers that "takes stories from the news and goes deep", Embedded personalizes all the crazy things going on in the world. Thus far, they've picked really interesting stories to investigate. I've learned more about a shootout between rival biker groups in Waco, Texas; why Greenland has the highest suicide rate in the world; and what life is like in the NBA's minor league. It's a really cool mix of topical news & storytelling that I really enjoy.
7. Strong Opinions Loosely Held
From Refinery29 [an incredible & feminist organization, if you're unfamiliar], Strong Opinions Loosely Held provides pop culture crash courses in everything from the Kardashians, Instagram, vocal fry, & more. Their episodes aren't super long [which you might be into?], and I'm not sure if I'm the target audience, but I feel like I learn a lot from each episode. They flip pop culture phenomenon and examine them in a really interesting way.
8. 99% Invisible
A show about the invisible forces that shape our lives, 99% Invisible explores everything from architecture to technology to social phenomenon. I'm a huge nerd, so I love this kind of stuff. The episode that hooked me is 204 - The SoHo Effect, about how real estate brokers rename neighborhoods, and the effects that this phenomenon has on the residents who already live there and the people moving in. They have a huge backlog of episodes, so if you like it, there's 200+ you can listen to!
9. Song Exploder
Anybody who has ever tried to make music should listen to Hrishikesh Hirway's Song Exploder, where he brings in artists to talk about the process of making the music that you listen to. There are names you'll recognize [CHVRCHES, Weezer, Carly Rae Jepsen], and names you might not, but will want to get to know more. He also has composers talking about how they create the theme music to shows you love!
10. Welcome to Night Vale
Last, but never least, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. The only fiction podcast that I've been able to get into, Welcome to Night Vale is an absurd, surrealist radio show that takes place in a fictional town in the American Southwest where weird things happen all the time. The first few episodes creeped me out, and then I got absolutely hooked. It's brilliantly written, and each episode features cool indie artists. But most of all, I love how casually inclusive the show is. There are characters and actors of color all the time, plus a range of sexual & gender identities [and non-human entities]. It's how all 21st-Century content should be.