In 2016 podcasts climbed the ranks to being my number one mode of media consumption. Above blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix and… do I even need to mention print or cable TV?
When you live alone, podcast hosts are your roommates. At least they are for me. They’re the comforting voice I listen to when I’m getting ready for work in the morning, when I walk Katsu, when I drive to work, and my savior on long work days. Basically all day long. I consume so much that it’s a wonder I can even remember any of them, but that’s the beauty of the 15 podcasts below. They infiltrated my multi-tasking mind and managed to stick. I’ve shared them with unwilling friends and told them they MUST listen, but for some reason podcasts just aren’t as shareable as other forms of media (yet. I know Ira’s working on it). Seeing as my friends and family won’t listen to me, I’m sharing them here with you. In the hopes that you’ll click play and let these enter your ears and inhabit you the way they have me this year.
1. From Tree to Shining Tree – Radiolab
This may have been my favorite podcast episode of the year. I could try to do justice to the far-reaching net of finger-like messengers that connect the trees below us, but it’s best if you just listen to this right now.
2. Rainbow Pug – Reply All
Perhaps it’s because I became a dog mom this year, but this story of how a family’s beloved pug was mistakenly given up for adoption is heartbreaking and makes me paranoid about the Terms and Conditions that none of us read.
3. An Old Lion, or a Lover’s Lute – Love + Radio
This technically was not published in 2016, but it’s a topic that comes up so frequently that I’m constantly referencing it in conversation: cat-calling. If you have feelings about cat-calling and wonder how men could possibly think it’s okay, or even complimentary, then listen to this.
4. The Wind Telephone – This American Life
I listened to this episode twice. And cried both times. Listen to it and then tell your family you love them.
I didn’t list an episode here, because I actually recommend the entire documentary if you’ve ever considered one day starting a family outside of convention by choice or necessity. Maybe you’re single, or gay, or approaching the age of “geriatric pregnancy” (did you know that’s only 35?). Or maybe you’re all of the above, like Sophie. Sophie Harper has a soothing and vulnerable Lea-Thau-sensibility to her, and the encouraging, uplifting support of her Australian family and friends reminds me of some of the qualities I liked most about living there.
6. The Truth – Strangers
Make sure you’re in the right mindset when you listen to this, it is dark, and could be hard to hear, but the family also feels incredibly relatable and is set right here in Austin. If you don’t want to stomach this episode, I still highly recommend the rest of the Strangers podcast, especially Lea Thau’s Love Hurts series from a couple of years ago.
7. Window to the Magic – Sampler
After that downer you may need something light to uplift your spirit. This man’s obsession with Disneyland, and the strange twists and turns of his love life there, will make you smile and sometimes raise your eyebrows.
8. A Girl of Ivory – Love + Radio
I have tried to explain this episode to so many people, and I seem to weird people out and lose them halfway through every time. So I will just say this, you should listen to this because it breaks the rules of podcasting and you won’t see it coming. Except maybe now you will since I just told you that.
9. Tell Me I’m Fat – This American Life
If you have feelings about the way women’s bodies are objectified and the way a woman’s weight weighs on her romantic relationships, then you should listen to these strong, self-actualized females talk about it. Lindy West, Elna Baker and Roxane Gay make for an unbeatable lineup.
10. 10 Letters to the President – 99% Invisible
This podcast was especially touching as the Obamas finish out their final days in the White House.
11. Ellen Burstyn Interviews Gloria Steinhem – Death, Sex & Money
There was so much collective wisdom doled out in this candid interview between Ellen Burstyn and Gloria Steinhem. Older women are so often thought of as “invisible,” and these two are anything but.
12. Postal Addresses – Surprisingly Awesome
The title says it all. A 45-minute history of postal addresses truly is… surprisingly awesome. It’s packed with interesting facts that you’ll want to share every time you send or receive a package.
13. Zardulu – Reply All
Reply All is my favorite new-to-me podcast of the year. Their Yes Yes No segment never fails to entertain and this episode in particular will make you question the boundaries between reality and art.
14. 15. &16.Looking For The One Part 1: The Anxiety, Part 2: The Reality, & Part 3: Reimagining Spinster – Dear Sugar
If you are anything like me then you’ve analyzed discussed all of these topics at length with your best girlfriends and can never get enough. If you’re single or not yet married, this truly is a must-listen. It scared my socks off in some ways, but emboldened me in others.
Looking at this list, I realize I could stand to diversify my podcast playlist. So if you have a favorite podcast that you are constantly pushing on your friends but they won’t listen to you, then tell me!
Share yours below, please. Especially if it’s one you started! 🙂
Photo by Garance Dore