Others Have Said It Better
I’ve spoken briefly, more likely at great length, about what podcasts have meant to me here. I spend so much time alone in my ger (more depressing than I intend it to sound), that many of these radio personalities have come to feel like friends. Really, I need time to unwind, and being by myself in my ger is often the best way to do that here. The Peace Corps is, at its heart, a twenty-four hour job. The moment I step outside, I am, for better or worse, a representative for all things American, simply by virtue of the fact that I’m the only one for a hundred miles. Being alone is the only reliable time when I’m allowed to be myself. For company, I’ve chosen books, movies, TV shows, but more than anything else, I’ve chosen podcasts. Friends have recommended many to me over the last 17 months, “Desert Island Discs,” “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” “How Stuff Works,” etc.
For a glimpse into what I think may be the future of spoken word entertainment, (i.e. what I like to call radio these days), I’ve compiled a list of my top ten absolute must hears! They are in order, but feel free to jump around as suits your taste. (NOTE: I’ll try to include links wherever possible, but honestly, most of these can be found on iTunes if not on their website)
10. “How Peace Corps Works,” from How Stuff Works Podcast. This is an easy choice really, it’s a podcast I’ve been listening to for some time now, and they finally threw us a bone! So many of us are fans. Find it in the list here.
9. “The Super,” This American Life. Storytelling and investigative journalism at its best. The link to the show on their website is here.
8. “Act V,” This American Life. Find it here. The story of convicted felons putting on their very own version of Hamlet. Listening to these men explain how they identify with their character should put everyone who proclaims to be a “method actor” to shame.
7. “#47 Sutton Hoo Helmet,” A History of the World in 100 Objects. Find it here. If you know me, you know I’m a little bit in love with Anglo-Saxon England. William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings was at once the best thing, and the worst thing, ever to happen to the British Isles.
6. “Falling,” Radiolab. Right here. Every possible permutation of this word is explored. For an English major, who doesn’t love to explore just what we mean when we say we “fall.”
5. “Cities,” Radiolab. Here. Before I left the States, I’d decided to make New York my home. Why does this city work the way it does? Why does any city for that matter?
4. “In the Shadow of the City,” This American Life. Here. The boundary, what’s within and what’s without. This episode is incredible.
3. “Space,” Radiolab. Here. We, human beings, in the grand scheme of the universe, are quite insignificant.
2. “Valentine’s Day 2008,” This American Life. Here. Stories about love long after the “lightning” has struck. What does it mean to say “I do,” and everything that comes along with it.
1. “20 Acts in 60 Minutes,” This American Life. Here. Telling stories aloud is, at its heart, about making somebody forget their own troubles–if even for a moment. This is microfiction (or nonfiction) at its best; pretty mesmerizing.
Honorable mentions–seriously! This was a difficult list to make:
1. “Everything I Learned from TV,” This American Life. Here. A fantastic episode, LIVE!
2. “Infidelity,” This American Life. Here. The title speaks for itself folks, this here’s a juicy one.
3. “Lost & Found,” Radiolab. Here. That last story is a doozy.
4. “Memory & Forgetting,” Radiolab. Here.
5. “My Big Break,” This American Life. Here. Stories about your big chance, and what you do when it’s staring you in the face.
6. “This I Used to Believe,” This American Life. Here.
7. “Stories Pitched By Our Parents,” This American Life. Here. The 400th episode!