My name is Rachael Nass. And I am a podcast addict.
Every day, I commute 30-60 minutes to the office and another 30-60 minutes home. Two or three times a week I go on a run. Every so often during work, I am stuck doing mind-numbing data entry or formatting exhibits in Excel. And while I love music and often listen to it while exercising or working, there are times when I just want a little something extra — a story, a history lesson, comedy. Like many people, I don’t get to read as much as I would like to, and podcasts help to fill that void. Here are some of my favorites:
This American Life
As far as I’m concerned, This American Life is the original podcast. My mom used to make sure we were driving somewhere on Sunday mornings just so we could listen to it on the radio. Every week, the show is centered upon one theme and shares stories, from journalism to fiction to stand up, on that theme. The show is expertly done and every episode is interesting. I would know — I’ve heard almost every one, and trust me there are A LOT.
Created by This American Life veteran (and fellow UChicago alum, woot woot!), Sara Koenig, Serial is true crime at its finest, a whodunit full of loose ends that are constantly making you second guess your opinion on who’s guilty. Season one follows the store of Adnan (my personal fave) and season two the story of Beau Bergdahl (PIF’s fave).
The Splendid Table
Another one my mom introduced me to, The Splendid Table is the foodie’s podcast. The endearing Lynne Rossetto Kasper has taught me so much about food and cooking and makes the most complicated dish seem totally doable. Just make sure you have paper and pencil on hand to scribble down recipes.
Headed by the best interviewer on earth, Terry Gross, Fresh Air features guests from all walks of life and thoughtful interviews. I end every episode with a little note about some book I need to read, movie/show I need to watch, or historical event I need to research more.
If you enjoy thoughtful commentary about issues around race and identity, then Code Switch is for you. A newer addition to the podcast game, NPR’s Code Switch has gotten up to speed very quickly. Episodes cover things from the dearth of Asian-American representation on TV and the Indian accent and always leave you with something to think about.
Headed by the totally lovable Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, RadioLab is totally unique and its theme is hard to pinpoint. Usually, the show explores a story, bringing in experts or weaving in testimony from those who were there. The topics can vary widely, but the shows are clearly carefully put together. Because they’re so carefully thought out, these episodes don’t come often, so this show is better savored than binged.
Econ buffs, rejoice! Non-econ buffs, rejoice, too! Planet Money makes economics easy and fun, exploring the economics of the world around us, including one of my favorite areas of study, behavioral economics. Past episodes have explored the Wells Fargo scandal and how to get a Hermes Birkin bag. The episodes are short and sweet, so expect to binge.
PIF’s favorite podcast, 99% Invisible, explores everything design. And not just around architecture, but how design plays a roll in everything, from public policy to the products we use to the places we vacation. Plus, host Roman Mars has THE best radio voice ever. (PIF’s favorite episode is about Rajneeshpuram.)
Two Dope Queens
Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson took the world by storm when they began Two Dope Queens, a podcast which features stand up comedians, many of whom are women or people of color. While, admittedly, sometimes a bit #basic, the totally goofy Two Dope Queens is a refreshing change of pace that often makes me laugh out loud on the L.
Sooo Many White Guys
Phoebe Robinson’s gone solo on Sooo Many White Guys in a show that features sooo few white guys. Instead of stand up, as in Two Dope Queens, expect instead casual interviews with women and people of color, like Lizzo and — one of my favorite people — Hasan Mihnaj.
Don’t know where to start? How about this:
My Favorite Podcast App: Pocket Casts ($4.99 in the App Store)
I’m a huge fan of Pocket Casts’ interface. It may be the only app on my phone that never freezes or crashes, and it’s Discover feature makes it super easy to download podcasts or find new favorites. Plus, the jump forward and back feature makes it easy to rewind when someone interrupts your listening.
This post was non-sponsored.