I’m late to the podcast party. But that’s no shocker. I’m a late adaptor when it comes to technology in general. My friends call me “techno girl” (not a compliment). When someone explains a technical process, my eyes glaze over in the same way they do when someone explains “offsides” in soccer. I want to know how to use technology, I just don’t want to learn how. If I could have a tech knowledge chip implanted in my brain, I would.
People have been raving about Serial for a year, but did I listen? No. The whole concept of podcasts seemed futuristic and complicated. Then, while painting a sunporch during the hottest week of the hottest summer our city has ever had, I got sick of listening to music. Something drastic had to happen, something that could transport me away from the hell I had chosen to put myself in, on day three of 100-degree temperatures, trapped in a SUNPORCH. So in my ignorance, I Googled “TED talks” and ran down the battery in my phone playing videos of talks just to listen to the audio. I know. So lame.
Then one of my teenagers came to help for a few hours, and pointed out the podcast icon on my phone.
Now, having dipped a toe into a vast roiling sea of podcasts, I’m overwhelmed. There is so much out there to listen to, and a lot of it isn’t very good. It’s the problem of overabundance that plagues every aspect of the internet. How do we get connected to the best content, to find the things that are most helpful and appealing to us? Just using the search function for “indie authors” or “writing” in the podcast ‘store’ does little for me, because the resulting list of podcasts provides no handy summary of content or providers’ backgrounds. I end up listening to a an episode or two of a particular podcast. If I can’t abide the podcaster’s style (fast, abrasive, sales-y, braying), get irritated by the ads, or find the content/interview provided unhelpful, I know I won’t go back to that particular podcast.
Happily, there’s some fantastic stuff out there bobbing around. Here are some recent finds that I will go back to:
- The aforementioned Serial. From a writer’s perspective, this investigation of a murder case in Baltimore 15 years ago is especially important for its pacing and use of suspense, hooks, and cliffhangers. Be warned: you will binge-listen. It’s that good.
- Joanna Penn’s weekly podcast. A thriller author and publisher of nonfiction books about how to be an “authorpreneur,” she offers a great combination of personal notes, indie author news, and interviews with writers and editors. Plus she had a warm, positive attitude delivered in a smashing British accent.
- Wattpad’s podcast featuring author interviews. My 13-year-old introduced me to the site, where writers upload their work and readers rate it and comment on it. There is a lot of fan fiction, YA and fantasy on Wattpad. I like hearing authors’ personal backstories, which is why I’ll return to this podcast.
- TED talks on NPR. This is a much better way to find TED talks of interest that Googling them. Each podcast is centered around a theme (happiness, work) and features interviews with TED speakers. My favorite recent podcast is the Sept. 25 2015 episode about creativity, featuring Sting and Elizabeth Gilbert.
As I keep listening to more podcasts, I’ll share my favorites here. Happy listening!