The Stories in my Head

Walk with me while I tell you a story, right? That’s the premise of my blog. But what about the stories that are going into my head as I walk? First of all, I walk a lot. Wasabi gets me out there every day, come rain or shine. When I was in Portland, I sometimes had a friend to walk with me, but more often than not, the pup and I are on our own. Wasabi has a million great qualities, but conversationalist is not one. So to fill the space in my head when I’m not playing the Hamilton soundtrack on a continual loop, I listen to podcasts.

My kid introduced me to my first podcast, which was Serial.  We were quickly swept into the story of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee, hosted by Sarah Koenig. We weren’t the only ones hooked. It became such a sensation that it even led to an SNL parody.  I find that I mostly listen to political podcasts, but there are number of non-political ones that I totally enjoy. 

The Political

  • Pod Save America, Pod Save the World and The Wilderness-Jon Faverau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeifer and Tommy Vietor. All part of the Crooked Mediaverse.  For an overview of what’s happened and how it effects me, I’m a true Friend of the Pod. Here’s my kid moderating the PSA guys when they visited the IOP at UChicago.
  • Fresh Air-Terry Gross. I find it easier to catch this in podcast form since I never listen to the radio
  • Gaslit Nation-Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa. Both have studied autocracies and have been sounding the alarm about Trump autocratic tendencies for sometime. They take some deep dives into corruption and Russia. 
  • The Axe Files-David Axelrod. One of the highlights when I met him was asking about his episode with Michael Avenatti.
  • The Daily-Michael Barbaro. His voice. That music. The biggest story of the day in 20 minutes.
  • The Ezra Klein Show-Ezra Klein. He’s one of the smartest guys in the room, and I listen to a lot of smart people. I appreciate his wide range of guests and the conversations are always interesting. Especially this one with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
  • Why is this Happening? -Chris Hayes. Just started listening to this. I don’t have MSNBC, so am not very familiar with Hayes, but he gets some good guests. 
  • End Times Peptalk-Smitha Chadaga, Rebecca Cohen and Megan Cleland. It’s nice to hear what used to be a local podcast (Portland) for me and I’ve met these smart women who talk about national politics, women’s resistance and life in Trump’s America.
  • Trumpcast-Virginia Heffernan. I have respect for this podcast because they took Trump seriously before many others did and covered him as the walking bundle of conflict of interests he is, rather than a joke. 

The Non-Political

  • Conan Needs a Friend-Conan O’Brien. The best part of this podcast is the banter he has with his assistant Sona Movsesian and producer Matt Gourley who are foils for Conan’s self deprecating humor.  Conan’s conversations with comedians as well as other famous people, Michelle Obama! give me plenty of LOL moments.
  • Hidden Brain-Shankar Vedantam. I love how he explores the evergreen question, why do we do the things we do?
  • Bad With Money-Gaby Dunn. From her first season where she tried to figure out why she was bad with money, to her more recent, where she talks about the student loan crisis, generational wealth and Medicare for all, it’s been interesting to listen as she grows and matures, kind of like a good mutual fund.
  • Work Life-Adam Grant. He’s an organizational psychologist who has plenty to say, I just wish he had more episodes. 
  • Modern Love-Amazon also has a ML series. It’s sweet without being saccharine, but leaves me to wonder, is Modern Love only possible in NYC or the Bronx? Where does that leave the rest of us sad sacks?
  • What’s with Washington? I was so excited to find a podcast to answer my burning questions about my new town like, what is the DC dress code and why doesn’t this city have skyscrapers? Thanks to this podcast I know the answers: Ann Taylor Loft and some rando building on Dupont Circle is why the buildings don’t soar. 

Limited

Like a series, these usually last one season, and cover one specific topic.

  • Dolly Parton’s America-Jad Abumrad. I am not a country music fan, but there is something endearing about DP. She’s got one of the most diverse fan bases and her songwriting prowess is impressive. Oh, and there’s the whole phenomena of Dollywood!  
  • The Dropout-Rebecca Jarvis. If you haven’t heard about  Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, go listen. This is one of the stories, like Billy McFarland of the Fyrefest fame, and Donald Trump that kind of reflects who we are in the 21st century. 
  • Invisibilia-Alix Spiegel, LuLu Miller and Hanna Rosin Like Hidden Brain, they ask the why questions. One of the best episode was Flip the Script, listen to it and I dare you to try to think about the world in the same way.
  • The Bagman-Rachel Maddow. She asks the question, “Is it possible for an American Vice President to carry out a criminal enterprise from the White House and have nobody remember?”
  • Scene on Radio- Seeing White-John Biewen and his regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika My friend Ginnie recommended this, and I tell everyone who’s interested in race in America to listen to it. I’ve listened to it twice and could sit through it again (14 hours long!) because it’s that dense, that informative and that important. 

So, I’m always looking out for new podcasts where I can listen to different conversations. Let me know if there are any podcasts you like? 

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