In 1979 The Buggles declared, with pop-music audacity, that “Video Killed the Radio Star.” In 1981, the declared it absolutely, as the first aired music video on MTV. For a long time it was hard to argue the English pop band’s point, but I am here to say that, for the Renaissance Human, radio may be the savior you are looking for. Podcasts. If you haven’t gotten on this information and entertainment train, it is time you did. Here are a few casts I enjoy, and some I have heard good things about.
This is one of my favorite podcasts! These guys in Atlanta do a great job of researching all sorts of topics which you should know about. Then they come together and talk about it. That’s it. The format is simple, comedic, and informative. After listening to a few, you begin to feel like Josh and Chuck are guys you hang out with regularly. They talk on everything from “How Police Investigations Work,” to “How Waterslides Work.” See everything iTunes has, but also check out their archives because they have way more podcasts than the 300 the iTunes store holds. If you are on a quest to learn about everything, and you have an 45 minutes to an hour in your daily commute, SYSK should become a regular listen for you. Check out their parent organization “How Stuff Works” for more podcasts on history, cars, and other stuff to blow your mind.
A staple program from PRI which has also moved into the age of internet by making its programming available by podcast, as well as on the radio waves. Science Friday delves into popular topics in science today, and, though it is a little more dry than SYSK, Science Friday brings its own charm to the airwaves. Science Friday is good for keeping you up to date on what is going on in the world of science, and even some good science hacks for things like gardening!
This is one podcast I have not yet checked out, but several people, whose opinion I hold in high regard, give it high marks. At its inception, the idea of Freakonomics is applying the ideas of economics to other situations. Any time somebody decides to take ideas from their own field and apply to a new discipline, I’m a fan. I believe this is one of the ways we expand our own thinking, and where creativity in different fields is born. I haven’t listened yet, but with casts like “Failure is Your Friend,” and guests like Aziz Ansari, Freakonomics is on my short list of podcasts to check out.
If science and random facts isn’t what you consider good listening, check out these podcasts which are all about literature and storytelling.
True stories told live by some of the most interesting people you have never met. The stories will amaze you. From professional pickpockets to bar owners who have survived gang stabbings. The spectrum on which we all experience life is enormous, and The Moth is one way vicariously expand your own experience.
Interested in having famous actors read great works of short fiction to you? Yes? Then check out this podcast. You get two stories per cast, and excellent live reading. You can look for a story or reader you really want to hear, or subscribe and be surprised by what and who you get each week.
Lesser known than the previous two, the Classic Tales podcast is read by a single reader (he does an exceptional job), and all the stories B.J. Harrison reads are in the public domain. With the occasional Sherlock Holmes story, some Jack London, or Jules Verne, the Classic Tales podcast takes you on a journey through all the stories you are familiar with, but never sat down to read.
The time of radio programming is back! Turn off the TV on History Channel programs which speculate about aliens building ancient wonders and Discovery Channel programs which seek out urban legends, and get your learning on by listening!