Cast Your Pod to the Wind

Podcasts are huge now. Everyone and their aunt seems to have one, and as a long-time consumer of podcasts, I welcome this boom with open arms. Here are the podcasts I listen to almost immediately whenever a new episode pops up in my feed, in no particular order.

Reply All is the first podcast I got really invested into. As in would have binged it to death if I'd discovered it more recently, with more unlistened episodes waiting. It's a podcast about the Internet, but really, it's about the quirky, heartfelt, and unsettling stories that exist due to the Internet. The hosts have wonderful chemistry and... powerful bear-repelling laughs, and the stories they tell are the most addictive ear biscuits ever. It's a perfect storm of Internet rabbit holes, obsessive investigation, and witty banter. Here's their list of suggested starting points.

99% Invisible is about design. The term "design" is applied to all aspects of urban life: architecture, sounds, manufacturing, clothing, you name it. Mostly interviews about topics that are thought-provoking, intriguing, entertaining, and informative, each episode usually runs around half an hour long. I adore the overall aesthetic of the show, and it's opened my eyes to so many things I otherwise take for granted or fail to notice. They also have a list of starter episodes, but I'd suggest looking through the catalogue and picking topics that grab you.

Hello Internet is a conversational podcast by Brady Haran and CGP Grey. I can't really explain what this podcast is about, because it seems like it's about anything and everything the hosts want to talk about. Beekeeping. NASA. Flags. Hello Internet is whimsical and charming and cosy in a really authentic way that I haven't seen in any other podcast. It's like the Geocities of podcasts. Listening to it feels like sitting out on the balcony on a sunny fall afternoon. It's also been around for a while and predates a lot of two-dudes-talking podcasts (I think this may be the canonical two-dudes-talking podcast). This is one where it would be best to start with the very first episode.

Do By Friday is another conversational podcast that releases every week. At the end of each episode, the hosts come up with a challenge that they aim to complete in time for the following week's episode. The challenges are really only half of what makes the show so great. They usually start off by catching up with one another, and shooting the breeze about current events. I enjoy their highly entertaining conversations interspersed with silly and manic humour, but I get the feeling that it's not for everyone. If you're put off after one episode, you probably won't like the rest of them since the humour and tone are pretty similar. They also have strong political views, which is fine with me because a) I share some of their viewpoints and b) I'm not American (you'll see what I mean). That said, if this is your thing, welcome on board to the Do By Friday Powder Nation. I suggest starting with any recent episode and seeing if it clicks.

Overdue is a podcast by two guys about books. Each episode, one of them tells the other one about a book he's just read. I'm amazed at how consistently Andrew and Craig release episodes despite having day jobs. I mean, it's not just two dudes talking--it's two dudes talking about a book they've read specifically for each episode. Every single week! And the discussions are always insightful and funny. The books they discuss span every genre and taste. I'm not exaggerating. One episode they discuss Infinite Jest, and on another they talk about the Twilight novels. They've even done quite a few episodes about CYOA books. I enjoy listening to them talk about books I've read, books I haven't read but plan to, and also books I know I'll never read. You can find their suggested starter episodes here, but I think you can also just pick one where they discuss a book you've read.

My Brother, My Brother & Me is one I've fallen hard for fairly recently. It's been around for a while--10 years!--but I tried it once, had no idea what was going on, and gave up five minutes in. Earlier this year, I listened to an episode of The Adventure Zone, their D&D podcast, just for fun and really dug it. I gave MBMBAM another shot and never looked back. Each episode, the McElroy brothers pick out questions on community Q&A sites (mostly Yahoo answers, so you can see how this usually ends up), attempt to answer them, and basically riff off on each other's jokes. I love their offbeat, goofy humour, and more importantly, they seem like genuinely decent people. This is one that takes a little time to grow on you but once it does, you'll be grateful for the massive back catalogue of episodes. I recommend starting with any recent episode that isn't a live show.

If you're looking for a podcast app for mobile, might I suggest two stellar options? Podcast Addict is available on Android, and Overcast on iOS; both are free and packed with wonderful features.

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