The podcast app is one that is often overlooked by iPhone users. It gets cast aside with all of those other automatically installed apps often useless to a typical customer. However, this app is a world of its own. From true crime to politics, to book recommendations and discussion of life stories, there is a podcast for everyone. If there is something you are interested in, I guarantee there is a podcast about it. There is a vast range of subjects; I’ve just started one on the crime trends in Hollywood in the mid-20th century. Not only are they quality content, but they are free. Podcasts are an opportunity to listen to passionate people talk about things they are passionate about. They are exciting, and informative, and engaging. Here are a few of my favorites:
S-Town is a podcast produced by This American Life that follows Brian Reed as he investigates a murder in Bibb County in southern Alabama. John B. McLemore, who eventually becomes the podcast’s main focus, had persistently emailed the the production team at This American Life, asking for someone to help him investigate an alleged murder in his town. I was particularly excited about this podcast, since This American Life also produced one of my absolute favorite podcasts, Serial. Though this was far less similar to Serial than I anticipated, I really loved listening. ITunes categorized it as a personal journal, and that’s exactly what it feels like. By the end, I felt as though I understood the town of Bibb and its people, and I felt sympathy and empathy for the narrator, Reed. It is well constructed and integrates both interviews and narration nicely. This podcast paints a vivid picture of a small town in Alabama that may often be overlooked. It is easy to put small, southern counties in one group, but Reed debunks these stereotypes by openly searching for a more intimate understanding of the happenings in the town and the stories of its people.
S-Town is available to stream on ITunes and on this site.
Stuff You Should Know:
This podcast comes from HowStuffWorks.com and records two regular guys explaining complicated ideas and processes. It’s nice to hear about complex things in far less complex words. They cover things like how color works, the history of horoscopes, and more politically relevant stories about how the Supreme Court works, or why filibusters happen. Scrolling through old episodes, I find myself downloading many of them. They do an excellent job of picking topics that you may recall having wondered about at some point in your life. My personal favorite episodes are on pain scales and Grimms’ fairy tales.
Stuff You Should Know is available to stream on ITunes and here.
Missing Richard Simmons:
Whether you are familiar with exercise and fitness guru Richard Simmons or not, this podcast will keep you hooked through all six episodes. It follows Dan Taberski as he investigates Simmons’ current whereabouts and talks to those who knew him intimately in years past. As a friend of Simmons, I think Taberski’s perspective is particularly interesting, and he makes it clear that his investigation is from a place of worry and love. Throughout the episodes, he also uses clips of Simmons from old interviews and has people recount their stories of knowing him, so that the listener better understands not only Simmons’ current circumstances and the effect they have on his friends and family, but also Simmons himself.
Listen to Missing Richard Simmons on ITunes and here.
There is a reason the title of this podcast includes the world “Hardcore.” Each episode is at least four hours long, and many of the stories have three or more four-hour episodes. While I’ve only managed to get through one episode, I really love listening. Dan Carlin, the podcast’s host, finds lesser-known historical tales and recounts them on his podcasts. His analysis of the events is captivating , and he manages to provide the listener with lots of details while still keeping them engaged. I think the key to this podcast is that it not only tells the history, but analyzes human nature and how societies have evolved over time. He mainly focus on pre-18th century tales, and many of them deal with government corruption and abuse of power, or how societies have treated different kinds of people over time.
Hardcore History is available on ITunes and here.
This six-episode deep dive into the making and inspiration behind Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is fascinating. Not only does the narrator give information, but sound effects and conversation snippets are incorporated to add to the eerie effect of the stories being told. The host covers everything from the movie’s inspiration to the struggles Hitchcock faced getting his movies past the sensors. It gets a little creepy, but I think that lends itself nicely to the subject matter at hand. It all feels very intense, and I never find my mind drifting elsewhere while I listen.
Listen to Inside Psycho through ITunes and here.
This podcast is brand new and comes from Tavi Gevinson, creator of Rookie Magazine (and one of my personal heroes). Rookie is an online magazine composed largely of work created by teenagers, and, after many requests, Gevinson finally decided to make a podcast. The first and only episode (for now) is a conversation between Gevinson and Ella Yelich-O’Connor (or the singer Lorde, as you may know her). I’ve already listened to it twice; they talk so openly with each other that I couldn’t help but feel that I was in the discussion with them. At the end of each episode, too, Gevinson brings in someone to give advice about a question she has received from a listener. This podcast is intimate and charming, and I am excited to see who else Gevinson interviews.
The Rookie Podcast is available on ITunes and here.
Featured image courtesy of Apple.