Wanted: Podcast recommendations


Brain things / Friday, July 6th, 2018

Confession: I only discovered podcasts for myself about two weeks ago, when I asked my husband a few questions about his use of them (including, “How long have they been around while I had my head in the sand?”). No comment on his answer, but he suggested that I install the Stitcher app on my phone and listen to a few.

But I have another confession: I can’t see any point in them at all.

Listening made me realize several things. First, that podcasts remind me of radio, which I hated, back in the day when it was still a thing you could love or hate – it was so endless, and it drove me crazy. Second, I am used to classic literature, where the language is impeccable and the timing precise. The umming and ad libbing makes me crazy too. Third, I did not know this about myself but in everything but real books, I am a skimmer. I prefer to experience news articles and opinion pieces by reading the first sentence of every paragraph. People take SO LONG to say what they want to say. And lastly, although during podcasts my brain was tickled by a topic or two, such as cheesemaking methods in Wisconsin and what so-and-so is planning this summer, afterward I was no smarter or better than I was before.

Now I sound like the crankiest woman ever. And at the moment, I am.

Plus I just used a whole paragraph of my own to say “Why listen when you can read?”

But {important disclaimer} in case you will be nervous the next time I see you, I don’t mind verbal rambling in person. Over coffee or after church, you may dither and yaw away. That’s my home turf. It’s recorded rambling that I dislike, possibly because it reminds me of my own horrific attempts at efficiency on voicemail recordings and home videos.

So I need your help.

Convince me that podcasts are worthwhile. Tell me some good ones I need to get into – some choice selections that deliver humor, efficiency, life skills, or real value. Share why you listen to them, and when (what about interruptions? background noise?). Tell me how they’re better than an article or a book.

Thank you. I am sure you will say something worthwhile.

39 Replies to “Wanted: Podcast recommendations”

  1. I am waiting to be convinced as well. I just haven’t found any that make me come back. If I am going to listen to something I am going to pick an audiobook.

  2. I sympathize with your feelings on the recorded chit chat.
    However, I do enjoy Open Yale history classes, NPR’s “How I Built This”, and sermons such as Alister Beggs “Truth for Life.” (I access them on the Pocket Cast app.)
    “How I Built This” is fascinating to me, they interview entrepreneurs and business gurus. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t found it to be raunchy, but maybe a little uncouth.

  3. Try “What Have You” by Rachel Jankovic and her sister. It’s the only podcast I listen to regularly, maybe because they laugh so much about Mom’tudes and the silly temptations we fall prey to. I also love their encouragement to be creative in whatever sphere you find yourself. But they ad lib all the time. 😊

  4. To finish my answer, I listen to them while I’m sewing or cleaning, because it doesn’t require me to be as mentally engaged!
    And I’m not working very hard to convince you- I’d much rather have a real conversation or just listen to the audio Bible.

  5. Risen Motherhood! I love it! They take a break during the summer, but I listen to it once a week during the school year. I used to dread cleaning our master bath, especially our jacuzzi in which the merry maid must practically stand on her head. I realized the reason I hate cleaning is because it’s so boring and repetitious. So the answer was to stimulate the intellect. Cha ching. I instantly begin looking forward to cleaning our bathroom every Thursday.
    When I had lots of tiny tots I didn’t enjoy listening to recordings because of the many interruptions.

  6. I find Revisionist History by Malcom Gladwell to be intellectually stimulating and well done. No hem-hawing. I also love Read-Aloud Revival. Lots of super book recommendations and bookish discussion. I pick and choose topics from The Gospel Coalition. Some of them are excellent. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goines has some great writing/creative work inspirations.
    I would rather listen to an audio book if I’m doing something mindless, but podcasts work well if you get interrupted often and don’t need to follow a plot line.

  7. They’re not worth it. =) At least not when you have a myriad kids underfoot. And even if not, I’m still not convinced. I’m happy to be grumpy with you!

  8. I’m with you. The funny thing is I hadn’t really realized why until I read your reasons; then I laughed and nodded my head. Occasionally I stumble across one that I enjoy… if I’m in the right mood or if the circumstances are just right – like driving alone or I have a few hours of time alone at home. Recently I listened to a series of podcasts that Revive Our Hearts Ministries did on adoption and fostering. I enjoyed those. But I enjoyed your blog series on the subject more. 😉

    Sorry. No convincing going on here.

  9. Grammar Girl is my favorite podcast. The full name is Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. It’s short, not over 15 minutes, concise and educational. And I like her voice (trust me, this is important when you’re listening!)

    When I have a bit more time and I’m (hopefully) not interrupted by the children, I enjoy 99% Invisible. It’s fascinating facts and/or bits of history we normally don’t think about it. It’s more informative and not so ‘talky’ and I find it very interesting.

  10. My podcast list is short and I don’t use it frequently. Ravi Zacharias has his message recordings and Emily P Freeman has short, thoughtful inspiration. No ad libbing. My podcast player has speed adjustment. 😀

  11. I don’t listen to podcasts often either…time! But when I do get a chance, like when ironing!, I enjoy “RZIM: Let My People Think”, put on by Ravi Zachariah. He speaks a lot on apologetics, and adds a lot of conversations he has w/ his interaction w/ on-campus students around the world. I love his insight and his impeccable British accent! I also love my books and would rather read than sit and listen to podcasts. 😊

  12. Christian women podcasts drive me crazy. All of them. And most interviews type podcasts. I agree with all your complaints, but I listen to podcasts daily while I am cleaning cause I’m too distracted to follow a audio book or plot and they have given me so much enjoyment over the last three years. You just have to find the right ones. Try starting with produced, more scripted podcasts like Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History.

  13. I listen to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She interviews women, many who are a bit more popular etc, have a new book out etc, and sometime I get tired of that, BUT there have been some amazing testimonies shared there of God’s presence and finding God in the midst of very difficult stories. Of course, I can’t agree with everything that is said etc. But I’ve also been blessed and challenged. I will say that I pretty much don’t listen with when the boys are around as sometimes they mention things that I’d rather not discuss with them. Here’s one of my favorite episodes (not for young children): https://jamieivey.com/the-happy-hour-185-holly-christine-hayes

    I’ve also listened to Chatologie, Hey Girl, Conversations with John Eldridge, The Simple Show… There’s so many options!

    I dislike the sponsors part, but that’s when the forward 15 second button works great.

    When I listen: while working in the kitchen, cleaning bathrooms, driving. I don’t have little ones around much of the time and that makes a difference. I would have a hard time listening with other stuff going on. So maybe it’s not for this season of your life.

  14. I’m not into podcasts either. I tried listening to an occassional podcast but I would just get bored. I may try some of your readers suggestions like Ravi Zacharias.

  15. Of course, reading the other comments makes mine sound a little worldly. I like Sally Clarkson, but if felt like they got so little said in a long time! Revive our Hearts is short and so much ad stuff on repeat. I do like Ravi Zacharius as well, but again, there is so much preview and afterward (or whatever).

  16. Are you a visual learner rather than verbal by any chance? If the format doesn’t suit you, it is perfectly fine to fall of the “band wagon”. I am only now starting to compile a list of podcasts, but alas, I haven’t been listening enough to figure out which I like…

  17. Interesting comments:) I really enjoy podcasts on the occasion that I drive during the night. Also if I have a long boring task at hand. I have really enjoyed Backstory. It’s a podcast that digs deeper into the history surrounding news articles today. I love history and love that it’s done by professional historians so it is done without too much rambling, etc. It’s not necessarily Christian yet I was impressed by the lack of significant bias and the apparent love of learning history. They also were impeccably careful to back up their stories, which is important to me.

    Also, Dr Julie Slattery has Authentic Intimacy, which, although I mostly enjoyed, had a few less than stellar subjects.

    About my all-time favorite is actually the sermons podcast of J.D. Greear. His messages have brought me to several serious crises points to honestly consider what Jesus calls me to as Christian. Really really good! The only reason I can’t listen to them very long, is because I have to stop and digest what I’ve heard.

    I also really enjoy gardening podcasts but I’m not sure that fits well into the general conversation here. 😉

  18. I find I can’t listen to podcasts much in the summer when I have children home. But when I’m down to one child who is napping I can listen while I do dishes and clean. My favorite is The Next Right Thing by Emily Freeman. They’re short (12 – 18 minutes), very well done, and they have no ads. She talks about how to live a good life (but they’re not in the let’s-try-hard-and-you-can-be-successful category) and I always come away encouraged and inspired. I feel a bit like it’s a weekly conversation with a spiritual mentor. I enjoy The Simple Show by Tsh Oxenrider about family, traveling, and living simply with intention, but probably you should just read her books. (She does a have three part series on why and how and when to listen to podcasts.) The Lazy Genius is a good one too. Her tagline is let’s be genius about the things that matter and lazy about things that don’t and that pretty explains it. It’s practical and I like her straightforward style.

  19. PC RAP by Hippo Ed “deliver[s] humor, efficiency, life skills, real value”, and credit for continuing education, so I think it pretty much checks all your boxes. Unfortunately, as with many things of real value, it’s not free. Hope that helps.

  20. I listen while doing the dishes in the evening when everyone else is outside, while cleaning or ironing or sewing – when I’m either alone or during nap time. I haven’t listened much this summer with the children around more.

    I like One Extraordinary Marriage (not for children’s ears), God- Centered Mom, have been very inspired by some of the guests on Feathers: Faith in Flight, and The Moth has storytelling without umm-ing and chattering. My children love But Why?

    I was challenged by someone above who mentioned listening to the Bible … Suitable for anyone, anywhere!

  21. I am not a big fan of podcast either. However, this summer I have started listening while going on my daily walk. I go around a small track like 4 times so that I can keep an eye on the house the entire time, therefore the scenery gets a little monotonous. The only two that I listen to with any regularity are “The Next Right Thing” by Emily Freeman and I also occasionally enjoy the “Lazy Genius”. I think both have already been mentioned by other commenters.

    One trick I like is to wear just one ear bud that way I can hear the host speaking but also be tuned into the world around me. I don’t like the zoned out feeling I get when I wear ear buds and can’t hear nature or my squalling, squealing mob.

  22. I could echo a lot of your complaints about podcasts, but I do enjoy them when my children are busy elsewhere or when I’m doing something mindless like painting. I love Java With Juli for straightforward, practical marriage and relationship advice. The Business Boutique by Christy Wright when I’m feeling entrepreneur–ish. Personality Hacker or Typology for fascinating discussions on personality types (just a hobby of mine). Communicator Academy has some good stuff for writers, but I don’t have a lot of patience with chatty women. (Which probably explains why I have no mom podcasts on my list. 🙈)
    If you ever fall in love with any yourself, please tell us about them!

  23. I hardly ever listen to podcasts because I get grumpy when my children interrupt me, which is all the time. And audio books are even worse. I turn into a total bear with audio books unless we are in the vehicle. But I love to listen to a podcast when I’m doing something boring – like ironing. Two years ago when I was in a huge painting spree, I survived the monotony by listening to podcasts.

    All my favorites have already been mentioned (plus a few more that I’d love to check out). I totally agree that there are some podcasts that are annoying and not worth listening to. But don’t give up. Many are well worth your time. Look for ones that are scripted, packed information, and feed your mind – such as Malcolm Gladwell’s. I think you’ll soon find more than you ever have time to listen to.

    Unless, of course, you just want to read books. Then skip the podcasts and hit your library. I read far more books than I listen to podcasts because that is just what works in my stage of life.
    Gina

  24. I love podcasts. I pretty much love anyone who will talk to me. I grew up in a house with nine gabbing girls. Now my little house is silent while I scrub floors. I like to think about other people’s thoughts instead of chasing my own around my head. It’s the difference between scary and inspiring.

    My go to shows have been already mentioned: The Simple Show and The Lazy Genius. I’ve listened to lots of organizing and homemaking ones. I’ve been guilty of liking the content but unsubscribing because they pronounced words differently than I did or said ummmmm WAY to much. And their voices are deal breakers. Yep, it’s awfully cranky of us.

    More Reccomedations: In Their Own Voices, Anabaptist Perspectives, Happier

    Whatever you do, subscribe to at least one Australian, Brit, or Irish podcast. You can even excuse the Ummmm. The music of their accent will be inspiring.

  25. Why: Because I like them.
    When: commuting, operating equipment, mowing the lawn, washing dishes, rarely while sitting on my recliner.
    What: I thought you’d never ask.
    The Christian Humanist Podcast: Three Christian English professors talk about philosophy, theology, literature, art, and “other things humans do well.”
    Christian Humanist Profiles: Interviews with authors about all those new books you don’t have the time or money for. A kind of aural skimming if you will.
    The Sectarian Review: Eclectic show in which a Christian English professor interviews guests about anything from superhero movies to the Bruderhof.
    The Christian Feminist Podcast: I don’t listen to everything or even the majority (because I’m secretly misogynistic) but they have some really good discussions about gender-related issues. I appreciate the intellectual and theological diversity of their panelists.
    The Daily by NYT – Daily deep-dives into a big news story.
    Radio Atlantic – Weekly panel discussion by Atlantic journalists, usually prompted by one of their articles.
    Entitled Opinions (On Life and LIterature): Stanford professor talks literature and philosophy. Heady stuff and not for easy listening, but worth the extra energy. His soaring introductory monologues have literary quality.
    Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me by NPR: An entertaining (sometimes overly crass and frivolous) way to catch up on the week’s news.
    Ask Me Another by NPR: Game show involving words and trivia.

  26. Oh yes, they’re worth it. 🙂 My life with preschool kids has a lot of monotonous work that restricts my time to read. (I like to be really attentive to books, so I hate audiobook interruptions.) My life also doesn’t have many adult voices in it. I like variety, new ideas, interesting and fairly linear conversation, and podcasts keep me from going crazy in my own head many a day.

    Here’s a few I enjoy: The Lazy Genius (household/organization); Read Aloud Revival; Typology (I’m on an Ennegram kick lately); At Home (the most woman-chatty that I listen to and a little hit-and-miss. It scratches the homeschooling/motherhood itch and I was interested in Charotte Mason awhile ago). Sometime perhaps I will listen to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s podcast, What Should I Read Next?

    I listen when I’m doing the dishes, ironing, cleaning, painting, folding laundry etc. I am picky about pretentious show hosting and I don’t subscribe, just flit around to a few faithfuls and wait for more recommendations from my sister, the podcast-listening queen.

  27. Ditto on recently discovering podcasts and the irritation of being interrupted while listening to something. So it most often happens during the children’s nap time while I’m doing something mundane and mindless like ironing or cleaning up the house.

    These are not necessarily intellectual and may drive you crazy but……the main two that I’ve listened to (I pick out episodes at random that look interesting) are One Extraordinary Marriage (again, not something you want your children listening in on) and Focus on the Family. With the latter I’ve primarily listened to episodes on parenting. I especially like the ones with Dr. Kevin Leaman because I think he’s funny.

    I also love to read but feel like there’s hardly any time in my life for it right now with a baby and a toddler. And if I am reading a really interesting, plotty (can that please be a word) book I tend to neglect my household and am not very present with my children so I try to limit that. Thus, tuning in to a podcast now and then gives me some inspiration and/or entertainment while I’m getting a necessary task done. Child training for instance? I need all the help I can get. Occasionally my husband and I have made a point to listen to the same podcast and talk about it later. Now that’s just fun. Or enlightening. So I guess those are my plugs. Oh, and I’m of the persuasion that a Bluetooth ear piece is mucho better than ear buds if you don’t want it blaring for all to hear.

  28. I have a love/hate relationship with podcasts. But when I’m driving alone and don’t want to start an audiobook, there are a few that do make the cut:

    Rewrite Radio by Festival of Faith and Writing

    On Being with Krista Tippet

    The Allandar Center

    Signposts by Russell Moore

    The Briefing by Albert Mohler (daily news items with Christian perspective)

    The English We Speak

    Parenting Great Kids with Dr. Meg Meeker

  29. Hallelujah for finding out that podcasts annoy someone besides myself. I think part of it is this stage in my life, which is lots of littles and a baby, so the interruptions are non-stop and therefore even a small podcast would be interrupted. Too annoying. Also I hate to be hooked to an electronic device. Too detached from whoever might be around me at the moment, mostly kids. Don’t want them too feel they need to compete with an electronic for moms attention. I can hardly tolerate radio either, especially when I married and moved to another state and found the DJ’s, radio hosts, whatever-you-call them, very nasal sounding, particularly the women, and it drove (drives!) me nuts. I’ve heard good things about the one by Rachel Jankovic and her sis, want to tune in, but… see the first part about interruptions. I find that if I have a rare moment of silence to enjoy sans interruption, I prefer to keep it… silent. Books now, ahhhh. Yes please. On the rare occasion I’m listening to something besides music, it is my daily reading from Scripture. I much prefer the feel of the Bible in my hands and the chance to slowly muse over the words, but some days it’s the audio version while I do dishes, or it’s nothing at all, which doesn’t make for a very good day. Because I’m too lazy to go through all the comments and write them down, maybe you’ll make a list for all your gentle readers? But then, doesn’t that seem a little odd to make a podcast list for readers? 😉

    1. P.S. I like the picture you used. Snagged a few book titles from it and now am on a waiting list as #115 in line for the ebook version of “Everything Happens For A Reason” and have reserved the actual book (yay!) “In The Land of Blue Burqas” from a local library. Also, sometimes podcasts have transcripts available. That’s how I “listened” to one recently. The 15 or so minute podcast took only about 7 minutes to read maybe?

  30. Two that I like are – This American Life (definitely liberal bias but I tend to find other people’s view points intriguing). – American History Tellers ( history told in a easy to listen to story like format.). I enjoy podcasts to stimulate my mind. When you are home all day with little people and very little adult interaction you can feel a little stale. One thing I don’t like is that I can start feeling like I need entertainment 24/7 and don’t do very well at meditating/prayer as I work. Alicia.

  31. Did someone say Revive Our Hearts? I’m a little late here, but I enjoy this one. Podcasts are great while doing dishes or embroidery or coloring….:)

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