Podcasts have become a go-to travel accessory for many, so if you’re packing up to head home for the holidays, here are some suggestions to drown out the sounds of crying plane babies and impatient horn honkers.
Second-hand embarrassment is the worst, except when it’s hilarious. The concept: People read real diary entries from their youth. Get ready to cringe with laughter. Retta’s (AKA Donna from the beloved show Parks and Recreation) retelling of her life as a young and sassy boy-crazy nerd is particularly endearing.
Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton offer culture analysis, humor and real talk about race and gender on a show that is as brimming with personality as Buzzfeed is filled with cat gifs. Featuring thought provoking interviews, absurdist drunken debates and a presidential-candidate cameo appearance by Hillary Clinton.
For those seeking insight into the creative process of songwriting. Artists tell stories about how they discover the contours of melodies and mechanics of rhythm and harmony to build the songs that won’t leave your head. Take a tour through the minds of these musical geniuses, uncover surprising layers of meaning, and fall in love with a few new songs in the process.
Internet culture is the culture in some cases. Wanna know what the hell the kids are talking about these days? Check out this show which examines the symbiotic relationship between people and the Internet and how our virtual realities often bleed into our real lives.
Feeling grown ’n’ sexy? Here’s a show about love, intimacy and sexuality from all walks of life. Oh yeah, although it is a beautifully produced, lush aural experience, it is definitely NSFW. Or family car rides. Grab yer headphones, and prepare to blush.
Having Serial withdrawal? Those with a need to know may enjoy Reveal, a monthly program and podcast produced by PRX and the Center for Investigative reporting, hosted by Al Letson (formerly the host and executive producer of State of the Re:Union).
Hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel helped to create proto-podcast juggernauts This American Life and Radiolab. Now they’re bringing their inquisitive sensibilities and sound design skills to one of NPR’s newest podcasts: Invisibilia. Together they explore how invisible things like fear, unspoken thoughts, and quantum mechanics influence our everyday lives. Based in brain science with a dash of psychology, it’s public media anthropology at its finest.
How are events of the present connected to the past? ‘The American History Guys’ have some ideas. U.S. historians Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers and Brian Balogh each specialize in a specific century (there’s 18th Century Guy, 19th Century Guy and 20th Century Guy, respectively) and use a blend of humor and storytelling to uncover uniquely American habits, traditions and beliefs.
Hearing and understanding are rarely the same thing. Get a better grasp on the world and its cultures by diving into the ways in which people use language— and recover what’s lost in translation. Hosted by Patrick Cox, language editor for PRI’s The World. Particularly helpful: their latest episode "Exploring why some say we should call ISIS ‘Daesh’".
You can find all of these podcasts and more on iTunes. Stay tuned for WGBH News’ growing collection of original podcasts as well, including The GroundTruth Project, Security Mom, Innovation Hub and The Scrum. And for even more recommendations, check out NPR’s new podcast directory, earbud.fm.