Ever since I started commuting to my first full-time job after college (wuddup Daily Press) I've been listening to podcasts as a way to learn new things, enrich my mind, or simply pass the time. I started small, listened to back-episodes of lots of shows until I found my favorites.
These are just a sampling of the 17 (and counting) podcasts I subscribe to, plus five more I'm testing out before I subscribe. But these are generally what I like listening to during a typical commute! (The darker/weirder podcasts I listen to deserve a post all their own.) And yes these are organized by color. Here we go.
This is a podcast I sort of stumbled upon in the New & Noteworthy section of the iTunes podcast library last January. Megan Tan started this podcast to document her search for a job after college -- something my 22-year-old self would have loved to hear in 2012 after I graduated. She is literally recording this podcast from her bedroom closet. Her boyfriend and friends make appearances in the podcast, but I love how she includes them not in an interview capacity, but as genuine conversations.
Now she has sponsorship for the podcast and is taking it in a cool, new direction (documenting the stories of other millennials), but I'd recommend listening from the beginning.
My favorite episode: "#8: Let the Games Begin" where she interviews for a fellowship at NPR in Washington, D.C.
Magic Lessons with elizabeth gilbert
Ugh Liz Gilbert. I love her. She's known for her book "Eat Pray Love" of course, which I read after it had been out for quite a while, when my friend and sorority sister Heather Barden AKA Heath Bar (AKA the best nickname I've ever come up with) recommended it to me. I also loved her next book, "The Signature of All Things" and can't wait to re-read it.
She released this podcast as a way to promote her book "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear." She conducts coaching calls with regular everyday women about their creative roadblocks in life and how to overcome them, and then she'll chat with friends such as Brene Brown, John Hodgman and Cheryl Strayed about those specific cases. This podcast actually gave me the push to start my blog! It was a mini-series so you can listen to the whole season of episodes now.
Episode I recommend: Episode 2: Cheryl Strayed to Moms - "Pursue Your Passions Like a Mofo"
This is a weird one. But Grant listens to it with me! Starlee Kine investigates mundane, totally random mysteries that other people want solved: How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal really? What is the backstory to this weird belt buckle? Did Britney Spears read my book? Starlee is on the case. The way she gets to the bottom of the mystery is awesome to listen to. There are only six episodes and I can't wait for another season!
Episode I recommend: Literally all the episodes -- but skip the first one.
Women of the hour with lena dunham
Here's another mini-series podcast, and to be honest it's one I didn't think I'd enjoy as much as I did. Lena Dunham hosts five hour-long episodes on different themes (including friendship, love & sex, work) and interviews her friends, colleagues and other celebrities on those themes. Oh, and they're all women. The most brilliant part of her series is including Emma Stone and June Squibb in each episode as "advice columnists." It's adorable and hilarious.
Episode I recommend: Episode 1: Friendship made me all warm and fuzzy inside, and very thankful for my friendships.
I need this podcast to come back. It's SO GOOD, as most NPR podcasts are. The podcast is described as "a six-episode series about the invisible forces that shape human behavior -- ideas, beliefs, assumptions and thoughts." Sounds dense, but it's a lot of fun. The whole first season is out now, and you should listen to it. Trust me.
Episode(s) I recommend: The Secret History of Thoughts & How to Become Batman
the bold life movement with kimberly rich
I'd be listening to this podcast even if the host didn't go to college with my older sister, but she did, so I can attest to how awesome a person she is! Kimberly Rich quit her corporate job and started traveling the world, working with really cool people and eventually founding The Bold Life Movement. She works as a success coach and lifestyle designer, and now hosts her own podcast! She interviews creative entrepreneurs about their path to success and how they are living a bold life. I can't wait to see what else she does!
Episode(s) I recommend: Jenn Gietzen: From Corporate Life to Creative Entrepreneur and Jen Du: Before Elixer, The Ultimate Drinking Companion (I need to get me some of that elixer..)
Here's another NPR podcast that I actually thought would be similar to Invisibilia, but it has carved out its own niche in my podcast rotation. Hidden Brain is described as "a conversation about life's unseen patterns." Huh? Basically, the host Shankar Vedantam interviews experts on a different topic each week -- but the format isn't always the same. I pick and choose which episodes to listen to based on the topic, but all the ones I've listened to have been brilliant and thought-provoking. Think of it as a "This American Life" on psychology.
the lively show
Jess Lively centers her podcast around values-based intentions, interviewing different entrepreneurs, bloggers, business owners or thought leaders on their lives and how they got to where they are. She's a bubbly personality who has really honed her interview skills over the years since I've started listening to the show. Back in December, she interviewed the woman who coined the phrase "conscious uncoupling" (made famous when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin split up) and talks about her own divorce AS an episode of the show.
pop culture happy hour
I saved the best for last! This is my all-time, favorite podcast ever. I wake up every Friday morning looking forward to a new episode. I have also definitely dragged my sisters, friends and fiance to all of their live shows in DC. I LOVE listening to Linda's insightful take on everything pop culture and Glen's sarcasm, and Stephen Thompson is pretty much my spirit animal. PCHH also brings in guests for their rotating fourth chair spot depending on the topic.
One of my favorite episodes of the year is actually The Oscars Omnibus, their annual preview of the Academy Awards. They talk about everything from comics or romance novels (sparingly) to the latest TV shows and movies (more frequently). I love their Small Batch editions that come out randomly -- or sadly, when a pop culture icon dies (Alan Rickman, David Bowie). The one remembering Stewart Scott was one of the sweetest I've listened to.
PCHH ends each episode by going around the table and talking about What's Making Us Happy This Week -- usually pop culture related, but not always. Pop Culture Happy Hour is what's making me happy every week!
Episodes I recommend: The Oscars Omnibus (a good listen, even though the Oscars have passed!) + their Small Batch Edition on the Oscars ceremony (one episode after the Oscars Omnibus episode!)