There aren’t many things I’m certain of in life, but I am pretty certain about this: no matter where you are and what timezone you’re in, there is an 80% chance I have my earbuds in at this very moment. While I love me some Kishi Bashi and Avett Brothers, I’m not listening to music. I, my friends, am a serial podcast listener. On the weekly basis, I shuffle through podcast after podcast—obsessing over the New & Noteworthy and critiquing episodes. Sure, this mild obsession with the art of listening started when I first learned of Serial and listened to the criminal case of Adnan Syed. The further I’ve dived into the podcast world, the more it traversed passed mystery. I’ve been incredibly moved by a few podcasts recently and am constantly chatting with friends about recommendations. What better place to share my artistic fuel than with my like-minded, creative readers? This week, I’m sharing the most inspiring podcasts in 2016 for your listening pleasure.
I contemplated putting this at the bottom of the list to end on a strong note, but I couldn’t wait to type up the wonderful things I constantly say about this podcast. Millennial is me. It’s you. It’s anyone who is actively throwing themselves out into the universe in their twenties with an idea that’s bigger than settling. Different than most podcasts, Millennial is a narrative of Megan Tan’s incredibly relatable life. Podcasts that take place in first person typically don’t work for me, but Megan is so instantly engaging and relatable, I couldn’t picture the show being any other way. It’s as if you’re listening to a friend’s struggles and successes, rooting for them on the sidelines, while also feeling particularly connected as if you were living the same life. The most beautiful, awesome part of the entire podcast is that you go through Megan’s major life-changing experiences in real-time and get to watch the podcast blossom from a project in her closet to a full-blown career…in just a season and a quarter.
After listening to an episode and sharing it with my friends, it was brought to my attention that so many of us think we’re living through our issues, fears and goals on our own in solidarity. On the contrary, most millennials are experiencing the same set of feelings and taking similar risks across the world. I’ve written about the life of a millennial here a lot and particularly I never feel 100% satisfied with where I currently am. Megan’s podcast justifies those fears and makes me feel less crazy for never wanting to settle. I initially wrote MUCH more about this podcast, but will save it for another post. In the meantime, I give it 6 our of 5 stars… seriously.
This American Life
The best way I can describe This American Life is Humans of New York for your ears and on a broader scale. To give you an idea, the Chicago Public Media weekly public radio show broadcasts interesting stories passed on a set of themes on more than 500 stations to about 2.1 million listeners. Some might get irritated at me for the comparison since HONY was introduced to us far after This American Life aired, but the feeling I get while listening is similar. I personally connect to the stories, both hardships and successes, and feel emotionally invested into the the lives of the people featured in those short hour-long episodes. Ira Glass has a way with words and it is by far one of the most applauded, captivating radio hosts I’ve yet to hear.
If you know me, you knew this was coming. Elizabeth Gilbert is always a fresh of breath air. When I learned that a podcast would be released to coincide with her book, Big Magic, I was all ears. (Okay, last pun of the post… I promise!) This podcast features beautiful stories from people across the country learning to live creatively without fear with the guidance of Elizabeth. I’m tempted to submit my own story just so I can have 20 minutes with her! The podcast beautifully weaves together her sound advice, brings on a few of my favorite authors as guests (HELLO, Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed), and is a heart-felt look into the beauty that can be seen once we let go of our baggage. If you love advice columnists and deep conversations, also check out WBUR’s Dear Sugar Radio, a podcast hosted by Cheryl Strayed (the author of Wild).
Women of the Hour
I kind of have a thing for Lena Dunham. While many think she’s a bit too outrageous, I think she’s honest, understands what it’s like to be a women in 2016 and encourages everyone in her path to embrace feminism. She hits on topics like friendship, sex, body confidence, love and more, while bringing on guest stars like the likes of Emma Stone. The backlog of episodes isn’t as hefty as shows like This American Life, so listening is an easy and pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
TED Radio Hour
This might be a tad obvious. TED videos have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Whenever I go through one of those productivity binges where I feel like I NEED to get my life together, I visit TED.com and sit through multiple talks. Talk of dreams—need it! The power of vulnerability—love it! The ebola virus—um, I could do without it but I’m glad there’s a talk for that? I understand that there are so many inspiring and/or enlightening roads a TED video can take. I’m never disappointed, but I often feel tied up in front of my screen. With the TED Radio Hour podcast from NPR, I actually get a deeper listening experience that goes be on the “talk” and can enjoy them anywhere… especially in traffic.
I know the list is short and sweet, but I could continue for days! Think of this as your starter kit. Did I forgot to add you’re all-time favorite? Tell me in the comments below!