5 Podcasts that Will Change Your Life
Anyone who knows me well, knows I love podcasts. Love may be an understatement. There are few things that occupy my awareness as much as podcasts, and I’m pretty much constantly on the lookout for new ones.
Lately, I’ve come across some really fantastic ones. I’ve been listening to podcasts for the last six years, so I’ve already long discovered the heavy hitters like This American Life, WTF with Marc Maron, RadioLab, Comedy Bang Bang, and Planet Money. I listen to some podcasts entirely dedicated to one particular interest I have, like football, music, or buddhism, and then others about comedy, story-telling, or pop culture.
There are a few podcasts out there though, that are truly-life changing; the types of podcasts that will either make you the most interesting person at a dinner party, enthrall you with an incredible story, challenge you to become a better person, or simply change your perspective on everything.
It’s hard for me to only include five, but here they are: 5 podcasts that will change your life:
- 99% Invisible – Describing itself as a tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world, each episode is a sound-rich deep dive into a single topic that could be a yogic cult from the 1980’s, water fountains and their effect on public health, or superhero movie costumes and the design challenges they present. The host, Roman Mars, is about as good as it gets and so is the production quality of the show on the whole. I only recently discovered this one, and since it comes out reliably once a week and ranges 20-30 minutes in length, it’s extremely digestible and entertaining.
- On the Media – WNYC (New York City’s NPR affiliate) records and airs this show once a week. I remember upon first hearing about it thinking, “A radio show about the media? That sounds kind of boring.” Then I gave it a shot and it’s since become the one media outlet I feel I can truly trust. OTM breaks down the past week’s stories and works to filter out the bias and journalistic malfeasance that runs so rampant in today’s day and age holding mainstream media outlets accountable, decoding what real stories are indeed out there and why they’re not being reported. If you truly want to know the answer to questions like why the Paris attacks got so much media coverage and the Beirut attacks didn’t, this is the podcast for you.
- The Tara Brach Podcast – Tara Brach is an author, therapist and senior teacher of Buddhist vipassana meditation. Her podcast is a recording of her weekly dharma talk from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington D.C. So many times in my life, listening to one of Tara’s lessons on Buddhist concepts such as letting go, practicing self-acceptance, or facing fear have reached me at just the right time, rescuing me from a time of hardship and emotional unrest. She expresses her views in an extremely accessible, secular way informed by her background in western psychology. Whether you’re an avid meditator or you don’t know the first thing about Buddhism, this podcast has some wisdom that will help you.
- Surprisingly Awesome – This latest offering from Gimlet Media (I could have listed pretty much any of their amazing shows here, especially StartUp), is hosted by Adam McKay (director of Anchorman) and Adam Davidson (co-host of NPR’s Planet Money). The two met on set of a movie about the financial crisis and discovered their mutual passion for proving how incredibly fascinating seemingly mundane things can be when viewed under the right lens. Subjects like concrete and mold go from being ordinary to (you guessed it) surprisingly awesome! This one climbs to the top of the interesting dinner party conversation category.
- RISK! – Ever listen to The Moth? People get up on stage and tell true stories without notes in front of a live audience. Now imagine if The Moth held a “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll” night. That’s RISK! in a nutshell. It’s composed of true stories told by people they never thought they’d dare to share in public. Everything from psychedelic drug experiences, orgies. stories of abuse or escape. One thing is certain about anything you hear on this podcast: it will move you in one way or another. (Full disclosure: I recorded a story for this podcast last year, but I was already an extremely passionate fan for years at that point)
This list is nowhere near exhaustive. I could easily have made this a 10-point list, but I wanted to break off a small chunk for those looking to get their feet wet. Perhaps another segment will come soon.
Leave a comment if you’re a fan of any of these podcasts or you want to recommend one that should’ve made the list!