I listen to A LOT of podcasts. My commute to work is 45 minutes each way, and I sometimes listen to podcasts while I'm quilting. Because of that, I subscribe to about 40 podcasts at any given time. Do I listen to every episode of each podcast? Only for my absolute favorite shows, and that's what I'm going to tell you about today. Here are my top, most beloved, never-miss-an-episode, favorite podcasts of all.
But before I get started, a shout out to my never-miss-an-episode quilting podcasts, Crafty Planner, Sit & Sew Radio, and Modern Sewciety. If you haven't subscribed to these, check them out! There are so many other wonderful podcasts about our quilting community, and you can find a list on the BERNINA WeAllSew blog here.
How I Listen to Podcasts
I have tried iTunes as well as several different podcast apps, and I've finally found what I think is the best of them all: Overcast. Search for it in your app store, download it, and then subscribe to as many podcasts as you'd like! Here are my favorite podcasts, organized by category. For each podcast, I'll recommend what I think is the best starting point and note when it's a podcast that has to be listened to from start to finish. Click on the image for the podcast website.
Leave me your favorite podcast recommendations in the comments below!
PODCASTS ABOUT TV
The West Wing Weekly
Hosted by musician Hrishikesh Hirway and former West Wing actor Joshua Malina, this podcast delves deeply into the greatest show ever on television. The podcast boasts interviews with cast, crew, and show runners and has the distinction of being my hands-down favorite podcast ever made. Pro tip: The West Wing is on Netflix, and you should watch an episode, take a break to listen to the podcast, then watch the next episode. Do not binge episodes then binge podcasts! Listen in order and start with episode one.
A Twin Peaks Podcast
Two Entertain Weekly writers break down each episode of the Twin Peaks revival currently airing on Showtime. This podcast is great for both long time Lynch/Frost fans and newbies who may be confused about what they're watching. Start by watching seasons one and two of Twin Peaks (available on Netflix) AND watching the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (available for rent on Amazon Prime) then listen to each episode of this podcast after watching the new Twin Peaks episodes. Start with "Examining Twin Peaks, Season 1."
Named after Doctor Who's first producer Verity Lambert, this podcast's tag line describes the show perfectly: Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who. Each host brings unique opinions to classic Doctor Who Stories and it's especially fun listening to them discuss new episodes as they air! If I had written this post last week, I probably would have suggested a different starting episode, but with the recent huge (and great, in my opinion) news about the Thirteenth Doctor, I say start with "There's Nothing 'Only' About Being a Doctor."
PODCASTS ABOUT POLITICS
What started as a podcast to cover polling leading up to the 2016 presidential election has become a great weekly (or more) politics podcast. Hosted by Jody Avirgan with Nate Silver, Clare Malone, and Harry Enten, this podcast covers current news stories so start with the most recent episode for the latest information. Jump right in, there's no need to listen to previous episodes in order to understand! Check your podcast app regularly - FiveThirtyEight does an emergency podcast any time big news breaks.
Hosted by journalists of color, "Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed" starts conversations about race. Don't know what code switching means? It's a linguistic term that's captured perfectly in Key & Peele sketches like this. Here are three episodes from the podcast's early run that can be a good starting point to this must-listen podcast: "Being 'Outoorsy' When You're Black or Brown," "How LGBTQ People of Color Are Dealing with Orlando," and "46 Stops: On the Driving Life and Death of Philando Castile."
Black on the Air
Were you sad when Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show was canceled by Comedy Central? Me too. That's why it's so exciting that Larry is back with a podcast that explores his old show's topics like the news, pop culture, sports, and more. The long format of podcasts suits Larry well and seems to give him more freedom than TV. So far my favorite episode has been "Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Absence of Curiosity, Sounding Black, and Why Astrophysics is His Calling." (No direct link available.)
PODCASTS ABOUT MYSTERIES
In the Dark
This podcast focuses on the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, an eleven year old from Minnesota. Interviews with family, friends, suspects, law enforcement, and more attempt to show how the legal system failed the Wetterling family in this case that was not solved for 27 years. Make sure to visit the podcast's website often for images, maps, videos, and more that relate to the case. Each episode reveals more details about the case, so start by listening to episode one.
Another podcast about the failings and complexities of the legal system, Suspect Convictions follows the many trials of Stanley Liggins, a man twice convicted of murdering a 9 year old girl in the Quad Cities. Both of those convictions were overturned. The podcast follows new developments as his third trial was about to begin. Similar to In the Dark, this podcast is best listened to in order. Start with episode one.
Missing Richard Simmons
By now, most people are familiar with Richard Simmons' recent departure from the spotlight. Has he retired from his illustrious fitness career, or is there a more nefarious reason he hasn't been seen in so long? Former Daily Show producer and Slimmons Studio student Dan Taberski interviews friends, students, family, and fans to learn more about Simmons' career and disappearance. Start with episode one (no direct link available).
PODCASTS ABOUT Music
Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway (remember him from The West Wing Weekly above?), Song Exploder features interviews with musicians about one specific song. Each episode features one interview and allows the musician to fully explain their song writing process, including lyrics and music. Scroll through the episodes and look for your favorite musician as a starting point, or listen to my personal favorite episode where Rivers Cuomo explains his complicated songwriting process using the Weezer song "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori" as an example.
BGS Radio Hour
If you're like me and want to find the best in new roots, Americana, and bluegrass, this is a great starting point. Branching off from the popular Bluegrass Situation blog, co-founded by comedian and banjo player Ed Helms, BGS has been my favorite source of roots news since it started. Each episode features new music by musicians you may have heard of, and introduces up and coming roots musicians. Start with "Ed Helms and the 2017 Bonnaroo Superjam" for a taste, then move on to an episode featuring a musician you already know.
Currently there are nearly 900 episodes of Mountain Stage, a live music show that has been on the radio since 1983. If you love live music, you need to listen to this podcast! You'll be able to find many of your favorite musicians scrolling through the episodes. You can also start by listening to a 2012 episode featuring one of my personal favorite bands The Mountain Goats (watch out for a quilt about one of their songs later this year..). This show leans heavily on roots/Americana/bluegrass, but features musicians from other genres as well.
PODCASTS ABOUT MUSEUMS
A Piece of Work
Visiting museums should be fun! Too often, visitors think museums are sacred and serious spaces, and feel disconnected to the objects or artwork they see. A lot of that is the fault of some museums that cling to outdated exhibit practices, but sometimes it's internalized behavior that children are taught from their first museum visits (it's ok not to shush kids in museums!). Abbi Jacobson from the Comedy Central show Broad City wants to change this. In each episode, Abbi meets with staff at the Museum of Modern Art including curators, conservators, and exhibit developers to learn more and help break down the walls between museums and their visitors. Start with episode one to learn about why Abbi is doing this podcast.
The C Word
The C Word's subtitle is The Conservator's Podcast, and it's all about conservation in museums! But they don't limit their conversation to the physical act of conservation, they talk about issues in museum practice that intersect with conservation like demographics in the field, technology, social media, the public face of conservation, and what it's like being an emerging museum professional. For folks who assume that museum professionals should always wear white cotton gloves when they work, start by listening to episode four, which breaks down the problem with gloves, when gloves should and should not be worn, and different types of gloves.
Objects in museums don't just tell one story. Each object means something different to different people. Objects that could sometimes seem stagnant in museum cases are brought to life in the podcast Historically Black, a podcast that was part of the Washington Post's coverage leading up to the opening of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. People from all over the country were invited to submit objects online that they felt were important to black history. There aren't many episodes, but each shares the powerful stories behind objects. Start with my favorite episode, "The Fiddler who Charmed Missouri."
PODCASTS ABOUT EXPERIMENTATION & storytelling
Welcome to Night Vale
Describing Night Vale is a little bit like describing a David Lynch film - you're never quite sure what's going on, but it's dark and mysterious and delightful. My partner Mitch says Night Vale is "Douglas Adams meets H.P. Lovecraft." This is a storytelling podcast that takes the form of fictional community radio updates from the strange town of Night Vale. Start with episode one because all of the episodes build upon each other to tell a story, but don't grow attached to any of the radio station's interns...
Within the Wires
All three of the podcasts in this section come from the creators of Night Vale, but I think Within the Wires is my favorite. Told over a series of "Relaxation Cassettes" narrated to the listener (an unnamed patient at The Institute...or is it you?) a mystery unfolds in each episode. The tapes really ARE relaxing at times though, so be careful if you are listening to this podcast while driving. And don't let your mind wander away like the narrator wants you to or you might miss something important! Like all of these mystery podcasts, start with episode one.
Alice Isn't Dead
Narrated by a truck driver, Alice Isn't Dead is about that driver's cross country search for her wife who she believed was dead. Now in its second season, this podcast reveals conspiracies in each episode. I'm not all the way caught up with this series yet, so I won't say much else! It's creepy, so try out the other two in this section before trying this one out. Like the others, start with episode one.
PODCASTS I JUST STARTED
Nancy's hosts, Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, describe themselves as "super queer, super fun, and ready to take over your podcast feed." Their show will do just that. Episodes feature stories and conversations about queer issues like coming out and sex ed in schools, and features interviews with celebrities like Rufus Wainwright and Lena Waithe. Start with my favorite episode so far, "There Are No Gay Wizards."
Recorded in San Quentin State Prison, Ear Hustle gives incarcerated persons a platform to share their stories of life in prison. This podcast has only released three episodes so far, but each one highlights a theme about prison life that non-incarcerated folks may not understand. My favorite episode so far is episode three, "Looking Out," which has stories of how one inmate named Rauch cares for secret pets.
The Kitchen Sisters Present
This podcast has been around for a long time, and Mitch recently reminded me that last winter we listened to a great episode about an all woman radio station and another about women who advertised the World Trade Center while it was being built, but I've recently rediscovered this great show about the b-side of history. A good place to start is "The Hidden World of Girls with Tina Fey."
I hope you find some new podcasts to keep you company while quilting in this post! Tell me about your favorite podcasts so I have something new to try out when I start my next quilt!