If you’re anything like me, you read all day long and still have no idea what’s going on in the world. As a grad student, I spend my days checking email, skimming blog posts my social media feeds have led me to, and, of course, reading assigned articles and texts. Like most Gen Y-ers, I get most of my news from the Internet, but I also get a good amount of in-depth information about topics in the news from radio via podcasts.
My Case For Podcasts
Yes, podcasts. I’ve been addicted to podcasts ever since I got a first-generation iPod Shuffle for my birthday in 2006. It was white, plugged directly into my computer’s USB port, and it had a whole 512 MB. It changed my life. At the time, I spent about three hours a day commuting on public transportation to and from my job as a teacher at a North Philadelphia charter school. I started off filling the Shuffle with music, but those little earbuds weren’t built to overpower the roar of the Broad Street Spur subway line. I found if I filled the Shuffle with a few hours of podcasts I could crank the volume up all the way and still hear the sibilant consonants of the shows’ hosts, even when we were screeching into a station.
Since I fell in love with podcasts in 2006, they have exploded in popularity, and this has helped fuel a resurgence in the relevance of the radio medium. Riveting radio programs like Radiolab, which the New York Times said creates shows that are like “small movies,” make me smarter while entertaining me. I find myself—to the great annoyance of those around me, I’m sure—quoting and referencing podcasts all the time. That’s because I listen to podcasts every day. I listen while I’m on the bus to campus, while I’m walking between classes, and while I’m washing the dishes. I’ve acquired a carefully curated listening queue that I try hard to keep up with. It includes mostly arts and media podcasts, with a healthy dose of food and cooking shows.
The 5 Podcasts MLIS Students (Or Anyone Else) Should Be Listening To
Let me share with you the podcasts I think my fellow MLIS students should be listening to. The list that follows includes shows that will entertain you while educating you. Get your weekly dose of these five podcasts, and you’ll feel smarter… and maybe even sound smarter, too.
Studio 360, Public Radio International & WNYC
Hosted by Kurt Andersen, a writer-turned-radio journalist, this weekly 52-minute show delves into colorful stories about pop culture and the arts. Listen to this podcast to find out what you should be watching on TV, what book you should be downloading next, and what video game the undergrads upstairs were probably playing until all hours last night. In recent episodes, Andersen has interviewed director David Cronenberg about his new movie about the relationship between Freud and Jung, Sarah Jessica Parker about why she thinks contemporary art is so important, and Greg Stock, a proponent of genetic engineering. Listen to find out about the arts & pop culture.
This American Life, Public Radio International & Chicago Public Media
Each week, This American Life brings to life stories about people and places on a particular theme. One of my all-time favorite episodes, #186, “Prom,” features four riveting acts in which people tell stories about high school proms, including one about a tornado ripping through a small town in Kansas, while the high school seniors danced in the Knights of Columbus Hall on Main Street. This is storytelling at its best. Librarianship students should listen: this show is a shining example of how sharing stories can give us insight into the lives of our neighbors. Listen to learn how to tell a story and to learn how other Americans live.
WNYC’s Radiolab, WNYC Radio
You’ll listen to Radiolab and be sucked into the quirky, fun, and moving stories long before you realize you’re listening to a show about science. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are an unlikely pair of producers who reporters who work magic on radio. Abumrad is a 30-something Lebanese-American who majored in creative writing and music composition in college, and Krulwich is a seasoned correspondent who’s worked for several major media outlets in his decades-long career. Neither of them has a background in scientific study, and they bring to science the curious and naive point of view of an outsider. The hour-long Radiolab shows will inspire and amaze you, and teach you a little bit about the wonderful world of science. Listen to hear stories about how science changes people’s lives.
Marketplace, American Public Media in association with University of Southern California
I’m not afraid to admit I don’t give a hoot about business and financial markets. Yet I crave Marketplace. This show makes me love listening to the latest business news from around the world. I’m not exaggerating. Somehow, I’m inspired by the show’s reports on topics like rebranding the Euro, Enron 10 years later, and energy standards. This is the kind of show that will lead to you spouting off about central banks in class, even if your undergrad degree was in music. Listen to learn about business.
On the Media, WNYC Radio
I listen to On the Media because I know it will teach me about things I should have already read about, but didn’t because I was busy doing coursework. In recent weeks, I’ve heard about patients using gaming to help them recover from traumatic injuries, learned what Google search results can teach us about racism among Americans, and kept up with the latest Occupy Wall Street developments. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield even managed to get me fascinated about the NBA lockout, and that’s saying something. Listen to find out more about hot topics in the news.
Didn’t see anything here that particularly interests you? Check out Public Radio Exchange (PRX), a non-profit that distributes lots of excellent radio programming.
What podcasts do you love listening to? Share your favorites in the comments below.