Happy Finals Week!
Just like with last quarter’s week of finals, I’ve neglected my typical posts in favor of highlighting a few topics or news stories that are interesting to me. While riding my bike, driving my car, or working on tedious tasks in the lab, I often have an earbud in one ear hooked up to my phone. When music starts to become sleep-inducing, I usually tune in to podcasts, which are just radio talk shows released intermittently by various groups. Anyone with a computer, smart phone, tablet, or media player can listen to podcasts. Here, I’ll plug a few of my favorite.
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have teamed up for the past 6 years to provide a great combination of informative knowledge and boundless entertainment. Stuff You Should Know, which is produced by How Stuff Works (owned by Discovery), releases a show biweekly on a variety of topics. With over 600 episodes to date, the show has an episode on just about everything. The two hosts have such good rapport with each other that they even had a brief stint on television.
Four trivia geeks out of Berkeley started a Kickstarter campaign to run their own trivia podcast, and they’ve turned out a decent weekly show. The hosts pick a weekly topic and teach or quiz each other on the topics. They also release an “All Quiz Bonanza” episode every 5 weeks where they devote the show to quizzes. It’s a fun show to test your knowledge on random topics.
This American Life, which has been running for nearly 20 years, is a weekly radio show that also releases its episodes as podcasts. As the host of the show announces every week, each week they choose a theme and bring a variety of stories on that theme. The show is full of intriguing anecdotes and curiosities that typically make for a great hour of radio.
Snap Judgement is sort of like a modernized This American Life. Not to say that This American Life is old-fashioned in any way, but Snap Judgement mixes music into its stories and is hosted by a smooth-sounding radio host that just feels more connected with today’s youth. There are weekly shows with crazy stories that you’d never even imagine: a guy who rode a paddle-boat across the Pacific Ocean, a dog that wore sunglasses and a hat and warned his owner when the sheriff was checking in, or a CIA agent who ended up stranded and starving in Russia on Thanksgiving when a Jeep showed up with a care package from his sister.
Freakonomics Radio is hosted by Stephen Dubner, who co-authored the Freakonomics series with University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt. The books and radio show attempt to uncover the “hidden side of everything”. It’s almost a guarantee that any action will have unintended consequences, and Freakonomics highlights the most interesting of these cases.
I listen to a couple more, but these are definitely favorites that can pass the time and are definitely worth checking out.