My favorite podcasts

When I was in the States I promised my sister-in-law, who has relocated to Slovakia, that I would put together a list of the podcasts that Scotty and I listen to. These podcasts serve a two-fold purpose. They keep us in the loop, to some degree. And they stave off homesickness. There’s something about listening to a radio production from home that is really soothing and makes the world seem just a little smaller. I’m going to post this list in case anyone is interested and I’ve provided links below – you can either listen to the podcasts straight from the websites, or download them (for free!) in iTunes.

NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me Tickets

Wait, wait…don’t tell me (NPR)

The “oddly informative news quiz show” keeps us smiling. It also ensures that I’m not entirely ignorant of what is going on in the States when I return for visits. Although I still have no idea why the Kardasians are famous nor do I know what songs are popular, this show ensures that I know a bit about what’s going on in politics and society. And it’s a whole lot less depressing than actually watching the news. And if you read the NYT regularly, this show makes you feel sorta smart!

This American Life

This is the show that makes me homesick. Ira Glass, as the main narrator, does an incredible job of pulling stories out of what may seem like the most mundane subjects. Sometimes the stories are funny or heartwarming, other times they’re infuriating and tragic – but they’re all American (with a few exceptions) and they tell the story of a country that is diverse and interesting and hopeful. Even the stories that tell of a great injustice bring some remnant of hope because there is freedom to tell these stories and therefore make changes.

The Splendid Table (APM)

Lynne Rosetto Kasper is the soundtrack to my kitchen adventures. If I’m cooking a meal that is going to take a while and I’m planning on being in the kitchen for an hour or more, I listen to one of these. From reviews of American diners to discussions on the best ways to make your own vinegar, I find Kasper’s knowledge and enthusiasm inspiring.

Planet Money (NPR)

Scotty got me started on this one and it’s been great for understanding what on earth is going on with the world economy. The producers tend to be more positive in their outlook, and that’s refreshing, but they also talk about really interesting topics. Things like, what exactly is money? What happens if you try to create a gold-standard based economy? Who determines what money is worth? What is the purpose of the FED? And why is a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage one of the most ridiculous investments ever created? Fascinating stuff.

Selected Shorts (PRI)

Peter Norton hosts this production at Symphony Space in NYC and one day I would love to see a live production. This isn’t a podcast I listen to very regularly, but when I do I always wish I had time to listen to it more frequently. The topics are interesting and the short stories, read by authors and actors, are engaging, often surprising, and always good-listening.


BBC Documentaries

My friend Nathalie recommended I start listening to BBC’s radio documentaries and they’re great. The topics are widely varying and almost entirely international. From the rise of China to homegrown Islamic Fundamentalism in the US, the BBC tackles topics that are important and treats them fairly and without the sensationalism that is so common in today’s media. Highly recommend these!

Ted Talks

These fantastic 20 minute presentations tackle a diverse array of topics, from vulnerability to climate change to technology. I find them endlessly fascinating and inspiring. 

Car Talk (NPR)

Scotty would not feel that this list is complete if I left off Car Talk. So humorous, strangely practical, Click and Clack make for good entertainment.  

Do you have any favorite podcasts? Please share – I’m always looking for new ones to add to my list! 

About Rebecca

Hi! After five years in Europe, I'm adjusting to life back in the US. I use this blog to record my adventures, post photos, organize recipes, and post about things that interest me.
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4 Responses to My favorite podcasts

  1. Nathalie says:

    Great post! I am always looking for more podcasts to add to my commuting list. May I also add BBC 4’s News Quiz with Sandy Toksvig (available on iTunes). Similar to Wait wait but shorter and British/Euro news focused. HILARIOUS. I regularly embarrass myself in public by laughing out loud like a crazy person when I listen to it on the train.

  2. marty says:

    Yea! From Slovakia I can attest that I’ve also found these podcasts a nice connection to what’s going on at home–and in English! I don’t have a TV here so I listen to the BBC’s daily global news updates as my audio news source.

    Thanks for posting, Bec. I’ll add some I don’t have yet!

    Maybe you should do a post on Downton Abbey, too!

    Much love:)

  3. POP says:

    I’ll have to check some of those out.
    CT with the brothers Click and Clack, the Cambridge guys, is guaranteed to make one laugh….many times.

  4. Karin says:

    This is great!! Thanks!

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