4 Podcasts For Your Post-“Serial” Existence

December 18, 2014

Apple_Podcast_logoA few weeks back, a small group of us Ponies gathered on a Sunday morning at the popular Dinkytown bar Burrito Loco. (That’s crazy burrito in English.) We were heavily layered head-to-toe, properly dressed to watch the Vikings take on the Panthers in what would be the seventh-coldest game in franchise history — exactly the kind of game you brag to your kids and grandkids about when the Vikings return to playing indoors.

Between Bloody Marys and breakfast burritos, we talked about one thing and one thing only: “Serial.” A podcast. Nonfiction, mind you. Not fantasy football, not Teddy Bridgewater, not our soon-to-be-frostbitten extremities. We talked about a podcast, ad-freaking-nauseam. It was awesome.

The podcast as a genre is celebrating its 10th anniversary in a big way. “Serial” has been downloaded more than five million times from the Tunes store alone, ostensibly attracting millions of newcomers to the sublime experience of listening to something smart and engaging while still being able to do other things in life. Here is a real list of things I have done while listening to “Serial”:

  • Cleaned the house – all 954 square feet
  • Prepared a Thanksgiving turkey
  • Shoveled the driveway and sidewalk
  • Hung Christmas lights
  • Fallen off a ladder while hanging Christmas lights (I’m OK)
  • Shopped for groceries on Black Friday. At Target.
  • Drove to and from work – the longest ways possible

Therein lies the beauty of podcasts. Unlike binge-watching “House of Cards,” you can leave your bed or couch and lead something that resembles a life. Really, the podcast is the perfect medium for a generation of chronic multitaskers. (I’m Christmas shopping online as I write this.)

Here’s the thing — sometime tonight, after you have consumed the final episode of “Serial”‘s first season, you may be left pining for more podcasts. Alas, you have options. Allow me to share a few of my favorites:


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The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons (iTunes)

Sports-heavy, sure, but ESPN’s wisest wise-ass has welcomed Larry David, Lorne Michaels, Chuck Klosterman and Mark Wahlberg each within the past two months. If you believe the sports world belongs in the pop culture conversation (news flash: it does), you’ll totally dig this.

Sample episode:
B.S. Report: 11/19/14 – Lorne Michaels


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 7.22.20 AMOn The Media (iTunes)

A fascinating hour of reporting … on the media. Hosts Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone play ombudsmen to mass media’s many strengths and foibles. Whenever a major news event goes down, OTM is mandatory listening. Turns out the way news is reported can be as important as the news itself.

Sample episode:
Special: The Torture Report


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 7.38.11 AMRadiolab (iTunes)

This is some delicious brain candy. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich explore the Venn diagram of science and culture as it relates to a single theme. Each episode is beautifully mixed and mastered in the tradition of old-school radio drama a la Orson Welles. Very high marks on the Makes You Feel Smarter Index.

Sample episode:
Straight Outta Chevy Chase


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 7.54.51 AM10,000 Hours (iTunes)

Former Fast Horse Interns-For-A-Day Grant Spanier and Vince Koci discuss craft, creativity and process without the pretense. Guests range from everyday creatives to A-listers like Seth Godin and Meagan Cignoli. Remember HBO’s How To Make It In America? This is the ad/marketing podcast version of that.

Sample episode:
Episode 37 – Recharge


Got a podcast or seven you would you recommend? Please leave it in the comments section below!