I try to surround myself with as much inspiration, positivity and food for thought as I possibly can. I’ve recently begun to realize that consumption is a hugely important part of the creative process, and I think that feeding yourself knowledge and big ideas can make such a difference in how you live your life and what you end up giving back to the world. And podcasts have quickly become one of my absolute favourite ways to learn and to be inspired.
Podcasts aren’t just being made in someone’s basement anymore (although some are, and some of those are awesome too!) – the format is now an outlet for really high quality, well-produced radio content. Maybe the word “podcast” still has amateur connotations for you, but I’d urge you to give it another chance because there’s so much out there now that’s worth discovering. I’m the first to admit I’m still only scratching the surface of this wonderful world of podcasting, and I’m constantly stumbling upon amazing shows that already have hundreds of episodes in the archives.
Here are five of my current favourite shows: some are old faves, some are recently discovered, but they’re all great.
This American Life / In my mind, this show is the gold standard for podcasting. Put simply, in their words: “each week we choose a theme and bring you a series of stories on that theme”. The theme can be anything from strange coincidences to secret identities and everything – and I do mean everything – in between. The stories can be in the form of spoken fiction or interviews basic reporting style, or even voice actors doing a play. No matter what the theme is, the show is always endlessly fascinating. Sometimes I’ll read the description and think it sounds boring or weird, but once I actually listen to what they’ve put together, I am never disappointed. Plus, the host Ira Glass’ voice is so quirky and captivating, and he asks fantastic questions.
The Savage Lovecast / Dan Savage is smart and respectful and unafraid to tell it like it is. On the podcast he answers all kinds of questions from callers about love and sexuality and I’m continually impressed and fascinated by two things: 1) he rarely seems surprised by a question and is hardly ever unkind; and 2) the diverse experiences, relationships and sexualities that callers talk to him about. He is no-nonsense, straight forward (his favourite thing to say is “use your words!”), and practical. His advice is always excellent. The show has broadened my worldview and taught me a ton.
The Joy the Baker Podcast / Joy and Tracy are best friends and they make me want to be their best friend too. They talk about all kinds of “totally important, unimportant things” like TV shows or baking tips, as well as answer questions from listeners, and they do it all in the most hilarious, endearing way. They are smart and accomplished women but they’re also so down to earth and charming. I look forward to this one every week.
TED Radio Hour / This is a new one I’m just getting into, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it. The show weaves together recordings of different TED talks as well as interviews that relate to a chosen topic. The topics are always fascinating: one I listened to was on the simple art of happiness, another about the sense of identity. A recent one I listened to about solutions to various social problems literally brought me to tears. The format is great: they don’t play the entire talk, only the key ideas, and deliver the whole show in a conversational, interesting, and coherent way.
After the Jump / Another recent addition to my podcast arsenal, but it has been informative and interesting thus far. It focuses mostly work and life balance, productivity, and creativity. I’ve been going through the archives and just picking out the episodes that sound the most interesting (“Live the Life You Want to Live”, for example) and so far I’ve really enjoyed them all. Each one has given me lots of things to think about and apply in my own life.
Bonus: Guinea Pigging Green / I just had to throw this one in there! This is a podcast I host with my good friend Laura about all things health + wellness-related: mind, body and soul. We like to talk about everything from peanut butter to meditation, and this week’s episode is about taking risks and tips on making big life decisions.