Five Podcasts that Will Make You Hipper, Happier, and Hoppier


I listen to podcasts on my iPhone or an old Galaxy Android or on an old Asus Windows phone or on my Amazon Echo.  I have an hour commute each way to my teaching gig so I have a lot of time to listen.  I, also, listen while I do repetitive work (dishes, laundry, walking my fields, feeing the sheep, etc.). I take time and I make time for podcasts. Why?

First, they are exciting.  Many smart folk are using podcasts as their creative medium of choice and that means there are some amazing sonic deeds being done. Second, I learn an astonishing amount from the whole process of finding, curating, and tracking down new stuff to explore especially if there are transcripts and show notes for those podcasts. Third, a good podcast can be inspiring.

Here are a few that are in heavy rotation on my app of choice, Pocket Casts.  Visit that link and get it in iOS or Android. It costs a little, but it really does the job.

Reply All

I turned on my notifications for Pocket Casts just to make sure I knew when the newest episode was coming out. That should tell you something because I hate notifications.  Informative, idiosyncratic, intriguing, all those ‘ins’ and more, Reply All is a real peak into current social trends and news.  Their early coverage of PizzaGate was spot on and very helpful for an un-hepcat like me.  They have show notes and transcripts. Boss podcast.


With only two episodes out of the starting gate, Intercepted is now a must listen political podcast for me.  This is the child of one of my favorite political news sources, The Intercept.  Jeremy Scahill, one its founders (along with Betsy Reed and Glenn Greenwald), hosts and uses his serious interview chops to fine effect especially in the inaugural podcast when he questions Seymour Hersch. The site is visually a winner, lots of white space and user friendly navigation and access to social media. It has show notes and transcripts as well.  I found the work of Immortal Technique here and was able to use it in talking about didactic poetry in my Intro to Lit class.

All in the Mind

A good podcast will take you many good and useful and surprising places. This Australian Broadcasting Corporation podcast has lots of traditional production values (something I don’t think is sufficient for a good podcast) and superior content and storytelling.  If you want a really excellent introduction to  what I am referring to, then listen to “The Ghost in My Brain”.  I think science podcasts like these really can change people’s lives.  In this case if you have ever had a concussion that was life changing, this one might give you hope for recovery.  Transcipts, links, and show notes.  Superior.

Chapo Trap House

Warning:  this may be an acquired taste, but if you like your podcasts with high Scoville counts, then have a listen.  Now, how to describe this.  Imagine, if you will, a group of young men and women who have played role playing games off and on since they were pre-teens. Imagine they stayed together as friends, and imagine they got together to ‘play’ at the political questions of our times…but with the same irreverence and low falutin’ humor of those role playing games.

I get more gut laughs listening to this and learning new derogatory terms for the political morons running our grand experiment into the swamp, than even from Monty Python. For example, “maga chuds”. (You gotta listen to learn what it means.)

My favorite episode so far (and they have quite a back catalog that I haven’t listened to yet) is the treatment they give to D’nesh D’Souza’s and his hideous scab of a movie about Hilary Clinton. The podcast reminds of how director John Landis had the boys trash the mall in one of the egregious chase scenes in  “The Blues Brothers.”.

No transcripts. I don’t even know how this rapid fire dialogue could be made into one without driving the transcriber mad. No show notes.  So this breaks the rules, but I think it is supposed to. Bon appetit.

Song Exploder

There are no bad episodes.  Even if I don’t like the songs being ‘exploded’, I end up appreciating them before host Hrishikesh Hirway finishes with them.  The high concept here that the more we know about a song from its creators, the more we appreciate its construction, the greater the song becomes for us.  I concur.

For example, I really do not like Carly Rae Jepson’s…pop stylings, but Hirway does great work in turning me 180 degrees about her song, “When I Needed You”. Made me realize how much she channels Cyndi Lauper…and that’s OK.

What Hirway does with the tUnE-yArDs‘ song “Water Fountain” is luminous.  I rarely re-listen to podcasts but this one and the one by The Lumineers’, “Ophelia”, I have listened to half a dozen times each.

I will leave you with “Ophelia”. Be inspired.


    1. // Reply

      Thanks. I have three instances where it didn’t, but it really doesn’t matter. Alan way overworked. Shouldn’t have said anything

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