Thank Goodness for Podcasts

Infotainment binging my way through a global pandemic.

Thank Goodness for Podcasts

Sometimes, we mothers want nothing more than to be alone with our thoughts. Or, in my case – and in yours, too, I suspect – to put noise-canceling headphones on my noggin and tune in to a podcast. 

Such has been the case during this COVID-19 situation, where true alone time is practically non-existent for those of us who live with children. 

If you find yourself needing a break from listening to your kids watch Hamilton or Frozen 2 for the six hundredth time, give yourself permission to open up your favorite podcast app, pop in those earbuds, hit play, and enjoy.

The following are my top five favorite podcasts I binged over the summer:

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Curious about a range of topics, but need to lighten the mood a bit while you learn about them? Honey, this podcast, which is hosted by JVN of Queer Eye (Netflix) fame, is for you. JVN’s energy and curiosity are as genuine as they are infectious. What I love most about his show is his willingness to approach any topic with a beginner’s mind. There’s no attempt to sound more intelligent than he actually is, and his interview questions come from a place of true curiosity. 

1619

A serial show with just five forty-minute episodes, it debuted just over a year ago and “examines the long shadow of American slavery” (New York Times). Of particular interest to me was Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built. (Ever wonder where the American obsession with productivity started? I’ll give you one guess.) And if you’re a music lover (who isn’t?) Episode 3: The Birth of American Music is a must listen, even if you don’t listen to any of the other episodes. Every genre of American music is rooted in that which was created in captivity by enslaved Black people.

Rabbit Hole

Algorithms are funny things. On one hand, they are the reason we can sit for hours and watch videos of huge dogs that are afraid of cats, or goats that scream like humans, or a soft-spoken farmer with a handlebar mustache who relaxes by lying atop his Highland bulls while brushing their long coats. On the other hand, they’re the reason we can sit for hours and watch videos of… you get the point. This podcast, also from the New York Times, examines YouTube algorithms that encourage addictive behavior, as well as YouTube phenomena like uber right-wing and left-wing propagandists, PewDiePie, QAnon, and more. 

Unlocking Us

Is there anyone left on the planet who doesn’t love Dr. Brené Brown? Not only is she brilliant, she’s also relatable and genuine. Smart, sweet, and sassy – it doesn’t get much better than that. In her podcast, which debuted in the spring, she features interviews with guests, Ask Me Anything episodes, and tackles the human condition in ways that help us understand ourselves and others a little bit better. Who couldn’t do with a bit more understanding and grace in our lives?

Guru

I’ve been wary of the self-help world for a while now. It seems like anyone who’s charismatic enough and can afford a good agent can get a book deal and then travel the globe showing people the “secrets” to true happiness and fulfillment. No credentials or expertise required. This podcast examines one such self-help guru, James Arthur Ray, and the dark side of his popular retreats. 

If you listen to any of the above recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And please feel free to comment with the names of any podcasts you recommend; I’m always looking for a new one to binge.

Happy listening!

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Kristen is a writer and editor, spending her days axing "of," "that," adverbs, redundant pairs, and platitudes from other peoples' writing whilst procrastinating her own book. She is totally not judging your grammar or sentence mechanics. She is endlessly curious, an opinionated optimist, and Sagittarius who digs humorists, unusual perfumes, unusual people, gin, and reading civil rights and political revolution histories. She lives in Center Point with her husband and three kids, ages 17, 15, and 10.