My Podcasts, My Self : Top Five Must Hears

My name is Bronwyn, and I am a stimulation junkie. I am that person at the long stoplight who is engaged in a full blown white-knuckles-gripping-the-steering-wheel battle with temptation over whether or not to grab the phone and check email while I wait for the light to change. I know, I know. It’s not great.

Rather than fight the fact that I’m a stimulation junkie, I've decided to embrace it. In fact, I've decided that Obsessive Facebook and Constant Email Checking are truly lame stimulants compared with a FAR more interesting drug of choice …


Podcasts have been around forever, but I'd previously relegated them to long drives. But no more. Now they are a part of my daily everything.

Dishes to be done? Podcast.

Clothing to fold? Podcast.

Dog to walk? Podcast.

I now have a list of MUST HEAR podcasts that I want to share with you, in case you find yourself white knuckling it at the stoplights. (And duh, of course you should already be listening to This American Life and Serial. I mean honestly, do we even need to talk about this?)

(Important Safety Tip: Earbuds are key to successful stimulation via podcast for two important reasons: 1) it looks like you are on a conference call, so no one messes with you, and 2) you can listen to stuff with swear words or sexual content without your kids hearing if they are in earshot.)

1) You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes – Pete Holmes is a standup comic who interviews other standup comics. I hadn’t heard of Pete Holmes until recently, and then it seemed that he was everywhere I looked, so I figured it was time to investigate. Not only is Pete Holmes more fun than a barrel of monkeys, he has some seriously rad comic talent on his show… from Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords) to Judd Apatow to Tig Nataro. The format is loose, a little tangential and uneven at times, but really, really funny. I had tears running down my face listening to the last Jemaine episode. And Oh my GOD I just realized there is a Jon Hamm episode— that’ll get me through grocery shopping this weekend.

2) Magic Lessons with Liz Gilbert – I have loved her since Eat, Pray, Love. I fell even more deeply in love after reading The Signature of All Things, but went absolutely crackers for Liz Gilbert after seeing her speak as part of the Oprah tour. (Yes, I was one of 16,000 screaming fans. Don’t judge.) Now she's at it again—her soon-to-be-released book on creativity is called Big Magic. The podcast consists of Liz calling up women to help them get “unstuck” creatively. These women each have their own stories and reasons for being “stuck,” but it’s as if there’s a little piece of all of us in each of these women. So listening to Big Magic is this wonderful “you’re not alone” experience. And as if that’s not enough, after she’s spent time with each caller, Liz does a follow-up interview with some rad artist friend to add to the conversation and to help this woman along with her project. So far, the callers have received sage advice from Cheryl Strayed, Ann Patchett, and Rob Bell. The podcast is only 15 or 20 minutes long, and it's a delicious little snack for those of us trying to carve out creative time in our lives (which is most of us right?). And speaking of Rob Bell….

3) The Robcast with Rob BellOk, fine. He’s another Oprah stage-sharer from her tour last year. Rob is… what is he? A preacher? A modern day mystic? It’s hard to pin down exactly, but I can tell you this: The man is 100% dedicating his life to perfecting the art of the sermon, and he NAILS IT EVERY TIME. You don’t have to be particularly religious to get into this podcast, you just have to crave a little time for pondering the Divine. It is time well spent.

4) CriminalIf you loved Serial, you’ll love Criminal! If you love Obsession, you'll love Confession! Ok, so Criminal does explore some of the stories and dynamics surrounding people who’ve “done wrong, been wronged, or someplace in the middle.” It’s not as gripping as Serial, but it’s fascinating in a quieter sort of way. I always learn something about human nature and also the reality of being poor in this country, and how that affects your path through the justice and legal system.

5) Invisibilia – Hosted by two fabulous women, Invisibilia looks at “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” I love how this show makes us examine own behaviors in a completely fresh way. There is a particularly riveting episode that looks at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I had to pull over so I could finish it before returning to my house full of people who need things from me.

So there you have it. May your podcasting time be as stimulating as a triple shot latte, and as nourishing as an Oprah conference. (Yep. I just said that.)