Monday, December 17, 2018

Some Podcast Recommendations For Your Consideration

I've been listening to more podcasts over the last few months, and I wanted to recommend a few to friends who are hoping to listen to some interesting things.  As always, your mileage may vary, and if you don't like these choices, feel free to stop listening and listen to something else.

What I like about podcasts is that they can very quickly (and without much attention) bring me into a world that I know nothing about, and it's easy enough to shut it out or ignore it if I need to.

I haven't included any dad/parenting podcasts, as I want to compile a few more into their own post.


Buy the Risk Book on Amazon
Risk Show is one of my must listens every week now.  Hosted by Kevin Allison, this podcast has been around for 10 years, but I am brand new to it.  It's both a live show and a podcast, where people tell true stories they never thought they'd dare to share.  As Kevin warns in the opening, the podcast can be very uncensored, and has its fair share of crazy sex stories (especially when it combines with the Bawdy Storytelling podcast, another live storytelling show turned podcast that I listen to with regularity.)   Both of these are NSFW, so don't listen to this with kids around.  The focus isn't only on sex though, and I've heard some amazing and poignant and hilarious stories about love, childhood, and just about everything else.

 They produce two episodes a week, a new show, and a classic Risk Singles, pulled from their archive of the last 10 years. They also have a book (available on Amazon) that collect some of their best stories and stories by celebrity guests).

 I am trying to figure out what story from my past I would be willing to share for the RISK show and would still be risky enough to be included.  For me that intersection is surprisingly small. But I want to be the kind of person/artist that is willing to take that kind of risk.  So I'm thinking about it!

By the way, the rest of these podcasts are Safe For Work, mostly.  (assuming you are allowed to listen to podcasts at work.)

An Arm and a Leg Podcast 
Health care has been a nightmare of mine for a long time-- each year it goes up unpredictably, and I have a number of weird spreadsheets that try to figure it out.  In the last four years I've been with three different healthcare companies and two of them have gone bankrupt.  And in three of the four years, my analysis showed that it made more sense for my wife and I to be on separate plans.  (for the first time in a long time, we are going to be on the same plan this year).

Enter our friend Dan Weissman, who is a radio journalist who has worked for Marketplace and WBEZ, among many others.  He's created a new podcast to talk about the realities of the costs of healthcare, and it's fun, funny, sobering and terrifying all at once.  Some of the stories he tells are amazing (Renaissance faire workers who have banded together to help solve the problems of being an itinerant performer without regular health care, or the amazingly high costs of ordering medical supplies through insurance instead of buying them on the open marketplace.)  It's definitely worth a listen if you are affected by health care high prices, and that means anyone with a pulse.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I helped Dan think about some of the crowdfunding issues with his new venture. I have no financial interest in the podcast, other than if it goes well I won't have to buy the coffee when we go for coffee.)

Cool Tools 
I was an avid reader of CoEvolution Quarterly/Whole Earth Review, I contributed a couple of reviews to the Whole Earth Catalog, and am still involved with the online service that was spawned from that movement The WELL, so it should be of little surprise to anyone that I would be a fan of Kevin Kelly's, who was also involved in all of those things (and far more than I) Kevin also was one of the founding editors of Wired Magazine.

The ethos of Whole Earth Review was "Access to Tools" and Kevin and Mark Frauenfelder (he of BoingBoing and the Maker movement) host a weekly roundup of tool recommendations from well known makers and artists and other interesting people.  The podcast is pretty formulaic, but I am almost always interested in one or more of the tools that people present.  Sometimes the tools aren't tools at all, but books, or apps, or ideas.  Each podcast is 30 minutes long, and I listen to it at 1.5 times the normal speed, which works out about right for getting all of the information and banter.

Wow In the World
 is a great podcast designed for kids.

It stars Mindy Thomas, host of the venerable Sirius XM kids station Kids Place Live, and Guy Raz, an NPR radio everyman who hosts a number of podcasts, including the really great How I Built This (another good one to listen to) and the TED  Radio Hour, a compilation of great TED Talks.  Guy used to have a regular spot on Mindy's show on Kids Place Live, and they've extended it into a podcast that talks about science and cool stuff.
  What I love about this show is that Guy Raz, who typically fulfills the role of a journalist or question asker, ends up acting,   playing an uber-nerdish sendup of himself, and Mindy does her shtick as the kind of crazy lady next door.

They are a great team together, and they've got good comedy chemistry.  And at the end, kids call in to tell Guy and Mindy what their "Wow In The World is" When I listen to this with my son, we end up learning a couple of things as well as being very entertained.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
This is one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, and I still listen to it, but not as religiously (pun intended) as I should.

In this podcast, two former Harvard Divinity School graduates read a chapter of Harry Potter and think about it as though it were the bible.  Basically, they are coming up with sermons and sermon thoughts based on Harry Potter- what in this chapter is a life-lesson?  They use various textual analysis tools from the world of religious thinking, as well as a number of other ideas to create great Harry Potter-esque sermons It's a great idea, and they execute it really well.

 I saw them record one of these live in Chicago, and it was fascinating to see and meet them for the first time.  The two hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile have a magical chemistry together, and do a great job of letting us into their private lives in an interesting way.  They are currently on book 5, and if you are interested in Harry Potter (and even if you aren't) it's well worth a listen. (and you can start at the beginning.)  There are also book clubs dedicated to the podcast.

If you've got some podcasts I should be listening to, please let me know in the comments!

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