Some of my favorite podcasts kind of clump together as This American Life-Like (no pun intended). I like a lot of podcasts but these are the ones that I tend to listen to every week and have gone deeply into the archives on:
- This American Life – There’s no point in explaining This American Life. It’s the father of all modern podcasts. If you haven’t listened to it you should. You can start here. I’ll let the TV Show “The O.C” describe it as “Is that that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are? Ekhh. God.” I remember first hearing This American Life on the radio in college but I didn’t know the name. Then I heard it again in a cab in Chicago and listed to all of the archives online. The show spawned a number of other This American Life-Like Podcasts:
- Planet Money. A business podcast started by two contributors from This American Life – originally a joint project between This American Life and NPR.
- Startup. A podcast about starting a company called Gimlet to create more podcasts like This American Life.
- Invisibilia. A podcast about human behavior created by alumnae from This American Life and RadioLab.
- Radiolab is a more sciency take on podcasts (“lab” is short for laboratory). They do episodes on hard topics like logarithms and chirality. They’ve also done more lighthearted bits like the transformation of Professional Wrestling. They also did a great episode on a man who took a very different approach to the prisoner’s dilemma (for anyone who loves game theory, you’ll really love this!) Abigail and I saw them live. It was amazing. I learned about Radiolab from This American Life – Ira really likes them.
- 99 Percent Invisible — This is a phenomenal podcast about design all around us. You can start here for a sampling. I learned about 99 Percent Invisible from Radiolab.
- WTF with Marc Maron — This is the oddball in the bunch. A great podcast by a great interviewer who’s a bit of a troubled soul. His interview with Louis CK is one of the best podcasts ever. He’s also done the only interview of Terry Gross from Fresh Air. Oh, and he interviewed The President. The Obama recap also shows how nutty Maron really is. Unfortunately most of his archive requires a subscription.
Blogs and Newsletters
- Kottke.org — One of the earliest and still one of the best blogs on the net. It feels like you’re walking into an artisanally curated Brooklyn art gallery/coffee shop poetry slam. I learned about Kottke.org from Rebecca Mead’s early article on blogging You’ve Got Blog (added 8/20).
- NextDraft — This daily newsletter by Dave Pell is a thoughtful and fun summary of the day in 10 mini articles. Pell does this as an unpaid side gig but takes this job as “Managing Editor of the Internet” seriously.
- Post Secret — People send in anonymous postcards with secrets they haven’t told anyone else. What you get is brutal raw honesty. Founder Frank Warren has a great video summarizing the site. I saw Frank live and he opened the presentation with the music video Dirty Little Secret which used actual Post Secret cards.
- Absolut Nights x Empire of the Sun ‘Welcome to my Life’. In 3rd grade, Ari was asked what his favorite song was. He went with this Absolute Vodka Ad. I have to agree.
- The Sunscreen Song. If you were in college or thereabouts in the late 90’s, no doubt you’d seen the fictitious MIT commencement address by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s simple, humble advice for everyone and only a few minutes long. It actually wasn’t by Kurt Vonnegut but a hypothetical address (if she were to give one) by a Chicago writer named Mary Schmich. It was later turned into an international hit song by Baz Luhrmann. I like to listen to it for advice every so often. Remember that many things in this site are my opinion, trust me on the sunscreen.