Our Favorite Podcasts - The Surznick Common Room

Monday, March 16, 2015

Our Favorite Podcasts

Hi everyone! Sorry for the radio silence over here... Nick has been out of town the past few days and I've been immersing myself in a Parks and Rec bingeathon (it's nice to take a break sometimes). But speaking of radio... we're back today to share some of our favorite podcasts!

Until a few months ago, the podcast world was pretty unfamiliar to Nick and I. Once we started hearing everyone and their sister talk about a little podcast called Serial, we decided to see what the hubbub was about. After listening to Serial, we both kind of became podcast obsessed, so here are some of our favorites that we highly recommend you check out!

Sarah's Picks!

1. The Nerdist Podcast - Hosted by comedian/actor Chris Hardwick (of AMC's Talking Dead and MTV's Singled Out fame), Nerdist is basically Chris and his friends just hanging out and chatting with famous people. It's not really an interview with specific questions, they're literally just hanging out, so it's fun to listen to celebrities pretty much just be themselves. Everyone from Tom Hanks to Tegan & Sara to Paul McCartney to Neil deGrasse Tyson has been on Nerdist. With about 650 episodes, you're sure to find an episode with someone you like.

Listen To: Episode 567 - Kristin Bauer van Straten (Not necessarily my favorite episode because I enjoy them all, but I just recently listened to this one and loved it, especially as a True Blood fan.)

2. This American Life - You've probably already heard about this podcast, or at least recognize the name. This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country and is broadcast on National Public Radio. Hosted by Ira Glass, each episode has multiple stories that center around one theme. There are 550 episodes, but TAL has a favorite's page on their website to help get you started. I only started listening a couple months ago, but every episode has been so interesting thus far. In addition to the episode linked below, I also loved the episode about William S. Burroughs and found the episodes on policing and race incredibly interesting.

Listen To: Episode 542 - Wait - Do You Have The Map?

3. DecodeDC - I found DecodeDC when searching for a podcast that would help me better understand political news. That's pretty much exactly DecodeDC's goal, "to help Americans understand how crucial political issues affect everyday life." These episodes are quick and easy to listen to (perfect for my commute to and from work). They recently did a 5 episode mini series about House of Cards that any Frank Underwood fan would love. Listening to this show is one of the first times I've found politics interesting (#sorrynotsorry).

Listen To: Episode 72: The Politics of Love

4. The Moth Podcast - Similar to This American Life, The Moth is a podcast of different stories told via first person narrative. The Moth holds events at venues all across the country where these stories are recorded and then are released weekly through their podcast. There's actually a monthly event in Pittsburgh that I'd really like to go to sometime. Some of the stories on The Moth are hilarious, others are heartbreaking. I kind of like that you don't know what you're getting into when you listen to an episode.

Listen To: The Moon and Stars Talks by Tara Clancy

5. #Millennial - The (silent hashtag) Millennial podcast is a weekly podcast hosted by 5 friends that provide commentary on pop culture and world events. This show is brand new, with only 7 episodes so far, so this is the perfect time to start listening. They discuss everything from Ferguson, MO to The Oscars. I love Millennial because the hosts are similar to my age and when you listen to the podcast, it feels like you're just hanging out with friends (sometimes rather vulgar friends - but that's cool with me).

Listen To: Episode 7 - Freedom of Choice Blah Blah Blah

Bonus: MuggleCast - I JUST found out about this podcast and have only listened to one episode, but as a Harry Potter lover, I know this is going to be added to my podcast rotation. MuggleCast was created and hosted by the same group that hosts #Millennial (which is how I discovered it). This show has been around for several years but took a bit of a hiatus. The returning episode just came out this past week, so this is the perfect time to get into this show if you want to listen to all things HP.

Listen To: Episode 276 - Serial Killer

Nick's Picks!

1. 99% Invisible - After our whirlwind addiction to Serial, I asked my best friend Steve to recommend some more podcasts for me. His first two recommendations are my first two picks. 99% Invisible is perfect for me. I'm not exactly sure what it is I specifically like to geek out about (Sarah says I'm a sponge, I'll geek out about anything!), but this podcast has some of the most fascinating background information on the nearly invisible aspects of our designed world, including architecture, money, roadways, civil engineering, music, you name it! Each episode runs about 15-30 minutes, and I just devour them one after another. Host Roman Mars is my new hero.

Listen To: Ten Thousand Years (Though it was REALLY hard to pick just one!)

2. Song Exploder - The second recommendation from Steve, this is an absolute must for music lovers. Each episode, host Hrishikesh Hirway has a band or musical act walk the listeners through the making of one of their songs. We get to hear clips of the process and isolated tracks, as well as information and stories about what went in to the writing and recording process, and why certain decisions were made. Though I don't always like the songs at the end when they are played in entirety, as a fellow song writer, I absolutely love to hear about the process!

Listen To: RAC "Let Go (feat. Kele & MNDR)"

3. Strangers - I've been hearing about Strangers at the ends of my 99% Invisible episodes, as they have recently been added to the Radiotopia podcast community (created by Roman Mars.) These episodes are fascinating stories about strangers. That's truly all I can tell you about it. We hear speakers and real people talk about their interactions with strangers, and our host Lea Thau dissects the the social contexts and uniquenesses that make all of the people in this world connected to one another. Episodes are typically about 30-50 minutes and each is like a mini sociology lesson beginning to end. I really love how emotional and often uplifting these tales of human nature can be.

Listen To: Henry and Jane

4. Invisibilia - This NPR podcast is perhaps one of the most powerful on the list. Luckily Sarah and I often listen to this one together and it is so much fun, because we get to share the experience of our minds being blown each episode. I want to quote directly from NPR's website to tell you what it is about, because I can't say it any better myself: "Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior - ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytellings with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently." Doesn't that just sound awesome?

Listen To: How to Become Batman

5. Criminal - In the wake of our Serial experience, we found Criminal listed as being perfect for fans of Serial, so we went ahead and decided to listen to it together (like we did for Serial). The first few episodes started a little slow, but the more we got to know host Phoebe Judge, and the essence of the podcast, the more we liked it. Criminal talks about criminal activity and human behavior. According to the website it is, "Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle." Each episode highlights one specific aspect about the criminal world, and it is wildly interesting.

Listen To: He's Neutral

Do you listen to any of our favorite podcasts? What are some of your favorites?

Sarah & Nick

P.S. Have you voted for our blog as Best of the Burgh? We'd love it if you did!


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