New year, new podcasts — that’s how the saying goes, right? Now that your aspirations to lose weight and be nicer have dissolved in this winter weather like so many Vitamin C-fortified tablets in a drink, it’s time to move to your B-level resolutions: dusting off that ol’ Podcasts app and putting some fresh content on it.
Sure, you use that one "This American Life" episode to fall asleep to every night (Ira Glass, why so soothing?), but it’s clear your waking hours could use some audio excitement. Here are some new programs to delight your ears, forced into categories because we humans crave order.
Podcasts That Let You Be The Creep You’ve Always Wanted To Be
There’s nothing like listening in on someone else’s life when your own is totally boring. We’ve covered the appeal of following along with beginners, and lucky for us, there’s a new podcast to add in that category: Allison Behringer’s "The Intern." Behringer is both host and subject as she takes listeners through her life at a tech company and in New York City. Similar to "Millennial," she captures both the excitement and confusion that comes with being young in a big city, like preparing for your first IKEA run and then sorely regretting trying to lug home a 40-pound mattress.
Sometimes, though, you want to hear from those who’ve been there and done that. Enter "Grow Big Always," a refreshingly candid interview podcast where host Sam Lawrence probes the lives of others to reveal the uncomfortable, transforming experiences that led them to now.
Those who’ve been on tour in a cramped van know all about "uncomfortable," but for those who haven’t, there’s "Nerds on Tour." It’s only four episodes deep but already host Abraham Levitan has covered touring, creativity and Top 40 music with his guests. Even if you’re unfamiliar with his guests, it’s a nice slice into lives few of us get to experience. Similarly, for a zoom-in lens on what it’s like to work on TV, act and give advice you’re unprepared to give, the lovable "Ana Faris is Unqualified" is a solid bet.
Podcasts That Make You Really Smart For Parties
Have you heard about this very small, insignificant election in America? Supposed to be happening sometime in late 2016? To shed light on this little-known phenomenon, the Washington Post has stepped up with its "Presidential" series, which covers the life of one commander-in-chief in each episode. We expect to be ready to crush "Jeopardy!" from our couches come election season.
Not into Earthly affairs? Well, if your interests skew toward the extraterrestrial, try out PRX’s "Orbital Path," hosted by Michelle Thaller, an actual NASA astronomer. She discusses why aliens get credit for every unexplainable thing in the universe in her first episode, so, yeah, consider us hooked already.
"’Orbital Path’?" you say. "What about some orbital bones?" I don’t know how to accommodate such a specific request, but I can steer you to "The Bone Lab." Founded by academic researchers proficient in the world of anatomy and X-rays, this podcast follows the very human stories connected to our skeletons.
Plus, all this bone talk makes one wonder about dinosaurs, obviously, which leads to the next new podcast we’re excited about: "Scienceish." Here, Rick Edwards and Dr. Michael Brooks tag-team discussions around the scientific possibility of premises set up by pop culture, including the old resurrecting-T.-rexes idea.
Podcasts That Defy Category For One Reason Or Another
Two relatively new podcasts focus on brilliant, fleeting one-shot ideas. "Pilot," helmed by "This American Life" producer and "Snap Judgment" alum Stephanie Foo features one podcast idea per episode, with Foo trying it out herself before inviting listeners to run with what she’s started. Episode 1 sees Foo sitting down with Ira Glass to discuss their beginnings in radio — the podcast idea in question being a series of interviews finding out how established voices got their start.
Then there’s "Sample Size: 1," which bills itself as being "about unrepeatable experiments in music and art," hitting a lot of words that we enjoy ("unrepeatable," "experiments," "music," "art") in one fell swoop. Hosted by Dave Hilowitz, the show’s first episode follows his attempt to remotely re-record one of his band’s songs, using only collaborators he finds on quick-gig site Fiverr — an endeavor entertaining and fascinating enough for even non-musicians to dig.
It’s easy to conclude our defiant category with "Sampler," the newest podcast out of the gate from Gimlet. Just as Hilowitz’s show, the premise lives up to its name, as host Brittany Luse (who podcast fans may already know from "For Colored Nerds") shares snippets of the best podcasts around the vast audiosphere. We’re not sure if this will help whittle down our podcast playlists to the best of the best or add to their glut, but so far, Luse is an entertaining, lively lost, and she’s started what will probably become a new obsession by sharing a clip from "Bodega Boys."
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