Day 39: Podcasts I’m Listening to Now

Stephen Colbert, courtesy of

Stephen Colbert, courtesy of

This morning I saw the news item about Adnan Syed and how a Maryland court will now hear an appeal for his case. Syed was the subject of the first season of Serial, the podcast released last October that became a huge hit. I loved the Serial and after binge-listening to Syed’s case (he’d been convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend before receiving a life sentence), I wasn’t sure of his guilt or innocence, but I felt that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty. He couldn’t have been locked up based on the evidence given, could he?

Well, thanks to the success of Serial, his case could be re-opened. It’s another twist to a fascinating story, a tale that was so expertly presented by Sarah Koenig during the 12-episode first season.

After I had finished that brilliant first season, I decided I needed more podcasts for driving or working out, since I usually listened to music for both. I did a quick Google search that led me to two fantastic podcasts: Soul Music and Working. I recommend either of them for your next podcast binge session.

1. Over on the BBC website, Soul Music offers “the stories behind pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.” Listen to the episode about the song “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” with its touching and poignant anecdotes. The story about Teddy Pendergrass is heartbreaking.

2. Slate’s Working is a podcast about work. For each episode, one person discusses a typical day at their job. Whether it’s a lexicographer explaining the process of defining words for the Merriam-Webster dictionary or Stephen Colbert going over a typical day at The Colbert Report, the results are always informative and intriguing.

Day 33: Podcasting

(Logo from the official website)

For most of my life, I’ve listened to music during various activities: working out, road trips, Christmas shopping, etc. Even if I didn’t have a CD, I’d flip through radio stations of whatever city I was in. The one exception? Sports. Whether it was Chick Hearn with the Lakers, Vin Scully with the Dodgers, or an anonymous announcer doing the NFL game of the week, listening to a game was one non-music pleasure I enjoyed.

This has changed as I’ve gotten older. Now, I prefer listening to audiobooks or podcasts while doing the same activities. Instead of passively listening to music (which was usually something I’d already listened to countless times), I feel more engaged as I take in the narrator’s words. Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter; sometimes I’d borrow a foreign language CD from the library to download onto my iPod and learn a few Italian or Spanish phrases.

Recently, I finished a season’s worth of Serial, a true-crime podcast released late last year. Serial is composed of a dozen 40+ minute episodes covering the story of a convicted murderer. I downloaded the first episode to listen to during a workout and was instantly hooked.

What I found so compelling was the roller-coaster ride of the podcast. One episode, I thought the convicted murderer was innocent, the next I thought he was guilty; quite often, the question of his innocence/guilt flip-flopped several times during the same episode. It’s a testament to Sarah Koenig’s brilliance as a podcaster. Every episode was engaging and well presented. Did the State present a cut-and-dry case of first-degree murder? Did the defense miss important details that could have exonerated a young man? It’s utterly fascinating, from start to finish. I highly recommend listening to the first episode, but do so at your own risk: you’ll soon be hooked and find yourself binge-listening, just as I did.

Day 15: Two Things


My two favorite things right now: Peach Me Sweetea with honey boba at Tastea and the Serial podcast in my car. Life is good when I can enjoy both at the same time.

The tea drinks at Tastea are refreshing and although they tout their fresh and organic ingredients, something this delicious can’t be healthy. I’ve put off looking at the ingredients and the nutritional value list since I don’t want to be disappointed.

As for Serial: wow. It’s an incredible podcast detailing the real-life murder of a high school student by her ex-boyfriend. Things aren’t completely cut-and-dry, though, and Sarah Koenig does a fantastic job of telling the story over a dozen 30-minute-ish episodes. I was hooked within the first few minutes. Since my wife and I are all caught up with The Walking Dead, we’re now binge-listening Serial. I’d highly recommend listening to it, but if the subject matter is upsetting, then grab a drink at Tastea. Either way, you’ll be hooked.