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It’s a new year and you’re going to seize every waking moment to achieve your goals, right? Okay, but what about all those moments in between, like the drive over to your new gym or when you’re implementing a shrewd organizational system for your shoe closet? Those moments are perfect for podcast listening! I’m a huge fan of podcasts and find that my commutes, chores, and showers are so much more enjoyable when I can be absorbed in a story or interview and learn a little something new while I’m at it. But, who am I kidding, if you’re reading this, you probably already have quite a few in your repertoire and just need some new ones to throw in the mix for the new year. Enjoy the list and don’t forget our own City Scout Podcast!1. The Moth
Out of all of the podcasts listed here, “The Moth Radio Hour” is the one that always hits the spot for me. It’s the one that scratches my itch to laugh or be emotionally moved or both. With a handful of three to four storytellers in each episode, it’s impossible not to be entertained by the different voices and backgrounds. From a woman who learns to share custody of a dog with her husband’s ex-girlfriend to a man’s Oreo addiction, nothing is mundane when there’s a story behind it. “The Moth” hosts storytelling events all over the country with themes like “fish out of water” or “metamorphosis” to name a few. They make regular people into compelling storytellers by coaching them how to best craft their true stories. The best episodes are “The Moth” StorySLAMs, where the performers compete for the title of StorySLAM winner. If anything, this podcast will make you think about your own life’s stories.
This is a Sacramento podcast and it’s hosted by Johnny Flores, a guy with a laid-back, nerdy charm who doesn’t seem too concerned with being a “host’s host.” It’s casual and conversational and all about the “chit-chat”, which is what Johnny told me when I was a recent guest. Johnny interviews people “making Sacramento unique” in his Land Park house or over a beer at various bars around Midtown, and lends his quirky perspective to each conversation.
Press play if: You love Sacramento and all the people in it.
Start here: Nathaniel Miller of The Sacramento Bee/Sacramento Journalism Review
I thought this one might be too obvious an addition, but when a few people at work recently asked, “what’s ‘Serial’?” I realized not everyone has made it a part of their podcast diet yet. During the first season last year, host Sarah Koenig investigated the 1999 murder of an 18-year-old student, airing her many candid phone calls with the likable suspect, Adnan Syed. The vivid portrait of that fateful day and the network of characters is possibly what makes the mystery so compelling, as well as Koenig’s approachable narration. This season, Koenig is switching gears, investigating the recent story of Bowe Bergdahl, “the U.S. soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for nearly five years.”
This is a new podcast and it’s been a quick favorite of mine. Sophia Amoruso, creator of the Nasty Gal clothing empire and author of best-seller “Girl Boss”, hosts this podcast at the Nasty Gal headquarters in LA. She will charm the hot pants right off you (if you’re a fan of her style, you’re likely bold enough to wear hot pants) with her cool-girl, yet self-deprecating, attitude. She manages to strike a balance between being open about her success and awesome life while being approachable – the nasty gal next door if you will. She interviews cool, accomplished ladies Girl Boss readers want to hear about, from the lead singer of Best Coast to comedic essayist Sloane Crosley. The best part about this podcast is that Amoruso gives voice to women in “behind the scenes” industries. Like the Vice President of Design at Nasty Gal – what the heck does she do all day? And what about a globally recognized nail artist in the fashion industry? How did she get her job? There’s much to learn, all while you feel you’re hanging out with a goofy girlfriend. Oh, and did you know Mrs. Amoruso is from Sacramento?
Press play if: You think creative women living their dreams is quite possibly the coolest thing ever and want to know every tidbit about how they got there.
Start here: Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast 5. WTF with Marc Maron
This comic veteran has gotten a lot of attention for his podcast over the last few years and with good reason. Maron, a standup comic who got his start in the late ‘80s, started interviewing well-known comedians, actors and musicians in his garage with his signature raw, earnest approach in 2009 and hasn’t really changed his format since. He’s since become one of the strongest interviewers of our generation. He even interviewed the president in his garage earlier this year! Once known for being bitter and angry, Maron has grown into a wise and empathic, yet still shoot-from-the-hip, host. I listen to his show religiously every Monday and Thursday and consistently admire his sober (literally and figuratively) and hilarious observations about life. He often strips larger-than-life people down to human size, often revealing they’re “just a guy.”
Press play if: You prefer humanity over celebrity. Oh, and if you don’t mind a middle-aged comedian updating you on his cats every once in awhile.
Start here: Episode 636 with Fred Armisen6. Strangers
“Strangers” is hosted by Lea Thau, who aims to share stories about how people become “strangers no more” and often investigates how we become strangers to even ourselves. The show is usually guided by her own narrative and empathic interviews, which, rather than being journalistically objective, are influenced by her own curious and open perspective. Since she gets to know her storytellers so well through the interview process, the result is a vivid, fascinating story that usually calls for a follow-up, which she’ll usually indulge in a few months later.
Press play if: You like figuring what makes people tick, and even more, what makes two people connect. And if you think there’s no such thing as TMI.
Start here: Two Men and a Baby7. This American Life
I had to throw in some classics because if you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, you’re missing out on trying your hand at an Ira Glass impression. Similar to other storytelling podcasts, “This American Life” is structured by weekly themes. Glass will usually ponder some kind of human experience or phenomenon and air a handful of stories that reflect different perspectives on it. There is a handful of producers on the show, giving each story a fresh take while guided by Glass’s thoughtful narration.
“Good Food” is the podcast that elicits a groan from my boyfriend when he hears me playing it each Saturday morning. It’s for foodies, although lightweight and casual foodies like myself (read: not necessarily hardcore) can definitely enjoy it. If you get off on learning about progressive cooking approaches, hearing from the year’s hottest cookbook authors, how a Jewish-meets-Japanese restaurant came to be or simply want to hear a podcast that somewhat resembles the SNL Schweddy Balls episode, this one may be for you.
“The Lively Show” is like a delicious green smoothie – it’s good for you and tastes pretty good. The host is Jess Lively, who is super passionate about all things that involve self-improvement and living life with intention. If new age self-help makes you feel a tad embarrassed, you may want to put on headphones but don’t let it stop you from listening! Her guests range from top bloggers to wellness experts and always offer at least one enlightening tidbit that you can apply to your own life. Perfect for injecting some vigor into your resolutions!
“Invisibilia” studies “the invisible forces that shape human behavior.” Somewhere between “Radiolab” and the “TED Radio Hour”, this show sheds light on human phenomena and is sure to give you conversational fodder for your next party. Fear, expectation, the power of thoughts – these things permeate modern life on a daily basis and co-hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel do a damn good job of showing you how.
Press play if: You wonder why people be so crazy.
Where to start: Entanglement
Stay up to date on local happenings with our City Scout podcast. Also, make sure to check out our second podcast, SIDE SIDE HUSTLE: a podcast focused on opening up a dialogue about the realities that creative people face in today’s society.
Stay connected with all things Sacramento and beyond.