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Tuning into podcasts

Jun. 11, 2018
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I began listening to podcasts one day when I was “too lazy” to read the news. Sometime during the election, I signed up for frequent Facebook notifications and updates from several news sites. Too much was going on; I felt suffocated by the bombardment of information from the media, yet still, I thought it was necessary to stay informed. After the election, I was still living in my home country. I stayed away from the news for a while, busy with graduating from high school and preparing to attend college in San Francisco.

That summer was a hard one for me. I was pondering and felt lost amidst new changes. I was moving away from my family, ending a relationship because of the distance, and dealing with the fear of adulting. I stopped listening to music, something I still can’t believe I actually did. What happens to be one of the most important factors in my life became both a headache and heartache. Every song reminded me of my ex, because we used to share earphones and constantly listen to music together. All of a sudden, I couldn’t relate to any tunes or lyrics, because my life felt like a puddle of messy confusion.

When I arrived in San Francisco, all the fear sort of vanished. But I still wasn’t listening to music. I began to listen to songs without earphones (thankfully my roommate at the time hadn’t arrived, so I had the room to myself and wasn’t worried about bothering her).

Soon, I realized that it’s quite difficult to not have some sort of sound occupying your mind and ears. So, one afternoon while waiting for a bus, I checked the Podcasts app that is built into every iPhone. I can’t recall exactly how, but I stumbled upon Poetry Off the Shelf, a podcast hosted by Curtis Fox which explores the diverse universe of contemporary American poetry and features readings by poets, interviews with critics, and short poetry documentaries. I really enjoyed literature class in high school when we discussed and talked about poetry and poets for two hours every week. This podcast, to me, felt just like that. Its format is simple; Curtis Fox has a conversation-turned-discussion with one to a few guests (who are involved in literature, of course) on a specified theme revolving around poetry. I’ve listened to pretty much all the episodes aired since September/October of last year. 

Their topics vary from series like A Change of World (which dives into the increasing representation of female poets) to ones titled From Sickness to Poetry and The Poet is Distracted (which explore other topics in relation to poetry and poets). If a podcast could perform as a daily dose of happiness, it would be Poetry of the Shelf.

Another one I eventually came across is Crash on My Couch. COMC is an irregular podcast hosted by Arden Rose and Will Darbyshire, both of whom are YouTubers and internet personalities. Because of their creative backgrounds, their podcast is often fueled by all sorts of topics such as science fiction, entertainment news, movies (Will is also a promising film director), and advice. Some regular segments in their podcast are The Weekly Idiot, which features an article sent to them by a subscriber via Twitter about an irrational thing somebody has done that went viral or got onto the news, and Go Science!, which discusses new technology or advances that have recently happened in the field of science. During the show, you feel as if you’re having a conversation with two other friends (though you’re not talking very much) because they regularly address their listeners. The podcast doesn’t feel scripted, which adds to its genuine nature.

Asides from serving as entertainment, listening to podcasts instead of music while you’re working out, waiting for a bus, or doing something can be a good use of time. Often, you can learn something new. It’s like watching a documentary or a YouTube video without actually sitting down and watching it. A podcast is so much easier to squeeze in between other activities.

Podcasts are great for providing your daily news dosage. One which I use regularly for news is The Daily by The New York Times, hosted by Michael Barbaro. I don’t often miss any episodes of The Daily, because each one is only around 25 minutes long. Since they’re very selective in terms of topics, I’ve never felt like I’ve wasted my time after any episode. News podcasts like The Daily show what is good about journalism: when people’s stories are told and heard. The stories featured in The Daily aren’t typically those which are already popular in the media. Examples include “Hong Kong’s missing bookseller” and an episode which discusses the suicide death of a cab driver in NYC because of rising competition with Uber.

Asides from news, you can always learn about plenty of topics from podcasts! So if there’s nothing here that sparks your interest, I’m sure there are many more that you could look up and explore for yourself!

Here are a couple more to check out:

Your Own Magic (Allie Michelle and Raquelle Mantra)


“Our intention is to empower you by sharing stories, tricks and tips, from visionaries, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, global thought leaders and ourselves to help you unleash your own magic.”

The Wandering Wolf


“The Wandering Wolf is songwriter Yoni Wolf’s ongoing collection of field recordings from the road, unscripted internal monologues, self-reflective moments, and in-depth conversations with musicians, artists, comedians, and interesting people of all kinds. These episodes stand to chronicle Yoni’s life as a travelling bard and the lives of those he crosses paths with out there in the wild world.”

Banging Book Club


“We are BB Club, three friends who decided to read a book about sex and gender every month. Every episode we bang out the blunders and best bits of our reads, on top of a little bit about our own experiences with all things banging. Basically, we’re the baddest bitches in the sex book genre and we want to take you along for the ride.”