Because they cost no money and no free time.
There’s really no excuse not to try listening to podcasts. They’re free, update automatically from iTunes and you can listen to them any time from when running errands to when eating to when folding laundry. This is a medium that understands modern, busy life.
Everyone’s got their own interests and you can try any you want–there are thousands–but here are my top five and some great places to start.
1.) This American Life – If you, like all people, like stories, you should probably try listening to this. Entertaining+insightful personalities like David Sedaris, John Hodgman, Mike Birbiglia, Dan Savage and Chuck Klosterman are regular contributors.
2.) Sound Opinions – Their “music news” at the top of the podcast covers the industry better than any popular online magazine (*cough* Pitchfork) and Jim and Greg are especially good at putting acts in a historical context in the reviews. The middle’s double-stuffed with a lot of in-studio performances and interviews and they’ve got the best intro in podcastdom. Get some more diverse critical voices in your ears, people.
3.) Slate’s Culture Gabfest – Real people talk like this?! Discussion is relentlessly intelligent if sometimes breathtakingly snobby (looking at you on both counts, Stephen Metcalf). Always goes the rare extra step of touching on what the latest cultural events mean. About the state of culture, about us. Then at the end of every episode they give their (mostly arbitrary) endorsements. Well I endorse you, Culturefest.
4.) On Point with Tom Ashbrook – Monday through Thursday’s topics can be a little fluffy, but as far as I can tell each Friday’s “Week in the News” episode is the most intelligent, thoughtful round-up out there. Might make you never want to watch cable news again.
5.) Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! – Yes, it can be corny. Get over yourself. It’s still nearly always funny and is definitely the next most fun way to keep up with the headlines if you can’t sit down for The Daily Show and/or The Colbert Report.
Honorable mention: All Songs Considered, Live Concerts from All Songs Considered, A Prairie Home Companion, NPR: Music, NPR: Environment, Planet Money.