Podcast Traditions

By Joel Simler

Over the summer I made some changes in my life. I quit my job, and set about on a long and arduous move, from Seattle all the way to Bellingham! Ok fine, it was an easy move, but it’s always at least somewhat tough moving your belongings, whether it’s 9 blocks away or 90 miles away. Lucky for me, I have awesome parents making this move possible, now I’m a happy Hamster living in my Bellinghome again. However, I found upon this move that many of my listening habits and some long standing traditions (loosely called traditions) have been disrupted! Though, it is because of this disruption that I have a good chance to reflect upon them and share.

When it comes to podcasts, my favorite traditions are ones shared with others. A favorite of mine took place on Saturdays listening to Seattle’s public radio station, KUOW. The late morning programming was always a signal to my former girlfriend and I that it was indeed the weekend, and relaxed revelry could commence. From 9am-noon we’d get our fill of Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and This American Life. The best part about radio and podcasting, is that if we missed a Saturday, we could make up for it later by downloading missed episodes.

Other traditions I have are unaccompanied, and may be better described as rituals, but still somewhat resemble a tradition. At my former job I would download and listen to old favorites like Radiolab and Snap Judgment. Before work started I could peer into my library and see which ones had most recently been updated, and plan out a playlist for the day as I worked. Some days I’d be out of luck as none of my shows had been updated, but other days I’d be floating on a podcast cloud of pure joy.

One other great podcasting tradition of mine, is writing this article! The best part being that I get to investigate new shows to tell you readers about, as well as revisit old shows that I’ve loved for some length of time. While so far I’ve made a point to suggest a new podcast to you in each Muse issue I’ve decided to deviate this article and remind you of some classic podcasts that I am still listening to, and still highly recommend. So I bring you a couple episodes from podcasts of past to keep your ears warm during these chilly months.

Surely you remember This American Life, right? The perpetual chart topping, godfather of podcasts? Well, whether you have no idea what show I’m talking about, or have known about it for years, this show is worth having in your library to listen and re-listen to. A recent two-part episode I cannot recommend highly enough, and feel that everyone in the U.S. should listen to is Episode 562 and 563 “The Problem We All Live With”, which deals with some heavy issues regarding race and racism that is still apparent in our country. This show talks deeply and poignantly about our public school systems and what has/has not changed since desegregation legally occurred in 1954.

Also, remember to check in with TED Radio Hour. When you find the time to listen to it, check out the episode “Shifting Time”, which deals with time and the ways we perceive it. I found particular interest in the interview with Cesar Kuriyama. After working a ridiculous amount of hours every week for a year, Cesar found that he couldn’t recall much of his day to day happenings. Sure, he remembered big events, birthdays, holidays, etc., but very little otherwise. Realizing he had a high def camera with him at all times, aka his cell phone, Cesar decided he was going to try taking a one second video from each day of his life. It turns out doing this was a great way to visualize who he was and how he changed over the course of a year, and because of that he created a phone app that is free to download. I’m about 15 weeks into my own one-second version of my daily life, and I can tell it’s going to be good to watch it back at years end.

In the course of life, many of us will inevitably deal with some heartache. During these times, I’ve found from experience that podcasts can be very soothing and provide a good launch pad for both self-reflection and a simultaneous distraction. Who better to lead us through these emotions than Lea Thau, host of Strangers. This suggestion may be one of my top episodes from any podcast ever, so make sure to listen to “Love – Good and Bad”. This episode is hosted by Strangers, but was produced by award winning producer Annie McEwen. It’s a beautiful and poetic piece combining snippets of interviews from love lost souls, and sailors with little but the company of a fog horn.

I’ve been in Bellingham two months, and am finally feeling the fray of moving subside. With that comes a chance for new routines, which is a struggle I’m trying to embrace. New work schedules and new routines means I need to find new ways to listen to podcasts. I’m looking forward discovering new rituals and traditions, as equally as I look forward to finding new podcasts to listen to and possibly even suggest to you. If you have any comments, or even suggestions for your own favorite podcasts, then drop me a line at BellinghamMuse@gmail.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page. I welcome your interaction !

Raised by the clouds and trained by the trees, Joel is a native Pacific North Westerner. Often to be found with his ukulele on a mountain or by a shore, he’s usually listening to the surrounding soundscape and waiting patiently for interesting podcasts to come along. If you have any recommendations, you can find him at BellinghamMuse@gmail.com