The way I've listened to podcasts can be separated into three "waves". The first wave began on my iPod touch in 2009 when I listened to shows co-broadcast on radio, or produced by established organizations. These included shows like Stuff You Should Know, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Fresh Air, This American Life and Radiolab.
My iPhone brought on the second wave in October of 2012. You could say the podcast app changed my life. I discovered 5by5 which connected me with likeminded Internet and technology enthusiasts. I then returned to Twitter, started a blog, and formed relationships with people from around the world. I have the iPhone to thank for a lot of things, but that's a big one. At that point I listened to around a dozen tech podcasts a week along with the familiar voices of Ira Glass and Terry Gross.
It was The Talk Show with John Gruber that introduced me to the Mule Radio Syndicate. It was there I saw that podcasts that focused on the narrative aspects of audio production, in the same vein as This American Life. There are three in particular that have brought on this third wave of podcast listening for me.
This is Actually Happening are hauntingly visceral vignettes of people recalling life-changing moments in their lives. Its simplicity lends to its ability to pull you in and listen for the nuances in the background. Here Be Monsters explores the unknown. From places, to people, to creatures, it pushes the limits of how sound is used in audio production comparable to WNYC's brilliant science show Radiolab. Audio Smut has the greatest tagline I have ever seen for a podcast: "A radio show about your body, your heart, and your junk". It combines stories of love, sex, and relationships that illustrate how wildly complex such a thing as love really is. It's seriously beautiful. And just putting it out there, Kaitlin Prest's voice makes me swoon.
If a story can make you cry, laugh, and feel nauseous (bonus points for all three), it's been done right. These shows have done exactly that, while leaving me wanting more. With Mule essentially closing its doors, these shows run the risk of ending. I've reached out to Roman Mars to see if he's willing to take on some or all of these shows into Radiotopia, which would make that network (if you want to call it that) even more amazing. I recommend you do the same.
In the meantime, I'll be downloading all of these shows onto an external drive. I know I will want these later.