Intro to Podcasts

Some people think public radio is a dying art, but they are wrong. In a generation that grows up with iPods and auxiliary cords for their cars, it may seem like radios are becoming more and more out of place. However, thanks to new ways to access, radio is flourishing. Satellite and Internet radio are among the advances in radio, but what seems to be most principal is the new(ish) form of the podcast.

This new form allows for a larger amount of smaller shows, which are increasingly creative. It allows for another easy way for aspiring storytellers and journalists to share information and beauty with the world. Plus, they are fun. So, if you want to be entertained without checking out to another rerun of “Friends,” you should check out some of these podcasts (all of which can be downloaded for free in the iTunes podcast section):

The Memory Palace

Sometimes dramatic, always sentimental, Nate Demio’s Memory Palace explores the parts of history you never knew about but should. In five to 10 minutes, Demio tackles the true but strange events from Galloping Gertie to John Wilkes Booth’s brother saving Lincoln’s son. Recently the Memory Palace has been co-opted into the podcast collective Maximum Fun, where he will actually be paid now for making his audiences cry. Thank goodness for that. Hopefully he will never stop.

99% Invisible

In this show about design, host Roman Mars shows his audience the power of architecture and design. As the title implies, Mars speaks of design hidden in plain sight. Produced beautifully with layered sound bites and an engaging atmosphere, 99% Invisible stands with the best podcasts despite its small staff size and funding. And it’s only getting better. Coming out of San Francisco’s KALW, 99% Invisible has very recently been critically acclaimed for its extremely successively Kickstarter campaign this summer, ranking as the most funded journalism project on the site with $170,000 donated. With a newly garnered reputation and funding, 99% Invisible starts its third season this fall.


If Radiolab had to be described in one word, that word would be enthusiasm. That and science. Centering around one idea (such as love or space or identity), Radiolab investigates the science and stories surrounding the subject. Though now one of the most well-known podcasts out there, Radiolab did not start off that way. Headed up by host Jad Abumrad and, in later episodes, Robert Krulwich, Radiolab started off as an hour-long program on WNYC. Although it still operates as a radio program, it fits comfortably into the podcast genre and, indeed, acts as a primary influence for many aspiring hosts today. Hosts Abumrad and Krulwich pull their audience in with their personality and spontaneous musing as well as the content and quality of their stories to make Radiolab easily one of the most accessible podcasts.

Love + Radio

As public radio’s rebellious child, Love and Radio keeps all the intellect but garners itself an explicit tag. One of the most boundary-pushing radio podcasts, Love and Radio flits around uniform recording and the traditional radio story. Host Nick van der Kolk explores stories from college love to in-home Detroit strip clubs and tells these stories while also inhibiting them. Van der Kolk shows his story, slipping into the unscripted conversation he has with his taxi driver about love and marriage. With Love and Radio, its audience never knows what to expect and is always satisfied.