I love listening to people tell stories. In fact I often wish people would just stop expecting me to say things at parties, and talk about themselves instead. This is probably why I feel closer to podcast hosts than to actual humans.
Many of you know how much I love the radio show This American Life, which recently aired its 500th episode. Hosted by public radio heartthrob Ira Glass, each hour-long episode explores a topic, often through reporting, personal stories, or readings of short fiction. The investigative reporting on the show has exposed arbitrary drug court sentences, Mike Daisy’s lies about what he allegedly saw at Chinese Apple plants, and how shady groups are using patents to shake down tech companies.
My affinity for podcasts (I’m subscribed to twelve, and I regularly listen to four or five) probably comes from being raised by audiobooks, many of which bordered on radiodramas with full voice casts. Over and over, I played Russian cassettes of Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, and a Swedish series about a fat man named Karlsson who lived on the roof and flew around using a tiny propeller.
This fits into the “completism” theme of this blog because of my tendency to listen through the backlog of shows once I find a new one I really enjoy. Not usually from beginning to end, but keeping up with current episodes while simultaneously listening to older shows. (I’m currently on episode 413 of This American Life…) But while I’m not writing this having recently completed any shows, a number of the shows I listen to have hit milestones. Slice of SciFi also recently celebrated its 500th episode – which they hit after eight years, rather than TAL’s 20.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know podcast hosts even better than some of my close friends, seen shows breed spinoffs, podfade, and even cried when a favorite host passed away. There’s something intimate about the audio format. Something special about feeling like a person is sitting with you and telling you stories, or feeling like you’re hanging out with a group of nerdy friends talking about the latest in sci-fi television while you crochet something new.
The Geologic Podcast, a weekly skeptical one-man-show, this week aired episode 324. I’ve been listening since episode 20. It’s weird and comforting to me how these shows have stayed with me through thick and thin. They’ve been there for me when I was in high school, on a long, boring flight to Europe, and while our tour bus drove through the Irish countryside. They’ve been there for me when I drove to college every day. There for me through all of my major relationships. I feel like I’ll never be able to stop listening to strangers tell me stories.