When I started listening to podcasts a few years ago, I only knew of one or two that I liked, but I’m an audio learner, so I was hooked. The trouble was that asking around or Google searching for good podcasts tended to yield the same suggestions: RadioLab, The Moth, This American Life, etc. They’re not bad suggestions (The Moth remains one of my favorites), but I was looking for something off the beaten podcast. In the past year, I’ve broadened my range of go-to podcasts for listening to by focusing on particular interests. Here are five of my favorites that you probably haven’t heard before.
1. Brain Burps about Books
With some podcasts, I go through a feverish phase of frequent listening and then my enthusiasm fades. Not so with Brain Burps About Books, a podcast full of writing and business tips for children’s authors, illustrators and aspiring authors and illustrators. I spent several months devouring the archives last fall after discovering this show. Now that I’ve exhausted past episodes, author/illustrator Katie Davis’ fun and funny personality, along with her top-notch guest lineup, leave me eager for a new episode each week.
2. The Introvert Entrepreneur
In the past few years, introvert awareness and empowerment has been on the rise, with books like Susan Cain’s Quiet and Laurie Helgoe’s Introvert Power leading the (reserved) revolution. At the same time, the arena for entrepreneurship and online marketing podcasts has continued to expand in popularity. A few months ago I listening to an episode of a successful online marketing podcast in which the host spent much of the time declaring why introvert entrepreneurs need to become extroverted. Disappointed by the host’s lack of understanding for what being introverted is (which is not a character flaw), and by his non-response to my email respectfully asking him to learn more, I decided to tune into something different. Beth Buelow’s The Introvert Entrepreneur hits the sweet spot where the business podcasting and introvert awareness trends meld. Although I’m not an entrepreneur, I love her thoughtful and heart-centered approach to interviews and advice that is good for any working introvert professional — and the extroverts who work with them.
3. A Way with Words
It’d be hard to choose between A Way with Words and Grammar Girl for the top podcast for word nerds. While the latter offers practical tips for grammar sticklers, the former is focused on the stories behind common and unusual words and phrases. Fielding calls from listeners across the country, co-hosts Martha and Grant flaunt a seemingly endless knowledge of how people speak in different regions of the U.S. and how those vernaculars evolved. The callers’ stories about where they heard a phrase or the debates they’re having with co-workers and spouses about how to “correctly” say something prevents the show from being a formal or stuffy foray into etymology. Each episode also features a different word nerdy quiz game schemed up by writer/comedian John Chaneski. The downside? New episodes are rare.
4. New Tech City
Some of my news articles to write are about technology. Not tech stories about the best iPhone 5 features, but exploring how people are interacting with technology and how it’s shaping culture. That being said, I quickly became a big fan of this show about technology in society (with a NYC focus, as it’s produced by WNYC), after hearing that they were covering the same topic as me this summer: a Perry County summer camp that allowed kids to bring smart phones for the first time. (Their videocast. My article.) Manoush Zomorodi’s conversational hosting style and the roughly 20-minute episodes make this podcast great for listening to during short runs.
5. The Public Speaker
Want “quick and dirty tips” to improve your public speaking skills? Listen to this podcast and you’ll definitely get what you asked for. Lisa B. Marshall’s dishes out practical advice not just for speaking alone in front of a 100-person audiences but also for effective communication in a variety of professional settings. Bonus: the episode titles are incredibly straightforward (e.g. “How to end a speech,” “How to present science to non-scientists”), so it’s easy to tell whether a particular edition will be relevant or interesting to you.
So what about you? What are you listening to and loving?