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Audibly Different

Being a loyal podcast listener can feel like you are part of a secret society without actually being aware of the fact. There are no meetings. What generally happens is that you start telling a story or relating the facts of some oblique piece of news (possibly as though it’s your own idea) with a nonchalant “I heard this thing” only to realize that your listener’s eyes have widened and he is opening and shutting his mouth like a fish out of water and you know – you are in the presence of a fellow podcast listener. Podcast listeners have a dogged loyalty to what they listen to. They recite particular cult episodes and noteworthy interviews as though these were family stories passed down from generation to generation, stories that reveal the truth about life and the world. Of late independent radio is going through a little renaissance, which pleases us no end as it’s the perfect partner to our increasingly visual way of perceiving the world, one that relies on a trick of fancy. Here are a few we love…

RadioLab – This is an irresistible amalgam of quirk and a love of detail, a self proclaimed “show about curiosity”. The stories are oblique, fantastically well researched and told with a nice little build-up and twist. It answers all the questions you’d never asked and makes you take an interest in the fine print that explains how the world works.

TED Radio Hour – An NPR baby, it manages to edit and compile footage, audio, and interviews into a concise and slick podcast that is just as brilliant as the video content. Their charm often lies in the exquisitely talented and inspiring people they have doing the talks.

The Moth – Taken from The Moth comedy sketch show, the podcast captures regular contributors and new performers alike on stage telling real-life stories. Generally totally hilarious, these are often true stories, which means that at times they can drift into shockingly candid accounts of personal lives which are equally worthy of a listen.

99% Invisible – I only got put onto this recently. It looks at design and the way things work in their minutae, to understand how we work as a society and as cities. Between far-out-there ideas, stories of inventions that never came true and unknown histories of urban spaces, this is one hell of a listen.

The New Yorker: Out Loud or Poetry – The New Yorker is always in top form no matter what medium you use to consume its generous and immaculate content. These podcasts are pretty stunning documentations that stretch from debates about esoteric and aesthetic questions (that some of us still think are) worthy of discussion. The Poetry Podcast is brand new (3 months old) and it’s run by our very own poet laureate Paul Muldoon. Can’t be bad…

The Stitcher Radio app combines all of these into a Favorites playlist. Indispensable.

Yes, the image above is of Piney and Ira. Wink wink…

Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna

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