I love podcasts. I listen to them on trips, while working, in my sleep and at all times while gallavanting. It’s tricky, though — I like my podcasts to update regularly, of course, but I’ve had to unsubscribe to more than one for having too much content. I find it’s easy to get outnumbered by a backlog of un-listened-to episodes, feeling overwhelmed and buried and hemmed into a corner frantically trying to absorb it all, every waking minute, afraid of missing out. I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes I cannot fit everything in, and so, sadly, The Two-Hours-Of-New-Stuff-Every-Goldurn-Day Show just has no place in my life.
Once a week for an hour or less seems to be a pretty good schedule for a podcast, as far as my own listening schedule goes. So I really like Radiolab, a WNYC public radio program about science, perception, and the underlying mysteries of everything. But instead of pointing you to the show and saying “There, go;” I’d like to share two particularly great episodes with you.
The first is their War of the Worlds episode, in which they tackle the 1938 Orson Welles hoax broadcast and explore why people believed it was real — and continued to believe it was real each time it was re-broadcast. Fascinating stuff, especially for folks like me who’ve never heard the original (despite the 4GB of old Mercury Theatre archives on my iPod. Like I said, it’s hard to get around to it all).
Another is a short, off-season episode called Tell Me a Story. It’s a recording of co-host Robert Krulwich delivering this year’s commencement address at Cal Tech, in which he exhorts the graduating nerds to evangelize the world with the wonder and beauty of science and exploration. (He does a much better job delivering it than I do explaining it.) Only 27 minutes long, and you can listen online or download the MP3. Do yourself the favor.
Season 5 of Radiolab starts next week. You can subscribe to the podcast at WNYC.org.