My most favorite app is Stitcher. I’ve put it on a list of “things I can’t live without.” It’s an app that delivers all of your favorite podcasts “without downloading or synching.” It updates automatically so you don’t have to be a slave to your iTunes sync. I’m really not being paid by Stitcher, but . . . I’m not opposed.
I love Stitcher so much that if I lost my iPhone, I’d actually be missing that companion more than anything else. It’s not like I wouldn’t care that I couldn’t contact friends and family, because when you think about it, there are so many ways to connect to them. For instance, once, when I was thinking more deliberately about NOT contacting a certain person, I realized that there are actually at least 5 or more ways that I could instantly contact him. Which makes things a lot worse because it’s hard to know which one to concentrate your will power on the most . . . My point being that direct contact, other than a phone, is possible. However, when it comes to having Stitcher in your pocket, delivering your favorite podcast “friends,” losing that would leave the biggest gap.
With Stitcher, you can build a radio station. Before I give you my playlist, a couple are prefaced with a serious announcement about how “the following podcast contains explicit language.” However, once you start listening, the content is really less offensive and more provocative in an intellectually or humorous way. Through Stitcher delivering weekly content, I have been a more faithful jogger / walker (allowing me an excuse to listen to podcasts and measuring my run in the length of the shows), yet also that person jogging by your house laughing out loud for no apparent reason . . . a vicarious New Yorker / Chicagoan / Los Angelean.
My Stitcher Station Playlist:
1. All the Slate Podcasts:
–Slate Culture Gabfest: really you just have to experience this discussion to get the breadth of the topics, the range will astound and amuse you. Or maybe it won’t. Sometimes the dynamics of the 3 commentators, especially Steve Metcaffe can be wearying, but overall it’s like having cool New York friends when you live in the Midwest. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the Midwest)
–Slate Spoiler Specials: I read somewhere that actually finding out the ending enhances rather than detracts from the enjoyment of a movie. This was certainly the case for me after this podcast spoiled Catfish.
–Slate Audio Book Club: Again, very New York–ivy league-ish, but more accessible than you think in a housewife or old college friend with drop-ins from recent college grads kind of way.
–Slate Political Gabfest: This podcast got a shout-out from Stephen Colbert. The banter can seem a little overly combative to the Midwestern sensibility, but it’s like The Daily Show / Colbert Report’s more serious college roommate.
–Manners for the Digital Age: Advice for people who wonder if talking on a cell phone and flushing go together.
–Double X Podcast: Sorority reunion of bookish women.
–Hang up and Listen: Mike Pesca is the reason I listen to this conversation about sports at all. Yet, it’s the podcast I listen to the least frequently all the way through. But still fun.
2. The Sporkful: I’ve recommended this to a friend with insomnia. Not because it puts you to sleep, but when you’re awake in the middle of the night you feel so alone and stripped of any sense of well-being. About 20 minutes with Marc and Dan and you realize that we still live somewhere that 2 grown men can take disproportional enjoyment from food. Not only that, they have time to focus enormous energy and passion on eating, reminding you that simple pleasures are truly possible.
3. Freakonomics Radio: If you haven’t read the book (like me) but appreciate, instead, when people spoon-feed weird associations and cool connections directly to your ear, this is the podcast for you. It feels like cheating since you could have read the book first, but when you get past that, it’s informative and satisfying. As a teacher, I definitely appreciated the School of One and Pandora pairing.
4. Filmspotting: The hosts have gone through a transition recently and their tastes are pretty guy-ish (2 male hosts primarily), but again someone took their passion to a level where they do a lot of work for you. To get a sense of the taste represented, I saw Hanna and Fish Tank on the hosts’ praise.
5. The Moth Radio: True stories. Told live. The name comes from the analogy that storytelling is like a light that draws moths to its flame. Most of the stories have the authentic feel of an HBO documentary/ series chopped up and produced by a revolving door of accidental storytelling citizens.
6. NPR Shows: Planet Money, Fresh Air, RadioLab, The Business, Wait Wait . . .
7. This American Life: The OG (Original Gangster), Ira Glass.
8. WTF: Marc Maron interviews comedians in a backstage shop talk way. My favorites? Donald Glover and Jason Sedakis. The sponsors and some of the intros are a bit iffy, and the actual interviews can veer into intervention-ish AA-y type conversation. Lots of self-disclosure. But interesting in a reality radio kind of way.
9. The Onion News Network: Quick bursts of comedic observations. Hit and Miss, but mostly spot-on.
10. Too Beautiful to Live: Also a good insomnia cure–in fact, I listen to it exclusively in the middle of the night. TBTL a slightly self-satisfied examination of life from a late 30s, early 40s perspective. Discussions that seem like those annoyingly compelling Facebook updates that are passed around, validating your experiences (Favorite restaurant, Pet Peeve, etc.)–you just can’t turn away like you’re looking in a mirror. Entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way.
If you download and enjoy Stitcher, don’t forget to tip the wait staff.