I've recently been revamping my podcast collection. I listened to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe for quite awhile until eventually realizing that I don't like that kind of pseudo-planned conversation style between a panel of participants. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed Skeptics Guide and learned a great deal. I just found that it got kind of....boring after awhile. I also don't really care for one or two podcasters who pick a topic and then just attack the topic, with some planning but mostly just seemingly by ear. I like interviews. I love stories.
After listening to This American Life for the past several months I realized that I loved that style and wanted more like it. But apparently that's not the most common style of podcasting. To actually have a production team and take the time to really plan out and produce quality podcasts simply takes too much time and money for most people. And it's much simpler to have one person who feels like they have interesting and entertaining things to offer to simply go at it. More power to them. I just prefer the ones like This American Life.
With that in mind I've now come up with a short list of podcasts that I very much enjoy. They're sort of in descending order starting with my very favorites.
-This American Life: Obviously, I've talked about this one several times now already. I love it. I love the stories, the style of production, and the kinds of topics they pursue. Occasionally there are episodes that aren't gripping, but for the most part I've found this particular podcast to be top notch.
-NPR: Snap Judgement: I've played around with NPR for awhile now attempting to find the programs that I'm most interested in. Some of them I've enjoyed, but none so much as NPR's Snap Judgement. It is quite a bit like This American Life but with a slightly different style and with more music. It's different, but still quite good. And I love that the previous episode archive are all still available for free. That might be my one complaint about This American Life (not that I blame them - it does cost money to produce), although I have purchased some of their previous story albums because they simply are that good.
-The Moth: This podcast is a compilation of stories performed live. The episodes for The Moth are shorter and only a handful of the archives are available when you first start subscribing, but I've still enjoyed them very much. Wish there were more!
-Stuff You Missed In History Class from HowStuffWorks.Com: These podcasts are rarely longer than thirty minutes and they range across a wide variety of historical topics, such as who the real people were who inspired such characters as Professor Moriarty and Indiana Jones. A couple of individuals (two - I think) usually talk about these subjects having researched their topics in advance. It's a little less the style I prefer, but the topics are interesting and condensed enough that I don't really mind.
-Selected Shorts: This is a podcast that is very simply made up of actors reading and performing various stories - mostly (perhaps exclusively) fiction. I prefer real life stories or stories based around things that actually happened, but I've enjoyed this podcast so far.
-Infinite Monkey Cage: I may have mentioned this one before, and it perhaps doesn't belong on this list as it is only seasonally updated, but I love this podcast. I mentioned Skeptics Guide and this is a wonderfully condensed science podcast talking about a variety of topics with much comedy added. I wish there were more episodes, but in the meantime, I'll appreciate what is there. I think they're about to start recording again.