My brothers and I listened to a lot of music and children's radio programs when we were young. Recordings of The Sound of Music and Anne of Green Gables were in constant rotation. When I was around five, I received a Fisher-Price tape recorder for either a birthday or Christmas present. It had a rounded handle, colored buttons, and a microphone! Now for the first time, I had a way to listen my own stuff on the go!
On family road trips we often listened to Adventures in Odyssey, a radio drama program. Adventures in Odyssey began as a radio show in 1987 and has since released the episodes for home listening (we had them on cassette tape!). Odysessy is a fully realized world, with interesting and deep characters that are challenged with real life dilemmas. Most episodes take place in the present, but they also focus on historical events. When I sing the U.S. National Anthem, I think of the Adventures in Odyssey episode where they retell the event that influenced the poem!
After listening to a few episodes with my family, I would grab my trusty tape recorder, start an episode and toss a blanket over my head to isolate myself with the story. I would spend countless hours each week listening, learning, and using my imagination. At first, reading didn't come easy to me, but these audio tapes allowed me to delve into a different world, just like books can.
When I began commuting to Chicago, I learned early on that music wasn't the best distraction for the drive. Podcasts are fresh and new – you don't know when one segment will end and another will begin, while songs can become predictable – they are usually around 3 - 3.5 minutes each (for this same reason, I don't usually to listen to music while I workout).
I am constantly listening to podcasts: on my way to and from work, when I cook or clean or while I'm working from home. Just like when Jordan and I began watching The Big Bang Theory this summer, when I discover a new podcast I binge listen! Below are a few of my favorite podcasts, which can all be found through iTunes or listened directly from their websites.
Fresh Air is hosted by Terri Gross who is a very skilled interviewer. The show is produced almost daily from Philadelphia, but distributed through NPR. Her guests are national best-selling authors, skilled actors, comedians, and musicians, etc.
Slate Culture Gabfest is a weekly podcast hosted by writers and editors from Slate Magazine. Each week they discuss three topics, which is usually broken down into a movie/tv show, editorial article, and a celebrity antic. Brilliant.
Relevant is a weekly podcast hosted by the staff of Relevant Magazine, which covers all things faith and culture. And honestly, it might be one of the funniest things I hear all week.
Stuff You Missed in History Class also comes from HowStuffWorks.com and covers all things world history. I've mentioned before how my history books seemed to begin with the Pilgrims each year and this show has surprisingly filled in many gaps for me! I love it.
Filmspotting is a weekly film talk radio show based out of Chicago, also distributed through NPR. Each week the hosts cover one or two new releases, plus they will dive into a genre or director and marathon classics. Those marathons have covered topics such as: Billy Wilder, Iranian cinema, 70's sci-fi, comedy, film noir etc. I always discover more movies I need to watch!