Power to the Podcast

My friend Lewis, lost in his headspace

This is long overdue. I’m addicted to an unhealthy number of podcasts. I’ve been meaning to pick out some favourites and try to get some of you hooked.

(Here’s my vision: you take me up on my suggestions, become super fans, and then we have great chats about life, the universe, and everything.)

I’ll add to this post as time goes on, but in a curious break from my die-hard CBC fanfare, I’ll begin with two awesome shows based south of the border.

This American Life

As Ira Glass famously explains, every week they choose a theme and then bring you all kinds of different stories on that theme.

They have their own archive of favourites, but I’d like to add a few of my own:

  • Mind Games: Who’s playing. Who’s being played? Does such a line exist in the first place?
  • The Devil on my Shoulder: Sometimes something overtakes you… some mischievous or even sinister force that you simply cannot explain.
  • Frenemies: A contemporary word that finally captures, in three syllables, that time old expression: “With friends like you, who needs enemies?”
  • Rest Stop: Sometimes fascinating stories come from the most mundane places. Pull over and have a listen.


A podcasts that delves into the depth of human curiousity, dabbling in science, philosophy and the human experience.

  • The New Normal: A peaceful society of baboons. A small-town mayor with breast implants. Floppy eared friendly foxes. You don’t see that everyday. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to.
  • Parasites: The much maligned feeders that make ant’s butts go red and turn cockroaches into zombies. They are disgustingly fascinating.
  • Stochasticity: It’s a cooler word for random, but it’s also the difference between an ultimate design or a haphazard series of events.
  • Sperm: Imagine what the first person to ever see sperm under a magnifying glass must have thought. Save our sticky souls.


Here are a few longer-form pieces that are both enlightening and entertaining! Seriously, I learned more from these shows than I did in some of my undergrad courses.

Copyright in Canada (wait! hear me out!)

By Flickr user Aaronth // BY-NC-ND

To paraphrase Duke law professor James Boyle, 25 to 40 years ago, ordinary people just didn’t have to worry as much about violating copyright, and creators weren’t so vulnerable to having their rights violated. “Back then” one could only infringe upon exclusive rights with things like printing presses and broadcast tower. Boyle explains:

“Fast forward 40 years and now it’s almost impossible for most of us to go through our day without creating copies…It’s as if we had a set of landmines that previously could only be set off by tanks and now suddenly they’ve been made more sensitive and individual footsteps can set them off.”

Chasin’ Ira Basen: Master of the radio series

By Flickr user "Already have a Flickr account?"//BY-NC-SA

I have to spotlight Ira Basen, a  journalist who is capable of taking a really complex issue and breaking it down into a digestible series you that you just have to hear from start to finish. Here are  two of his pieces that I highly recommend.

Spin Cycles: Spin, the Spinners, and the Spun

News 2.o: The Future of News in an Age of Social Media


8 thoughts on “Power to the Podcast

  1. (whoops, typo…)

    OMG Fab…thanks for posting all your favourites…because of you, I’m now addicted to This American Life…looks like I’ve got a lot more listening to do!!!!

    • I’m just getting started! Still have to pick some of the best episodes of Wiretap, Vinyl Cafe, Spark, The Debaters, etc, etc, etc!

  2. Pingback: Learning to Listen « The Fab Files

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  4. How about the podcast that’s actually called “Power to the Podcast”? It’s funny informative and entertaining. Give it a try, for it is the embodiment of us podcast fans being inspired to start our own.

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