Podcasts – voices and stories

For a few years now, I have subscribed to various podcasts. It’s interesting to me how few people in my daily life understand what I am referring to when I share with them that I listen to podcasts. For me, it’s a regular part of most days, particularly a regular feature of my daily commute. My current list of podcasts is about a half a dozen long and includes spiritual matters with Pray As You Go (a Jesuit daily prayer exercise that I find soothing, thoughtful and helps me enter the day with a renewed gratitude and peace). There are three podcasts that are all about knitting, in various forms. The first two are more traditional in that they feature knitting tips, what’s on the podcasters needles, a fiber artist guest speaker and in one case, there can be some added Piper highlights as the podcaster is a bagpiper: Knitting Pipeline. I really enjoy this one- her cast of characters tends to be the same so one gets to know her regular co-podcaster voices. Then there is Curious Handmades, an Australian gal shares her knitting universe with the rest of us and again features special projects she is working on and key guests from the knitting community. These two are likely a big puzzle for non-knitters, after all how can it be interesting to listen to someone talk about knitting. If you are at least more than an ultra beginner, the sessions offer insights into knitting challenges, provides inspiration with new projects and can also offer tips on which yarns (wool, alpaca, cashmere or should I use silk?) are best for certain projects. Another knitting podcast I enjoy is called Teaching Your Brain To Knit; this one is focused on the mental aspects and benefits of knitting. This could be meditation, memory, well being and more.   This last podcast is hosted by two gals in the Northwest- they also talk about their geographic location and highlight their own projects as well. So one gets to know these personalities and at times, instead of local radio, I reach for the podcast to accompany me on my drives between home and work.

Depending on the season, that ride can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour an a half! In the last six months, I have added two podcasts that have been a great balance to the knitting and spiritual. These are basically radio journalism. Stories- true stories. The first one is called The Lapse, and the host offers these 20-30 minute episodes that are stories brought from real lives. He invites people to write in about their stories and then he creates the broadcast with their voices, throws in sound effects and brings interesting perspectives about the human condition to the air waves. These have been thought provoking as well as humorous in some cases; definitely mind opening.

I leave the best for last. A new discovery called Serial. This podcast is a weekly series delving into one important story. They are only on their second story- which drills down into the facts and situations surrounding Bowe Bergdahl. This is their second “season” or perhaps best called “series” .  The producers of the show have uploaded two episodes so far covering Bowe Bergdahl and the story; they are featured weekly on Fridays.  The episodes go into depth as the host Sarah Koenig, from NPR’s This American Life, explores questions of:  what happened, how, why… how did it affect his fellow platoon mates, his family and the controversy it drew with his release and swap for the 5 Taliban detainees.  Before the Bowe story, I listened to 12 episodes of the story behind Adnan Syed, a seventeen year old Baltimore high school student who has served 15 years so far of his sentence for being convicted of murdering an ex-girlfriend. Those episodes went through a process of interviewing a large volume of people surrounding the case, his sister who believe in his complete innocence, class mates, teachers, expert law sources and Adnan himself. Sarah Koenig, the host of the show, has this soothing intellectual voice, as one might hear in France “Sympatique”; meaning, she sounds like a friend – a smart friend, that is helping to open up the conversation again about this young man behind bars, is he guilty? Was it Muslim racial profiling? Does he have it him? Is he a pathological person? Is he too kind and too good to have done anything so heinous? The podcast, literally, casts new light on the situation and Adnan is up for a retrial in February 2016.
Podcasts, an extension of talk radio with the benefit of it being on demand, allowing one to connect with stories and voices. Opening a window for thought provoking analysis. Or, focus on a simple prayer for the day, a meditation with the odd cast on and knit two together, a yarn over discussion.  It’s a whole different world.

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