Resolving to Listen in 2020: Top Podcasts of the New Year

“Resolutions? ME?? Just what are you implying? That I need to change?? Well, Buddy, as far as I’m concerned, I’m perfect the way I am!” ~Calvin and Hobbes

I know I’ve been off the grid for a while. It would be nice if I could say I’ve been simmering my creative juices, mulling over different topics of life while secluded in some quaint cabin off the beaten path. In reality, life just gave me the wag of the finger saying, “No, no buddy. You gotta deal with me first.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but that foreshortened holiday season didn’t help. I was cooking a turkey with one hand while putting up a Christmas tree with the other. Now, it’s the New Year. 2020. I’m still writing 2019 and probably will ’till March. Before I reach back into my orthopedic quiver, however, I’d like to touch on the New Year’s resolution motif.

There will be no preaching in this blog. I believe it was my January 2019 blog that discussed all the most common New Year’s resolutions, a plan of attack to achieve them, and realistic goals. So pat yourself on the back because I know you’ve all succeeded in getting in shape, learning a new language, and developing a new hobby all in 2019…

phone and earbudsInstead, let me talk to you about something new I began recently, a resolution of sorts: listening to podcasts.

If it were up to me, I’d listen to music most of the time. Even right now while typing away, Freddie Mercury singing “We are the Champions” is flowing melodically through my ear buds. When I was in high school, I would pick up a group of kids for gas money. I listened to pretty much everything from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to REM and Led Zeppelin. I was pretty liberal with my CD player, so I would let anyone take over the music and DJ on our way to Glynn Academy except on Thursday. On Thursday, I would listen to Bob Dylan.

To this day I can still hear the groan as John Butler would get in my car and say, “Are we ever going to get through Bob Dylan’s catalog?”

“Nope” I would say, turning up the volume on Subterranean Homesick Blues. “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine. I’m on the pavement, thinking ’bout the government . . .”

Normally, I go back and forth between listening to music and checking the local and national news by jumping between Scott Ryfun and GPB. Lately, However, both radio shows are completely stuck on bipartisan politics. Not my cup of tea. So that’s when I thought to give Podcasts a whirl and see if I learn anything. Now, there are those of you who like audio books and I definitely think that’s a productive medium for a morning drive. The problem with audio books is I don’t know when I’ll get back to it, so I like the idea of a 30-45 minute podcast which fits in perfectly with my ride to the hospital and then back home.

So now all I had to do is pick one. That sounds easy enough. Well, it isn’t. At last count, there are over 800,000 podcasts comprising 30 million episodes, so you probably want a strategy. I recommend starting off by searching a topic that interests you. Truly, the options are basically limitless. You can search broad topics like gardening, cooking, history, self-help, and outdoor activities, or you can get specific such as orchids, barbecue, WWII, and cats. If you can think up a topic, I promise there’s a podcast about it. I even tried to stump the podcast search by typing in aquariums, southern cooking, and golden retrievers. All podcasts, and The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is fascinating.

This is my list. I focus quite a bit on quirky history. Right now, my favorite is Mo Rocca’s Mobituaries.

  • Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, hosted by Mo Rocca
  • Revisionist History, hosted by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Thomas Jefferson Hour, hosted by Clay S. Jenkinson
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class, hosted by Holly and Tracy Wilson
  • The Bitter Southerner, hosted by Chuck Reece
  • Dolly Parton’s America, hosted by Jad Abumrad
  • How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz
  • History of WWII, hosted by Ray Harris Jr
  • Most Notorious!, hosted by Erik Rivenes

These are a mere few, but it’s a good start. Search for something that might make you a better person, more knowledgeable, or just what gives you a good laugh in the morning. We all need a good laugh.