If you’re anything like me, you are a sponge when it comes to media and information. Podcasts are a great way to gain some great tidbits of knowledge and insight in a digestible manner. And while some people only use podcasts for entertainment, they are also a great source of inspiration. Podcasts can become a springboard for a host of ideas. They can help rejuvenate a stale idea or beef up a particular prompt. Or they can offer dialogue too enticing not to explore deeper in the written word. Whatever your podcast fancy might be, here are seven podcasts to inspire your writing.
1.) 99 Percent Invisible
99 Percent Invisible is hosted by a man named Roman Mars. And just like his name suggests, his voice has a darn-near god-like tone of perfection. Seriously, Mars may just have the smoothest voice you will hear in your ear-balls ever. 99 Percent Invisible is meant to focus on architecture and design, but actually covers so much more. Mars covers many of the things in your life that often go unnoticed. And the reason they go unnoticed, as Mars argues, is because the design is just so darn good.
What separates Mars’s podcast from other design and informative podcasts is the niche nature of it. You’ll never look at sidewalks, water fountains, phone booths, or state flags the same. After delving into Mars’s silky voice, you’ll find that the world around you is way more complex than you ever thought. And yet, at the same time, all the more simple because of great design. Everything, from driving on the left side of the road, to how the postal service works is covered in episodes of 99 Percent Invisible. And Mars covers, not only the design in focus, but both the history and the current innovations of the world around us.
2.) The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast
The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast is easily the longest podcast on this list. Episodes often linger around the three hour mark. Joe Rogan hosts the podcast every week and it often includes a celebrity co-host. The co-hosts are usually an entertainer or comedian, although scientists, politicians, and other social figures have been present on the podcast. Rogan is an enigma. He has quite an eclectic background which makes him somewhat of a renaissance man. He covers topics relating to movies, television shows, current events, celebrity gossip, science, politics, health, fitness, sports, history and everything in-between. And he does the whole thing with an air of philosophical appreciation.
What makes the podcast hosted by Rogan worthwhile is the inventiveness of it. He will blend topics together in ways you didn’t know they could fit together. Furthermore, he will uncover obscure and niche facts. Plus, in a total bro move, he usually always tells you how to find out more information. (Get ready to get trapped in a Wikipedia Wormhole.) If you’re looking to brainstorm some new ideas and have some time to kill, then I recommend listening to a JRE podcast and seeing what you uncover. Plus, they are usually pretty entertaining.
3.) Around the NFL
This is the only sports podcast that has made it onto the list. So, bare with me if you aren’t a sports junkie. And if you are a sports junkie, calm down also. I’m not trying to to say that other sports podcasts aren’t better or more informative. Adnan Virk often explores some culture issues and media with his visits on the Mike and Mike Podcast. And Ryen Russillo and Danny Kanell will often wax poetic with life advice on their podcast too. But what makes Around the NFL worth listening to as a writer is the characters that host it. That’s right, I’ve included this podcast not for the content, but for the characters.
The hosts are intriguing. Most notably, Dan Hanzus is as charismatic as he is entertaining. Chris Wesseling and Greg Rosenthal also provide great insight and banter between each other. Listen to the way they communicate and develop their on-air personas. They make for a perfect case study in how people operate in both work and personal relationships. They sometimes explode into fits of passion on air, passion you’ll want to capture in your own dialog. The hosts will also sometimes act petty and juvenile just like real people. Most podcasts give you a fractured view into the hosts, but Around the NFL provides genuine entertainment from them. And the podcast proves to inspire new ways to craft your characters and their communications with one another.
4.) Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know
Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know isn’t the only podcast delivered by the How Stuff Works crew. In fact, it probably isn’t even the best, and it definitely isn’t the most popular. However, it does offer some great conspiracy theories. Personally, I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories. And it’s not because I’m a nut-job. It’s because they often incorporate fantastic narratives behind relatively benign subject matter. Conspiracy theories take the simple and create an elaborate act of betrayal and deceit around it. Straight-forward subjects always have something that is lurking beneath the surface.
I get it, you might think conspiracy theories are for loons. And you might be right. But, you should still listen to Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know. You will find out new information and hear unusual perspectives about subjects that you assumed were already cut and dry. Uncover some juicy perspectives and twists that you can use in your narratives. Furthermore, learn how you can better develop your storytelling. Whether you write fiction or not, you’ll learn how to add layers to your writing. And by listening to how the hosts untangle the mysterious webs that get spun during each episode, you’ll also be entertained.
RadioLab posts sporadically. I have been listening to their podcast for the past few years and I never know when they are going to update their channel with a new episode. But, just because their schedule is unreliable, doesn’t mean that their content isn’t. In fact, it might prove to be the opposite. They self identify as a podcast that explores curiosity. And since they aren’t concerned with adhering to a strict schedule, they only produce entertaining material that will tingle your curiosity. Their podcast’s mission is to blur the boundaries between philosophy, science and the human experience. And most times that they do a great job at fulfilling that mission without muddying the waters of their content.
RadioLab explores some really crazy stories and blends them with fantastic production. But it isn’t just the content that will inspire you. After listening to an episode, you will be full of ideas on how to better develop your stories and enrich your plot points. Plus, host Jad Abumrad has a smooth voice. It’s so smooth that Jad’s voice will tingle your interest, inspiring you to explore the topics they cover in their podcast episodes. Get ready for a trip in the Google Machine!
Freakanomics is the brainchild of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. It was spawned after the success of their book by the same name. The tagline for the podcast is to explore the hidden side of everything. And while their premise seems broad, they really (I mean, they really) deliver on it. And they do so in a very digestible manner.
Freakanomics will take a scientific and statistical approach to a lot of human-based subjects. Nothing is too mixed in emotion to be viewed from the lens of scientific perspective. Dubner and Levitt approach humanity from an economist’s view first and foremost. And it’s surprisingly insightful. But what makes it digestible, is they also provide humanity to the mathematical side of the world as well. The podcast is currently produced by Dubner Productions and WNYC Studios. So, it’s possible you’ll find their subjects covered on other podcasts around the internet or radio. However, none of them cover the topics with the same mirth and enlightenment that Freakanomics does each and every episode.
7.) The Daily Boost
The Daily Boost is hosted by Scott Smith and is a product of MotivationToMove.com. And it is a short but impact podcast. Each iteration usually hovers around only 10 minutes in duration. The whole idea behind the podcast is to inspire people to pursue their passions. Like your own personal development, the podcast has undergone a variety of changes in the past few years. It is currently only on a once-per-week production schedule, but was pumping out daily updates at one point. But just because the podcast comes out with less frequency doesn’t make the listening experience any less enjoyable.
What is great about The Daily Boost is that it has a lot of meaningful discussions. And advice offered in the podcast extends beyond writing. In fact, most of the information that comes out of Scott Smith’s mouth is about improving your life in general. But, what’s most important is his constant dedication to putting things in perspective and just start moving. And once you move, the rest of it will fall into place.