Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 Podcasts: #3 This American Life

[Editor's Note: The following is the latest in a series covering my top 10 podcasts and my favorite episodes from each. Here's what we know so far:
#3 - This American Life
#4 - Real Time With Bill Maher
#5 - Doug Loves Movies
#6 - Savage Love Podcast
#7 - Freakonomics Radio
#8 - The Moth Podcast
#9 - The Ricky Gervais Podcast
#10 - Fresh Air with Terry Gross]

What else is there to say about This American Life that hasn't already been said? It's simply one of the finest radio shows to ever grace the airwaves. The storytelling chops on display every week are unmatched. I listened to This American Life on the local NPR station every Sunday with my parents before the concept of a podcast as we know it today had been conceived. It introduced me to some of my favorite authors including Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris. There are episodes that transcend the format and stretch the bounds of what a podcast can be.

Essential Listening

My only real complaint about This American Life are the episodes where a single depressing topic is covered for the entirety of the run time. (Not unlike Fresh Air With Terry Gross.) The show never stops being engaging, but some topics are frankly more fun to think about than others. Overall, the program never stops firing on all cylinders, though. The show has begun to expand into current events journalism over the last few years and shows like Episode 355, "The Giant Pool of Money" are amazing. They've also had some staggeringly great live episodes like Episode 357, "Return to the Scene of the Crime." For my money one of the best episodes ever is Episode 396, "#1 Party School".


  1. Great list so far...waiting to see where Radio Lab will end up!

  2. Thanks...You won't be disappointed.