On Pass Checks and Podcasts

So, something that is both a frustration and a benefit of my job is I get paid to knit.  I regularly do pass checks at the major trailhead for 4-8 hours a week.  It is hot (or cold) and boring, and the only thing that makes it fun are my knitting/crochet/spindling and my iPod.

I crocheted many of the motifs and attached most of them together while waiting for trail users to show up at the trailhead.

I found that podcasts fills my time wonderfully.  My friends Dan Savage, Kelley Petkun, Grant Lawrence, Jonathan Goldstein, Ira Glass, the Planet Money team, and the weekly storytellers at the Moth, make me laugh, and cry and think.

So in honor of Kelly Petkun, the voice behind the KnitPicks Podcast and her fantastic weekly topics, I wanted to share some of my favorite podcasts, and I hope you might share some of your favorites with me.

(Note: Click on the podcast icon to subscribe on iTunes)

The Savage Lovecast – I have been listening to Dan since the very first days of his podcast in 2006 (wow, has it been that long!).  He is a controversial figure, and he never fails to offend and infuriate me.  However, I find his brand of sex advice amusing and his rants entertaining. Also, I think he has a fantastic voice and his pacing shows his experience with public speaking (something that is a must for me when choosing a podcast, I gave up on Never Not Knitting, because her poor grammar made me want to strangle my iPod everytime she spoke).  I know my views on so many things, particularly as they relate to sex, have been formed by Dan Savage and his personal brand of advice.

KnitPicks Podcast – This one is still new to me, I am on episode 54 of 165, but I love the way Kelley Petkun pulls together knitting, life, lessons and lectures without sounding too preachy.  Also considering that she runs a knitting supply company, she rarely comes off as a walking advertisement.  When I listen to Kelley I imagine it to be like attending a lecture at a knitting or spinning guild, or possibly the conversations that occur after a fantastic speaker.  I do find her interviews frustrating, the recording quality is poor and often Kelley’s conversations diverge so wildly from the “topic” of the interview I feel like I am eavesdropping on a personal call. However, I enjoy Kelley’s “chats” and I can understand the concern on the KnitPicks Lovers’ forum on Ravelry when they went quiet last winter.

The Moth – The Moth has made me cry on more than a few occasions, something that makes me love it and hate it equally.  For those not familiar The Moth is a storytelling collective who host events where people can tell stories (based on the theme of the night) and win accolades.  The best stories are collected and released as weekly podcasts and for the past year as a radio show.  These stories are so personal and heartbreaking that they make me wish I could share stories as well as the Moth storytellers do.

Planet Money – I love me some NPR and living in Ontario I can’t be bothered to listen to it on the internet, but I miss Kai Rysdal (Marketplace), Terry Gross (Fresh Air) and the Car Talk Guys. Planet Money gives me what I love about NPR, clear reporting and fantastic research and production.  While I never thought that I would be so interested in finance, the Planet Money team has taught me about mortgage backed securities, why aid money never works they way you want it to, what the Case-Schiller Index sounds like and how come there are so many Sacajawea dollar coins in the world.

This American Life – This podcast falls so far down the list because of logistics not love.  Because of its hour long format I find myself more likely to listen to it when I am at the trailhead or on a roadtrip, rather than walking to and from work. If you are not familiar to This American Life, it is a great show that shares stories around a set theme, however these stories  can include personal monologues, interviews, news reports or even fictional tales.  I first started listening to Planet Money because of their contributions to This American Life.

WNYC’s Radio Lab – This is one I fall in and out of love with. The show showcases how engaging the radio/podcast format can be, using layering of voices, sound clips and music to punctuate and accent their point.  However I don’t find myself choosing this one, but rather falling down its auditory rabbit hole whenever my iPod is running dry of content.

This is That – This one is still somewhat new to me, but it is an example that Canadians are much funnier and meaner that American’s think we are.  This is That is a parody news show, (think if the Onion did a radio show) that matches (and mocks) the style of the CBC so well that their stories have been picked up by the mainstream press and have inspired many conversations on topics like if the maple leaf in the Canadian flag looks too much like a potleaf, or if 14 years old is too young a drinking age in Quebec (both stories featured on the show).  I haven’t listened to the second season yet, but I found with the first season that the charade was so good, that by the end of the season they were tired of people thinking it was real and became like Mrs. Featherbottom/Tobias on the second season of Arrested Development, desperate to be caught in their “lie”.

CBC Radio 3 Podcast – This one is different than the others on the list, it is a radio show featuring the best in Canadian independent music.  Grant Lawrence, the host, pulls together fantastic shows, however I mostly listen to it in the place of music on my iPod and I don’t listen to it on my walks or at work, but rather when driving.

Wiretap with Johnathan Goldstein – Jonathan is a regular contributor to This American Life, which is how I found his show. I have listened to a few episodes and I haven’t decided whether I truly enjoy his show.

DNTO – Definately Not the Opera is a long running CBC show which I had enjoyed in the past, here again I haven’t listened to many episodes (I am still working my way through a backlog of KnitPicks podcast), however I like to keep a stash on my iPod just in case of emergency, that I somehow get stranded somwhere and I need distraction.

The History of the World in 100 Objects – This is a podcast put out by BBC Radio 4 that I loved but is not an ongoing podcast.  The project brought together 100 objects that help the host Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, tell the story of humankind from 2 million year old basalt chopping tool, to a solar charged lamp.  This podcast was fantastic while it lasted (at 102 – 15 minute episodes it is not endless), although it certainly took a masculine, Eurocentric view of the world, it introduced me to objects, peoples and histories that I could never imagine.

So, that is a little bit about what I have in my ears when I am knitting, crocheting and spinning.  Do you also listen to any of these podcasts? Do you have any podcasts that I must add to my list?

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  1. Pingback: On Tools and Kits « Green Bean's String Factory

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