A few months ago, I discovered NPR. Now that I’ve dived fully into the nerdy wonder of National Public Radio – via the NPR One app, and podcasts -I am wondering where it has been my whole life. Multiple friends have recommended various NPR programming over the years, but I never checked it out. I think my first exposure to talk radio was Dr. Laura and Newt Gingrich and so I have assumed all these years that NPR was mostly conservative blow hards. Imagine my surprise when I finally checked it out and found it filled with MY PEOPLE.
My gateway drug and NPR first love was ON BEING with Krista Tippett.
Each episode is an interview with a deep thinker on broad topics of spirituality and humanity, from Catholic priests, Rabbis, and Buddhists to artists, scientists and philosophers. I find it thought provoking and eye opening, and Krista Tippett has the calmest voice I’ve ever heard.
Start here: It’s really hard to pick a favorite, since the topics range so widely. I love this episode focusing on a Jewish view of repentance. And I absolutely adored this interview of Jesuit priest Gregory Boyd. I was really surprised by how fascinating I found the episode with Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant about givers and takers. If you’re a Brene Brown fan (like I am), you’ll want to listen to this conversation about her research on vulnerability. And if you watched the West Wing (speaking of things that make me happy!), you’ll enjoy this conversation with Martin Sheen.
I have several friends who are addicted to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and so I decided to go looking for it. In my opinion, WWDTM tends to be funnier if you’ve listened to NPR pretty non-stop during the week. Although it’s entertaining, it doesn’t always hold my attention. In my search for WWDTM (I couldn’t remember the name), I came across Ask Me Another. Which is a trivia/game show that does hold my attention, and which I LOVE.
I look forward to it every week, and it is especially handy when I’m having a bad day or just want something light and vaguely educational and word-nerdy fun. The games are along the lines of “This, That, or the Other”, where contestants hear a phrase and have to guess which category it belongs to. In a recent episode, they had to choose between an alcoholic beverage, a Slavic proverb, or a line from a Bob Marley song. It’s delightfully random. They also have a game involving music most weeks – recently contestants had to guess the romantic comedy described in altered lyrics to the 90s song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. So fun. Each week there’s a VIP – very important puzzler. I enjoy every episode, but the ones with VIPs I am familiar with are especially delightful.
Start here: You can just start with the latest episode, I have enjoyed every single one. I went back and searched old episodes and found this one with Sir Patrick Stewart, who is just the BEST, and whose episode contained lots of Shakespearean nonsense.
And last on this list – but at the top of the list of things that are making me happy – my latest NPR discovery, Pop Culture Happy Hour.
I checked PCHH out when I was first falling in love with NPR programming, and couldn’t get into it. NO IDEA WHY NOT. Because I love it. A few weeks ago, I had a ton of housework to do and wanted something to listen to. I dropped down a Pop Culture Happy Hour hole and still haven’t come up, I’ve been listening to back episodes for weeks.
It’s basically a round table discussion of various pop culture happenings (music, books, movies, comics, TV – everything.) I like that they present a relatively diverse set of view points. I like thinking about deeper meanings behind the things we watch and talk about. And after listening to multiple episodes, I discovered that TWO of the regular hosts used to write for one of my very first internet loves, Television Without Pity (TWOP was shut down a few years ago -I am still sad.)
They always cover a couple of different topics, and end every episode with “What’s making us happy” – my inspiration for this post!
Start here: The first episode I listened to was this interview with JK Rowling, about her Pseudonym Robert Galbraith. (I read both of the first two Cormoran Strike mysteries and loved them, but this latest book is about a serial rapist/murderer and sounds terrifying. Which I learned from this interview.) I enjoyed the episode that came out the week Star Wars came out, for obvious reasons. But really, even when they’re talking about things I’ve not seen or am not interested in, I still enjoy this show.