I don’t read much for pleasure and we don’t have broadcast TV, so I’ve
become kind of a podcast addict. I use podcasts to bribe myself to go to
the gym (here’s a Freakonomics podcast on temptation bundling, if you’re
interested in that technique), my family listens to podcasts when we’re
driving to go skiing or mountain biking, I listen to podcasts on
airplanes, on the bus, while I’m washing the dishes or waiting for my
daughter at her music lessons or sports practices, and on and on.
Claire Harmer just wrote a post about podcasts for translators over at The
Deep End, and I agree with all of her suggestions (and not just because
she tagged Eve Bodeux’s and my podcast, Speaking of English Chinese translation). So here
are some suggestions for your iTunes or Stitcher queue.
For English Chinese translation related podcasts, I listen to pretty much every episode of
Tess Whitty’s Marketing Tips for Translators, and I always learn
something new! For general freelance info, I listen to Ed Gandia’s
Smarter Freelancing Podcast, because I think it’s good to glean tips from
other freelance-heavy industries.
To keep up my source language skills, I listen to French Voices (if
you’re an advanced speaker, the exercises are pretty basic but the
interviews are really interesting), and occasionally Native French Speech.
When I want some brain candy, I listen to StartUp (technically a business
podcast but very entertaining) and its spinoff, Reply All. Not exactly
brain candy, but if you became addicted to the first season of Serial, you
can follow the same story on a totally different podcast, Undisclosed.
Warning: Undisclosed is awesome, but in an “am I getting three graduate
credits for this?” kind of way. It will make no sense if you didn’t
listen to every episode of Serial, and even if you did, you’ll still have
to think back over some stuff (what’s the importance of the cell tower
near McDonald’s? why is it important whether Jay was at Kathy’s at 3:12
PM?). And Freakonomics is always fun too!
I’ve also gotten my husband and my daughter addicted to some nerd
podcasts, which we now listen to on car trips. Our absolute favorite is
Futility Closet, described by its creator as “an idler’s miscellany of
compendious amusements.” My daughter is 12, and it’s surprisingly hard
to find podcasts that are not specifically for children but don’t contain
a lot of swearing (for example I think that lots of tweens would find
Reply All interesting, but pretty much every episode has a language
warning), so Futility Closet gets a special shoutout for being PG. Many of
the episodes cover interesting historical events, including lots of
unsolved mysteries. I would especially recommend The Wizard of Mauritius,
about a French naval officer who claimed to be able to see ships beyond
the horizon, and The Lost Colony, which has a lot of information about the
Roanoke colony that you probably didn’t learn in history class! We also
really like You Are Not So Smart, which focuses on current research in
psychology and behavioral economics (great subject matter but the episodes
are often an hour or longer, and I tend to prefer 20-30 minute chunks),
plus the NPR news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
I’ll end this with a little call to action: if you’re a podcast addict
too, make a habit of donating to your favorite shows. I figure that not
having cable TV saves us a good chunk of money every month, so I force
myself to donate to NPR, our community radio station and to my favorite
podcasts, since they’re our major media consumption. Readers, any other
fun or educational podcasts out there?