Planet Money is, in my eyes, the quintessential podcast for journalism. It can pack a topic that would take other programs a solid 90 minutes to cover into episodes of about 20 minutes. I’ve listened to Planet Money for a few years now, and there are a few standout episodes:
Peanuts and Cracker Jack (embedded above)
The ever-rotating hosts have a phenomenal grip on economics and relaying it to laypeople. The show is set up like a longer radio broadcast. More often than not, there is audio from within the studio, accentuated with audio from in the field, which propels the story forward.
Twenty Thousand Hertz
Twenty Thousand Hertz is a recent find thanks to 99% Invisible. It’s all about sound design, and it’s still relatively new. Arguably, this is more podcast-y than Planet Money. Where Planet Money got its start as a radio show, Twenty Thousand Hertz is much more engineered. You can almost see the many different layers of audio working together in each episode.
It’s newer, so there aren’t as many episodes as Planet Money, but I still have favorites:
NBC Chimes (embedded above)
There’s one host here, examining a topic with the help of phenomenal sound additions and interviews from experts. If you ask me, he’s still looking for his “podcast voice.” I consider this the 99% Invisible of sound. It can take complex ideas about audio and package them in a way that anyone can understand and appreciate.
99% Invisible is a hit for anyone wanting heavily edited, engineered, amazing-sounding audio stories about the design elements we face daily but rarely notice. Host Roman Mars also has the silkiest voice that’s like a jar of molasses being poured over your ears. Every intro of “This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars,” causes an immediate sense of calm and intrigue.
Mars, along with a staff of talented reporters and producers, create stories about the often-used but constantly unseen aspects of architecture, infrastructure, history, technology and a host of other topics.
I just started listening to 99% Invisible religiously in October, but I’ve gone through a sizable chunk of their content. My favorites are:
War and Pizza (embedded above)
The beauty of 99% Invisible is that anyone can get into it, at any time. Each episode is self-contained like the previous ones, but is heavily engineered like serialized podcasts. It blends the ability to tell complex stories like Planet Money, and the high-quality sound design and editing that Twenty Thousand Hertz brings to the table.
I love podcasts. I listen to them all the time- walking to class, biking the trails near my house in summer, while working, and often just for leisure. I use Podcast Addict (the free version) on my phone, and Stitcher on my tablet on occasion.
I’d love to go into it in some capacity for a career- sound is so intimate and personal and the most perfect avenue for great storytelling. Shameless plug: I created a six-part podcast for an immersive learning project I was a part of in 2016. It’s even up for consideration in the batch of work we submitted for the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards. It’s embedded below, take a listen!
UPDATE: It won first for IASB Radio In-depth Reporting, and was runner-up for SPJ Region 5 awards!
What about you? Drop a comment below with any podcast recommendations, I’m always looking for something new to listen to!