6 Podcasts on Work and Parenting That Don’t Use the Phrase “Work-Life Balance” Like It’s A Real Thing

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Maybe you have a fulfilling, financially lucrative, and flexible work situation. Maybe you have a kid who sleeps through the night, doesn’t nurse like a starving pterodactyl and never gets sick with the kid puking plague. Maybe you’ve reached that mythical asymptotic place on the curve of work and kids that gets as close to having it down as it possibly gets.

Or maybe you’re more like me and literally every woman I know when it comes to work and kids: you’re piecing it together, hopping off the crazy train then sort of wishing you were back on it, looking at that green grass on the other side of wherever you are, , trying to make one and one equal three and game the system and coming up short. Every woman’s version of trying to negotiate motherhood and a professional life (or pause from that life) is full of achingly common themes. Every version can be weighed down with so many unknowns, and every version can feel lonely.

These podcasts don’t offer any easy answers, but they do tell nuanced, complex stories, show triumphs and failures with grace and humor, and offer a glimpse of what’s possible.

 
The Longest Shortest Time: It’s A Real Mother (four-part series): The story of Jane Swift, who campaigned for governor of Massachusetts while she was pregnant and gave birth while in office, made me want to call my mom and thank her for getting through any version of being a working mom in the 80’s. There’s also a story of a working class mom trying to make ends meet, of parents in Sweden living the dream of paid leave and still struggling, and of a company where babies come to work with their parents. There’s an episode on the elusive, unattainable “ideal worker,” and another on “the cliff” women can face professionally in a culture that’s not built for moms to flourish.

 
Note To Self: Taking The Lead: This four-part series from 2016 follows Rachael and Leslie, two Brooklyn moms who put everything on the line to try and get an app called Need Done off the ground from conception to prototype to trying to convince angel investors to give them millions. The glaring irony is that this app is designed to help parents with demanding professional lives manage and outsource tasks. The series ends with foreign policy analyst Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” and her husband, Princeton professor Andrew Moravscik, telling their family’s story with an honesty and hard-earned wisdom any parent will hear in their voices. 

 
3,2,1 iRelaunch: This podcast covers everything related to re-entering work after a career break. I love that they cover the emotional side of things, like an episode on not talking yourself out of opportunities and dealing with rejection, as well as the practical topics like how to talk about a career break in interviews and how to make your résumé stand out.

Hit Refresh: The Future is Flexible: Host Adda Birnir founded Skillcrush, an online tech-education company. I’ve taken their classes and love the availability of support and the curriculum’s challenge level and design. (And am totally gonna spruce up my WordPress site with my new skills if I ever stop listening to podcasts and cleaning up Play Doh). Adda interviews Annie Dean, co-founder of a company called Werk that helps companies attract, retain, and support talented women who want job flexibility. Today we drive on smooth, paved highways that cross the country, right? Well, they didn’t exist until the Federal Highway Act of 1956. Annie Dean is basically the Dwight Eisenhower of re-inventing work flexibility, and this podcast is so worth listening to.

 
Ali Wong on Fresh Air: There are a lot of (dumb) reasons there are not twenty Netflix specials with pregnant or recently postpartum lady comedians like Ali Wong telling jokes about the “savage rituals” of breastfeeding or how stay-at-home moms have it figured out because they get to take a shit in their own bathroom in peace, and it’s not because those things aren’t as gross and funny as every dime-a-dozen dude making a dick joke.  I was laughing so hard hearing Wong talk about her expectations that nursing would be a “lily pad in a meadow and bunnies would gather at my feet while the fat-Hawaiian-man version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow, ” versus the reality that it was more like  “Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant” that I almost forgot all about the wage gap!

 
Startup Pregnant: The women who tell their stories on this podcast are more type-a and corporate-career-oriented than me, but as I listened to host Sarah Peck do a few interviews it became so clear that whether she was interviewing entrepreneurs, CEO’s, or non-profit leaders, their deeply honest stories and struggles were the same as mine in every important way. The podcast operates on 10 “Core Values” that show up consistently in every episode, including “Work life balance is  a myth. There is fit and there is tension,” and “Culture change starts with stories.” I couldn’t agree more.  

Four Interviews With Badass Women To Get You Through Another Terrible Week

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Another week, another news alert about some Voldemort jerkoff turdface dude in politics, comedy, or Hollywood who’s made women’s lives miserable. I submit, as one possible avenue of dealing with this now-routine terribleness, making sure your podcast playlist is as full as possible of interviews with tough, cool, talented women like these.

Lisa Ling on Death, Sex, and Money talks about being raised by her dad, dancing on tables in New York City, and the heartbreak of long-distance love. Listen to this one if you hung on Lisa’s every word during Channel One News in your high school homeroom while finishing your homework while some idiot kicked your chair and flicked wads of paper past you.

Kathrine Switzer on The Runner’s World Podcast (#49) tells the story of how she became the first woman to run with a number in the Boston Marathon in 1967. As a post Title IX kid, it’s incredible to hear her talk about the ridiculous lengths she had to go to as a young woman who just wanted to lace up her sneakers and run. Listen to this one while you bust out five miles on the treadmill and everything feels a little easier and less shitty afterward even if it isn’t. Yet.

Barbara Corcoran is a woman who refuses to get knocked down. On How I Built This, she tells the story of how she went from waitressing at a diner in New Jersey to building a New York City real estate empire. There are so many moments where she’s forced to pivot and reinvent her business, and she just gets better at it every time. Listen to this one if the idea of a career change seems daunting, or if you’ve ever thought you might have a little hidden hustler/entrepreneur inside you who wants to come out.

On Song Exploder (#122), Rachel Platten tells the story of her song “Broken Glass,” the defiant song she started before the 2016 election and finished after it.  Her other hit “Fight Song” was chosen as Hillary Clinton’s campaign anthem, the vitriol and hate she encountered during that time changed her irrevocably.  Song Exploder edits out most of the interviewer’s questions so the whole story is told by the artist, and you can hear the shock and confusion Platten’s voice change to an edgy, brave toughness as she talks about how “Broken Glass” came to be.

Make Me A Playlist: A Dad On a Solo Road Trip

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An old friend of mine requested a playlist for an upcoming 6-hour road trip. He’s got little kids, but they won’t be coming along. Of course I suggested S-Town for one leg of the trip since he hadn’t listened to it yet, but I suggested he mix it up for the ride up there. Here’s the playlist I made him:

WTF Barack Obama Interview: I always throw a WTF into the mix if I’m listening with my husband. My friend is pretty into politics, so I thought a little #tbt to this great interview with Obama would be a good way to start off his trip. 

PCHH Favorites of 2017: This is one of my favorite shows, and this rapid-fire best-of-2017 is just full of great suggestions for movies, music, comic books, and TV that stood out for the panelists in 2017. Extra bonus that it’s just the three main panelists with no “fourth chair” so my buddy can get to know the show’s core group.

Why Oh Why: Randy’s Mema Died: This is Randy, the actor who plays the part of the host’s fictional egocentric, manipulative, douchey-but-occasionally-lovable friend. I think this episode perfectly captures the weirdness, performance-art, and social commentary that the Randy episodes are going for. 

99% Invisible: El Gordo: This is just such a great story, about the only dude in a Spanish town who didn’t share in a gigantic lottery win.

Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons on Survival:  This interview is so beautiful, Ellen Burstyn is such a badass, and I feel like my friend would never pick this on his own. If any episode will get you hooked on Anna Sale’s interviews in Death, Sex, and Money, this one will.

Reply All Jennicam: I went to high school with this friend, and I am pretty sure we had to do a group project with some research using Alta Vista at some point. So I felt like an Internet 1.0 story would be a good one to throw in. All the Reply All stories that take you back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s are so good, and it’s fun to time travel to that totally different world recent past when the Internet was new.

Fresh Air: Patton Oswalt: I’d suggest this to any friend who’s experienced loss, who’s pulled it together for their kids, or who could use a comedian’s take on Donald Trump. So, that’s everyone. Such a gem, this one, and it will make many friend-playlist-appearances after this one for sure.

How I Built This: Starbucks: You will never walk into a Starbucks and see it the same way after hearing this interview with CEO Howard Schultz. 

How I Built This: Air BnB: The story of Joe Gebbia founding Air BnB is fascinating for a few reasons: the failure that came first, the way he finally got an investor’s faith and attention (it’s crazy), and the ways I feel like these guys had to be dudes for a bunch of the things that seem lucky or like inspiration to have gone their way.

 

 

Why The F Do I Love WTF?

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I’ve been having a hard time nailing down what it is about WTF with Marc Maron that I love so much, but let me try.  

He’ll sometimes meander into a four minute story about some divey place he used to do standup or some guitar he’s trying to find strings for, or he’ll skip talking about what the interview subject is most famous for and talk about their cats or their opinion of Delta’s airline food, before jumping to talking about the interviewee’s shitty father or their struggle with addiction. He tells you what he thinks of the state of New Jersey (he likes it and feels like it’s a part of him even though he hasn’t lived there since early childhood) or some fish restaurant in Seattle (he likes the fried scallops quite a bit).  

He’s a celebrity now at 54, but wasn’t for a long time. He rambles for 15 minutes before each interview in a stream-of-consciousness half-rant-half-self-therapy session that should drive me nuts, but that I love. He’s lived an interesting life himself that he’s not afraid to share with guests and the “what the fucksters, what the fuckaneers,” as he calls his listeners. He’s a curmudgeon who can’t help but be so genuinely and deeply interested in everyone he talks to, and the hour-long conversations end up being riveting, though in the opposite way that a Terry Gross interview is.  I totally recommend listening to interviews of the same person by both Gross and Maron. (Bruce Springsteen, Greta Gerwig, and Sarah Silverman have all been on both shows.) If Gross’s interview is a dinner at a five-star restaurant, where the conversation progresses through a series of thoughtful questions from the amouse bouche to the creme brulee, the WTF interview is more like hour nine of a 16-hour road trip, where you’re eating sunflower seeds and beef jerky and drinking gas station coffee, telling stories in the front seat of a Honda Civic about your family’s yearly Thanksgiving fight or about the time you shit yourself in third grade, like you’re in a stinky, cramped confessional and both far away from home, so why not?

Two recent WTF’s I listened to and recommend: interviews with Jenna Fischer and another with Pete Davidson. I listened to them both on a sub-zero day driving east on Route 80 with my husband (and no kids…) and was totally distracted from the bleak winter corn fields and my New Year’s Day hangover. I picked those interviews because I liked The Office and SNL, and by the end of the trip they’d talked about everything from how grief and trauma can screw up kids to the Stanislavsky acting method to borderline personality disorder.

I think in a good life, you need both the fancy dinners and the long road trips, and you definitely need both WTF and Fresh Air on your playlist. Maron and Gross get to the place where you find out the most interesting, vulnerable, and honest things about people, though only after WTF will you be able to call yourself a “what-the-fuck-buddy.”

From Weinstein to Wonder Woman: 2017 in 10 Podcast Episodes

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Dear Sugars: Hillary Clinton: Hillary helps the Sugars answer a letter from a woman who faces what they call the “double bind of female ambition.” If so much of 2017’s politics felt achingly personal, or if you ever wrote Hillary a letter asking for advice in your head, this one’s for you.

Why Oh Why: Dudes in Bars on January 21, 2017: On the day of the Women’s March, 10 women in 10 different cities talk feminism with…dudes in bars. If you’ve ever tried to do the same thing and felt weird, disappointed, awkward, or confused afterward, give this one a listen. And maybe bring your own cocktail to ugly cry into.

Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Wonder Woman Episode: I cried during the battle scenes in Wonder Woman because I’d never seen anything in a movie like them. The attention to every detail, the joy the panel conveys, and the smart, funny, emotional conversation in this episode  is everything that’s right with the world when everything else feels icky and wrong. 

Pod Save The People: Bonus Pod: Charlottesville: Host and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson interviews the UVA college students who stood toe to toe with white supremacists.  The bravery and maturity of these young people is astonishing and inspiring. At first I wrote “college kids” and then deleted it. They’re a lot of things, but they’re definitely not kids. 

Longform #269: Jodi Kantor: Even in the face of incredible systemic resistance, Jodi Kantor refused to give up on the Harvey Weinstein story, and she changed the world with her work. Journalists like her are such badasses, and hearing her tell the story in her own voice gave me goosebumps. 

Terry Crews on Anna Faris is Unqualified: How do I explain what happens in this interview? Terry Crews kinda opens a vein, about his own failures and mistakes, about what he thinks is bullshit about the NFL, and about men’s need to step up and be feminists, but in this high-energy, try-to-keep-up, all-over-the-place-but-totally-riveting way.

Lovett or Leave It: Roll Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Listening to the joy and incredulity in the voices of the Pod Save America guys on the night Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate race is all I need to fuel another Sisyphean six months of making bff’s with the interns in my Senator’s office. There was some circa-2008-level-hope in their voices that night you rarely hear from these guys.

Martha Stewart Speaks Her Mind: Martha’s just having none of your whining, about this year or any year. She’s got peacocks to tend to, she’s got life-changingly-delicious cider to brew, she’s got Snoop Dogg collaborations to do. She also hates Donald Trump, and you’ve just got to hear her Martha takedown of him, with its perfect consonant pronunciation and monotone-burn like no other.

Death Sex and Money: Who’s Driving Your Uber?: Anna Sale somehow tells the story of all the hustles that have ever been hustled, all the dreams ever deferred, and all the people who are keeping on keeping on in these mini-interviews with Uber drivers in the Bay Area.

Patton Oswalt on Fresh Air: Oswalt tells the story of his wife’s sudden death and the dark period that followed, the superhuman strength he somehow found to help his daughter through her grief when he could barely function through his own, and the impossible joy of finding love again with an honesty, humor, and grace that will stay with you long after the interview is over. And he’s also got a weird, gross metaphor for what it’s like to have to tell Trump jokes in 2017.

Easier Than Joining a Gym or Being A Nicer Person: My 2018 Podcast Resolutions

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The last week of December is for eating cookies and thinking about self-improvement! These are my podcast-related goals for 2018:

Listen to More Fiction Podcasts: I love reading fiction and used to be in the habit of listening to The New Yorker Fiction Podcast and Selected Shorts when I had a long commute. I just finished the 36 Questions Musical Podcast and was amazed at how much I missed listening to fiction and how happy it made me. Resolutions should be all about more of things that make you happy, so more of this. The New York Times has a great list of new fiction possibilities here.

Try a Player Besides Apple Podcasts: It’s the only player I’ve ever used, and it’s starting to feel a little cluttered and awkward. That could definitely be more me (ahem, see post-Christmas-house-full-of-junk) than the app, but it’s worth trying some others to see how they help organize content and help me find new things to listen to. 

Hunt Down a Live Show: I love how live shows give you a chance to see a slightly less edited version of your favorite shows and to hear hosts interact with audience members. Bonus if it’s a good excuse to get to a city I’ve been meaning to visit, extra bonus if it’s at one of these cool festivals.

Host a Podcast Brunch Club: My plan is to just steal my existing book club’s email list, add a link to a thought-provoking, discussion-inducing podcast, and buy some mimosa stuff. Worst case: I don’t get around to organizing this and I drink a mimosa in my PJ’s and join the New York Times Podcast Club. So really there is no worst case in this situation. 

Organize Some Playlists: I love a good themed Spotify playlist. I have one for general difficult things in life, one for upbeat cleaning, one for kinda sad cleaning, one for chill taking my time cooking, and one for dishwashing. My podcasts live in an ever-expanding, unorganized list and I have to do some quick what-podcast-mood-am-I-in math every time I choose one. I’m thinking a murder-themed list, an advice-themed list, and an interview-shows-themed list to start.

 

36 Thoughts on the 36 Questions Podcast Musical

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  1. What is the 36 Questions: The Musical podcast?
  2. It’s a three-part musical about a couple trying to bring their marriage back from the brink of divorce using the 36 Questions, a set of questions designed for strangers to use to fall in love, or at least skip straight to understanding important things about how the other person sees the world.
  3. This premise sounded depressing and that’s why I waited awhile before listening to this.
  4. It’s not depressing; it’s real and tells the particular and universal story of what happens when you lose/discover/realize something in a marriage and try to figure out what happens next. 
  5. Other things the podcast does so well: showing the shifting power and emotional balance, managing time, amping up tension, giving just enough of the characters’ stories, using silences.
  6. I binged this one hard. In the car, cleaning, in the car again, humming the songs and wondering what would happen to the characters in between.
  7. A story about a couple might be the perfect scale/size/thing for a musical podcast.
  8. It’s so intimate and intense, but also shifts so easily into funny, goofy, weird.
  9. It’s such an unfamiliar experience hearing a musical designed to be a podcast. Every setting was so vivid to me even though I’m not used to this kind of story being told this way.
  10. I felt like I was getting away with something getting to listen to a brand new gorgeous musical for free, like someone just handed me tickets to a Broadway show on the street something and all I had to do was listen to a few Hello Fresh ads.
  11. The plot device of using the phone to record totally could have been distracting, but wasn’t.
  12. Recording when the characters were alone gave them opportunities for honesty and also somehow didn’t feel like a weird thing to be happening.
  13. Thanks Hamilton and Glee because Jonathan Groff can do what the F he wants now, and he did this!
  14. And Jessie Shelton as Judith. Her character is tricky and nuanced and funny and flawed and she nails it. Groff’s is kind and tough and defensive and in love, and he of course also nails it.
  15. It’s just kind of thrilling that this exists. Mashups of two things you love don’t always turn out that way, but this does.
  16. The way they weave the 36 questions into the musical is both a smart, simple plot device and a more complicated way to tell a love and heartbreak story.
  17. I hope they make more of these. I hope original musicals are the new weird murder podcasts.
  18. I did the 36 questions myself with my husband after being married for over 10 years.
  19. Some of the middle questions have obvious answers if you have kids and already know each other, but some of my husband’s answers surprised me after all this time.
  20. There is always more to learn about any other human being.
  21. Even/especially after you think you know everything.
  22. The world needs more love stories about people who have been married for two years like this couple.
  23. It’s such a rich, interesting time in a relationship, when shit starts to get real. More everything about that, please.
  24. The setting of the dilapidated house for Act II is so great. They use sound in this funny, surprising way, from chickens clucking to pouring wine.
  25. “We Both” from Act II is my favorite song.
  26. I only got to set III of the 36 questions with my husband.
  27. Talking about your relationship with your mother makes for a good stopping place once you’ve been married for 10 years.
  28. The Why Oh Why podcast has a great interview with Mandy Len Catron, who wrote the Modern Love essay “To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This” about her experience asking the 36 questions on a first date.
  29. Mandy married that guy she asked the questions to.
  30. She also wrote a book!
  31. Podcasts like this one are why I need this blog.
  32. I am so excited about this podcast musical, and so now I will inevitably attempt to explain it to someone after I’ve had two glasses of wine and the topic (of podcast musicals? No, but maybe love, or musicals, or whatever…) organically comes up.
  33. How do I do that? I have to work on my elevator pitch for this one. It’s so good.
  34. How about,  “If you like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? If you liked Once? If you’re a HUMAN WHO CAN FEEL LOVE??”
  35. I’ll keep working on it.

You Get A Podcast! And You Get A Podcast! Where to Go For an Oprah Podcast Fix

 

 

I know it’s been six and half years since her last show, but every so often, around four in the afternoon, there’s a hole in my soul that only that soft-focus, neutral-tone set and the uplifting, best-life-encouraging things that happened on it until 2009 could possibly fill. The times in my life I was home at four in the afternoon, I was at loose ends one way or another, and Oprah was always there. She got me through my first few miserable days of coming home from middle school before I found something to do after school, through some lonely homesick first weeks of college when everyone seemed to be hanging out without me, and through some frantic job searching in my late 20s, broke and lonely in a brand new city. There was nothing that an hour of favorite things, soul-baring interviews, or a good pay-it-forward campaign episode couldn’t help. Or the Oprah jackpot: a whole hour of talking about one book!

If you find yourself in a weird mood someday at four in the afternoon, it’s more than likely because you also miss Oprah. The world is a cruel and horrible place, and her show is never ever coming back, but here are three podcasts where you can find her:

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: My cable company is weird and I don’t have the OWN channel, but that’s ok! You can listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations for free in podcast form. There are FIFTY of them, some in glorious two-part epic conversations, some taped outside one of Oprah’s mansions so you can hear her magical Oprah birds chirping in the background. Whatever  you need for whatever you’re going through, Oprah and her friends have got you covered. I did a little Alanis Morissette for some calm reflection on the nature of celebrity, took it up a notch with some Glennon Doyle for some getting-your-shit-together-after-a-crisis chatting, and then finished with a Brene Brown two-parter on vulnerability. These interviews can be intense, and there are not seven commercial breaks in the last twenty minutes like there were on the Oprah show, so pace yourself and then write in your gratitude journal how happy you are that you found this podcast.

Dear Sugars: The Power of ‘No’ With Oprah Winfrey: I thought my head would explode with joy when The Sugars had Oprah on, especially because they were addressing one of my favorite topics: not doing shit you don’t feel like doing. But I kept it together. This two-part episode addressed two letters: a successful writer who’s being sucked dry by all the things people keep asking her to do that are not writing, and a woman whose family takes advantage of her giving and having-her-own-shit-together nature. Oprah throws down, tells some awesome stories about her family members who sound like that give-me-money character Jenny Slate plays on Parks and Recreation, and drops all her Oprah wisdom on these letter writers. Listen to this podcast and stride confidently in the direction of your not-doing-annoying-shit-you-don’t-want-to-anymore dreams!
Making Oprah: One thing I love about this three-part series is that the host, WBEZ’s Jenn White, is the perfect balance of professional, accomplished journalist who knows how to tell a tightly-edited, deeply researched story and total freaking fangirl. When they started making the series, they didn’t know whether they would get to interview Oprah herself, and when they do get to interview her, White’s joy suffuses every minute of the interview. The story of how the show evolved and the controversies and decision points that changed it along the way is addicting and fascinating, and it will make you miss the show more and need to go back and listen to at least seven Super Soul Conversations, drink a gallon of herbal tea, and Google the Wikipedia list of all the Favorite Things lists real quick before you get on with your life again.

 

Mother’s Little Helper: 5 Reasons Podcasts Are A Mom’s Best Friend

rawpixel-com-256641When I was a kid, I would whine and complain if my mother put on talk radio in the car. The jingle that signaled traffic and weather together on News Radio 88 made me nauseated. I wanted to listen to the local pop station, but she was having none of it. “Just wait,” she said. “If you drive around long enough in the car, you’ll want to listen to people talking on the radio.”

Fast forward thirty years: the internet is invented, the internet via towers and magic waves floating through the air is invented, I have to commute forty blocks in New York City, then an interminable twenty miles in LA 405 traffic, then I move again and have kids, and have to get parent adult shit done like mountains of laundry and 700 20-minute trips across town for preschool pickup and , and before I knew it I become podcast-obssessed.

I have reached a point where I have to ration re-telling stories I heard on podcasts, stop recommending podcasts to people who don’t seem interested (WHY???? and HOW?? who ARE YOU???), and I have to keep myself from starting sentences with “I heard on this podcast…”

I gravitate towards interviews, personal stories, history, advice, humor, pop culture, parenting, and feminist-themed podcasts, but I’ve also found favorites about dating, tech, business, and self-help books. No matter the theme, I’ve thought a lot (er, too much. I’ve thought too much about this topic…) about what sets podcasts apart from other mediums:

  1. They feel personal.  There’s something about a voice in your ear or in your car radio speakers that feels so much more intimate than watching Seth Meyers or reading an online article on Politico. And there’s something about the way people are given time to tell their own stories or the way hosts get to interact with their guests in audio that feels more unfiltered than in print or video. People can also be anonymous in a way that’s very particular to audio, like this shoplifter who recently told her story on Death, Sex, and Money.
  2. Niches for niches. Because the barrier to entry into podcasting is so much lower than other mediums, every niche has its voice. When you find a podcast to binge on with a backlog of episodes on something you love to geek out about, it’s like sitting down in your middle school cafeteria only to find you’ve sat down next to a friend who also loves the Delia’s catalog, Oasis, and making bead necklaces exactly as much as you do. Oh, you say you’re not interested in what foods to eat to make yourself poop before running a 10K or in whether learning Javascript is worth your time for the job you want? That’s ok, but I sure am, and there’s a podcast for that.
  3. Serendipity. I probably wouldn’t read a 10,000-word article about how the sports bra was invented and by whom or how the founder of AirBnb failed before he was successful. Well, maybe I would, but the chances I would pick those articles and then make it all the way through an in-depth long form article aren’t great at this stage of my life. But when those stories end up on podcasts like 99% Invisible or How I Built This, where I know they’ll tell any story with the attention to detail it deserves, and where the voices of the guests are given the space to tell their stories in their own voices, I’m all in for whatever story they’re telling.
  4. PG-13-ness. As a stay at home mom, sometimes I can go a whole day without talking to another grown-up, and I definitely don’t often drop F-bombs or hear people talk about their down and out rock and roll lifestyles or the details of their sex lives. But put on a Savage Love during laundry folding/kid nap time or some WTF in one earphone while the kids zone out or point out all the squirrels in the double stroller, and I feel like I’ve reconnected with my raunchier side just enough to know she’s still there.
  5. Everybody-sort-of-wins time. This is another reason for my obsession that’s very particular to the medium of podcasting. I’m not into Pinterest art projects, I’d describe my decorating style as Costco furniture meets the “before” house on Property Brothers, and I once served my mother-in-law a legitimately raw chicken breast. But when I do literally any other task AND listen to a podcast in which I learn something, laugh at something, or both (like on  By the Book and  Stuff Mom Never Told You)  I feel like a freaking superhero and am much more likely to continue doing the necessary tasks of adult life rather than put them off forever.

 

Learn to Code With Me Demystifies Coding for Beginners

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 When I started to look into adding some coding skills to my resume,  I got totally overwhelmed. A Google search about learning to code gives you everything from free Codeacademy lessons to boot camps where you can drop tens of thousands of dollars to become a full-stack developer. If you’re a beginner, you can really get going down a discouraging rabbit hole of languages (HTML! CSS! Ruby!)  that don’t mean anything to you (yet!) and be convinced pretty easily that if you’re not going to time travel back to apply to MIT for a Computer Science degree when you were 17 then you should just forget it and go back to Pinteresting mason jar salads. 

Before I spent any of my precious four weekly hours of both-kids-at-preschool time or my often-interrupted kids’ nap time hour diving into a Big Brand New Time Consuming Thing, I had a lot of questions: Where should I start? Which language is the best starting point? Which programs were best for me, someone who wanted some accountability, some real-human support when things got hard, but a lot of flexibility? Was it worth spending money on a program or could I get everything I needed for free? How could learning about coding help me go back to the field I worked in before or help me transition into a new kind of job in a few years? Did normal, working, busy, not-Matrix-hacking-type people, not-teenage-boy-in-his-basement-type people, learn this stuff on their own?

I found one podcast to be super helpful in answering all these questions, demystifying coding for a beginner, and helping me decide where was the right place for me to start learning and have the best chance of sticking with it. In Learn to Code with Me, self-taught coder Laurence Bradford does interviews with people who have taught themselves to code. They tell the stories of how they became interested in coding, where they started, what free or paid resources they used, what they found hardest, and where coding led them. She interviews every kind of career-changer you can imagine, including a librarian, and anthropologist, and a violin instructor. There are honest accounts of job searches and interviews. There are people who represent the whole range of what you can do with coding skills, from becoming a full-stack developer in Silicon Vallen to working on freelance projects from anywhere. Bradford’s questions are very thoughtfully crafted to make them accessible to someone with a little or no coding experience, but also helpful to someone who might be farther along on the path to learning to code; she stays away from jargony rabbit holes, and her interviews always include very practical advice and encouragement without shying away from the unsexy, difficult work you have to put in to get good at coding.

Learn to Code With Me helped me finally stop asking questions and Googling, find a program I liked and that fit my needs and personality at Skillcrush, and start learning some new things without worrying that I was wasting my time.