My first day of kindergarten was my mom’s first day of work in public radio. The spoken word has played a monumental role in my life ever since.
Growing up hearing my mom on the radio was a given at least a few times a week. In my childhood, I loved to hear her tell stories about our family on the air during pledge drives. The older I got, however, the bigger eye rolls and groans were when I’d hear her talk about us on-air. At one point, my mom even found a T-shirt for my brother and me that said, “Help, my parents make me listen to Car Talk.”
When my brother and I shared a room as young kids, we somehow got into the habit of falling asleep to books on tape. Perhaps it kept us from bickering, but either way, for a solid 10 years of my life I couldn’t fall asleep without the sound of Hank the Cowdog or Harry Potter books on tape.
The rest of the year, when it wasn’t fundraising time, the voices of Cokie Roberts, Scott Simon and Bob Edwards were always echoing throughout the house as we got ready for school in the mornings or when we got home from school. I instinctively knew what time of day it was after school if there was music or news playing on my mom’s station, KSUT public radio.
Hearing the story this week that commemorated the 40th anniversary of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition news program, sent me into a nostalgic tailspin over how much an impact public radio has had on my life.
NPR was an omnipresent force in my childhood. In my adulthood, I’ve found an odd sense of comfort listening to the news or storytelling in the background as I cook or clean or simply putz around the house.
Thank goodness podcasts are a thing now. There is seemingly a podcast episode for everything you can think of.
It’s become a nightly ritual to play a podcast as I wind down for bedtime, and on Saturdays, I cook breakfast catching up on my favorite comedy podcast, which is released every Friday. My roommate is out of town for a couple of weeks, and podcasts have been keeping me company even more so lately.
My favorite podcasts are ones that make me both think and laugh. NPR’s “Throughline” and WYNC’s “Scattered” and “Death Sex and Money” and Jonathan Van Ness’ “Getting Curious” have all been on constant rotation lately.
I recently discovered two musical podcasts that have me engrossed, one of which even mentioned Telluride in its debut episode.
The creator of Radiolab, Jad Abumrad recently released “Dolly Parton’s America.” I’ll be the first to admit that Dolly’s music doesn’t speak to me at a cellular level as it does for others, but I can easily recognize that she is a cultural force to be reckoned with.
The podcast has been absolutely fascinating as it dives into whether or not Dolly is a feminist, or examines her lyrics that examine female pain, domestic violence and even women being locked away in asylums by their cheating husbands. And that’s just in the first episode, appropriately titled “Sad Ass Songs.” As of my deadline, only four of the nine total episodes have been released, and I can’t wait to hear what else they look at in the Dollyverse.
Just last week, Chris Pandolfi, the banjo player for the Infamous Stringdusters released two episodes of his brand new podcast titled “Inside the Musician’s Brain.” This podcast is for any and all ’Dusters fans, but also anyone who appreciates the music industry in general.
Episode 1 featured Paul Hoffman, mandolin player of Greensky Bluegrass who credited the band’s winning of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival as the turning point for when they knew their band was going places. Fun fact I gleaned from the podcast: Greensky’s song “Windshield” is in parts inspired by Arcade Fire. How cool is that?
Episode 2 of “Inside the Musician’s Brain” is an interview with bluegrass guitar wunderkind Billy Strings and I’m anxious to listen to that soon.
For those not familar with podcasts, there are plenty of ways to download these shows. The most popular method is Apple’s Podcast app and now Spotify also offers podcasts.
With that being said, I’d like to hear what music podcasts I’m missing out on. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me what you currently can’t hear enough of!