By Karen-Luz Sison
Photo by Angela Tilley
In a world of videos and pictures, sound is a sadly underrated form of storytelling. Radio was the go-to place for news and entertainment in the most tumultuous times of the twentieth century. Families and friends would gather around the radio to catch the latest developments of local and international happenings or the latest episode of their favourite radio shows.
Today, radio seems to be used more for pragmatic purposes, like checking up on traffic, the weather, and the latest sports updates and celebrity gossip. Even so, more and more people would rather turn to video, word, and picture platforms—YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—for their news and entertainment. There doesn’t seem to be room for sound-based stories when you could just watch a video to be entertained or informed.
But I believe that radio is making a comeback through the magic of podcasts, radio shows about everything and anything. Do you like scandalously hilarious sex stories? There’s a podcast for that! Do you like sarcastic political commentary? There’s a podcast for that! Do you like knowing about the latest developments in the tech world? There’s a podcast for that!
If you don’t think you have time to listen to a half-hour long episode, great news for you! The beauty of listening to podcasts is that they don’t require your complete attention like TV shows do, so you feel less guilty for binge watching a Netflix TV show.
You can listen to podcasts while you’re doing your homework, right before you sleep, as you cook dinner, riding the bus, taking a visit to the bathroom—really anywhere and anytime you can wear headphones and hold your phone.
Since I’m sure by now you’ve been sold to how amazing podcasts are, here are three recommendations for you to try out, all from the well-seasoned ears of a serial podcast listener.
Welcome to Night Vale
I can’t talk about podcasts and not mention the eclectic fiction podcast that’s been dominating the airwaves. Welcome to Night Vale (WTNV) is created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and the very first show of independent podcast network Night Vale Presents, a network that produces fiction podcasts centering around characters in paranormal and dystopian worlds. Narrated by a radio talk show host, WTNV gives updates on what’s happening in the small desert town of Night Vale, a place where conspiracies about the supernatural come true and are all just part of everyday life. The world of Night Vale is super compelling, as are the characters who inhabit it. Each episode is about half an hour long and the podcast is on its third season, so there’s a lot of great content to catch up on. Bonus: WTNV also features some great music from independent, under-heard musicians, so you might also find your latest music obsession on the podcast.
Grown-ups Read Things They Wrote as Kids
This podcast is exactly what the title says it is. Produced since 2007, the show features recordings of open-mic events across Canada where, well, grown-ups read things they wrote as kids. This podcast will make you laugh out loud at how ridiculous childhood was and reminisce on your own awkward memories. The show is also Canadian-produced, with live events happening across the country, so you can keep your eye out for the next live show coming to Ottawa and have your shot at being in the podcast yourself!
The first original podcast series produced by the CBC, Campus is a bit more of a serious story-telling show. Each half-hour episode focuses on a real-life story themed around issues faced in university life. The stories from Campus all give extremely relevant and timely perspective into many different topics like mental health, racism, and sexual violence through interviews with people who are directly involved and affected by these issues. If you want to gain a more close-up, human perspective into big social issues you see in the news, check out Campus either on a podcast platform like iTunes or on CBC Radio One!
The podcast world is booming with creative minds and amazing storytelling—and a lot of great podcasts are free and readily available for listening on iTunes and across the internet. There’s something for everyone’s listening fancy.
So go forth, and listen. Happy podcasting!