Turn My Headphones Up: 5 Podcasts Worth Your Time

I've spent the summer working at various Connecticut State Parks, and have often found myself alone with a mower or string trimmer, staring down the barrel of an open field of grass or a parking lot overgrown with weeds. While there is work to do, these moments of relatively mindless manual labor have called for one thing: podcasts. Underneath a green hat, in ear headphones, over ear hearing protection, and safety glasses my mind has been actively buzzing with a few great stories, conversations, and talks via the following podcasts:

1. Pod Dylan:

Ever wanted to hear a forty minute conversation on an obscure Bob Dylan song such as "Covenant Woman"? If yes, than Pod Dylan is for you. Host Rob Kelly interviews Dylan fans of everyday ilk, combing over their appreciation of Bob's songs, one by one. Kelly is a gracious and interesting interviewer: he's a fan, and offers some insights into Bob that I've never heard before. When listening, you'll feel like your eavesdropping on a great conversation from a couple of diehard Dylan fans.

2. Someone Knows Something

Host and documentarian David Ridgen brings an excellent podcast via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as he explores the cases of two missing persons from Ontario. The podcast equivalent of a page turner, Ridgen brings a novelists touch to these episodes, as narrative arcs are thoughtfully developed and clearly laid out.  Ridgen also allows space for his much appreciated,  diary like thoughts, all while exploring each of the two separate cases (season 1 and 2) as any real, professional journalist should. He's no amateur, and this excellent podcasts speaks for his talents. Ridgen seems to know just when to get out of the way and lets the story speak. A great podcast, hands down.

3. Up and Vanished

Up and Vanished is similar to Someone Knows Something, but with an unprofessional, profiteering, and southern flavor. The citizen-journalist attitude of host Paine Lindsay is equal parts endearing and obnoxious. Lindsay incessantly digs for information,  brings on a wide host of experts (my favorite being private investigator "Maurice"), and generally doesn't take no for an answer. He's also prone to gossip, and sometimes the show sounds like a bit too much hearsay in the high school cafeteria of a small town. The case, involving a missing teacher, Tara Grinstead, is utterly fascinating and the podcast takes some unexpected twists and turns along the way. As frustrating as this show is, it is an absolute gem that's worth a listen. PS: Get ready for a lot of self promotion and tons of annoyingly read advertising.

4. Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air

If your like me, and have gotten totally burned out on keeping up with American political news, I suggest giving Larry Wilmore your ears once a week. Wilmore has a certain lightness, grace, and professionalism about him that makes this podcast enjoyable. He's got some great guests, is an adept interviewer, and comic observer of American political life. Usually, when I listen to something political, it's usually a bit more offensive, left wing, and politically progressive. Still, sometimes it's refreshing to hear the voice of the adult in the room, so to speak. As former Daily Show correspondent and Nightly Show host, Wilmore is a throw back to a simpler era of liberalism that came to light during the George W. Bush years (think Jon Stewart, late night cable television, Ralph Nader, the Iraq War protests, etc). Wilmore, who supported Bernie Sanders is the primary but is ultimately a party guy, is insightful, funny, and principled. Black on the Air is highly recommended.

5. Pep Talks With the Bitter Buddha

The Bitter Buddha is none other than Eddie Pepitone himself, one of the most self depreciating, sarcastic, emotionally vulnerable, and hilarious comedians of the recent comedy boom. Of course, he's been around stand-up longer than that. The podcast is disorganized. Often, you'll hear Eddie basically giving himself a therapy session in between character sketches, rants, and political laments. It's hard not to like this hardened New Yorker who also as soft as a teddy bear, angry as a cab driver, and peaceful as a meditate guru.

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