Tom on Podcasts

Approximately three months ago, I didn’t know what a podcast was, or is. Sounded to me like something from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But behind TFL’s front desk one day, I tuned in to a conversation between Michelle and Kim and kept hearing the word “podcasts” being bounced around (apparently I was wearing my hearing aids that day). Once they were clued in that I was eavesdropping, I was abruptly challenged with, “So, which podcasts are you into?” My deer in the headlights response elicited glances that left me me feeling as old as one of Tim Conway’s characters on The Carol Burnett Show, “Mister Tudball, the Oldest Man.” Long story short, I was encouraged to consider joining them in the twenty-first century before it was too late, given a short list of pod-thingy titles to sample, and a step-by-step tutorial on How to Download a Podcast App on My Phone. Despite my misgivings, it turns out that it’s easy. And podcast apps are free.

If you’re a listener to NPR, then you’ve heard a few podcasts already. Much of their broadcasts use the podcast format: scintillating little discussions and interviews with ten-second musical interludes between segments. Podcasts are 1-minute to 2-hour-long radio-broadcast-like presentations, recorded and left available for you 24-7 on the web. You’ll find fiction and rock-hard nonfiction, in all genres. They can, and do, cover virtually any subject imaginable: crocheting, movie or book reviews, flying saucers, poetry, unsolved mysteries, hypnosis, history, conspiracy theories, trivia, art, physics, psychology, philosophy, podcasts about NPR, and even podcasts on how to do podcasts if you can believe it (let’s call them podcast podcasts). So: to infinity and beyond!

If you own a Mac tablet, iPad, or iPhone, visit the App Store and SEARCH for “podcast app.” From there select the purple “Apple Podcasts” icon, after which you will click on “Get” or the Download Symbol. In a minute or so, the prompt “Open” appears. Click it. Voila! You’re there! It’s the same if you own a PC or Android phone, except you visit the Microsoft Store website. My PC comes with the Spotify program included though, and many people use that.

OK. So here we all are: sheltering at home, virtually quarantined with an empty social calendar. And like me you’ve got your TV, (hopefully) your books, and of course Facebook and Twitter. The restaurants and movie theaters are closed. All sports, including the Olympics have been cancelled or postponed. Along with your doctor and dentist appointments. Why not experiment with something new for a change? You might be surprised. I definitely have been. But I’m not your mother and I’m not your boss, so you can do what you like. But here are a few peeks into some alternate audio universes awaiting an explorer just like you. Only suggestions, mind you. Each episode has a little description at the beginning titled “Details” to give you a heads up.


Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring

Episode: The Grifter (1/31/19) Brett Johnson was a career criminal: fraudster, conman, cyber-criminal. A fascinating true account, the stuff of movies, similar to Catch Me If You Can. non-fiction

The Dark Side Of

Season 3, Episode 34: The Best of Hollywood: Judy Garland & The Wizard of Oz. 16 year old Judy Garland filmed the beloved classic in 1938, battling eating disorders and drug addictions she developed on set- unbelievable story

Season 2, Episode 14: Johnny Cash: Man in Black. Johnny Cash’s outlaw image wasn’t just an act,and for decades he struggled with the consequ3ences of drug use, depression, and his own personal dark side. Riveting.

Quirks & Quarks

Episode of 1/17/20: Ancient gum preserves genome, a living robot, wolf puppies play fetch, rattlesnakes skin holds raindrops for drinking, science of imagination and quiet snow.

Stuff You Should Know

(A compendium of anything and virtually everything.)

Halitosis: Worst Smell Ever?, How PEZ Works, How Ouija Boards Work, The Man Who Didn’t Eat for a Year, How Human Cannonballs Work, The Coconut Cult, What Is the Civil Air Patrol?, How Dying Works, Were Nazis Drug-Fueled Crankheads?, How Disgust Works, Bedbugs, Wigs in English Courts… much, much more

Radio Rental

Episode 1, 10/31/2019: (Two creepy, engaging first-person stories) (1) a young man on an airliner feels the powerful adrenaline of fight or flight… (2) an Alfred Hitchcockian account of an anonymous game by smart phone that is going too far? A real creeper, this one.

Odd Ball

Episode 1: Darndest Thing I Ever Saw, Episode 2: Who is Gerri?, and Episode 3: It Gets Weirder

A “true” story (well, true in the since that many people actually witnessed the phenomenon and several agencies subjected it to scientific scrutiny, and that it occupied the newspapers for a number of years). An odd, metallic, bowling-ball-size ball is found in the Florida woods, and its strange characteristics caused many to ask, is this object extraterrestrial?

Explore! Experiment! You’ll find something different…