My new Bluetooth earbuds, Ottawa, November 2016
My new Bluetooth earbuds, Ottawa, November 2016

I’ve never had much luck with earphones. From my teen years listening to Nirvana tapes on my red Sony Walkman to present days listening to podcasts on my smartphone, I probably went through fifty pairs of earphones. The story is always the same: after using a new pair for a few weeks, I notice exposed wires on the cable or one of the earpieces goes dead. I ignore the problem for a few days until the I’m no longer able to hear a thing. Then I buy a new pair and I’m not even surprised when, a few weeks later, it breaks as well.

I bought cheap earphones, I bought more expensive ones, I bought those with a flat cable, a case, controls on the cable, heavy-duty promises on the box or a tangle-free system, I bought Sony, Panasonic and a long list of brand names in the sound business. I even have a pair of these famously expensive Beats earbuds I received for free when they first came out—they still work but that’s because I don’t use them, I hate the way they fit in my ears.

No matter what kind of earbuds I buy, they break. And when it happens, I just sigh, mentally calculate how long they last and head to Winners to replace them with yet another cheap pair.

I do take care of my stuff, by the way—I hate the buy-and-throw-away culture. When I’m not using my earbuds, I wind up the cable and put them away in a proper place… admittedly, the safe location is a small pocket in my bag and sometimes, I just toss them straight into my bag or stuff them into my pocket. But honestly, no matter what I do, the cable is pinched and bent back and forth when I listen to my podcasts on the move. That’s the main issue.

“Seriously, fuck technology! It’s 2016, can we have durable earphones?” I complained the other day when my latest pair broke. And then I felt silly. We do have better technology—Bluetooth earbuds, i.e. wire-free earphones. Right.

Moments later, I was on Amazon ordering a pair.

The verdict? Love them. They are definitely the nicest earbuds I’ve had in a long time in terms of fit and sound quality. They came with a micro-USB cable and all I had to do was to pair them with my phone and charge them. And then, it worked! No more cable dangling from my ears to the phone! The only cable is the one linking the two earbuds together. I put it behind my head, I can’t even feel it. It’s amazing.

I hope they last. I have cool podcasts to listen to this season.

Here is a selection for this fall:

If you like crime, listen to In the dark 

This now-completed nine-episode series focuses on a 27-year child abduction investigation in rural Minnesota that changed the USA in many ways—the Jacob Wetterling case. In an unexpected turn of events, the killer finally confessed in court as the podcast developed. Yet, the truth is elusive and the story of the manhunt and 27 years of botched investigation is absolutely fascinating.

If you like documentary and investigative journalism, listen to Reveal

This podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting offers an in-depth analysis of various timely topics such as tuition fees, elections, the justice system, immigration, etc. One of the last episodes to date, following the election of Trump, features a fascinating interview between the host and a white nationalist about to move to Washington in an effort to lobby the Congress under the Trump administration—yes, no surprise here, the nationalist is quite happy with this election’s outcome.

If you like emotional personal stories, listen to The Moth podcast

The Moth started in 1997 with a mission: promoting storytelling and showcasing a great range of human experience. Through an ongoing program, true stories are told live, across the USA, in front of an audience and they often take an unexpected turn. A new podcast is released every week and each contains two or three stories, prefaced by a brief introduction of the storyteller. You will hear people from all walks of life, famous or not, and their unique moment.

If you need inspiration, listen to How I Built This 

Hosted by Guy Raz from the TED Radio Hour, this is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists. Each episode tells the story of a business, a product, a brand or a professional adventure. As you can expect, success doesn’t come overnight and this podcast focuses on the journey, including triumphs and failures.

If you are interested in race relations and social justice, listen to Offshore 

Offshore is a new multi-series podcast from Hawaii with the tagline “Because sometimes being in the middle of nowhere gives you a good perspective on everywhere else.” Season 1 that just started focuses on a 2011 killing in Waikiki, where native Hawaiian Kollin Elderts was shot in a McDonald’s by an off-duty federal agent, Christopher Deedy, after a short fight. The podcast focuses on the racial and sovereignty dynamics that make people so passionate about this tragic event, as well as a similar affair in the late 1930s, the Massie Trial where—guess what…—a native Hawaii was accused of the rape of a white mainlander and was murdered before the trial. Yes, the white woman got away with it. Even if you don’t care much about Hawaii (which, frankly, is my case) this story echoes with America’s gun issue and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Do you have any podcast to recommend? I’m all ears!

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  1. I Say Oui November 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing these! Just yesterday I listened to an episode of State of the Re:Union for the first time– same host as Reveal. Will try listening to a couple of your recommendations.

    1. Zhu November 28, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Oh, now I’m curious to listen to State of the Re:Union!

      Reveal does awesome work. Serious, yet not boring.

  2. Frenchie au Canada December 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for the recommandation. I have to admit I don’t really listen to podcasts… My phone is not great for them (android) and I prefer listening to radio replay (CBC or France Inter) 😉

    1. Zhu December 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Really? I have an Android too and I listen to podcasts on my phone. I just transfer them from my computer.

      1. Frenchie au Canada December 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

        I don’t know, it never seems to work with mine… I’ll have to try again then 🙂

        1. Zhu December 2, 2016 at 7:16 pm

          I’m not really into phones, so I can’t really give you tips… sorry. Seems to work with mine, that’s about all the knowledge I can share 😆

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