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5 Great Podcasts You Should Listen to Now

Listening, Ottawa, April 2015
Listening, Ottawa, April 2015

Who needs cable, YouTube, streaming, 3D movies and all the fancy technological stuff when you can just listen to the radio? Yes, paying attention to voices feels strangely old-fashioned. But it’s cheap, convenient and terribly addictive.

I love to listen to something when I go from point A to point B, and a couple of years ago, I decided to give radio another chance. Not the annoying radio stations with their preformatted playlists and ten-minute commercial breaks—I turned to podcasts.

I installed an app on my phone (I use TuneIn Radio on Android but there are many other free options) and started to look for good stories.

Over the years, I became addicted to a few shows, that I highly recommend. So here are 5 great podcasts you should listen to right now!

TED Radio Hour

TED is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Today, there are over 1,900 talks available on thousands of topics—“TED” stands for “technology, entertainment and design,” but there are also talks on business, science, current issues, etc. If conference talks are your idea of hell, please think again. These one-hour-long discussions will certainly inspire you and teach you something. It’s like listening to your favourite teacher—jokes included!

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Serial is probably the most addictive podcast I have ever listened to, mostly because it tells one true story and it’s very easy to start playing detective along with the staff. The first completed season deals with a fascinating criminal case: in 1999, Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime—he has been in prison ever since. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Journalist Sarah Koenig investigates, discovers new evidence, talks with Adnan Syed in jail and tries to figure out what really happened. This is a real case, with real people—people you can identify yourself with. So… did he do it or not?

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This American Life

This podcast features stories of people coming to terms with being in serious trouble. Follow the salespeople at a car dealership as they are trying to meet their monthly sale goal, cops who are dealing with prejudices and tough crowds or artists struggling in the infotainment industry. This is a very American perspective on life, which makes things even more interesting for the rest of us!

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Planet Money

Yes, economic issues can be entertaining, especially if you wonder how casinos attract people, what would happen if you get kidnapped or how an airline can be the fastest-growing yet the least popular airline in America.

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Affaires sensibles (in French)

Bonus, for French speakers, I recently rediscovered France Inter and I’m addicted to Affaire sensibles, a podcast that explores past criminal cases, legal and political affairs and historical moments. Many of them took place in the 1980s and 1990s and feature original soundbites and interviews. Fabrice Drouelle is an amazing storyteller!

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Do you listen to podcasts? Anything to recommend?

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