Friday, 20 November 2015

This American Life

2015 has been the year of the podcast for me. I'm very late to jump onto this bandwagon. I've always been more of a reader but commuting by bus armed with an iPhone has now made me a more captive audience for media I can consume via audio and video. Also, podcasts are a great option on days when my eyes are too tired to stay open and read my Kindle.

For quality and consistency, I can't really go past This American Life. I was introduced to this podcast via the first series of Serial and quickly became hooked. Described as "a story in [two/three/four] acts", This American Life is a one-hour radio programme that centres around a theme. The show's format is slick, well produced and features punchy writing. It doesn't ramble or go over time and you know that what you're going to get will be good, even if the subject matter is unfamiliar. Episodes are often told in first-person narrative and approach themes from personal viewpoints that you wouldn't necessarily expect.

This week, This American Life celebrates 20 years and fans are encouraged fans via Twitter to name their favourite episode. Being 19 years late to the party, I'm not in a position to nominate my favourite episode. There are a few episodes that stand out for me:
This morning, I listened to a back episode of Alec Baldwin's Here's The Thing featuring an interview with Ira Glass. (Wow, a podcast interview about podcasting - how meta!) It gave a glimpse into how Glass's personal life and background may influence the show and its topic and how he often deviates from the neutral default position expected of mainstream journalism. It's an interesting listen.

If you're new to This American Life, I'd suggest choosing a few episodes by diving into the archive then subscribing to future podcasts. You'll be hooked in no time.

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