My Love Letter to Podcasts

I began listening to podcasts religiously back in the Spring of 2011. One lost (and recovered) iPod and USB cord later, I’ve started to listen to them again with vigor this summer and decided I needed to express my adoration in the most fitting way possible: a blog post love letter.

I know things now. Not because I read a newspaper, but because I listen to podcasts.

Dearest Podcasts,

It’s tough being a member of VALCANA (Note: I use a #1stworldproblems scale. Please convert accordingly). VALCAN are six intelligent, beautiful and trendy young women. V sends hilarious YouTube videos BY ACCIDENT. A (Alexandra) just had the luckiest year of her life (so far) and lives in hipster Mecca. L has moments of psychic brilliance (we’re going to need to become a little bit more comfortable with each other before I divulge that story, Interwebs). C introduced me to an entire section of our college town that I didn’t even know existed. A (Allegra) used an incredibly similar domain name and blog idea way, way before it ever popped into my head. And N introduced me to every amazing restaurant I ate at for seven consecutive months.

As you can tell, it’s a struggle to come up with anything worthy to contribute to this group of awesome ladies. But then I discovered you, podcasts, and I was like the cool parent – status elevated, but not even in the same league.

I understood references and contributed culturally relevant information to the group. I had gained all of this great, on trend popular culture knowledge and could apply it.

When C mentioned going to a screening of an indie flick while she lived in NYC, I actually knew which film she was talking about because I heard the filmmaker on the Moth podcast a week prior. When L mentioned that the Hobbit was filmed at a speed of 48 frames per second, I knew exactly what the controversy was all about after listening to the discussion on the Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH). I now drop Carl Kasell references LIKE A BOSS, even if no one understands them. That’s just how trendy you’ve made me, podcasts.

I listen to you all the time now. I have over one hundred episodes waiting for me to listen to during my walk to and from work, while I write and design a technical document, or as I clean the apartment. They overwhelm me almost as much the Sunday New York Times and my feedly, which using the #1stworldproblems conversion scale is like getting a tooth ache because you ate ice cream and birthday cake.

I analyze intelligent debate about why Justice Scalia has his panties in a twist while I fold my laundry. I learn about the Irish mystery novel scene while I think about how Elmore Leonard does it. I blush a few shades of red when the screenwriters panel starts using NSFW language.

You’ve made me more culturally astute, allowing me to understand the cultural references dropped during a typical VALCANA Google Hangout, but have also given me a greater sense of belonging that extends beyond my friends. You’ve created a community where I can let my mind escape to being in the room with the panelists and then head over to the accompanied Facebook Page after to engage.

After moving to a new city where I know few (and socialize with less) people, it’s comforting to turn on my iPod and hear a group of friend-colleagues talk about the latest superhero movie. It’s like I’ve gathered my friends from all across the country into the TARDIS and we’ve landed back in time to my dorm room, where we talked about pop culture like academics – minus all those timey-wimey considerations. It’s those reminiscent moments when it seemed like everything everyone said was so, so smart. That our conversations were going to permeate the old brick and mortars and change the world.

Sure, some may argue this is just a manifestation of my NPR Nerdery since 60% of the podcasts I subscribe to are affiliated with public media. But, podcasts, you’re so much more to me.

When I pull up Answer Me This! or PCHH on my iPod, a smile creeps across my face and I just feel happy. The later podcast may be in reference to a figurative happy hour, but those 47ish minutes it lets my brain wander away from the doom and gloom of responsibilities and money and “the future,” is my happy hour when I can think back to that dorm room where I was going to write the Next Great American Novel, be internet famous, take down the patriarchy, reenact the Hillary Clinton-Meryl Streep BFF photo with Allegra, and live in a world where our conversations did change the world.

Thanks for that, podcasts.



Do you love podcasts too? Looking for something new to listen to? Here are my recommendations (Please note some of them contain explicit language and/or content)! Please let me know which podcasts you love in the comments section.

Ashley HaglundAshley works in corporate, health care and non-profit communications. She loves starting new writing projects; is a media junkie; enjoys studying science, technology and patent law issues; and has a love/hate relationship with semi-colons. To see her face and be her internet friend, follow her on twitter.

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