I am notoriously late to trends. Not only am I late, I usually scoff at them (at least internally) until all of a sudden one day I decide I MUST have fill-in-the-blank trendy item.

Maybe I get so accustomed to seeing them around that they become part of my psyche. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’ve done this with a lot of things: North Face jackets, Tom’s shoes, skinny jeans, cowboy boots. Once I decide I want it, it becomes my quest in life to find the perfect version, and once I acquire it I love it. I guess by waiting so long to buy into trends I get past the impulse of it and have already decided it’s something I like and will use rather than buying it just for the sake of fitting in.

ANYWAY, this is an odd facet of my personality but one that I fully acknowledge. And the latest fodder for my late-coming ways are podcasts. (I know podcasts aren’t exactly a trend, but my process of coming to enjoy them has been just like my trend-personality, so I thought it was relevant.)

Andy has seemingly always listened to podcasts. I’ve always had trouble paying attention to someone talking unless I was also reading along or was able to watch them or something else going on in front of me, so I never understood how he could process them. He listens to them while he runs, and I’ve always thought, “Oh, I HAVE to have music when I exercise.” I’d listened to a few podcasts here and there at his prodding, and I’d caught bits and pieces of ones when he and I listened together, but I still thought podcasts were not for me.

As I was preparing for my last book club gathering, though, I found myself wanting to listen to the Slate audio book club podcast about the book we were discussing so I’d have some ideas of what to talk about. I didn’t think I had time to listen to it, so I put it on while I did dishes. It was long, so I left it on while I Googled for discussion questions and wrote out a few thoughts. Its 45 minutes flew by, and as we were talking at book club I realized I had absorbed a fair amount of what they had said!

Shortly after that, my dad sent me a link to an episode of The Splendid Table that had to do with Alabama cuisine. I was intrigued enough to actually listen, and I tried it on a Saturday morning while washing dishes again. A switch had been flipped–all of a sudden I liked podcasts!

They key for me was figuring out when the ideal time to listen was for me–my use case, if you will. Washing dishes is perfect because you can’t do much else at the same time. Your hands are busy but your mind is idle. Folding laundry is also good. And, in fact, I have listened to a few while running or elliptical-ing; I found that if I was excited about what podcast I had to listen to, it served as motivation to get to the gym!

Listening to them while driving does not work for me; for one thing, my car doesn’t have an auxiliary plugin, and my phone by itself is not really loud enough to hear over road noise. But I also find driving takes more of my brain than washing dishes and I can’t pay attention as well!

Another key, though, that I discussed with a friend of mine, is deciding that if you miss something it’s okay to just keep going. My instinct was along the lines of “oh, someone is teaching me something, I’d better take notes, I’d better not miss a single word, I’d better absorb everything they’re saying.” But it doesn’t have to be like that. As I saw with Slate, it was an enjoyable way to pass the time, and even by passively listening, I caught on to a lot.

Andy has not yet let me live down my 180-degree shift on podcasts. It’s okay. I’d probably make fun of me too.

Since my lightbulb moment, here are a few of the podcasts I’ve subscribed to and am enjoying:

  • The aforementioned The Splendid Table Host Lynn Rosetto Casper talks about a different kitchen or cooking-related topic each week and also takes calls from listeners with culinary questions.
  • America's Test Kitchen Yes, another cooking show.
  • Slate's Culture Gabfest and Double X Gabfest
  • Quick and Dirty Tips: Grammar Girl, Domestic CEO, Nutrition Diva, Money Girl These are short 5-10 minute weekly shows. I listened to 2 walking to church the other day and 2 on the way back. They're just what they sound like: short tips on very specific topics! They probably won't interest me every week, but I bet they will more often than not. There are a whole slew of tip-topics to choose from.

Do you listen to podcasts? What are some of your favorites? When do you find is the ideal time to listen to them?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman