It’s a Pod, Pod World: Part 1

Every once in a while I panic about missing out on the one podcast that would change my life. I feel this same panic entering a library and wishing I had an omniscient book genie who knew everything about me and the contents of every item in the place, a genie who could point me to THE book(s) that I need to read. How else can I possibly know what to read or listen to that will strike just the right chord for me? HOW?

I’m no podcast genie, but I can share with you some of my favourites, which also show up (for good reason!) on many “Best of” lists. These pods have fed my ears as I washed thousands of dishes, rode dozens of kilometers on my bike, and drifted into countless nights of sleep. Here are four of my desert island picks.

Ologies. This is a new find for me, and seriously, where has it been all my podcasting days?! The wonderfully funny and irreverent Alie Ward leads a weekly scientific tour, inviting often equally funny and irreverent guests to discuss their areas of expertise. The light-hearted conversational format allows Ward to ask anything (ANYTHING) that interests her about a subject, and fortunately, it’s usually what also interests me. Things can get gross and gooshy. Past shows include the study of eggs, hair, blood, oceans, trains, and death (oology, trichoology, hematology, oceanology, ferroequinology, and thanatology, respectively). If this description doesn’t intrigue you yet, take my word that if you have even a basic curiosity about . . . stuff, you will probably end up caring about things you thought you could never care about (such as lepidopterology – I’ll let you figure that one out!). 🙂 This podcast capably bridges the learning/entertainment divide. Get thy brain quickly to

Outlook (BBC). I’m a sucker for people’s stories about their lives, and this podcast specializes in them. There is no experience beyond the reach of this international podcast; stories of chance meetings, hostage-taking, amnesia, heroic doctors, redemption, murder, sex-trafficking, and organ donation are brought to light by guests. Outlook has a superlative production value, top-notch (unsentimental) interviewing by its hosts, and it is blessedly commercial-free.

If ever a podcast defies being pigeon-holed, it’s Taggart and Torrens. Hosts Jonathan Torrens and Jeremy Taggart helm this chaotic, loving tribute to Canada and “Canadianity”. Shows are stuffed with homemade games (often revolving around music and quizzing each other about slogans), skits, lists and countdowns, and  stories about vacations and the happy everyday-ness of life as parents, husbands, and (don’t tell them I said this because they’d hate it) celebrities. A highlight of the pod is the plethora of in-jokes cultivating a culture of “bahd”s, or listeners of the pod. Torrens and Taggart enact imaginary exchanges between Gino Vanelli and his much-less-famous brother Joe, and send a whiny Gordon Lightfoot climbing into the office window of his agent, Bernie. They lament the plight of the underappreciated wailer in Enigma’s “Return to Innocence,” and Torrens especially plays with francophone, British, and Seth Fisher-ian accents. They morph into spunky Andrea and her indifferent roommate, Laramie, hit the sound booth as name-dropping producer Donovan and guest, choke on the off-colour Gork-Gak, and spend sleazy 2-for-1-drinks-evenings at a franglais strip club featuring such performers as “Jann [H]arden”. Bonus if you were raised in the 80s, as you will get every CBC-soaked reference about old TV commercials, Beachcombers characters, and heinous CanCon-protected music. Get yer maple syrup on at

White Coat, Black Art (CBC). My Scrubs-watching, biology-degree-holding self adores all things medical, and Brian Goldman, MD, hosts this most excellent of podcasts on the subject. He is an ER clinician, but he is also a medical communicator, and he knows how to convey both compassion for patients and knowledge from “[his] side of the gurney.” In WCBA, Goldman explores medical errors, racism in healthcare, patient advocacy, and physician burnout in a way that holds doctors to account without throwing them under the bus. He speaks less about medical innovation and more about simple stories of people’s frustrations and felt powerlessness with an eye to improving the medical experiences for patients and physicians alike.





Sunny Days, Small Picture

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