Make The Thing.

When I was in grad school, my super-tech pal Mike taught me about podcasts. I had never heard of them before, but he showed me some basic ones to start with (Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, Pardon the Interruption) and I was hooked. Podcasts became a primary source of entertainment and information.

Fast forward ten years and not much has changed. I now subscribe to 20 podcasts, with another 10 I check in on from time to time. I love listening to people tell stories or debate issues. It makes me feel less lonely at home or while driving.

At the end of last school year, I thought about producing my own podcast. I had an idea, so I floated it to my friends at school. Here is Stueve’s recollection of how it happened. (Spoiler: it’s not entirely accurate. But it is entertaining.)

So we’ve recorded 16 episodes and have released three so far. I edit them–so I’m learning GarageBand better every week–and for now, we’re just hosting them on a free service called SoundCloud. But if we really want to get serious, we’ll have to go pro before long.

Sometimes when I edit the podcasts, I am wracked with the same thoughts that hit me when I’m writing: Who are you to publish a podcast? No one will listen to this, besides your sisters. No one cares what you have to say. And your laugh is annoying.

When those voices invade my brain–and they always do–I come back to this, from the sagely Ira Glass:

“Don’t wait. It’s so hard to make anything, that it’s just easy to put it off, and be like, when I get the right financing, when I get the right this or that — just start doing it now. Because one of the great things about this moment in our culture, it’s never been easier to make something. The technology’s never been cheaper, and honestly the way to get the thing out to people is get your stuff out on the Internet, and get an audience, and get a small version to get you enough backing to do the big version.

“There’s so many fucked-up things in our country and in the world right now, and we live in a very dark climate. But the one place where things are going great is, if you want to do creative work, you can actually make some version and get it to people. And just don’t wait, is what I’m saying. Don’t wait. Just make the thing. Make a version. And then make it better. And then make it better.”

We made a thing. It’s a small version. I hope every episode gets a little better. And I like to think it makes our dark climate a tad lighter.

Subscribe! If you like it, leave a review!

But more important, tonight’s message is this: if you feel like creating something, don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Make the thing. Then make it better.

Listen to Something.

Over here, I try to document the media I consume. And for a while, I was tracking podcasts, until it became clear to me that I listen to way too many to track every day. So instead, I’m writing this guide to podcasts I listen to.

Before I begin, a note about how I listen to so many: I am not wild about existing in silence. Occasionally, I take time to meditate or pray or just drive in silence, but for the most part, I like noise. So podcasts are my go-to when I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, cleaning and driving. Some times I will listen to a podcast instead of music while walking. So if you think you don’t have time for podcasts, you might be surprised to find that you actually do. These are in no particular order, by the way. But I’m certain there’s something for everyone.

1. Open Account with SuChin Pak. This podcast is all about money, why we are afraid to talk about it, and why we need to. Favorite episode so far: Paula Pell. I don’t know how Pak convinces her guests to be so open about their financial lives, but I’m glad, because their stories help me feel less alone while inspiring me to be a bit smarter with my money.

2. Code Switch (NPR). This is a must-listen. Panelists discuss issues of race in America and the challenges people of color encounter. Favorite episode so far: I Don’t Know If I Like This, But I Want It To Win. I learn something every episode, and I really think all educators should listen to this podcast to confront their own biases.

3. The West Wing Weekly. Probably my most favorite podcast right now. Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina discuss The West Wing, one episode at a time. They both praise and critique it, and they’ve had some knockout guests. Favorite episode so far: In Excelsis Deo. I cried while listening.

4. NPR Politics Podcast. Panelists discuss political happenings. Especially important right now as we gear up for what I think will be a rather ill-fated election. Favorite episode so far: Musicals and Politics. I mean, really, does that surprise you?

5. Ask Me Another. Starring Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton, this is a radio quiz show packed with wit. It is delightful. Impossible to pick a favorite episode because each one is wonderful.

6. The Moth Podcast. This podcast highlights stories told by real people with real nerves and some real emotion. I have laughed and cried while listening to these stories, and I’m never disappointed when I listen to this podcast. I’ve been listening to it for so long that I can’t pick a favorite, but trust me. Give it a try. Tip: fast forward through the hosts jabbering.

7. The Moment with Brian Koppelman. Koppelman interviews people about their creative process. Favorite episode: Beau Willimon. I listened to that episode while I was revising my book, on a day I was feeling like I wanted to pull my book from publishing because I felt like a complete fraud. Their conversation addressed exactly that feeling, and I figured if both of them felt like frauds (both have written several films and television shows), then what I was feeling was normal.

There’s a glut of podcasts out there, a glut that I’ll be adding to come September, but their entertainment and educational value is so worth it. Try one I’ve written about here, or find one that fits your own interests. Have a must-listen that I should try out? Let me know! Enjoy!