Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular way to consume news, stories, and other content. People enjoy the personalized touches of listening to their hosts talk, with the added bonus that you can enjoy podcasts while on the go — streaming podcasts in the car, putting in headphones while on a run, etc.
For adults of all ages, podcasts can be a great way to connect and share something new with others. For the “sandwich generation,” who is actively seeking to connect with both their children and their older parents, they can be especially beneficial. Podcasts, just like books, television, and movies, can be enjoyed together or separately and then discussed afterwards.
There are several different podcasts that are both entertaining and informative, and could serve as a great way to connect on current topics and launch conversations between adults and their even-more-adult parents. Here, we highlight four recommendations: two specifically targeted towards our local Chicagoans, and two that would be enjoyed by anyone — Chicago native or not.
Produced by WBEZ, Curious City is described as “an ongoing news experiment” that takes public questions and opinions (specifically about the city of Chicago) and uses them as the platform for each podcast episode. It addresses everything from Chicago urban myths like the Lake Michigan Shark Attack of 1955, to general Windy City wonderings like, “Why does Chicago have SO MANY mattress stores?”.
The podcasts are produced weekly and in short, easily digestible episodes. For example, the July 25th episode on fireflies in Chicago is only five minutes long, while the July 10th episode that answers some questions about Chicago’s odd windowless buildings is just under thirteen minutes long. Curious City is the perfect podcast for the curious Chicagoan and provides great cross-generational conversation starters. Additionally, you can be a part of the production and have your questions investigated by submitting your ideas, and voting on potential topics for upcoming episodes.
Another great podcast for Chicagoans, Your Chicago focuses on the humans who make our city so fabulous. Everyone from the chefs at your favorite restaurants, to the people behind Chicago’s signature events, to the man behind the “You Are Beautiful” popping up all over the city is included in Your Chicago’s fascinating lineup.
Around two podcasts a month are published, and are around 30-45 minutes long. The episodes are hosted by Arden Joy and Stefania, two women who love Chicago and meeting the people behind the city’s magic. If you and your family are looking for new ways to connect with your city and want to know more about the individuals who make up “sweet home of Chicago”, this podcast is perfect. Each episode is sure to inspire you with the guest’s creativity, drive, and passion for who they are and what they do.
Okay, so this particular podcast is not about Chicago BUT — it is produced in partnership with Chicago station WBEZ, and it is incredibly popular nationwide. Serial is produced and hosted by Sarah Koenig, who takes a deep dive into an American crime story in each season (there are currently two, with a third on the way). Serial was launched into fame by Season One’s focus on a 1999 Maryland murder case, which garnered so much media attention that it has actually resulted in a retrial of the original case.
Serial’s episodes are broken up into different stories and subjects relating to each case, and feature interviews with key individuals involved in the stories. The stories are engaging, thought provoking, and serve as almost a modern day “Crime Classics”. Being formatted as a podcast allows the audience to visualize interviews in their own mind, listen to episodes alone or with others, and draw their own conclusions as they are carried through the stories. Serial is the ideal podcast for adults of any age looking for some mystery solving, suspense, and true American crime history.
TED Radio Hour
Last but not least, we recommend checking out the TED Radio Hour podcast, which revolves around life’s big questions, theories, and musings. You may already be familiar with TED Talks–discussions fueled by the nonprofit, TED, and dedicated to spreading ideas (if you aren’t familiar, you can check them out here). Covering everything from the Fountain of Youth, to wisdom, to the Seven Deadly Sins, to animals and humans, these weekly podcasts will pique your curiosity. Speaking of curiosity, there is an episode on that, too!. Slightly more philosophical than the aforementioned three podcasts, TED Radio Hour is a great podcast for those who like to ponder life or humanity, or simply ask “why?”. They’re based on content from TEDTalks and co-produced by NPR — so basically they’re co-created by two information-and-idea-sharing powerhouses. Can’t go wrong there.
Whether you’re looking for a conversation starter to connect with loved ones, or simply want a new source of entertainment and information, podcasts are an excellent option. There are thousands of them out there covering just about every topic imaginable. Do you already listen to one of our four recommendations, or do you have a podcast you love? Tell us about them in the comments!