I don’t even remember how this all got started, to be honest. For a long time I’ve thought I should try out listening to podcasts. However, I’ve always been reticent, since: a) I didn’t really know where to start, and b) I’ve never been great at absorbing info through my ears (audiobooks and the like).
Anyway, somewhere I saw/heard/read about How Stuff Works‘ group of podcasts. I’ve been aware of the site for ages, and had dropped in from time to time. You can see the full list of podcasts on their blogs page (cuz that makes sense) in the lower right sidebar.
Being a history buff, I started with Stuff You Missed in History Class, the archive of which I downloaded from iTunes. (They’re all free, just fyi.)
Since then I’ve also gone through the Stuff You Should Know (general interest), Stuff Mom Never Told You (women’s and gender-related topics), and Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know (conspiracy theories – on video) archives, and am nearly the end of the Brain Stuff (general interest – often scientific or technical and much shorter than the others) archive.
The podcasts range from a minute (the early Brain Stuff ones) to over half an hour. I probably started listening nearly six months ago, and have gone through a lot of podcasts. Hundreds. That said, I also haven’t listened to the radio or my iPod in that time period, either. They make for great accompaniment to getting ready for work, running training, doing dishes, etc. And hey, my storehouse of useless knowledge grows by the day. 🙂
Not all topics are of equal interest, and while I haven’t skipped any, it’s certainly easy to do so if you’re not into the topic. One thing that’s a bit unusual and distracting at first is that these podcasters are not “vocal talent”. They’re actual How Stuff Works employees (and, in the case of Brain Stuff, the founder) and the same people you’ll interact on in the blog comments or on Twitter or Facebook.
On every podcast I’ve listened to so far, at least one of the presenters has a mild speech impediment. I didn’t really expect that. Slight lisp, “thick tongue”, or what sounds like just a permanent bad case of hayfever — you get used to it over time. The intermittent southern accents are fun, too. (How Stuff Works is based out of Atlanta.)
I’ve managed to get Andrew hooked, too, and have enjoyed being filled in on historical tidbits I’ve already learned on more than one occasion. 🙂 In any case, should your music library or trivia knowledge be feeling a little stale, I highly recommend heading over to iTunes and loading up. Mmm… useless facts…