Podcast Review: Invisibilia

TITLE: Outside In
WEBSITE: www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia
TWITTER: @nprinvisibilia

FINDABLE ON: ITUNES, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Podcast manager of your choice

TOPIC: Looking at the popular notion of “Fake it til you make it” and other iterations of whether you can indeed change from the outside in.

Invisibilia is another podcast in the NPR family and one that falls under the somewhat undefined category of “popular science”. Presented by Hanna Rosin & either Alix Spiegel or Lulu Miller - who take turns between them - Invisibilia is dedicated to exploring the “invisible” factors that shape our behaviours in life, like our ideas, beliefs and even our assumptions.

As much as I always want to be a regular NPR podcast listener, I must admit, I find myself skipping over various NPR shows in the big ol’ list of podcasts when I’m scanning for something “easy” to listen to. Invisibilia however, has managed to escape my quick judgement calls on more than one occasion, and often manages to surprise me with the takes on topics mentioned in the show descriptions.

This particular show takes the listener from debate clubs in Rwanda to a set of twins dealing with diabetes, and finally to a stretch of Jersey Shore where a man discovers a whole new world to spend his time in.

Despite my usual fondness for the unusual extrapolation of a theme that they offer, I have to admit that this episode of Invisibilia did not hit the mark for me. Links between all 3 stories seemed tenuous at best, and at worst, bafflingly threadbare for what has otherwise, been a great season (like Serial & Radiolab, Invisibilia is produced in season long blocks). This being the last episode of Season 2 has left me wanting to revisit the heyday of earlier episodes rather than let it go out like this, lacklustre & without a concise conclusion.

Invisibilia is a heavy hitter in podcasting terms. Consistently at the top of the charts, and with plenty of positivity surrounding it’s journalism & story crafting, I wonder whether it suffers ever so slightly from being both obviously an NPR-sounding product & too all-encompassing in scope. The stories presented are more often very positive, which is such a rarity in of itself for radio, but can feel almost forced, like parts are being left out, or glossed over.

Despite any tiny misgivings I have about the positivity & the sourness I have over this particular episode — I still encourage everyone to give Invisibilia a try. You have only 13 episodes (sans “Bonus episodes”) across 2 seasons to catch up on — If, like me, you’re a bit of a completionist.

AUDIO QUALITY: Excellent, it goes without saying that being an NPR show, means top notch audio quality and editing.

LENGTH: 1hour 4mins

Recommended? YES Invisibilia is one of a rare breed of podcasts that never seems to feel as long as its actual running time. With likeable hosts and a wide variety of contributors each show, even when at it’s most tenuous in scope, manages to capture your interest and deliver stories that will keep your brain turning hours later.

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