These Three Podcasts Will Make You a Better Parent, Scare You to Death, and Make You a More Informed Citizen

I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot. Here are three I think you’ll enjoy.

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian

I really got hooked on podcasts about two years ago when I rediscovered a developer-oriented podcast called The Changelog. Hearing a professionally produced podcast changed my perception of what a podcast could offer. Quality production, a thoughtful structure, interesting (to me) content — it was a real revelation. In those two years I attribute most of what I’ve learned and expanded in my life to something I heard on a podcast. But, why should a medium so important and entertaining be for my benefit only? Shouldn’t the same opportunity be given to the rest of my family? Well, I think I’ve found the right podcast to use as the gateway for my seven year old daughter — The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: Science Fiction for Kids.

Finn Caspian is an adult-narrated podcast about the adventures of a young boy (Finn) and his friends living on the far away Marlowe space station, which is in charge of exploring and inhabiting other planets. Finn and his band of friends explore the space station, share coming of age moments (like getting your first robot), and engage in assorted adventures. The plot, though I’m still in the first season, is well done. It’s simple but varied sound effects and even-keeled narration keep the kiddos engaged, and each episode’s 15–20m runtime is the perfect amount for that time in the car in between errands or on the daily ride into school.

I really appreciated how my daughter was chilling in the backseat, intently listening to the storyline. She was definitely engrossed in thought, imagining the world of Finn’s adventures. It also gave us something beyond the normal day-to-day to discuss afterwards. A shared experience which, if you are a parent, you know how valuable they can be.

I’d recommend Finn Caspian for ages 5 through 12ish(?), though you’re obviously the better judge of your child’s attention span and interests than I. Give Finn a try today and introduce your offspring to the wonderful world of podcasts. Kids deserve a chance too, right?

Recommended episode: Episode 1: The Room Behind the Room (have to start at the beginning of this series!).

Listen to Finn Caspian on iTunes and Overcast

For Government Watchdogs: Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill

It’s always been easy to dismiss government conspiracy theorists for the ludicrous nature of their claims and their lack of any tangible evidence. All that changed, for me at least, when the Snowden revelations broke. What were once just jokes nerds told each other about the capabilities of government intelligence agencies became reality overnight. Yes, your government has the capability to spy on you in very real ways, and has given itself the authority to do so. That’s been pretty much proven. Whether or not you think that’s a bad thing, however, is much more open ended. If you’re somebody for whom this trend of unchecked government authority is a concern, then Intercepted is right down your alley. I would even go so far as to say that even if you believe our law enforcement agencies have our best interests in mind, you should listen to Intercepted to understand the exact extent of their power and how they’re wielding it.

Intercepted is a podcast by the journalists at The Intercept, the publication that came to life directly from the Snowden leak (Glen Greenwald, one of the journalists Snowden originally contacted, is one of the founders). Unlike other publications, which are only just now finding their spine in challenging government’s authority, The Intercept has real credibility. They were present and pounding the drum for the overreach well into the Obama administration. They were one of the few that weren’t comforted by a seemingly well-intended executive branch when these overreaches and privacy violations originally took place. Everybody can look at the current administration and be worried. The Intercept saw the danger, and was speaking directly to its effects when placed in even less capable hands, well before anybody else.

If you’re averse to conspiracy theories, I don’t think you’ll be turned off by Intercepted. It’s just hard-hitting reporting, focused on how government policies affect the liberties of US citizens. Seems like a reasonable and noble pursuit, no?

Recommended episode: Trump Week Two: The Rise of Chief Yookeroo

You can find Intercepted on iTunes, Stitcher and Overcast.

For Horror Fans: Pleasing Terrors

Back when I was allowed to watch scary movies (before my wife vetoed that habit), I was always amazed at how intensely a well-crafted story could affect me, a grown man. Nothing made me feel more juvenile than walking back to my bedroom after watching a scary movie with the hairs on the back of my neck standing on edge. If you like that feeling, then the Pleasing Terrors podcast is for you.

Each episode the narrator, Mike Brown, weaves a suspenseful story centered around a single myth, superstition, or catastrophe. His story-telling approach is superb, masterfully setting the episode with some mystery or hook and then spending the rest of the episode building up to the conclusion. They’re only 30m on average, proving you don’t need the hour and a half of a movie to put people on the edge of their seats. If you have a camping trip coming up, definitely queue a few episodes up and let Pleasing Terrors and your natural surroundings make you feel vulnerable and exposed.

If that’s your thing.

Recommended episode: 013: Place of Slaughter

Pleasing Terrors can be found on iTunes, Stitcher and Overcast.

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