Podcast, Anyone?

By: Stacy Thompson

I’ve recently taken on a fairly significant physical challenge for the end of the year (more on that later) that will require me to spend a LOT of time in the pool, on the stairs and, whenever possible, on the trail. One thing that makes any training session much easier and more tolerable is music, a book on tape, or any other auditory distraction. I’ve downloaded a ton of music, several dozen books and was in search of something more when I recalled that little icon on my iPhone (you know, the purple one that looks like a radio signal). I started browsing around and found some nuggets that are truly worth a listen. So, if you need a distraction, education, new outlook or just have some time in the car to burn, consider the following:

  • This American Life The granddaddy of all podcasts, this public radio show carries news stories, personal interest vignettes, short fiction and humorous anecdotes – so much to choose from and only about an hour each, this podcast is definitely worth a listen!
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class From Jane Austen to Dunkirk and Copernicus to the Kentucky Derby, there is something for everyone and more than you ever thought you’d want to know about subjects you didn’t know you needed to know. If the last part of that sentence makes any sense to you, this podcast is for you and your inquisitive mind.
  • Stuff You Should Know Flea Circuses, poetry, Aurora Borealis, beer and the Beagle Brigade…what do these have in common? All are only a few of the varied topics covered in this podcast. Some topics may or may not interest you, but an entertaining way to spend an hour nonetheless!
  • Serial Season 1 explored the story of Adnan Syed, accused and convicted of killing his high school girlfriend back in 1999, who was recently granted a new trial based on information partially uncovered in the podcast. Season 2 explored the story behind the capture and return of U.S. Army serviceman Bowe Bergdahl. Catch up with one of the hotter podcasts on air, and await “something completely different” in Season 3, set to hit the air sometime in 2018.
  • Garden & Gun’s Whole Hog – A little bit of everything, with a whole lotta the South. From the editors of Garden & Gun, you’ll get the best of music, food, film, culture and travel below the Mason-Dixon.
  • Presidential – I’m a history geek and quasi-political junkie, so learning more about the 44 men who have served in our country’s highest office was fascinating to me. It includes behind-the-scenes stories from biographers, archivists and journalists that I never learned in history class.
  • Constitutional – From the same folks that brought you Presidential, this podcast delves into the drafting of the Constitution and crafting of our nation. Only two episodes in this year, and already I’m hooked!
  • 30 for 30 Podcasts – Of course I have to put something sports-related on this list! I have watched the 30 for 30 programs on ESPN for years, and having them to listen to is a real treat!

Happy listening, folks!

Netflix Binge, Anyone?

By: Stacy Thompson


So while our weather in the Midlands is pretty awesome, and I’ll be the first to encourage everyone to make the most of our trails and parks, I’ll also admit that in the event of inclement weather, the tube may be a fun way to pass the time and relive or discover some TV gems.

I love a good list — and I love a good sitcom and family drama — so, if you’re looking for something to entertain your family, or just pass the time, consider the following shows…

  1. The Wonder Years: Watching kids dealing with real-life issues based in a time when I was just beginning my life (literally) made for must-see-TV for my parents and my brothers. Kevin, Winnie, Paul…you handled the bullies, the heartbreak and the triumphs that we all felt or wished we had.
  2. Arrested Development: Nothing like a completely dysfunctional family to make you feel a little more functional. There are too many quotable lines and subtle jokes to name, just enjoy!
  3. Roseanne: Speaking of dysfunctional…
  4. The West Wing: Martin Sheen’s President Bartlett and company were witty, quippy, fast-paced, big-hearted and ethical. An entertaining leader of the free world with problems solved in an hour long episode? May not be realistic, but it’s certainly appealing!
  5. Cheers: An entire show set in a bar? Never leaving the bar? Only an engaging cast and the rollercoaster romance of Sam and Diane could keep us coming back to the place where everyone knows our name.
  6. The Office: Anyone who has ever worked in an office, or been in an office, or dealt with a boss can totally relate to the world of Dunder Mifflin — and to the desire to smack Pam upside the head to tell her to “just kiss Jim already!!” and to encase a co-worker’s stapler in jello.
  7. The Andy Griffith Show:  No explanation needed.
  8. Friday Night Lights: Family drama built around one of my favorite things — football — with incredible acting and true-to-life plots.
  9. Friends: One of my all-time favorites — and as an aside, don’t ever challenge me to a trivia contest when it comes to my Central Perk buddies, Lincoln High survivors, former Janice-lovin’, “The List”-makin’ folks who lived, laughed and loved for a decade. “I’ll Be There For You” still gets me going!

What are your favorite shows?