Podcast Porridge: Why I Listen to Podcasts at Work

I began my first full-time job after college with gusto and excitement, proud to join and contribute to productive society. However, the wind in my sails was abruptly diminished when my job description and work environment both changed dramatically. Happy to simply have a job when so many of my fellow graduates were not so lucky, I started searching for a way of padding the monotony of my workday by consuming media at my desk. I noticed that I quickly exhausted my music collection and couldn’t realistically watch movies or television shows and do real work at the same time. I discovered the “not too hot, not too cold” porridge that is the podcast. I had heard the term “podcast” for years and never really understood the point. The idea of recorded internet radio sessions didn’t exactly call out to me at first, but as I began to work through the massive backlog of The Nerdist episodes, I found that I could add humor and interesting conversation to the workday without having to actually talk to anyone I worked with, which is a relief when working at a place where the pressure of propriety can sometimes keep you from saying what you really think. By the time my new work responsibilities were ironed out and I was comfortably transitioned into my new space, I had already found a way to get my media fix without sacrificing my responsibilities or wasting time on-the-clock.

The Nerdist was the first podcast I encountered. I had heard about it through Chris Hardwick’s involvement in Attack of the Show on the (unfortunately no-longer-existent) G4 T.V. network. I started with a few episodes from the first days of the show and worked my way through a good chunk of the recordings. I had already enjoyed Hardwick as a host from his other work and found the riffing between him and his co-hosts, Matt Mira and Jonah Ray hilarious. Some of The Nerdist’s guests like David Tennant, Tim Levine and Stan Lee are considered nerd royalty while celebrities as big as Tom Hanks, Christopher Lloyd, Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart also sit down with the crew. But where The Nerdist really shines is in the comedy realm. The number of top-tier comics that The Nerdist crew has interviewed is staggering. From Tina Fey and Seth Myers to Bill Burr, Tom Green, Drew Carey, Maria Bamford and Craig Ferguson. The amount of content that the trio provided was almost overwhelming at first. Being the completionist that I am, I got nervous about the idea of listening to every episode. I didn’t want to miss a reference for fear of watering down the effect of a callback. However, I now knew of a wonderful new format that I could explore without disrupting my workflow.

So I was sold on the idea of podcasts. I learned so much about the hosts and the interviewees that I felt like I had become part of their conversations. I began to wonder if any other comedians had ventured into podcasting. I was pleasantly surprised. WTF with Marc Maron was wildly successful (and truly delightful to listen to) and Doug Benson’s Doug Loves Movies had a huge following. Kevin Smith, Bill Burr, Adam Carolla, Pete Holmes and countless other great personalities had been churning out content on a regular basis. Some for years already. I began to search for podcasts with a topic that interested me specifically. Of course, video games came to mind first. I had to look no further than a few clicks on Nerdist.com to find Kumail Nanjiani’s The Indoor Kids.

The Indoor Kids stuck with me right away. It was a fairly new show with only one episode a week, so the idea of listening to every past episode was not as daunting as some other podcasts. I had seen Kumail Nanjiani’s standup and loved the idea of a nerdy comic reviewing video games. The show had a great start with Ali Baker as the co-host. However, when Ali left the show and Kumail’s wife, Emily V. Gordon took over as co-host, The Indoor Kids became something really special. The intelligent, artistic nature of both individuals mixed with the interesting juxtaposition of backgrounds made for a very unique experience. He is Pakistani born, a lifelong nerd, an actor and comedian. She is a former therapist from Winston-Salem, N.C. who now blogs, writes and produces. The Indoor Kids offers a very unique and interesting angle on gaming culture. The duo is not bogged down by the pressure of being a top video game news source, trusted game reviewers or even gaming experts. They simply both love to play video games. Most episodes use video games as the frame of the conversation, but end up digging deeper into the psychology of gamers and gaming. The podcast takes full advantage of the network that the two hosts have been able to build through their other work. They have featured other comedians, writers, producers, game developers, video game journalists and nerdy celebrities as well as documenting their attendance at conventions like E3, PAX and Comic-Con.

While podcasting may still be “outside of the box” media, its popularity has grown significantly over the past few years and some are finding success and even careers in producing this form of content. There is an outrageous number of podcasts out there. The shows range in topic, frequency, length, popularity and seriousness. You can listen to a podcast with a topic as broad as video games or as specific as after-shows dedicated to a weekly television program. There are some that are hosted by comedians or intellectuals and others hosted by imaginative kids (The Mutant Season hosted by 11 year old Gil). You can even find narrative podcasts that tell a story like “We’re Alive: A Zombie Story of Survival.”

Whether you need something to listen to at work, on your commute or during a long run, just pick a topic that interests you and try a few podcasts. I’ve already suggested a few here. Nerdist.com has a huge selection of podcasts and you can always check iTunes. Can’t find something you connect with? Maybe you should start recording your own.