A Podcast Shortlist

I spend a lot of time commuting to my day job. The drive in isn’t so bad, but I can spend upwards of an hour and a half getting home some days. The best use of that time: podcasts. I’ve always loved podcasts because they’re easy to digest and there’s so much variety.

In the last few months, I’ve tested out a lot of podcasts. This is my shortlist (and I highly recommend you try at least one of them):

99% Invisible

Roman Mars will always have a place in my heart. His philosophy on design and brilliant storytelling make 99% Invisible my number one podcast of all time. Usually ranging from 11 to 30 minutes, each episode tells a story of design that most people would never consider. Best part: regardless of order, each episode is better than the last. (Aside: His voice will enthrall you.)

iTunes / SoundCloud

This American Life

While a little long for my taste (most podcasts are), This American Life tells two or three stories centering on a single theme. While the themes run the gamut of American culture, the personal stories and tiny details are always revealing and often captivating.


On The Media

A critique on our national media, each episode covers a current reporting trend or issue. The discussions and interviews on current media topics, ethics, and responsibility are always thought-provoking, at the very least. I find it a little long at times, but it’s a great way to get a view on the current media climate.


Freakonomics Radio

The economics of everything, in small pieces. I love it because economics are everywhere, and the ideas presented are usually unconventional. Drawing from a wide area of knowledge is important to my work as a designer, so this financial perspective helps round out my field of attention.


Design Observer’s Design Matters

While not my favorite interviewer, Debbie Millman lands interviews with my favorite designers. I don’t listen to every episode, but the ones with Stefan Sagmiester, Jessica Walsh, Roman Mars, and Erik Spiekermann are informative and interesting. Next episode on my list: Jessica Heische.


If you haven’t gathered, my tastes are pretty narrow and I have a low tolerance for poor quality work. These podcasts are the top of my list for their production value and content. I hope you enjoy them. If there’s a podcast I need to hear, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.


Four Years

Four years. I made it out in four years. College was great in ways, but I can’t say that I understand why people romanticize it. I had senioritis from day one of freshman year.

School always seemed like a roadblock to actually accomplishing something. I gained some good experiences and opportunities, but an amount of time was listening to droning, hour-long rehashes of the same information it took 15 minutes to read or a enduring a 20 minute rant in response to the ever-present question, “what’s going to be on the test?”

That’s why I wasn’t a straight-A student. I studied art and journalism. It was a surprisingly uncommon combination at MTSU, considering the relationship between both disciplines, the shared interest in documenting and commenting on society, and the mutually moderate levels of cynicism.

I sent my résumé and work samples out as the end of my final semester was approaching. I got calls back within hours and had an interview the next day. I accepted a job three weeks before the semester ended.

This isn’t about how terrible higher education has become or about how lucky I was to get a job right out of college (higher education is terrible and I was very lucky). For all the wasted time, I gained a few important things. I gained friends and a few mentors. I had so many opportunities to make my own luck and other opportunities that simply fell into my lap.

I interned with the University’s marketing department, worked with the local newspaper to sell advertisements for the campus paper, managed an ad campaign, hosted an on-campus event, led in rebuilding a student organization, and made an impression on quite a few faculty members and industry leaders.

I have a lot to show for my time at MTSU, but I still wonder if I have as much to show for the last four years as I really should. I’m not proud of many of my projects because the constraints of assignments (whether topic, time frame, or supplied materials) didn’t always allow for great work. Professors rarely gave assignments that would allow for portfolio building, nor did they seem to care that their class might not be the most important thing in the world.

My senior portfolio should have been better. It could have been better. Most assignments should have been smaller, less time-consuming, and more focused. Others should have allowed wider exploration and better expression of personal ideas and goals. Side projects should have been encouraged more, and the final portfolio should have taken a more forefront role in both journalism and art classes. There should have been more opportunities to be recognized for things other than academics.

I never got a chance to intern off campus. Between working to support myself and the coursework, I could’t afford an unpaid internship. I’ve been set up with a fantastic foundation of training and given amazing opportunities, but the ability to make the most of the training and opportunities just wasn’t what it could have been.

So here’s to a year of proving myself, a year of making up for lost time, a year of making something out of the ideas that have been bubbling in my mind for the last four years. Here’s to a year of big things. While I have a lot under my belt, I’ve lost way too time. It’s about time I actually get to do something.