Screen time/Opinion

OPINIOM | SCREEN TIME: So many podcasts, so little time.

So many podcasts, so little time.

Social marketer Neal Schaffer estimates there are nearly 2.5 million shows listed on Apple Podcasts. Around 450,000 of those are active; more than 71 million episodes exist in podcast feeds.

Despite my fanatical devotion to NPR, I've become disillusioned with its news coverage lately, since cutbacks are causing programming to get repeated; a reported story I hear on, say, Tuesday afternoon is aired again on Morning Edition the next day. So I'm expanding my listening options.

To that end, our newly named Screen Time column intends to provide readers with suggestions from several readers -- all enthralled podcast listeners -- on some that might be worth your time and effort. And we'll continue to mention desirable examples of Video on Demand.

Among the recommended podcast options:

Long-form podcasts like "Bunga Bunga," focusing on the rise and fall of Italian real estate giant, media tycoon, and former Italian prime minister Silvio Burlusconi, whose antics are reminiscent of Donald Trump's escapades.

"Suave" is a Pulitzer Prize-winning seven-part series about the criminal justice system that sentences juveniles to life in prison -- particularly young men of color -- and what happens when, decades later, they're suddenly granted one more chance at freedom.

"S Town," a Peabody award-winning work of investigative journalism hosted by Brian Reed from Serial Productions (a New York Times company) and "This American Life" (heard on NPR) follows a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it.

"Dolly Parton's America" is a nine-part series from WNYC Studios that offers historical and musical clarity to one of America's best-loved icons (though she is very guarded about her life and image, so it doesn't shed a lot of "I never knew that" info).

"In God We Lust" is set in a luxury hotel in Miami where a pool attendant meets a married couple, with whom he is quickly caught up in a love triangle, one that will have far-reaching results, as the husband is Jerry Falwell Jr., member of one of the most famous evangelical families in America and president of a Christian university with a strict code of conduct. Saucy!

"Ear Hustle" (11 seasons, 92 episodes) is a documentary that takes listeners inside the prison system and reveals the humanity (and lack thereof) of the prisoners via cellmates, solitary confinement, race, morality, pets, religion, gangs, and family while incarcerated and after their release.

"3 Minutes to the Moon" offers three seasons of epic space stories from the BBC.

"The Dating Game Killer," a six-part true-crime series, focuses on Rodney Alcala who in 1978 won a date on the popular TV series "The Dating Game," although nobody knew he was a prolific serial killer in the middle of a cross-country murdering rampage.

"Where Should We Begin" with Esther Perel, a therapist who listens as real couples in search of help bare the intimate details of their stories. "She's brilliant; I want to be her," says my correspondent.

Former Little Rock resident Rufus Griscom produces "The Next Big Idea" where he manages to bring in "the world's biggest thinkers" without coming across as pretentious. The interviews are fun, free-wheeling, relatable, and in-depth, says a fan of the series, which is curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink. New episodes are available every Thursday.

Julia Louis Dreyfus' podcast "Wiser than Me" features discussions with older women of substance -- among them Fran Lebowitz, Amy Tan, Diane Furstenberg, Jane Fonda and Carol Burnett -- who share their insights, experience and wisdom.

"On Purpose with Jay Shetty" supplies interviews by the storyteller and former monk with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Rick Rubin, Khloe Kardashian, Yuval Harari and Alicia Keys.

What are your favorites, and why? Share by emailing

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