In what was both a fantastic and obvious choice for a podcast expansion, How Stuff Works’s STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW is a natural, informative, and enjoyable exploration of life’s biggest quirks, qualities, and seemingly irrelevant minutiae. Although it comes highly recommended, I should offer the caveat at the beginning that is distinctly not a podcast you have to feel obligated to listen to every episode of. Referencing the inherent structure and appeal of its parent site, considering the vast wealth of topics that hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark explore, you won’t miss out on a single thing by digging through the backlog to find what grabs your interest as opposed to feeling obligated to keep up with every single new episode—at least as an introductory activity. The one that got me hooked? “The Amazing History of Soda.” I could listen to the history of soda shoppes, obscure and defunct flavors, and the cultural significance of the soda jerk all day, but many would have no taste for such a thing, much like how I’m not dying to learn “How Corsets Work.” But that’s what’s beautiful about STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW: there’s literally something here for everyone, all treated with the same level of exhaustive care and respect.
The podcast itself is comparatively no-frills, so I hope you won’t fault me for not having too much else to delve into other than the wide appeal and general accessibility of its conceit and presentation. But even if I do think that some sound design and effects would spice up the listening experience by a hair, there’s simply no claim to be made that Chuck and Josh aren’t engaging and entertaining educators. Think of each episode of STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW as a college history lecture, albeit one that you’ve self-selected as being of relevant appeal. You’ll get the context, explanation, and detailed anecdotes and sidestories to fully flesh out the topics, all offered with an infectious, bright-eyed curiosity. For those approaching the podcast as method of universal education each week regardless of topic, you certainly won’t be disappointed; I’ve walked away from episodes such as “The Black Panther Party” and “How Soylent Works” all for the better.
It’s a no-brainer, folks! There’s a reason this is universally regarded as one of the most beloved podcasts across the board. Is it a bit Podcast 101? Yes, but that’s also what this section is designed to expose, offering up stellar entry points into the never-ending rabbit hole of America’s new media frenzy. You’ll have absolutely no problem discovering an episode tailor-made for your interests and any informational itch you have will be scratched in one form or another. Download today!