Culture

From My Earholes, to My Eyeballs, to a Delightful Tangent

When I moved to Los Angeles nine years ago, I had a job that made me feel a little alienated. I could barely understand most of the people who worked around me. Part of that was because they were engineers, and I had never developed that part of my brain. The other reason was because they largely spoke Chinese. I needed a way to feel less alone, that could simultaneously stimulate my bored brain during the hours I sat with little to do.

A new “friend”

A year and a half in, I was desperate to fill my earholes with words from someone I could relate to. I’d heard about podcasts, but had never listened to any. A Google search result recommended Alison Rosen‘s then-new podcast, “Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend,” and with a title like that, I figured a download was in order.

Years later, I’ve listened to practically every episode and turned friends on to that podcast, as well as to her new endeavor, “Childish,” which she co-hosts with comedian Greg Fitzsimmons.

Talking about a podcast with a friend is fun and comforting, like you’re sharing a secret. Unlike water-cooler chat about the last episode of “Game of Thrones,” it feels more intimate. When you listen to a podcast, it feels almost like listening in on a conversation – one you’ve not only been given permission to eavesdrop but to which you’ve also been extended a gracious invitation. Some podcasts offer this experience to a greater extent than do others.

Real-life “Friends” friends

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone who likes the same little-known band, weird art flick, or hole-in-the-wall bistro that has the best homemade gnocchi? There’s actually a better feeling. Meeting, in real life, complete strangers who are fans of the same podcast. Or, in this case, friends of the “Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend” podcast (who are also “Childish” fans). Friends who are such huge fans that they have their own fancast. Who, like the podcast itself, are warm and welcoming, possibly quirky and definitely funny.

Podcast friends Meghan Parkansky, Scott Marquez, Greg Fitzsimmons, Alison Rosen, Lisa Lawrie and Robyn Kern at the Childish live taping.
L to R: Meghan Parkansky, Scott Marquez, Greg Fitzsimmons, Alison Rosen, Lisa Lawrie, moi.

I was lucky enough to have this experience last week when I went with a friend to see a live taping of “Childish” at the Comedy Store. I introduced myself and my friend to three super-fans, Lisa Lawrie (co-host of the Best Friend’s Fancast), Scott Marquez, and Meghan Parkansky. Instantly I felt like these were old friends. In a way, they are. We’ve been in the same aural circle for years, with the same “friend” in common, Alison Rosen.

One of the credos of The Tangentier is that focusing your attention on what you love brings you more of the good stuff. So, imagine how that effect is magnified when the enthusiasm is mutual. Over the years, I and others I know have found friendship in places like beauty and TV fan messageboards, social media, and now podcasts. But those places shouldn’t seem like unlikely foundations for friendship. They’re just another tangent.

Robyn Kern is the Tangentier. A long-time writer based in Los Angeles with a degree in screenwriting and an interest in mindfulness, many tangents led her here: a place where people can come to find and share inspiration, dwell in each others' passions, and learn how to surround themselves with what they love on the daily.

4 Comments

  • Wendy Dutwin

    I can speak from personal experience that wonderful friendships can be forged in the most unlikely of places, like fan chat rooms! 😉 Great post, Robyn, glad your expanding your circle of friends through shared loves like this! xx

  • Maggie

    Hey, I know that office! Podcasts saved my ears there, and I loved swapping recommendations with you. You’re right, it does feel more intimate talking about podcasts you love with a friend – definitely elevated water cooler conversation 🙂 What are some other good ones you’re listening to these days?

    • Robyn Kern

      It was a memorable office, right? Definitely catch Childish if you haven’t. I also love The Daily for news, Full Coverage for fun makeup talk, and Forever 35. In the Dark and Accused are great but are in-between seasons right now.

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