Further (secret) confessions of a collegiate Republican

| Forum Editor
If ever you see a suspiciously schizophrenic-looking character trotting along Forsyth Boulevard on any given weekday morning, sporting mismatched winter gear as she laughs and smiles to herself, then you’ve caught me indulging in a secret obsession: public radio podcasts. Ira Glass, Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell and their respective cohorts are practically close and personal friends of mine. Peter’s introductory voice to a new episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” is like my Monday morning coffee, and these dear pals keep my heart warm and wit sharpened as I make the daily frost-bitten, 17-minute trek to campus from my apartment.

Many of you may be fellow fans of shows such as “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and “This American Life,” but for me, this particular habit of mine remains a black mark on my record of entertainment. It’s because I’m a conservative. You know, the kind that makes you turn up your nose and snicker in disbelieving disgust that one could be so very ignorant. The kind that frowns upon the liberal-leaning media and, more often than not, deems such political satire to be “unpatriotic.” My adoration of these radio personalities is certainly not in my political job description, but I simply can’t imagine that my 9 a.m. step would be quite so light without this small morning burst of joy.

It started by accident: I was in search of a pastime to occupy my hours of train rides while studying abroad in Switzerland. Believe it or not, I was hooked from my very first episode of “This American Life,” which characterized the very liberal career of the dynamic, politician-turned-trashy-talk-host, Jerry Springer. From there, it only got worse. Entire podcasts dedicated to bashing everything I stand for, albeit some attempt to poke fun at all parties involved. And now, I am indubitably committed.

I tune in every week, and even find myself anticipating the timing of every episode. Will I finish the “Bluff the Listener” segment before Geology? I’m even driven to the dangerous brink of anti-socialness: the choice looms as to whether I should lengthen my stride to catch up with a friend, or slow down to catch David Sedaris’s candidly-related chronicles of everyday life and the fascinating but useless trivia that peppers the NPR news quiz show.

Through my indulgence I have betrayed not only my political culture, but also the head-down, in-the-zone culture of the iPod listener-walker. I guess Peter Sagal’s wry humor has a different effect than Beyonce’s latest single or some breakout indie rocker. Regardless, I rebel with pride, and only a small bit of shame which rears itself in the form of the occasional gritting of teeth even as I suppress a laugh.

I must consider, though, the merits of such political humor. Am I engaging in some strange form of bipartisan tolerance? Or am I simply wasting time that could be well-spent in song memorization, existential pondering or even more educational podcasts? Maybe one day, I will.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.