Noteworthy Podcasts

So I’ve talked a lot about the things I’ve seen and attended. Today I’m going to talk about the things I’ve heard. Namely, we’re going to talk podcasts. I think we are always looking for new podcasts. At least I am. I’m not going to talk about “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” or “This American Life” since I think those are fairly well known.

In no particular order:

1. Re: Sound

Re:Sound is the podcast of Third Coast International Audio Festival, local nonprofit. Third Coast curates the best of radio anywhere. It’s focused on interesting sound pieces and covers any topic from documentaries, experimental, and fiction. Weekly broadcasts focus on a theme like color, pianos or more. They keep their ears open all over the world to bring us the best of radio (though its mostly in English). My first podcast dealt with a documentary about the participants and organizers of the Milgram Experiment. The color show dealt with rainbow shrimp, the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood, one family’s experience with race, and more. They bring in works from other shows like RadioLab.

They also have an impressive library of stuff to lsiten to on their website. They also hold “Listening Rooms” which is where you go and collectively listen to a selection of radio shorts. It’s amazing to listen and talk about radio in a group.

2. SpyCast

This podcast comes out of the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. The Museum itself was a bit of a disappointment but the podcast is amazing. Each hour is usually a conversation with an individual who either worked in some capacity as a spy or spy agency or author’s work on spy history. It covers both history of spying and current day issues about cyberterrorism and more. It’s where I first heard about Monument Men.

3. Curious City

This is a new one for me but it’s brilliant. It’s a Chicago based show and podcast where viewers ask and vote on questions that they want to hear about. If your question wins, the show sets out to answer the question and will bring you into the studio (if it can) for the broadcast. It covers everything from “Why is there no terminal 4 at O’hare?” to “Where is the best donut shop in Chicago?”

4. 99% Invisible

I include Roman Mars’ podcast  since I don’t think it is as well known as it should be. 99% Invisible is a show about design, architecture and generally the little details that you probably don’t even notice. They have covered everything from the history and energy efficiency of revolving doors to battles between architects to make the tallest building in NY.

5. Backstory

This one may be more well known than I think it is. It’s new to me. It’s a wonderful show on NPR where they cover a single topic in US history like food or children. There are three historians covering the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Within the topic, they’ll cover a lot of different subjects such as the food episode dealt with the difficulties of Victorian meals, the effect of food on your temperament and health, the first American chain restaurant and more.

6. The Moth

Again, this may be better known than I think it is but in the off chance that you haven’t listened to the Moth, I’m including it. It’s a podcast (and show) where people get up and tell an autobiographical stories about their lives. They are great storytellers and deal with the range of stories: depressing, funny, outrageous, insane, etc. One story I heard dealt with a woman who joins the harem of the Prince of Borneo or a woman who gets her ticket out of her small town because of charm school.

6. Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is a fictional serialized podcast about a desert town called “Night Vale.” This is my favorite podcast at the moment. It’s done as if it were community radio red by Cecil who tells the story of the town through commercials, announcements, and news reports. It’s a macabre place where all conspiracies are true. There is the dog park that no one is allowed to go to and you are asked not to look at the hooded figures there for long. Corn is dangerous. Blood rites are a regular feature of Night Vale life. It’s delightful and well-constructed. Moreover, each episode has a “Weather” section that features the music of a different artist.

So that’s all for now. If anyone has some podcasts that I should check out, I’d love to hear about them.



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