Culture

5 Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now

I’m a big podcast fan – I’m always listening to them at lunch or in the car – and with a lot of driving back and forth between Madison and Chicago I’ve been going through a lot of them. I love both storytelling and conversation style podcasts and I’m really enjoying some of the fiction ones coming out these days. Here are 5 of my favorites from the last few months:

  •  S-Town: If you’re an avid listener of This American Life, you’ve probably heard talk of this podcast. It’s from Ira Glass (the lord of radio) and Serial’s Sarah Koenig. It definitely has that same addictive quality that Serial had, but it’s a lot more character-based. It follows the life of Alabama-native, John, who calls in reporter Brian Reed to help him uncover the truth behind a local murder that he believes has been covered up by authorities. Brian investigates the murder, but stays for the quirky and deeply-layered character he finds in John. I kept coming back for the rich world of the story and the amazing way the narrator connects history, family, and the man we get to intimately know.
      • Recommend if you like: Love & Radio
      • Great Episode: Start from the beginning!

     

  • Unstyled: This podcast, by one of the founders of fashion site Refinery 29, has become my creative fodder. Each week Christine Barbarich interviews a different woman about her work, whether it be fashion or television or psychology, and they chat about personal style, love, and culture. Whenever I need to get inspired I put on old episodes of Unstyled and listen to insanely creative women talked pretty candidly about creative work and how they’ve prioritized having an interesting life. I feel so energized by this podcast and I always want to write or make after listening to it. Really looking forward to season 2.
      • Recommend if you like: Women of the Hour
      • Great episode: Leandra Medine on building a new-world empire

     

  • Homecoming: This fiction podcast is mysterious and poignant without being heavy handed. It follows the story of a social worker who gets caught up in a secret military project and her relationship with a soldier recovering from PTSD. The episodes are short and I flew through the whole season in a few days. I don’t want to give too much away, but it deals with memory and American militarism in unexpected and jarring ways. Plus, it features actors like David Schwimmer and Oscar Isaac so it’s fun to recognize a few voices.
      • Recommend if you like: Limetown
      • Great episode: Another one to start from the beginning!

     

  • Science Vs: So this is not the typical podcast that I would download. In fact, a friend of mine subscribed to it on my phone and I started listening to it out of desperation before my apartment had wifi back in November. But then I totally fell in love with it. Host, Wendy Zukerman, has a vivacious investigative voice (and great Australian accent) and they break down big issues like immigration, abortion, and organic foods to reveal what that data really says or if we have enough data to even draw conclusions about these issues. As a self-identified non-science person, I really enjoy listening since it’s not too technical but I can still get information on some of the big issues I care about.
      • Recommend if you like: Radio Lab
      • Great episode: The G-spot

     

  • Call Your Girlfriend: This is my favorite podcast to put on for long drives because the time just flies by. The two hosts, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friendman, are two long-distance real life besties and feel like the long-lost, better at keeping up with the news, lady friends I never had. They chat about their lives, books, Ivanka Trump’s Dad, and do a roundup of this week’s news that I actually care about. I find myself laughing along with their jokes like I’m in the studio with them, even though I’m really just sitting alone in my car eating half a stale bagel.
    • Recommend if you like: Talking to people on speaker phone while you drive.
    • Great episode: Bey-eus Ex Machina

 

If you’re new to podcasts and want to get into the classics, I definitely recommend This American Life and Radio Lab. They’re the tried and true podcasts I’ve subscribed to for years. Incredibly well-done stories, a good variety of topics, and they put out new episodes on a regular basis. Go check them out! And support public radio, y’all!

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