I need to give these other randos their time to shine!
- Another Round: this is an interview/conversational podcast that I will only listen to if I can concentrate fully on it, because it’s just SO enjoyable. What I love is that I only know the guests about 20% of the time, which makes it that much more obvious that the interviewers, Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, are really top notch. They have such vibrant personalities, and they come up with the most random but often amazing interview questions. They have interviews primarily with influential black people, usually writers, activists, artists or media figures. Of course, when I try to explain the podcast I always add “they have also interviewed HILLARY CLINTON!” Even better than their interviews though, are the other podcast segments. Totally random but amazing things like What Had Happened Was (where they recap a childhood experience), Tracy’s Joke Time (literally telling a longform joke) and Y’alls Parents Were Nasty (where they play obscure oldies that have dirty lyrics). The most surprising thing is that Buzzfeed produces this! Buzzfeed actually produces several podcasts which I NEVER see advertised on their app. Poor marketing, but this is a hidden gem. (in a small whisper: I find this superior the much more popular Call Your Girlfriend, but one shouldn’t compare)
Suggested Episode: #79 Pour One Out For Elmo (with Joy Reid)
- The Daily: Whenever I talk to someone else who enjoys listening to podcasts, this seems to be the only podcast that everyone is listening to. I think it is currently the top downloaded on iTunes. NPR has a similar concept with Up First, and the only reason I listen to this one and not the other is because The Daily came out first. The first episode was released on 2/1/2017, and it discussed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. I think this podcast integrates well with NYT reporting, as they are able to bring on their subject experts to discuss with the host, Michael Barbaro. Michael was once on a late night talk show and I watched the interview and was immediately crushed to find out he was NOTHING like what I envisioned in my mind. Honestly, I have never once seen a picture of a podcast host and thought “yes, that’s what I had in my head!” I am always taken aback. It seems like the original concept of the show was to occasionally do deep dives into things that weren’t front page news, but with the Trump administration, that can’t be the case. There have been a handful of episodes on slower news days that dealt with one-off topics like assisted suicide and incarceration of mentally ill murderers – real sunny stuff. Anyway, the show is excellent, and I actually keep an Excel workbook that tracks the subject of each episode so one day, years from now, I can go “OMG I forgot this happened!” There’s one thing I can’t stand though – they love to add in sound effects like a clock ticking or leave in the sounds of setting up the interview, like Michael dialing a contact, the ring ring as he waits for someone to pick up … I’m like JESUS REALLY? DO WE NEED THIS?
Suggested Episode: 9/19/17 where they talk to the reporter who broke this story and discuss the Mueller investigation
- Still Processing: This is a NYT podcast that doesn’t feel like it’s put out by a news organization at all. I think the premise of the podcast is that they talk about culture and technology, but there’s a heavy lean toward culture. I started listening to this as a recommendation from LaineyGossip, regarding an episode they did on Whitney Houston. After listening, I couldn’t stop playing When You Believe for weeks, which drove Robyn batty. By the end of each episode, I find that they often shape my perspective in a more meaningful way – my views generally align with theirs but they just speak much more thoughtfully about it. It’s also refreshing that they don’t have guests on the show. The hosts, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, live in NYC and the way they talk about the city actually makes me feel like I’m living there with them sometimes! An example of why I love this podcast: on the week of the Bodega uproar when everyone was falling over themselves trying to save their local bodega, Jenna Wortham was the only one who was willing to say “you know what, no one ACTUALLY LOVES their bodega.”
Suggested Episode: We Grieve Charlottesville
- Ear Hustle: This is a podcast created in part by Earlonne Woods, a prisoner at San Quentin, and it gives you an inside look at life in a men’s prison. Each episode takes on a different aspect of life, like roommates (cellies), keeping in touch with people outside of prison, or dealing with life sentences. It is very humanizing, thoughtfully produced, and can occasionally make you laugh or cry. The episodes are relatively short, so they’re easily consumable.
Suggested Episode: Unwritten
- Nancy: I wish there were more Asian or LGBT podcasts out there for me to listen to, but instead it seems like I’ve fallen into a black podcast feedback loop. I sifted through WNYC’s podcasts and came upon this gem – it’s an LGBT podcast hosted by two Asians! So a perfect center piece in my venn diagram of podcast wants. The hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu, are about my age, so the topics and their experiences are more easily relatable to me. I fell in love from the first episode, because they speak to the mother of one of the hosts, and it felt like I was listening to my mom talking.
Suggested Episode: #1 Hello, Hello
- The Bowery Boys: Ok this one is not an easy one to convince people to listen to. Every episode goes through a history lesson on New York, topics like Central Park, the Subway, Times Square. Sometimes topics like The Crash of ’29, NY and the Golden Age of Television, or The Lower East Side: A Culinary History. In the beginning, episodes were only 20-30 minutes long, and now they’re at an hour mark, which I find a little too daunting for newcomers. I generally hate learning history, but I’m fascinated when they link events to the way things are now. For instance, DID YOU KNOW the NYC grid has wider avenues closer to the water, because this was where most commerce occurred back in the 1800s, since at the time, the main mode of transit was ships. Or DID YOU KNOW that the builders of the first NY apartment building purposely and carefully selected their tenants to be interesting and stable, so the idea of living in an apartment would be an appealing idea for the wealthy. The most impressive thing is that it seems the two hosts, Tom Meyers and Greg Young, research separately and come together, and somehow they never overlap or talk over each other when they record. It’s like a well-orchestrated dance of facts!
Suggested Episode: #135: The High Line
- Show Your Work: I am a HUGE fan of celebrity gossip, and in my college and audit years, I would legitimately spend two-three hours a night going through celebrity gossip sites. ONTD, in particular, is a huge time suck. Finally I realized, maybe this isn’t the most productive use of my life … and now I only look at Vulture and LaineyGossip.com. Lainey, or Elaine Lui, is a gossip writer and has been writing since 2004. The reason her site is far superior to anything else is because she’s selective about what she writes about, and she considers the social/cultural significance, pulling back the superficial layers of what’s presented in mainstream media. She will share an insider’s view of Hollywood, and I’ve definitely learned a lot that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. For this podcast, she and her co-host Duana approach gossip from the perspective of work: what’s the hidden strategy/effort behind a bit of news? What’s the potential impact on a celebrity’s career? How are people shaping their image through their actions and words? And always, how does all of that reflect us as a society? It’s really intriguing, activates that gossipy part of your brain while remaining intellectual.
Suggested Episode: Paparazzi and Morning TV
- Katie Couric: This is a weekly interview-style podcast, with a pretty diverse range of guests. I’m sure anyone who watched the Today show knew this decades before I did, but she has a warm, thoughtful interviewing style, and her cohost, Brian Goldsmith, is a great supplement by being very policy-driven. They also have the most effective use of podcast advertising because they always semi-ad lib it and make it fun to listen to. And because of the Katie Couric name, they get pretty big name people onto the show. I was also stunned to find out Katie Couric is SIXTY YEARS OLD.
Suggested Episode: David Fahrenthold: Investigating Trump