Recently, I listened up the popular podcast S-Town and ended up listening to all seven episodes in about 24 hours. This podcast is wonderfully produced and one of the latest projects from the teams behind This American Life and Serial. I was initially hesitant to listen to this show because I wasn’t sure how the show would go. It has been lauded as a true crime podcast and the description of it alludes to it being similar in nature to other popular podcasts like Serial and Missing Richard Simmons. And while the description doesn’t adequately describe the final product of the show, it was an interesting (and sometimes rough) listen.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about using real life pain, tragedy, and abuse as entertainment. A part of this comes from listening to the podcast Missing Richard Simmons, in which one journalist looks into the enthusiastic fitness instructor’s rather sudden retreat from public life a few years ago and the turmoil that the show caused. Listening to that show felt weird at so many moments and Amanda Hess over at the New York Times nailed exactly why it felt so invasive.
There are so many other examples similar to Missing Richard Simmons that are based on that same sort of premise: using and telling someone else’s story in a very public way. Many (but not all) of these productions are about events that are traumatic and violent, making them moments that I’m sure not many would want to constantly relive on a public stage.
Today is International Podcast Day and it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the medium. I’ve written about many of the podcasts that I’ve been listening to over the years on this blog: The Message, Last Name Basis, We Want The Airwaves, Limetown are all some of my favorites. Over the past few months, I’ve come across a few more that I love so I thought that I’d share them here!
If you are anything like me and enjoyed listening to The Message, then you’ll probably also really like the podcast Limetown. It’s fictional podcast following the investigation of what happened to a place called Limetown in 2004 and seems to be a mix of Serial, NPR, and the Twilight Zone. Although if you want to listen to it spoiler free (which I would), I recommend not reading this any further.
So several months ago I wrote about some of my favorite podcasts and since then, that list has grown! This list right now is about the podcasts I know I love already(*) but the ones I’m excited to start listening to(**).
Last Name Basis* – husband and wife duo Patrick and Franchesa talk about what’s happening in the world as well as married life and their dogs.
Lore Podcast* – this is a biweekly podcast about true life scary stories and each episode looks into the truth behind a uniquely scary story. I have honestly gasped audibly and made faces at the information I learn and some of the stories. Based on this podcast, I guess it’s true what they say – sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
I love podcasts, partly because being an introvert with anxiety and depression means getting out of the house and interacting with others for extended periods of time can be really overwhelming. But also because there are so many podcasts that cover so many topics and interests that I usually end up learning a lot by listening. So for this Media Monday, here are some of my favorites.
- Welcome to Night Vale: This is an twice a month podcast with community updates from the fictional (and strange) desert town of Night Vale. It’s told through a radio show, narrated by the character Cecil Palmer. There are announcements from the Sheriff’s secret police, mysterious hooded figures, angels, science, cultural events, sports, anything you might imagine for a community radio show (just a little weird).
- I started listening to Welcome to Night Vale around a year and a half ago and was immediately hooked. It’s weird, spooky, Twilight Zone like, and is well written.
- EDIT (Feb. 18th): Started reading some critiques of one of the WTNV character’s story arc (the Apache Tracker really) and realized how problematic and racist the entire thing was. And a big problem seems (to me) to be the fact that the creators (one in particular) are both white men and completely unwilling to have a discussion about what was wrong about that story line and character. There have been a few people to try to talk to them but the creators seem to continuously shut down the conversation, even though they seem to be adamant about being anti-racist. I’m exceptionally disappointed in the creators for this.
- Currently planning on writing up another post with more information (particularly some of the points of how the Apache Tracker story is problematic/racist) in the next couple days. Just want to make sure I get everything right…. And will probably email the creators with that as well.
- Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class: Both of these podcasts come from the website How Stuff Works and are incredibly informative and educational. They cover a wide range of topics, usually covering one topic in a single episode, with the occasional two part topic. I’ve been listening to both of these podcasts off and on for a few years, usually just listening to the topics I find interesting. (I just listening to the SYSK one on Charles Darwin and really liked it!)
- Women of Marvel: I just recently found this one and started listening to it but so far, I really love it. A lot of the episodes (that I’ve listened to) have been discussing what working at Marvel is like, discussing different female characters in the Marvel universe, and there was an entire episode about San Diego Comic Con and cosplay (which I loved listening to!). I’m just starting to really get into the Marvel universe by watching the recent movies (Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, etc) and television shows (Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) but listening to this podcast is really making me want to pick up some of the comic books.
- We Want the Airwaves: This podcast is hosted by Nia King and each episode is an interview of different queer and trans artists (usually people of color as well). King’s own description of the podcast is: “Nia King’s trying to figure out if her dream of making a living as an art activist is beyond reach. In this podcast, she seeks advice from other political queer artists, trans artists, and artists of color who seem to have figured out how to make art and make rent without compromising their values.”
- Gendercast: This podcast hasn’t really been updated recently but the past episodes are still really good. It’s hosted by Sean and Jesse and “is a podcast exploration of gender and what is means to live in, challenge and exist beyond the binary. It is a conversation between all those who identify along the transmasculine spectrum and our allies and supporters. It is a commentary on our culture and a reflection on where we have come from and where we are headed.”