We’re new! We love podcasts—from the wonkish to the witty, from the quirky to the cool. We’re here with a mission: to give you a weekly rundown of podcasts that ponder questions big and small, that get us to look at the world a wee bit differently. We want to shine a light on emerging podcasters, marginalized voices, and episodes that might’ve gotten lost in the archives. And best of all, we need your help!
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Six Podcasts from Beyond the Bubble of Modern Americana
This week’s podcasts feature a hodgepodge of British, Canadian, and Indigenous voices.
The Real Jon Ronson
Our digital doppelgängers can drive us mad and lead us down unexpected, zigzaggy roads. Perhaps you’re sick of thinking about @realDonaldTrump. Maybe you’d like to explore another man’s Twitter problems. Jon Ronson’s tale starts with an inadvertent Google search and ends in absolute, glorious victory. Does the phrase “infomorphic aesthetic” give you a headache? Have you ever been hassled by a spambot online? Ever gone to battle with a robot version of yourself? Ever struggled with small talk at parties? Ever wondered what it might mean to kill an algorithm? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you owe it to yourself to listen to this witty Welsh journalist take a trio of trolling academics to town.
Sentence of note: “I was giddy with joy. I was like Braveheart wandering through a field at first alone and then I realized that hundreds are marching behind me.”
Episode 839: Jeremy Irons
Comedian Chris Hardwick talks to Jeremy Irons about castles and boats and water and horses; it’s all wildly therapeutic. This episode is chock-full of post-election meditations on work, life, play, and the power of walking. How do we find the stories within us? What does it mean to have a wonderful voice? Is there really such a thing? Tune in to learn how John Hurt practiced “brutal next level psychological warfare” on up-and-coming actors. Get a step by step rundown on how Irons rolls his cigarettes. This interview, like many things Irons does, has a certain lullaby-like quality and might just be the equivalent of a verbal nightcap.
Sentence of note: “Would you just allow that dog to make its little noises without you joining in?”
Prime Minister’s Questions
20 July 2016
Want to dive into an alternate, pre-inaugural reality and go to a land that to date, has elected two female prime ministers? Sick of the current state of American political discourse? Hop across the pond. Listen to how Prime Minister Theresa May handled her very first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons and took on the thorny topics of Brexit, income tax, “unscrupulous bosses,” and what it means to be British. This podcast is a window into the art of oral presentation; it’s a series of polysyllabic sprees for the witty and wonkish, and this episode in particular is a good crash course for anyone trying to get a handle on where the United Kingdom might be heading in 2017.
Sentence of note: “I can absolutely confirm that yes the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but the United Kingdom is not leaving Europe.”
Episode 1: At a Loss for Words
A Canadian production, Love Me is downright loveable; if you’re already devoted to The Heart, this podcast might pique your interest as well. In this episode, Mac McClelland, author of Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story, recounts falling for someone, who did not know her mother tongue. She tackles a question that would send many of us running for the hills, screaming, shouting, and bemoaning language barriers: how do you Google Translate your way through love? There’s something inarticulateably enchanting about this narrative. Maybe it’s the robotic voice that plays the part of Google Translate. Maybe it’s the scoring music by Murray Lightburn. Maybe it’s the melodic and reflective voice of McClelland. Whatever the case, this episode’s bound to make you laugh.
Sentence of note: “We would go out to dinner, and on the table, we had our water glasses. We had our wine glasses. We had our entrées, and we had our dictionaries.”
(If you’re so inspired, Love Me’s on the prowl for relationship stories from first-time storytellers and freelance producers. Hit them up here. Fiction? First-person narratives? Almost any format is a go!)
The Allusionist: Small Adventures in Language with Helen Zaltzman
Episode 21: Eponyms I: The Ballad of Bic and Biro
How worried should we be about people who name things after themselves? It’s a timely question—one that Helen Zaltzman and Roman Mars tackled many moons ago in The Allusionist. This episode is about eponyms: the good, the bad, the ugly. The dynamic duo from Radiotopia give us the tale of two ballpoint pens, the Bic and the Biro. Who was László Bíró? Are entrepreneurs trying to make “super-pens” doomed to be egomaniacs? Are pens detrimental to handwriting? If your eponymous product is successful, will your entire identity be subsumed? What are you really throwing away, when you pitch a dried out Bic in your trash? Are eponyms forever or fleeting? Only you, dear podcast listener, can know the answers to these questions.
Sentence of note: “So I have a feeling I could live with a horrible disease being named after me.”
otipêyimsiw-iskwêwak kihci-kîsikohk/Métis in Space
Season 3: Episode 6
It is 2017, a good as ever a time to go digging into the archives of otipêyimsiw-iskwêwak kihci-kîsikohk (a.k.a. Métis in Space). Why? Because it’s unapologetically Indigenous, unabashedly female and unblinkingly nerdy. In this episode, Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel probe a relic of 2002, Lilo & Stitch, and reflect on how indigeneity is lost and forgotten in films. If you miss Stitch, or just want to spend an hour thinking about asteroids, abomination, and aliens, this is pure gold.
Sentence of note: “Whenever you don’t have an answer for anything, you just blurt out ‘alien technology’!”
Raised on a strict diet of NPR and C-SPAN, Muira McCammon is a war crimes researcher by day and a podcast reviewer for Paste Magazine by night. She can be found on Twitter @muira_mccammon or walking about the woods of western Massachusetts. Her writing has previously appeared in Slate, Waypoint by VICE, Atlas Obscura, the Massachusetts Review, and other publications.