This week, I did a deep dive into podcasts across the nation. The takeaway: they aren’t all coming out of Boston, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco. There are some powerful storytellers out there, but part of the challenge is finding the independent, quirky, and kooky voices out there in the radio world. So, we at Paste are constantly on the prowl for the off-the-grid, the good, the heinously unique. Don’t see your state on this list? Tell us about the best pods in your state! DM me at @muira_mccammon or send complaints, concerns, or other quagmires to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m going to go ahead and cheat and say that S-Town, from the makers of Serial and This American Life, is my favorite podcast from this state. Yes, host and radio-loving wanderer, Brian Reed, hails from New York, but the story he pursues about the life and times of a clockmaker unwinds slowly in Woodstock, Alabama.
Did you, like me, grow up obsessing about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race? Then, maybe you’ll understand my excitement in unearthing Iditapod, an audio initiative by Alaska Public Media to cover the trials and tribulations mushers face.
Keep Tucson Spooky
is for all you horror and sci-fi fans, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll churn out next.
Anna Sale’s Death, Sex, and Money is undoubtedly one of the coolest pods out there. She’s asking the questions that no one wants to about the totally taboo.
Not all of our favorites can be lighthearted. Hawaii Public Radio’s mini-series on the methamphetamine boom is dark and deep. Check it out here.
The Disney, Indiana Podcast
cracked me up to no end.
America needs more podcasts like Lit City. It’s super exciting to see that Iowa Public Radio is highlighting the year’s best nonfiction and fiction out there through an interview-based show.
Though it’s no longer being actively produced, I binged through all the episodes of A Kansas Memory on iTunes, because I have to admit, Kansans have a lot to say about Kansas.
You. Yes, you, if you’re reading this, waltz over to Radiotopia and tell me about your favorite show. Their hosts are all over the map, but a lot of the radio ideajamming goes down in Boston.
The 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop out of New Hampshire Public Radio knows what writers want: advice, direction, and all sorts of distractions. Short, sweet, and totally to the point, it offers a hodgepodge of insight from people, who adore the pen and page.
Though it’s by the beloved WNYC, The Christie Tracker is all about the seamy underbelly of the political power structures underlying the state.
I would never ever try to tell you which of WNYC’s shows are the best. That’s beyond me. But, I will suggest you go dig in their archives and have a listen to this lovely little excerpt of Small Things Considered, a show for children ages 6-12 that ran from 1984-88.
Well Said out of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill isn’t just a window into the academic sphere. It’s a comprehensive dive into the entire educational ecosystem with stellar interviews with experts, students, and everyone in between.
The OAM Network’s Bike Nerds is my all-time favorite for the state of Tennessee, even though one of the show’s hosts, Kyle Wagenschutz, lives out in Colorado now!
15 Minute History
from the University of Texas at Austin is full of all sorts of unexpected gems. Episode 92, “Disability History in the United States” is an especially good listen.
Do you have a fave podcast in Utah? Because, if I have learned anything this week, it is that I do not. Please hit me up if there’s an off-the-grid pod I should know about in these parts.
I do not know if there is a cooler podcast for children in the nation than But Why. I dare you to find it.
Sometimes law schools have the best podcasts. UVA does a stellar job at getting judges, lawyers, and law professors to dissect some of the nation’s biggest legal questions. Tune in for the UVA Law School News.
I’m really into Dear, an experimental podcast launched this year by Washingtonian Brie Ripley and Texan Davis Land. In each episode, one of the two sends a radio letter to the other. Each episode feels like a secret, a special capsule of emotional vulnerability and dare I say, occasional angst, and it’s wholly addictive.
I can find West Virginia on a map, I promise you, but there’s no way I could tell you what goes on there. And that’s why I was psyched to discover The Legislature Today Podcast produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. It features short interviews with all the political movers and shakers on all imaginable things and provides a solid window into a local political scene rarely featured at the national level. For those of you more into storytelling, I’d be remiss to not give some love to Us and Them, a podcast run with the support of West Virginia Public Broadcasting; the pod tries to determine the political fault lines in Trump’s America. My fave episodes include “Reasserting Femme Voice” and “Strangers with Cameras in Appalachia.”
I have to endorse Bubbler Talk. I have to ask you to listen to it. This is a show all about Milwaukee, and it’s absolutely perfect for people who want to know how the city ticks and tocks. You can even submit a question you have about Milwaukee to the show’s hosts. How. Cool. Is. That.
from Wyoming Public Media is entirely about humans and their habitat. It seems like a big thematic feat to take on but somehow that’s exactly what this show does in quirky and quixotic ways.
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.