Podcasts of the Week Ending April 24


Afropop Worldwide :: Punk in Africa

Punk is not a genre typically associated with Africa but the music of rage both personal and political has found its niche in countries dealing with imperialism, apartheid, poverty, and political corruption.

Fresh Air ::  The Social Psychologist Who Works To Reduce Harm In Policing

Regulating police behavior rather than focusing on the attitudes of individual police officers is the approach advocated by one researcher.

Radio Boston :: Former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson Reunites With Birth Mother

A heart-warming story of Tito Jackson, one of my favorite Bostonians, meeting his birth mother for the first time.

What Next :: Fear and Paranoia in American Policing

Police officers are trained to be terrified by everything around them leading to their inscrutable violent actions.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcast of the Week Ending March 13


Afropop Worldwide :: The Black History of the Banjo

Many people associate the banjo with white music from the rural Southern United States, but the instrument has its origins in Africa and is heard hear in a variety music styles of African and the African diaspora.

Futility Closet :: Eugene Bullard

The fascinating life of Eugene Bullard, a Black American who became an expatriate in France where he was a prizefighter, combat pilot in WWI, a nightclub owner who jammed with the great jazz artists of the day, and a spy in WWII. Someone make a biopic about this man, quick!

99% Invisible :: Artistic License

” I guess those are the two extremes in thought. It would seem to me that somewhere in between ‘Live free or die’ and ‘Famous potatoes’ the truth lies probably it’s a little closer to famous potatoes.” – George Carlin.

An episode about license plate design that touches on its promotional uses and issues of free speech.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 18


Afropop Worldwide :: Africa and the Blues

In this podcast, we learn about how African music is more than just “the roots” and the ties between Africa and American blues traditions.

Brattle Film Podcast :: Boston on Film, Part 1

Boston is the setting for many movies, and the crime movie – also known as the Three Decker Movie or Boston No-r – is one of the most common genres.  Here’s a discussion of some of the best.

Decoder Ring :: The Karen

The history of how an archetype of the entitled, middle-class white women became known as The Karen.

The Last Archive :: Tomorrowland

The final episode of the series on “Who Killed Truth” travels from time capsules to Disneyland to Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room to find answers.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Hamilton Remix

A breakdown of the remarkable sound design that goes into the stage production of Hamilton: An American Musical.

What Next :: The First Federal Execution in 17 Years

The United States takes another step into a neo-fascist state by resuming capital punishment at the federal level.

   :: Sweden Screwed Up

While we may be focused on how the United States totally bungled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can learn from Sweden of a complete different way to mess things up.

 

 


Podcasts of the Week Ending July 11


Last week I had no podcasts to share.  This week I have a bumper crop!

Afropop Worldwide :: Remembering Tony Allen

Pioneering Nigerian drummer Tony Allen died this spring, shortly after releasing his final album Rejoice, with Hugh Masekela. Afropop Worldwide revisits Allen’s storied career.

BackStory :: The End of the Road: BackStory and the History of Finales in America

My favorite history podcast BackStory comes to an end with an episode about finales in American history, from President George Washington to Mary Tyler Moore.

Hidden Brain :: The Night That Lasted A Lifetime: How Psychology Was Misused In Teen’s Murder Case

The story of a Black Boston teenager, Fred Clay, who spent 38 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted based on evidence the police extracted using hypnosis.

The Last Archive :: For the Birds

Rachel Carson, the extinction of bird species, and climate change.

99% Invisible :: Freedom House Ambulance Service

The modern practice of paramedics serving communities with an emergency medical service began in the Black community in Pittsburgh just over 50 years ago.

60-Second Science :: Animals Appreciate Recent Traffic Lull

One side benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is the reduced use of automobiles.  Some cities (not Boston, of course) have even taken advantage of creating space for people to walk and bike by closing roads to cars.  But even in rural areas, animals are thriving because of fewer collisions with motor vehicles.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: Take Me Who Out to the Ballgame?

If you’re American, you’ve inevitably sung along with the chorus “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” baseball’s unofficial anthem.  But if you’ve never heard the chorus, you may not know that the song is about a woman who wants to watch baseball at a time when that was considered a men’s only activity.  The podcast explores the history of how the song went “viral” and features music by Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust.

Throughline :: The Long Hot Summer

Civil disturbances in Black communities in America in 1967 lead President Johnson to call the Kerner Commission. The commission’s report revealed evidence of police violence that was criticized and ignored at the time, but still reads as a diagnoses of our present-day crises.


Podcasts of the Week Ending March 7


Afropop Worldwide :: Remembering Johnny Clegg

A tribute to Johnny Clegg, who died last year, reviewing his genre-defying career of blending Zulu music and dance with pop in apartheid South Africa.

Futility Closet :: If Day

The true story of an effort to sell Canadian war bonds by staging a Nazi invasion of Winnipeg.  (This was dramatized in the weird and wonderful Guy Maddin film My Winnipeg).

Hub History :: Remembering the Boston Massacre

250th years ago this week, British soldiers fired into a rowdy crowd in Boston, killing 5.  Nat Sheidly reflects on the deeply personal tragedy for the people involved and how the incident has been reinterpreted in popular memory.

This American Life :: Everyone’s a Critic

Stories about white tourists observing Black church services, a Chinese journalist investigating coronavirus, and a woman who love the movie musical Cats.

Throughline :: Public Universal Friend

A glimpse into transgender identity in American history through the story of a Revolutionary War Era leader of a Quaker sect known as the Public Universal Friend.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Satanic Panic

The history of backmasking in popular music and the moral panic that ensued.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 2


Afropop Worldwide :: globalFEST 2019 at the Copacabana

Every year I hear the great music from globalFEST and think I’ll need to go to New York for the festival next year, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Memory Palace/Radio Diaries :: When Nazis Took Manhattan

The story of the year Hank Greenberg hit 58 homeruns, the strongman The Mighty Atom performed to captivated audiences, and 20,000 Nazis rallied at Madison Square Garden.

99% Invisible :: Beneath the Ballpark

Chavez Ravine was a tight-knit Mexican-American community, one of the few places in Los Angeles where Hispanic people could own homes.  It was destroyed in the name of progress, but instead became home to Dodger Stadium.  The scars still remain.

Throughline :: The Forgotten War

A short history of the division of the Korean peninsula, the continuing war between the two Koreas, and the role of the United States in all of this.

Decoder Ring :: Baby Shark

Everything you need to know, and then some, about this year’s viral sensation, “Baby Shark” (doo, doo, doo, doo, doo).

Radio Boston :: W.E.B. Du Bois Turned Data Into Art, And Used It To Humanize The Black Experience

Data visualization seems to be a current trend, but W.E.B. Du Bois used it to illustrate the African-American experience in the United States at a showcase at the Paris World Fair in 1900.

The Truth :: The Other Fran

Going to a school reunion can feel like “reminiscing with strangers,” and this fictional drama takes that to the next level.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week Ending August 18


This is a particularly fruitful week for podcasts with a bumper crop of excellent episodes!

Afropop Worldwide :: Skippy White: A Vinyl Life

Checking in with a legendary soul & R&B record shop owner and entrepreneur, Skippy White.  His shop is located in Boston’s Egleston Square, not far from where I live, but this is the first I’ve heard of him!

Code Switch :: Behind the Lies My Teacher Told Me

An interview with James Loewen, author of the seminal critique of American history education, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

Hub History :: Folk Magic and Mysteries at the Fairbanks House

Daniel Neff, curator of the Fairbanks House museum in Dedham, talks about the house build by Puritan colonists that contains hidden charms and hex marks meant to ward off evil.

99% Invisible :: It’s Chinatown

The stories behind the origins of the distinctive architectural styles of American Chinatowns and the fortune cookie, neither of which actually originated in China.

Snap Judgment :: Talk of the Town

A local salesman, a fixture of his Oakland neighborhood, goes missing and is believed dead leading to an outpouring of remembrance in the community.  But one journalist digs deeper to find out what actually happened to the mystery man.

Tiny Desk Concerts :: Yo-Yo Ma

The famed cellist performs pieces of Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach, and talks about learning to play the instrument.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Loop Groups

The work of the hidden actors who perform the background sounds of crowd scenes in movies.

 

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 17


HUB History ::  The Curious Case of Phineas Gage

The fascinating story of the most famous brain injury.

Planet Money :: Rigging the Economy

Liberal-tarians agree!  The economy is rigged.

Planet Money ::  XXX-XX-XXX

The history of the Social Security number.

Afropop Worldwide :: Roots and Future: A History of UK Dance

Caribbean music traditions and US dance beats come together in the only place they can: the United Kingdom.  A history of jungle, garage, drum & bass, and grime.  This made very nostalgic for the dance tracks of yore.

Have You Heard? :: Strong: Lessons from the West Virginia Teachers Strike

Reporting from the West Virginia teachers strike, featuring interviews with many, many teachers.

Invisibilia :: The Other Real World

Using a reality talent show to counter Islamist extremism in Somalia.

BackStory :: Wherever Green is Worn: The Irish in America

Archbishop “Dagger” John Hughes, the Molly Maguires, and other Irish Americans of lore.

Re:sound :: Analog

When I was a kid I recorded myself as the DJ of a “tape radio” station called WLTS, so I feel a kinship with Mark Talbot. Also a repeat of the Ways of Seeing story I highlighted last summer.

 

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 17


A bumper crop of erudition for your ears this week.

The Memory Palace :: Hercules

With Washington’s Birthday coming up, a reminder that our first President held people in bondage because he enjoyed what their labor provided without having to pay for them.  The story of Hercules, a talented chef, who successfully escaped slavery.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: Killer Viruses and One Man’s Mission to Stop Them

The story of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and the efforts of Dr. Maurice Hilleman to create vaccines to prevent later outbreaks.

The Nation Start Making Sense :: Elizabeth Warren on Monopoly Power

Elizabeth Warren wants to make fighting monopolies part of the Democrats agenda again. Also, the truth behind Warren Buffett, and white working class Trump voter.

The Truth :: Nuclear Winter

 A spooky story set in an outdated nuclear missile silo.  Don’t worry, it’s fictional!

Afropop Worldwide :: Africa and the Blues

A fascinating look into musicologist Gerhard Kubik’s research into the traits of blues music that connect with the music of different regions of Africa.  Read more here: http://afropop.org/articles/africa-and-the-blues-an-interview-with-gerhard-kubik

StoryCorps :: In the Neighborhood

The story of the multi-talented François Clemmons, most famous for playing Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, his friendship with Fred Rogers, and their quietly bold statement for civil rights and equality.

 

 

Podcasts of the Week Ending December 2


The Story Collider :: The Bats and the Bees

A reluctant field researcher finds purpose in showing drunk 17-year-olds how to tag bats with microchips, and a bee researcher who is allergic to bees.  Science!

Radiolab :: Stereothreat

Research into the effects of negative stereotypes and the difficulty of replicating that research.

Hit Parade :: The Queen of Disco Edition

Things I learned about Boston’s own Donna Summer: 1. she got her start in the Munich production of Hair where she became fluent in German, 2. she wrote or co-wrote most of her songs, 3. she and her producers basically invented electronic dance music, and 4. she continued to have club hits into the 2010s.

Afropop Worldwide :: A Brief History of Funk

A brief but beautiful story of funk with many funky classics and interviews with Bobby Byrd and George Clinton.

Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate

A new podcast that tells the story of the Watergate scandal with an as-it’s-happening approach focusing on long-forgotten key players in the scandal.

30 for 30 Podcasts :: The Lights of Wrigleyville

The story of the contentious battle between theChicago Cubs and their residential neighbors to install lights in Wrigley Field in the 1980s.

More Perfect :: Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man

The story of a legal case that underlies our current crises in policing in America, and the legal fiction of the “Reasonable Man.”