Podcasts of the Week Ending July 23rd


Decoder RingTootsie Shot

How the shot of a movie protagonist walking on crowded New York City sidewalk became iconic, and how its meaning has changed over time.

Radio BostonAdvocates Want To Make The T Free. So How Would That Actually Work?

Free public transportation is one of the greatest measures a city can take for its health, affordability, and reducing harm to the environment.

This Day in Esoteric Political HistoryThe Lost Robert E. Lee Oath Theory

The American historical memory is short and twisted.  Example: on July 22, 1975 the United States Congress voted to restore citizenship to a long dead of a traitorous insurrection.

Throughline Olympics: Behind The Five Rings

A short history of how the International Olympics Committee and corporate sponsors have exploited athletes and host cities for profits.

The TruthZoe Butterfly

An audio drama about an 8-year-old who connects more with a nature documentary narrator than any people in her life.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 2


 

Decoder Ring :: The Invention of Hydration

How bottled water became a mainstream commodity and the questionable claims of the wellness industry that undergird our collective thirst for hydration.

Decoder Ring :: That Seattle Muzak Sound

The history of Muzak, first created to provide background music to encourage productivity, how it diverged from popular music in the 1960s, and its strange intersection with the 1990s grunge scene. When I was a DJ at my college radio station, I used to play selections from Grunge Lite in the background when I talked.

Radiolab :: The Vanishing of Harry Pace

This 4-part series (with perhaps more episodes to come?) is the story of Harry Pace who founded Black Swan Records, a successful and influential Black-owned enterprise, a century.  He also worked to desegregate Chicago neighborhoods. And yet his grandchildren grew up knowing little about him and believing they were white!

This Day in Esoteric Political History :: Mandela in Boston (1990)

Nelson Mandela visited Boston in 1990 as part of a thank you tour for anti-apartheid activists in the area as well as because he had family in Boston. The podcast also touches on how Mandela became a figurehead for the American Civil Rights movement at a team when there weren’t clear leaders within the country.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending November 28


AirSpace :: Station to Station

Everyday life for astronauts on the International Space Station.

Decoder Ring :: The Cabbage Patch Kid Riots

The weird phenomenon of the early 80s when ugly dolls became all the rage, explained.

Hub History :: Lost Wonderland

The Wonderland amusement park in Revere, MA had a short history but a long legacy.

The Story Collider  :: Adaptation, Part 1

The story of how a person living with OCD faced the challenges of the COVID world.

This Day in Esoteric Public History :: Franksgiving!

The political history of Thanksgiving, focusing on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s controversial declaration of the date of celebration, and reasons why we need to divorce the holiday from the myth of Pilgrims and Indians.

 

RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Podcasts of the Two Weeks Ending August 15


I subscribe to too many podcasts while simultaneously having less time to listen to them. Forgive the interlude as I catch you up on two weeks of podcasts.

Brattle Film Podcast :: Behind the Scenes on Boston Movies

The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge had a great series on Boston Movies and all four podcasts are worth listening to, but I particularly liked this final podcast where they interview on-set dresser Adam Roffman about the behind-the-scenes production of movies in Boston and how they’ve changed over time.

Fresh Air :: Jeffrey Toobin On The ‘Tragedy’ Of The Mueller Report

How the Democrats were out-maneuvered by the Trump administration allowing him to get away with obstruction of justice.

Radiolab :: Uncounted

An episode on voting rights focuses on the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to Congress and the movement to lower the voting age to 16.

This American Life :: Nice White Parents

A public middle school in Brooklyn with a predominately non-white student body deals with an unexpected influx of white students and the effects that of white parents involvement in the school operations.  This is the first episode of Chana Joffe-Walt’s series called Nice White Parents that is both fascinating in its exploration of the changes at one school over time and cringe-inducing by the careless and clueless behavior of white parents (and the school districts who cater to their interests).  I particularly like that Joffe-Walt asks tough questions and doesn’t let people get away without answering them.

Have You Heard :: Pandemics Pods: Parents, Privilege, Power, and Politics

Speaking of Nice White Parents, you may have heard of the latest trend of “pandemic pods” where parents pool together funds to hire a teacher or tutor to educate a small group of students at home instead of returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. This podcast explains the devastating effects this latest form of “white flight” will have and how it opens the doors to the worst offerings of disaster capitalists.

99% Invisible :: Policing the Open Road

A century ago, the rise of the automobile as a predominant form of transportation led to an increase of policing to enforce road rules. The changes lead to a vast increase in ordinary peoples’ interaction with the police, increased police power and professionalization, and even the loss of Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizures.

Throughline :: Reframing History: The Litter Myth

In the 1950s, industry leaders organized to create Keep America Beautiful that produced public service announcements against littering. The seemingly benign ads had the effect of transferring responsibility for the environment from industries that made disposable single-use packaging to the personal responsibility of consumers. This conflict in how to deal with environmental issues persists to this day, and corporations still rely on “greenwashing” to make them look environmentally responsible.

Code Switch :: Kamala, Joe, And The Fissures In The Base

If you listen to pundits, and the Democrats 2020 presidential candidate, you might come to believe that Black Americans are a monolithic voting bloc.  This myth is dispelled in Code Switch where the diversity of opinions and conflicts even within Black families over politics are strong.

Decoder Ring :: Mystery of the Mullet

The mullet hairstyle, short in front and long in back, is worn by a diversity of people ranging from macho men in rural communities to lesbian women, from hockey players to heavy metal heads. But the Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the term “mullet” only to 1994, surprisingly late for a hairstyle identified with the 1980s.  Willa Paskin investigates this linguistic mystery.  Personally, I never heard the term mullet until the late 1990s and had heard them called short-longs prior to mullet gaining popularity.


RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 28


BackStory :: Fighting Jane Crow: The Multifaceted Life and Legacy of Pauli Murray

The life and legacy of an overlooked 20th-century figure in civil rights, women’s equality, and gender identity.  We all need to learn more about Pauli Murray’s efforts to fight injustice and promote equality.

Decoder Ring :: Rubber Duckie

The history of the iconic bath toy.

Throughline :: American Socialist

My mother always likes to refer to herself as being “to the left of Eugene Debs.”  This podcast breaks down the history of the prominent socialist who found success as a presidential candidate and activist over 100 years ago.

Throughline :: 1918 Flu

102 years a deadly influenza pandemic spread through the world killing millions.  The 1918 flu is brought up as the most recent parallel to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This podcast traces the history of the 1918 flu and most importantly offers striking differences between the flu and the current crisis.


Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 8


Anthropocene Reviewed :: Works of Art by Agnes Martin and Hiroyuki Doi

It’s not often that visual art can be made so poignant in an audio medium.

LeVar Burton Reads :: “Tidelne” by Elizabeth Baer

This postapocalyptic story of a bottle robot and a orphan boy made me weep.

Decoder Ring :: The Stowe-Byron Controversy

Long before Twitter, Harriet Beecher Stowe drew out the cancel culture for spreading the (most likely true) story of Lord Byron’s incestuous relationship.

99% Invisible :: Missing the Bus

Forget about autonomous cars and the hyperloop.  The best way of moving people around in big numbers is already here: the bus.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Podcasts of the Week Ending December 13


Decoder Ring :: Murphy’s Law

Back in the 80s there were an endless series of popular humor books about “Murphy’s Law.”  This podcast seeks to find the origin of the story and discovers that it’s harder to document than expected.

Code Switch :: Reverse Freedom Rides

An incident in history I’d never heard of before occurred in the 1960s when racist Southern whites organized to send Black Southerners to Northern cities.

60-Second Science :: Linguists Hear An Accent Begin

I’m fascinated by accents and this podcast explores how accents originate.

Throughline :: America’s Opioid Epidemic

Opioid addiction goes back a long way in American history, at least to the Civil War.  Wars have been key in introducing new addictive drugs into the populace.  And historically, the response to addiction has always been racialized: healthcare and compassion for white people, punishment for Black people.

Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 12


BackStory :: Darkness Over the Plain

The history of the bison in America, their demise, revival, and symbolism.

Decoder Ring :: Bart Simpson Mania

Hop in a time machine to the early 1990s when an animated character of a 6-year-old became  the center of  social and political debate.  I’d totally forgotten about the bootleg Black Bart t-shirts.

Lost at the Smithsonian :: Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

This new show hosted by Aasif Mandvi explores different objects at the Smithsonian Institution.  Many people visit the Smithsonian to see the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, but did you know that there are at least six pairs of slippers and the Smithsonian has a mismatched set?


 

Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of (Two) Weeks Ending August 17


Sound Opinions :: Why the Ramones Matter

Breaking down the importance of New York’s great punk band.

Planet Money :: Deep Learning With Elephants

Studying elephants by recording the sounds they make and then the technology needed to break down all that data.

Sound Opinions :: The Legend of Robert Johnson

Separating the reality from the myth of the great Delta Blues guitarist. One thing that struck me is that Johnson was born after my grandparents, people I knew, making the Johnson shrouded in myth seem closer to me than I’d ever though before.

Decoder Ring :: Ice-Cream Truck

The history of ice-cream trucks in New York City, and more startling, the mob-like operation of different trucks and different companies staking out territory in the city.

Fresh Air :: Sister Helen Prejean

An interview that discusses the life of the great activist and spiritual leader.

Hit Parade :: The Bridge: Nostalgic for No. 1’s

I’ve long been a fan of Chris Molanphy’s analysis of record charts on Hit Parade and recently also began reading Tom Breihan’s column in Stereogum reviewing The Number Ones from 1958 to the present.  This show brings them together.

Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week for the (three weeks) ending June 29


AirSpace :: Rock on the Moon

Not moon rocks, but the music astronauts listened on the journey to the moon and back.

Best of the Left :: Modern Monetary Theory: We already use it, now we need to understand it

I didn’t know much about Modern Monetary Theory and it’s benefits to sociery, so I found this very illuminating.

Decoder Ring :: Chuck E. Cheese Pizza War

My grandmother took my sister and I to a Chuck E. Cheese in the 80s when we were much too old for Chuck E. Cheese.  From this podcast I learned that the audioanimatronic shows were intended for adults and that they no longer exist at Chuck E. Cheese today.  And that’s just the beginning of a lot of strange stories.

Fresh Air :: How Ordinary People Got Us To The Moon

Some great stories of the unheralded people behind the race to the moon.

Have You Heard? :: White Homebuyers, Black Neighborhoods and the Future of Urban Schools

Hub History :: Boston Marriages in Literature and Life

The history of romantic relationships between women in 19th century Boston.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: The Worst Video Game Ever

I remember playing E.T.: The Game as a child and constantly falling into pits.  The @#*!! pits!!!!

StoryCorps :: Remembering Stonewall: 50 Years Later

First-person stories of the riot that changed the world.

WBUR News :: Should Massachusetts Change Its Flag?

Massachusetts’ flag is boring and features a racial stereotype.  We can do better.


Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances: