Podcasts of the Week Ending August 21


Hit Parade What a Fool Believes

Yacht Rock.  Love it or hate it, it has some catchy tunes.  Chris Molanphy defines what it is and what it isn’t and how a genre was retroactively created for the music decades after the fact.

Lost MassachusettsUrsuline Convent Fire

An account of a nativist riot that destroyed a Roman Catholic convent school in Charlestown (now, Somerville) in 1834 and its lingering symbolism.

One YearJesus on a Tortilla

I always thought of the face of Jesus on tortilla as kind of a memeish thing, but it’s actually based on something that happened to a family in New Mexico in 1977.  This podcast is a compassionate story of how the phenomenon affected the family, who, despite accusations against them, never profited from the Jesus tortilla.

The Thirty20EightSpace Mountain: A Journey Through Time & Space

A global history of one the most popular rides at Disney theme parks and the first real thrill ride at Disney.

This American Life Essential

The hidden stories of the workers deemed essential during the pandemic and how it changed the workers.

 

 

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending June 4, 2021


The Last ArchiveRemote Control

Jill Lepore investigates the origins of modern-day conspiracy theory culture, touching on the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and the tv series “In Search Of…” along the way.

Hit Parade Blame it on the Feign Edition

The story of Milli Vanilli’s rise to the top of the US pop charts and their humiliating fall from grace. The most fascinating part is that German producer Frank Farian had already had hits with another act fronted by a non-singing performer in Boney M. Chris Molanphy also points out that Milli Vanilli’s music had a lasting effect on R&B and hip hop.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 31


A short, but appropriately gothic POTW for Halloween.

Hit Parade :: Turn Around, Bright Eyes Edition

Chris Molanphy explores the strange career of songwriter, producer, and musician Jim Steinman. While I’m not exactly a fan of Steinman’s music (and actively loathe the music of Meat Loaf), I am kind of fascinated by his extremely dramatic and wordy style.

RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 10


Hit Parade :: One and Done Edition

We all remember the artists and bands who are famous for their one big hit, but defining a “one-hit wonder” is surprisingly controversial. Men Without Hats and Vanilla Ice officially have multiple hits, while Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed are actually one-hit wonders. Chris Molanphy puts forward some parameters for defining a one-hit wonder that take in account cultural relevance as well as actual chart performance.

Planet Money :: Rethinking Black Wealth

A notorious government report in the 1960s held families headed by Black women as responsible for poverty in African American communities. Dr. Andre Perry reanalyzes the data and finds that Black people actually suffer from “devalued assets” and that Black women are actually not the problem but the solution.

Radiolab :: No Special Duty

The purpose of the police force is famously “to protect and serve,” but some shocking legal decisions revealed that the police actually have no requirement to protect the public.

The Truth :: Married Alive

A fictional story about a couple going through marriage counseling while literally buried in an avalanche of snow.

RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 4


Hit Parade :: La Vida Loca Edición

A history of Spanish-language hit songs on the Billboard Top 100 from the 1960s to the present with a special emphasis on Latin crossover artists Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira.

Memory Palace :: Stories to Wash Hands By

Twenty stories of historical events that last twenty seconds each, the perfect length of time to wash your hands.  Whether or not this is practical (I mean if you push play on your device before your hands are clean it will be contaminated, no) the stories are all very interesting tidbits of history.

Radiolab :: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day

The story of the Viennese doctor who determined that medical professionals should wash their hands to prevent the spread of deadly infections long before germ theory was even understood.

Sidedoor :: The Milkmaid Spy

The mindblowing adventures of Virginia Hall who worked as a spy in occupied France during World War II, helping establish resistance networks.

60 Second Science :: Bird Fossil Shared Earth with T. rex

Scientists discover evidence of the earliest modern bird, the Wonderchicken.


Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 1


Futility Closet :: Helga Estby’s Walk

The story of two women walking across the United States in 1896 needs to be made into a movie.

RISK! :: Little Big Man

A storyteller remembers how he realized his talent in high school basketball was limited when he played against Kobe Bryant.

Hit Parade :: The White and Nerdy Edition

Chris Molanphy tracks the career of the most successful “novelty” musician, “Weird Al” Yankovic, with a considerable portion of the episode analyzing the history of novelty songs on the music charts.

What Next :: A Radical Voter Suppression Tactic

A chilling effort by GOP to limit allotment of representatives by the number of people eligible to vote rather than by the total population.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Podcasts of the Week Ending November 30


More or Less :: The world’s busiest shipping lanes

Have you ever wondered about shipping lanes?  Me neither.  But it turns out the management that goes into making them work smoothly is quite fascinating.

Lost at the Smithsonian :: The Original Muppets

Jim Henson’s Muppets redefined puppetry and the possibilities of television entertainment.  The Smithsonian holds 30 early Muppets that help the story of Henson and his colleagues.  Includes an interview by Aasif Mandvi with Frank Oz!

Hit Parade :: Rolling in God’s Royal Uptown Road Edition

Chris Molanphy expertly and entertainingly breaks down the trends in hit songs that charted in the 2010s.  The episode made me oddly nostalgic for the decade that hasn’t even ended yet.  Although, after having it broken down, I think I liked the hit music from the first half of the decade better than the second half.


Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week Ending November 2


Hit Parade :: The Lost and Lonely Edition

In the 1980s, a number of UK bands bridged the gap between post-punk and what would be called alternative music, with moody goth/emo lyrics and droning vocals combined with dance pop: The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, New Order, and the Smiths.  This is what the “cool kids” were listening to when I was in high school, so there’s a lot of nostalgia here.

The War on Cars :: The Automotive Police State

Cars are often equated with freedom, but in this podcast we learn the mass production of cars lead to a massive increase in policing and the erosion of 4th Amendment rights. This is a must-listen.


Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week Ending September 7


More or Less :: Amazon Forest Fires

Statistics cited regarding the Amazon forest fires are not accurate, but the true story is more alarming.

Hit Parade :: We Are Stardust, We Are Gold-Certified

Counting down the artists and bands that got a boost (and those that didn’t) after their performances at the Woodstock festival.

BackStory :: Labor Day Special: A History of Work and Labor Relations in the U.S.

Overlooked history of women, children, and Mexican-Americans in the American labor pool.

Radiolab / Memory Palace :: Memory Palace

I’ve been listening to podcasts for close to 15 years now, and Memory Palace and Radiolab have been longtime favorites.  This special episode of Radiolab features highlights from classic Memory Palace episodes and a new story about scrub bulls.

Hub History :: Mayor Curley’s Plan to Ban the Klan 

Back in the 1920s, white supremacists hoped to expand their operations into Boston, but faced fierce opposition from Boston mayor James Michael Curley.  If only Boston’s mayor in 2019 was not a coward who appeases white supremacists.

Throughline :: The Litter Myth

The history of the successful campaign in the 1960s and 1970s to shift responsibility for environmental destruction from big corporations to individuals, with the help of a fake Native American.


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: