Podcasts of the (two) weeks ending November 20


Consider ThisYoung Activists At U.N. Climate Summit: ‘We Are Not Drowning. We Are Fighting

Some of the most powerful voices for action on the climate crisis are the youngest.

Radiolab – Mixtape

Radiolab ran a five-part series on the history and influence of the cassette tape (one of my all-time favorite pieces of technology) and they are uniformly excellent, so I’m listing them all here:

ThroughlineNikole Hannah-Jones and the Country We Have

In interview with investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones about The 1619 Project, soon to be released as a book, and the backlash against it.

What NextHow Schools Surveil Your Kids

Remote learning allowed the introduction of surveillance tools on children’s computers that are now becoming standard.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 23


99% InvisibleI Can’t Believe It’s Pink Margarine!

This controversial history of margarine you never knew you needed to know!

RadiolabOf Bombs and Butterflies

How an artillery range may help an endangered species prosper.

This Day in Esoteric Political HistoryThe Textbook Wars Spiral Out of Control (1974)

Shockingly violent opposition to school textbook and curriculum changes in the West Virginia in the past seem to a harbinger of things to come in our present day.

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 June 12


 

The Last ArchiveChildren of Zorin

A history of “fake news” through the story of a Soviet journalist who covered the United States in the 1970s with a conspiratorial bent.

Radiolab Breath

Stories about breathing from the miracle of a baby’s first breath to the history of teargas to the crash of breath mints during the pandemic.

This Day in Esoteric Political HistoryOllie!

Oliver North ran for Senate in 1994 and almost won, a terrifying preview of the Republican Party’s rightward lurch into neofascism.  I remember this election well.  I even saw John Warner and Marshall Coleman at a restaurant.

This Day in Esoteric Political History –  Those Pesky Fenians

If you don’t want to read When the Irish Invaded Canada, check out this short podcast about the history of the mid-19th century efforts of Irish American Civil War veterans attempting to bring the fight for Ireland’s independence to Canada.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the (Two) Weeks Ending May 29


I think I need to pare down the podcasts I subscribe to, because I don’t have a time to listen to all of them much less write about them.  If you’re a podcast creator and churning out multiple episodes per week and making them longer than ever, do me a favor and ease up!

Lost MassachusettsThe Long Ditch and Mother Brook: Secrets of Dedham

On this podcast we go on a paddling journey along some of the Commonwealth’s hidden and historical waterways. As an added bonus, the host calls out Panorama of the Mountains and the fact that I listen to way too many podcasts.

Radiolab – The Rhino Hunter

Despite being a vegetarian much of my life, I’ve long had respect for hunters.  People who hunt tend to be conservationists and have reverence for animals that people who just buy their meat packaged at the store don’t have.  This podcast deals with the complicated intersection of hunters and conservation of some of the earth’s most endangered species.

Slow BurnFour Dicks (and Vice President Cheney)

This season of Slow Burn deals with the decisions made leading to the U.S.-lead invasion of Iraq.  This episode  is informative and infuriating as it deals with the elected members of each party who put politics ahead of intelligence in justifying the call for war.

The Tomorrow Society – Author Bill Cotter on the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair

I’ve long be fascinated with the World’s Fairs in New York so I enjoyed this interview with Bill Cotter, an author who specializes in histories of World’s Fairs.

Twenty Thousand HertzProgression Obsession

An examination of chord progressions that make up many of the most famous songs in popular music.  Also, did you know that the ubiquitous Pachelbel’s Canon was virtually unknown until just over 50 years ago?

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending April 3


Fresh Air :: The High Stakes Of Amazon’s ‘One-Click America’

The vote to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama and what that means for labor in America.

Planet Money ::  Socialism 101

A primer on a widely misunderstood economic theory.

Radio Boston ::  New Study Supports Suffolk DA Rollins’ Focus More On Serious, Violent Crimes

Rachael Rollins ran for and was elected as Suffolk County District Attorney promising not to prosecute many nonviolent offenses and focus on more serious crimes.  Newly released data is proving her approach to be correct.

Radiolab :: What Up, Holmes?

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes originated a metaphor for free speech as “the marketplace of ideas,” but is there a better way to conceptualize freedom of speech?

This Day in Esoteric Political History :: Three Mile Meltdown

A partial nuclear meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was apparently not as bad as it is always made out to be.

Throughline :: Our Own People

The story of a social justice activist I’ve never heard of before, Yuri Kochiyama. A Japanese-American woman who fought for Asian American equality, Kochiyama allied herself with numerous liberation movements. She was friends was Malcolm X and held him as he died.

What Next :: Can a Highway Be Racist?

There’s a long history in the United States of working class BIPOC communities being leveled to build and enlarge highways.  The freeway revolt against this practice continues in Houston.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending January 30


Have You Heard? ::  Reopening a Can of Worms

A deep dive into the debate over sending children back to school during the pandemic.

Lost Massachusetts :: The Lost Corner: AKA Hells Acre, The Oblong, Etc.

I’ve always been fascinated with “The Oblong” on the CT-NY border but had not known of the lawless settlement that once was in the corner of Massachusetts.

The Memory Palace :: The Stone

Long before the fears of a “9/11 Mosque” were stoked by prejudiced Americans, another fear of an outsiders’ religion manifested in protests and violence over a stone for the Washington Monument.

Radiolab :: Smile My Ass

Candid Camera created “reality television” by redefining how we viewed reality itself.

What Next :: Did the Media Fail the Trump Years?

Yes.

 

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Awards for 2021

Podcasts of the Week Ending December 26


Welcome to the final Podcasts of the Week post for 2020.  Stay tuned for the Podcasts of the Year post on December 29!

Radiolab :: A Terrible Covid Christmas Special

Is Santa an essential worker? This and other questions are answered about Christmas in Covid Times.

99% Invisible :: Mini-Stories: Volume 9

Some short pieces on topics such as the process of novelizing a hit movie, Switzerland’s strange defensive measures, and ABBA’s outlandish outfits.

 

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Podcasts of the Week Ending December 19


Ben Franklin’s World :: The World of the Wampanoag

A two-party history of the indigenous people of Eastern Massachusetts who encountered the Puritan settlers of Plymouth in 1620.

Planet Money :: We Buy a Lot of Christmas Trees

A behind-the-scenes look into how the Christmas tree market works.

Planet Money :: The Case Against Facebook

A suit filed by the federal government and 46 state attorney generals against Facebook is stirring up the long-dormant history of anti-trust action in the United States.

Radiolab :: The Ashes on the Lawn

The purposes of protest and why they can’t be modulated to avoid offending people as seen through the story of the ACT UP protests to support relief from the AIDS crisis.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: Edison’s Demon Dolls

Talking dolls are creepy and have been so since they were first invented in the 1890s by Thomas Edison himself.

Snap Judgment :: The Crossroad

A true story of a good Samaritan in the time of COVID 19.

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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