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 September 22

Last Seen :: 81 Minutes

The first part of this special series on the Isabella Gardner Museum art heist focuses on what the thieves did during the incredible amount of time they had to roam about the museum.

This American Life :: Let Me Count the Ways

From the Muslim Ban to Family Separation, we are all very aware of the means the current administration is crushing immigration to the U.S., but this episode uncovers many other ways that the fascist regime is using to force their agenda into the American norms.

99% Invisible :: Billboard Boys

A contest involving men camping out on a billboard to promote a local radio station in Allentown, PA turns into a dystopian display of the deleterious effects of Reagan Era capitalism on everyday Americans.

Risk! :: The Mayor of Mitchell Gardens

A rabbi and stand-up comedian, Danny Lobell, tells stories of the people he got to know – the good and the bad – while working in a senior home.

More or Less :: DNA – Are You More Chimp or Neanderthal?

Unravelling DNA and what it tells us about our ancient ancestors and modern cousins.

Book Review: RISK! by Kevin Allison (Editor)

Author:Kevin Allison (Editor)
TitleRISK!: True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare to Share
Publication Info: Hachette Books (2018)

I started listening to the Risk! podcast years and years ago.  I was already listening to The Moth and other storytelling podcasts, and at first I thought this was just a tawdry attempt to have people tell the most prurient details of their sexual escapades.  But for some reason I kept listening and soon grew to realize that this was storytelling at its most raw.  People told stories of their abuse and trauma, the transitional moments of their life, as well as hilarious tales of everyday escapades gone wrong. Risk! was a podcast that brought out the humanity in every person brave enough to speak into the mic and the many people who could relate to their stories.

The Risk!  book gathers together some of the stories from the podcast as well as stories written specifically for the book.  In some cases, the stories lose something when you don’t hear the author’s voice, whether it’s someone who is a master of the live storytelling art who brings things out with their voice and mannerisms, or if it’s someone’s who uncertainty and nervous laughter of someone daring to speak words they never thought they’d utter before an audience.  On the other hand, some stories gain an extra something on the printed page.  I liked being able to skip back and review some details that I overlooked earlier in the story that become significant later on (granted one can rewind a podcast but it’s not as easy as flipping back the page) or catch the words lost in the audience laughter or mumbled by the storyteller.

My favorite stories include:

  • “The Gift” by Michelle Carlo -remembering a perfect moment with a boy while growing up in the Bronx shortly before he was murdered.
  • “Dressing the Wound” by Jim Padar – a Chicago cop remembers staunching the bleeding of a murder victim, keeping him alive along enough for his family to say goodbye.
  • “Always a Woman” by Morgan – a construction worker falls two stories in a building and realizes that she needs to recognize her identity.
  • “High Fidelity” by Jonah Ray – a story set in in a Venice Beach, California record store with shoplifters, on September 11, 2001.
  • “The Downward Spiral” by JC Cassis – the storyteller recounts the feelings of loss and regret during the final days of life of his depressed and isolated Uncle Fred.
  • “Doing Good” by Chad Duncan – a special education teacher with a gift for reading people deals with suddenly going blind.

It’s a terrific book and highly recommend that anyone who cares about their fellow humans read it (and listen to the podcast regularly, even if some of the stories feature the prurient details of sexual escapades)

Rating: ****