My Favorite Podcasts of 2017

I listen to a lot of podcasts, sometimes more than I really have time for. I’ve been trying to narrow it down to only the very best shows, but more best shows keep popping up, so my list never gets any shorter. Here are some of the best ones I’ve heard this year.
Homecoming podcast

Homecoming

Homecoming is an audio thriller about a mysterious government contractor running a shady, experimental treatment program for combat veterans. The show is fantastically well-acted, which is no surprise, since it stars Katherine Keener, David Cross, Amy Sedaris, and a bunch of other excellent actors. I’ve listened to about half of it so far, and the mystery is extremely compelling. Here’s the first episode.

Heavyweight

Heavyweight

I was sad when Jonathan Goldstein’s long-running show Wiretap ended, and very happy to learn he has a new podcast, Heavyweight, which has apparently been on for more than a year, and nobody told me! In each episode Jonathan tackles one person’s long-standing problem, often having to do with interpersonal relationships. One of the most intriguing episodes is about a childhood hero of his, Canadian daredevil stunt driver Kenny Carter, and the mystery of his relationship with his assistant and understudy, also named Kenny. It’s a good episode to start with, although the episode about Jonathan’s father Buzz and his uncle Sheldon is also really touching. Actually, they’re all pretty great.

Ear HustleEar Hustle

Another brand new podcast this year is Ear Hustle, which won the Radiotopia podquest. It’s created by inmates in San Quentin State Prison, and is a sometimes serious and sometimes remarkably lighthearted take on what it’s like to be incarcerated. Just having a chance to hear the so often silenced voices of prisoners is a gift. The episode Looking Out introduces Rauch, an inmate with an affinity for the animals he encounters inside and outside the prison walls.

Other podcasts that I’ve enjoyed for a long time have put out some remarkable episodes in 2017. A lot of the best ones are from Radiotopia, home of a whole slew of thoughtful and fascinating podcasts.

A Bump in the NightCriminal: A Bump in the Night

Phoebe Judge, the honey-voiced producer and host of Criminal, talks about crime of all kinds, from the horrifying first episode I ever heard, which traced the history of a classic murder ballad, to this year’s intriguing, only slightly less creepy A Bump in the Night, which reveals the source of the mysterious sounds of a new house in our very own Enumclaw, Washington.

Radio eulogyThe Memory Palace: A Brief Eulogy for a Commercial Radio Station

I’ve been listening to the short, lyrical episodes of the history podcast The Memory Palace for years. I like it because it touches my heart, and all the stories are true. The first episode I ever heard, which immediately hooked me, was about Guglielmo Marconi’s dream of building a radio to pick up sounds from the past. My favorite episode this year was A Brief Eulogy for a Commercial Radio Station, which choked me up considerably.

Coffee rifleThe Kitchen Sisters: War and Peace and Coffee

The Kitchen Sisters are longtime radio veterans who have a gift for evocative themes, whether it’s the dissident kitchens of the Soviet Union or the hidden worlds of girls. Their episode War and Peace and Coffee, about the role of coffee in the military, was utterly fascinating.

MajdRadio Diaries: Majd’s Diary

Radio Diaries gives an audio recorder to an individual and has them record their ordinary life for an extended period, letting you listen in on the reality of people from all different backgrounds. Majd’s Diary spends several weeks with a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia anticipating the marriage her parents are arranging for her. An eloquent and mind expanding podcast.

How to ArgueLove + Radio

Love + Radio is brilliant. Every episode is brilliant. Each one focuses on the voice of one person and is masterfully edited to let their story unfold in a way that nearly always comes as a surprise. Sometimes it slowly dawns on you that the person speaking is simply not to be trusted. Other times, as in the brilliant episode How to Argue, they just have an amazing story to tell. 

What are the best podcasts you’ve heard lately?

~ by lolarusa on December 20, 2017.

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