All Fantasy Everything, “Ep. 28 – One Hit Wonders (with Miel Bredouw, David Gborie and Sean Jordan)”
The Bugle, “Bugle 4023 – World turned upside down”
Every Little Thing, “Rapture Chasers”
The Gist, “Ariel Levy Was Here”
Here Be Monsters, “HBM076: Griff’s Speech”
Little House on the Podcast, “S01.E03: The 100-Mile Walk”
Lore, “Episode 57: Quarantine”
The Loving Project, “#8 Anastasia and Symeon”
Nancy, “#4: The Elephant in the Room”
No Such Thing As A Fish, “Episode 161: No Such Thing As A Magical Donkey”
Planet Money, “#763: BOTUS”
Reply All, “#93 Beware All”
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
These days, every month is a good month for podcasts. There’s a seemingly infinite amount of quality work being done on new shows and established chart-toppers that it’s impossible to keep up with each new development. But, as usual, we try to highlight some of the best in the business every few weeks. Some might not be familiar, others might be reminders to catch up with old favorites. Either way, we’re pretty sure these episodes will be some of your best listening experiences in the month of April.
Hypothetical fictional drafts are prime podcast fodder (as The Poscast has proved time and again over the past few years). But there’s something about the sheer unpredictability of Ian Karmel and his rotating cast of co-hosts on “All Fantasy Everything” that keeps this as one of the most entertaining comedy shows in the podcast universe. It’s great to hear these groups debate the make-up of their respective “teams,” and enough episodes and repeat guests have passed to give this show its own running mythology. This discussion of one-hit wonders delivers maybe the show’s best moment to date: listen to everyone’s reaction to David Gborie’s first pick and fall in love with your new favorite comedy pod.
Following the show’s reemergence from hiatus at the close of 2016, Andy Zaltzman’s roving cast of co-hosts (filling the seat vacated by original Bugle co-founder John Oliver) has been an impressive cross-section of comedy voices from across the globe: Hari Kondabolu, Wyatt Cenac, Anuvab Pal, Nish Kumar and “The Allusionist” host and fellow sibling Helen Zaltzman. This week’s stop brings along David O’Doherty and Tom Ballard for a globe-spanning satirical sweep, after a week when some laughs were sorely needed. O’Doherty’s Brexit-related barbs and Ballard’s Pepsi-inspired ill-advised corporate slogans are prime additions to the Bugle’s dependable digest of worldly absurdity.
Gimlet’s first new show of 2017 started off on a strong foot, delving into the unexpected world of solar eclipse enthusiasts. Much like the show’s second episode — which follows a surprisingly lucrative interior office plant industry — “Every Little Thing” seems primed to give careful, sincere consideration to tiny subcultures and worlds that might otherwise escape the public eye. Under the helpful guide of host Flora Lichtman, the show brings a curious eye to curious subjects.
Long the godfather of daily podcasts, “The Gist” has seen any number of interview and Spiel subjects from across all areas of global life. Now over 730 episodes into its run, host Mike Pesca has been able to establish an unique rapport with one-off guests and returning favorites alike, making for a reliable series of daily chats. This talk with New Yorker writer Ariel Levy about her recent memoir “The Rules Do Not Apply” and the article that inspired it is frank, insightful and thoughtful both in its preparation and participation. Levy brings an openness and honesty about the loss of her child to the conversation, a testament to her abilities as a journalist and the care she’s put into teling her own story. Even amongst the impressive Gist catalog, this is impressive work from all involved.
This KCRW show’s slogan as a “podcast about the unknown” is on full display in this episode, told from inside a family’s struggle to adjust to an unforseeable situation. Luke Eldridge captures the love amidst the uncertainty as his family learns to communicate with their four-year-old son Griff, who has never spoken a complete sentence. The Eldridge family’s story is one of patience and acceptance, acknowledging the kind of early childhood that Griff never had while also paying tribute to how this family is able to work as a team. Answers about the future are hard to come by, but this is more about the comfort that comes from finding strength in each other’s understanding and resolve.
Kim Reed’s “The Most Awesome Thing I Saw on TV This Week” has always been a highlight of “Extra Hot Great” and her Television Without Pity recaps before it. Now, Reed is bringing her signature “Little House on the Prairie” plot summaries to its own show, a wonderful weekly slice of TV riffing. It’s an ongoing episode-by-episode dive into the classic NBC drama, made for lifelong Michael Landon aficionados and Walnut Grove newbies alike. While Reed wastes little time before taking aim at outdated TV tropes, questionable pacing choices and odd anachronisms, it’s balanced out with an appreciation of the place this show has in the childhood of a number of viewers, whether they caught it during its initial run or as an endless syndication mainstay. Fair warning: Once the theme song burrows into your subconscious, it will not leave quickly.
Our collective rational fear of the unexplainable often takes on a power of its own. While we live in an age when scapegoating and finger-pointing is as prevalent as ever, this episode of “Lore” is a reminder that this is far from a new phenomenon. Telling the story of an early 17th century French convent and its bout with a rash of mysterious afflictions and behaviors, Aaron Mahnke weaves an eerie tale of mistrust and misused authority. This history of Loudun can be read as an allegory for any number of conflicts that have happened since, but it’s a chilling reminder of what individuals are capable of when they’re frightened and the power that can be seized by those who know how to prey upon those insecurities.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that deemed interracial marriage bans as unconstitional — most recently depicted in Jeff Nichols’ film “Loving” — Farrah Parkes and Brad Linder have co-produced a series of conversations between interracial couples, highlighting the legacy of that landmark decision. These interviews touch on what these marriages have meant to the lives of the men and women at their center, but they’re also heartfelt appreciations of the love that comes from making a family together, in whatever form it takes. And though there are stories of discrimination and rejection, there are also stories of acceptance and understanding, giving hope that the latter ones will help cement that legacy that continues to grow, five decades later.
In the latest episode of WNYC Studios’ newest show, “Nancy” takes a look at Log Cabin Republicans and their place in the current political landscape. Approached with slight skepticism but presented in a fair and open forum, this profile of gay Republicans, including the organization’s president Gregory T. Angelo, makes the case that this group may have an enormous impact on what kind of LGBTQ advocacy makes it through on the federal level. As the rights of trans people in America collide with 2nd Amendment deabtes in the organization’s hierarchy of priorities, it also underscores the political divide that exists between activists on either side of the ideological spectrum. It’s a debate that shows how “Nancy” co-hosts Tobin Low and Kathy Tu are able to balance discussions of the overarching issues in the LGBTQ community with close looks at the lives of the individuals affected most.
On their TV show and podcast, the able quartet of Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, James Harkin, and Andy Hunter Murray have fine-tuned their hliarious approach to the bizarre and unbelievable facts from all corners of the universe. As this listener-submitted fact show demonstrates, this crew knows how to keep things moving, no matter where the curiosities come from. Any “NSTAAF” episode is worth a listen — this collection of stories behind the inception of the lie detector, ancient robots and the lesser-known intricacies of Liechtenstein is no exception. These four have some of the sharpest memories and quickest wits on either side of the Atlantic.
Few people have been able to capably analyze and predict our current President’s behavior over the past 18 months. Leave it to Planet Money to try to find a way. The latest example in the NPR show’s history of participatory journalism (last summer, the team released a multi-part series about buying and selling a barrel of crude oil), this year’s effort will be to hone an algorithm that might use the President’s tweets as a way to gauge the stock market. A fascinating case-study in the immediate effects of erratic action, this episode and future installments may also show just how much logic can be applied to an individual who often defies semantic restraint.
For the past two years, “Reply All” has been telling stories of internet-related oddities and tales of online triumph and despair. In this episode (the capper on a two-parter that began last month), the show made its strongest case yet for staying off of the web entirely. Phia Bennin’s sleuthing into the case of a mysterious set of Uber account charges effectively summarized the vulnerabilities of identity, finance and privacy that malicious actors use every day. Still, despite the inconspicuous terrors of predatory hackers, this episode still contains an indicative “Reply All” success story: the idea that the combined effort of the internet’s good guys still have a chance to outflank those who would use the web’s power for ill.
Last fall, the first season of this scripted drama quickly became the gold standard for children’s programming in the podcast world. With great casting, the story of a group of kids in search of a missing classmate brought along some great characters — Mars Patel is a wonderful protagonist and Toothpick is as good a sidekick as you’ll find anywhere — and put a delightful spun on a familiar setup. Season 2 takes Mars’ journey to less-familiar territory and this premiere swaps out Mars’ school friends for some unfamiliar companions. But even as Mars investigates some strange new worlds, it’s all done with a lush sound design and an attention to detail that listeners of any age can appreciate.