I hope you all had a cheerful vacation weekend and, optimistically, are off this week. Last week, I dug into the wonky, rocky financial outlook for podcasting in 2023. This week, I’m conserving it mild (plus, nothing a lot occurs within the liminal area between Christmas and New Years, anyway). 

There have been quite a few thorough, expert rankings of the highest podcasts of the 12 months – this isn’t certainly one of them. This is a purely subjective listing of episodes I actually loved throughout my free time that had nothing to do with writing this article. If your style is something like mine, I hope you want them, too. 

Normal Gossip, “Steampunk-Ass Murder Mystery”

I’m not unique, and like most individuals related indirectly to the podcasting trade, I’m obsessive about Normal Gossip. My husband and I typically battle to seek out podcasts that we take pleasure in listening to collectively, however this one is a slam dunk each time. With the podcasting area so saturated with rote tales about homicide and violence, it’s thrilling to listen to well-told tales about low-level scams and on a regular basis drama.

There are a whole lot of nice episodes (“Grandma’s ‘Best Friend’ Dot” is a robust runner up), however the newest season finale really had my husband and I screaming within the automobile. I actually don’t wish to spoil the story, and I’d by no means in any other case suppose that area of interest pocketwatch chatroom drama would pique my curiosity. But host Kelsey McKinney is masterful at offering the sort of private particulars and choose-your-own-adventure model narrative that get you personally invested in a narrative that will in any other case be too mundane for the general public. If you solely pay attention to 1 episode of Normal Gossip as a result of your folks have been badgering you to take action, make it this one.

You’re Dead to Me, “The History of Timekeeping”

This BBC Radio 4 present is definitely my favourite new addition to my podcast rotation. Hosted by Greg Jenner, every episode of the podcast encompasses a completely different historic matter and brings on a tutorial skilled and a comic who’s decidedly not an skilled. If you have got a large historical past food regimen and a penchant for British panel exhibits, this podcast is for you (and particularly for me)!

It was actually sort of laborious to choose one episode “Prohibition in the USA” was a banger, “Medieval Christmas” was delightfully bizarre, however I actually need to offer it to “The History of Timekeeping” for 2 causes. First, I had by no means really thought of this matter, and it seems, timekeeping is sort of insidious and has all the time been utilized by powers that be to maintain individuals below management. This actually spoke to me as somebody who constantly runs 10 minutes late. Second, I merely love Desiree Burch, and her interpretation of French Revolutionary Time made me snigger so laborious I peed my pants a bit of. 

Newcomers, “The Lord of the Rings Fanfiction”

This season ran in 2020, so it’s not technically a 2022 podcast. But I began listening in 2022, and with the magic of again catalogs, it doesn’t actually matter anyway. And I’m so glad I did! Newcomers is a lighthearted take a look at how secretly dumb our beloved popular culture franchises are. Each season focuses on a distinct popular culture franchise, and never each season is for me (will I ever hearken to the Fast & Furious season? Probably not). But the Lord of the Rings season hits that candy spot in that I form of know the books and movies, however am additionally fairly skeptical of them. Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus are additionally fairly skeptical, which is what makes it a lot enjoyable. 

Most recap podcasts (How Did This Get Made? apart) deal with the supply materials with a sure reverence. Luckily, that’s not the case with this present, and there’s no higher instance of that than the fanfiction episode. It is completely filthy and bonkers and I’m fairly certain I’d get in hassle with the bosses at Vox Media if I repeated any of it right here.  

You’re Wrong About, “The Donner Party”

Following the surprise departure of co-host Michael Hobbes, this was a rocky 12 months for the critically acclaimed present. Host Sarah Marshall introduced on visitors like Laci Mosley, Anne Helen Petersen, and Dana Schwartz to re-examine figures and occasions that loom massive in public narratives. The content material continues to be nice, even when the rhythm is a bit off. That mentioned, the episode concerning the Donner Party was deeply informative and upsetting (and due to this fact, a traditional You’re Wrong About). 

Handled by one other podcast, the story of the Donner Party might need centered on the gore and cannibalism. Instead, Marshall and Chelsey Weber-Smith dug into the historic context of the journey, the political and cultural motivations of the vacationers, and the ethical code they lived by even when issues bought actually, actually unhealthy. (Bonus reality: a younger Abraham Lincoln nearly joined the Donner Party!!). I actually by no means cared concerning the historical past of westward growth till this episode, and it has kicked me off right into a weeks-long deep dive.

The Brian Lehrer Show, “Young Voters and Aging Political Leadership 

Okay so this one might appear to be a run-of-the-mill Brian Lehrer political section, and it’s. But it additionally has a really unbelievable, unhinged listener name that I nonetheless take into consideration on a regular basis. 

In the section, Lehrer discusses a poll that confirmed younger Democrats had been sad with older leaders of the social gathering and President Biden specifically. He requested for listeners below the age of 30 to name in and share their opinions. Most of the suggestions was typical (Democrats aren’t doing sufficient for local weather change/abortion rights/inequality/and so on.), however then there was “Christopher.” I put that in quotes as a result of which will or will not be his actual title, however one factor I do know for certain is he was not below 30. “Christopher” proceeded to go on a rant about how younger individuals don’t do their analysis and the Democrats in energy are too busy to place collectively a messaging plan. 

“There are over 120, 115 things this administration has done… your station doesn’t talk about that fact, and only points out three things, or five things. It’s a whole lot of things!” mentioned “Christopher,” not as soon as mentioning what these issues are. “You should dedicate a whole episode of your show to pointing out all the many things.” 

Lehrer performed it very straight and pushed him for specifics. But a stay public radio present isn’t the place to name out a faker, and I would love a observe up. This is my model of a whodunnit. Who is “Christopher”? Is he 50 or 70 years outdated? Is he secretly my Uncle Avi? Did he suppose he was getting away with sounding like a Millennial or, god forbid, a Gen Zer? And what, precisely, are the issues?

Happy New Year, and see you in 2023!

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