Special guest post: Great podcasts for right now

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Today’s post is brought to you by Tally Abecassis, my partner in podcasting and good friend in life. I’ll let her take it from here.

  • Nothing brings me more joy than prattling on about podcasts, so I am delighted to give some recommendations! One of my favorite shows is Reply All. It’s ostensibly a show about the internet, but the internet is the everything these days. The hosts PJ and Alex feel like my funny bickering brothers telling me about weird pockets of the web I would never visit. They sometimes go out into the real world too and those are often the best ones. Must-listen episodes: #79 Boy in Photo, #158 The Case of the Missing Hit
  • In these crazy times, the podcast that is keeping me most sane is Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. Obviously Conan is a funny guy, but the looseness of this show lets him riff in the moment in a way he can’t on tightly-scripted TV. The guests who can do improv are the best, I find. Must-listen episodes: Will Arnett, Keegan-Michael Key.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, this is a great time to dig into a classic, On Being with Krista Tippett, a show about spirituality and what it means to be a human being in this world. I don’t normally need a show like this as much as I do now. Must-listen episode: Rebecca Solnit
  • If you like The Cut, their sadly-canceled podcast The Cut on Tuesday was just as smart. Their back catalog is still up and has 10 episodes of deep dives and solid interviews. Must-listen episode: AAHH IT’S THE ANXIETY EPISODE AHHHH (seems about right for now, eh?)
  • I never would have believed you could bring a microphone into couples therapy sessions, record them, and release them into the world as a podcast, yet here we are. Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel is the best possible version of that because Perel has a deep understanding of intimacy in relationships. Must-listen episode: Go with your interests, they’re all good.
  • If you are a creative, Longform is a solid pick, interviews with journalists and non-fiction writers on their careers, craft and the stories behind their stories. Must-listen episodes: Episode 303: Rukmini Callimachi, episode 350: Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Going Through It was a show put out by MailChimp, but don’t let that deter you—it doesn’t feel like sponcon at all. Ann Friedman interviews women on pivotal times in their careers, often moments of failure, and how they turned the ship around. Must-listen episodes: S1 E6 Samin Nosrat, S1 E14: Kathleen Hanna, S1 E2 Ellen Pao (See? So interesting and
    diverse!)
  • I started listening to Chosen Family because my friend produces it, but I keep listening because hosts Thomas and Tranna now also feel like my friends. They are pop culture mavens who are sassy and thoughtful, and disagree on the importance of Celine Dion in the canon. Must-listen episode: S2 E17 Super Soul Sexuality with Lisa Grushcow
  • You’re Wrong About is a curious show where the hosts try to take an event you think you know and re-educate you on it. Hosted by HuffPo reporter Michael Hobbes and writer Sarah Marshall, both razor- sharp and full of wit. And the research! I don’t even know how they do it. Some of the later episodes are true-crimey if that’s your bag, but earlier ones have more thematic variety. Must-listen episodes: Tonya Harding (I was obsessed with this story when it was happening)
  • Personal Best is a show where host Rob Norman and producer Andrew Norton try to solve people’s low-stakes problems with McGyver-style solutions (if you get that TV reference, you are my people). A woman who wants to stop hitting the snooze button, another who wants help with text messaging, and another who wants to deliver a baby cow, as you do. Must-listen episode: One Time Snooze
  • Framed by medical mysteries, Bodies uncovers the subtle ways the medical system shushes women about their own bodies. Host Allison Behringer’s story in the inaugural episode completely drew me in. It’s feminist, well-told, and they just released a new season. Must-listen episode: S1 E1 Sex Hurts
  • This is a great time to lock in on a chat show and go through their whole catalog. If you’ve already binged on all the episodes of Everything is Fine (heh heh), A Thing or Two with Claire and Erica is a great pick. Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo are best friends IRL and you can feel it in their easy rapport. Plus they have impeccable taste. They bring on guests who talk about the best Korean facemasks or what newsletters you should subscribe to right now. Must-listen episode: Jason Polan’s Legacy as an Artist and Incredibly Kind Human.
  • Heavyweight is one of the best shows ever (ed note: I heartily concur) and so might as well end here. Host Jonathan Goldstein helps people navigate a moment from their past that they wish they had done differently. The show is funny and poignant and heartfelt and gives me all the feels. Must-listen episodes: Jimmy and Mark, Skye, Rob.

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27 Thoughts on Special guest post: Great podcasts for right now
    Jamie
    3 Apr 2020
    2:23pm

    I have a friend here in Evanston IL who does a podcast (normally once a week) where she has a conversation with a creative person in town; this week, she started doing them every day, talking with local artists about how they are coping with all of this. I was lucky enough to talk with her yesterday:

    https://soundcloud.com/lisa-degliantoni/art-in-the-time-of-corona-jamie-thomes-public-art-installation-on-seward

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    Tahe Z
    6 Apr 2020
    11:04am

    Love everyone’s suggestions! I’m little late to the comment section, but wanted to share some of my favorites. If you love art and mystery, I highly recommend listening to “Last Seen” which is about the still unsolved heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and many of the theories of who was behind it. It is RIVETING. I even read the book about the heist by Ulrich Boser which is excellent. I also really enjoy Twenty Thousand Hertz which is about sound- from the origin of the Wilhelm Scream in movies to the kooky sounds in Seinfeld to John Cage’s 4’33” composition which moved me to tears, and one about anechoic chambers! There is even an episode where you can kinda test your hearing which was fun to play with my son who could hear a high pitch that I couldn’t hear. I also enjoy How I Built This and Brought to You By which started out as Household Name which all are about companies and products that are deeply ingrained in our culture and the unknown stories behind them.

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    Ellie
    3 Apr 2020
    5:10pm

    Thanks for the recommendations! “You’re Wrong About” is so good! And second Caryn’s rec of “Reply All,” which scratches a similar “didn’t know I didn’t know that random thing” itch.

    I’d also give a big thumbs up to the “Past Present Podcast,” for super-smart historical perspective on current events, as well as NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” because we all contain multitudes and a girl of a certain age cannot live on knowledge alone.

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    Melissa
    3 Apr 2020
    7:12pm

    I can’t live without 99% Invisible. Roman Mars and his team dig into design aspects that influence our everyday lives. It’s fascinating.

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    Sue Harris
    6 Apr 2020
    9:30am

    I discovered Every Little Thing. It covers so many topics and is always entertaining.

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    Nomnom
    4 Apr 2020
    3:49am

    I still think about the ROB episode of Heavyweight, it was just so wonderfully funny and deeply heartfelt in the end. What a great family and what a great podcast.

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    LisaC
    3 Apr 2020
    12:35pm

    Loved the “Everything is Fine” podcast with Kim’s mother Eve (and really appreciate the prescient name!). I also listen to Tim Ferriss (The Tim Ferriss Show), Peter Attia (The Drive), Brene Brown (Unlocking Us), The Sheri & Nancy Show (Sheri Salata, formerly with OWN), The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo, Gretchen Rubin (Happier), Sarah Fain and Liz Craft (Happier in Hollywood), Dax Shepherd (Armchair Expert), The Rich Roll Podcast, and Lisa Birnbach (5 Things). I’m having a tough time keeping up now that I’m driving very short distances infrequently.

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      Tally
      3 Apr 2020
      1:09pm

      Hi Lisa, thanks for sharing your list. How do you find the Brene Brown one? I love her books and so I started, but it didn’t keep me listening.

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        LisaC
        3 Apr 2020
        3:27pm

        Hi Tally, I’ve only listened to her first on “FFTs” which resonated with me. Maybe I should listen to a few more before recommending it!

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          Tally
          4 Apr 2020
          8:47am

          No sweat, I do that often. Thanks for the response!

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    anne
    4 Apr 2020
    1:05am

    You have great taste in podcasts! <3 Another great (listened to their repeat about lockdown today) is Ear Hustle.

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    Jax
    3 Apr 2020
    10:33pm

    I listen to the following religiously:
    – Well Red — 3 liberal redneck comedians weekly podcast about life and politics
    – The Jeselnik Rosenthal Vanity Project — 1 comedian (subversively good, check out his Fire in the Maternity Ward special on Netflix) and his best friend from college discuss anything — headlines, life and also weekly recommendations on books, movies, music.
    – Conan Needs a Friend — love this and will listen to almost all the episodes. Check out the recent Ali Wong and Jim Gaffigan ones.

    And semi-religiously:
    – WTF with Marc Maron — depending on the guest. But even if I’m not interested in the guest, I love listening to Marc opening monologue for the first 10-15 mins.
    – Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard — the more recent guests haven’t been as great. Not in to Malcolm Gladwell (so overrated), etc. But still a good standby, despite Dax’s occasional duncey blind spots.
    – Good for You with Whitney Cummings.
    – The Music Snobs — fantastic music podcast that dives into great subjects — 25 years of Outkast, Stanning, Frank Sinatra, etc.

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    Anne Libera
    3 Apr 2020
    9:35pm

    I am a huge fan of “You’re Wrong About”- It’s the best. And I’ll plug my husband’s podcast – “Getting to Yes, And…” with Kelly Leonard- it’s about improvisation and business (we’ve both worked at Second City forever). He’s had some killer guests (Brene Brown, Dan Pink, Kim Scott, Caroline Webb).

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      Mamavalveeta03
      7 Apr 2020
      9:13pm

      I LOVE Second City and recommend it to everyone visiting Chicago! My son-in-law and I bonded over whiskey shots there when I first met him. And my daughter has done several writing workshops there (“Santa Boner” was her idea… 🙄)

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    Lyn
    3 Apr 2020
    9:26pm

    love – Love – LOVE this list!! Thank you for collecting & posting!!

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    Nikki
    3 Apr 2020
    1:11pm

    These are great. Tally, where did you find your glasses? Love them.

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      Tally
      3 Apr 2020
      2:53pm

      Thanks Nikki! They are from Cutler and Gross. I got them on super sale after Xmas.

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    Caryn
    3 Apr 2020
    12:45pm

    I have learned so much from “Reply All”. Thank you for all of the recommendations! I listen to a few music-related ones that are fun – for GOACA, I would particularly recommend “Hit Parade” episode “Lost and Lonely Edition” all about the U.K. post-punk bands of the early 80’s.

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    Janet
    3 Apr 2020
    12:45pm

    +1 for Heavyweight. I listen to A LOT of podcasts, and this is one I would universally recommend to anyone.

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      anne
      4 Apr 2020
      7:24pm

      It’s so good!! I hope they keep producing, seems like it’s been a while.

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    c.w.
    3 Apr 2020
    12:47pm

    Thank you for this list, Tally. Listening to podcasts can take me out of my head so I don’t get so overwhelmed. I’m going to attempt to hand sew my own facemark today (I have zero sewing skills) so I’m certain I’ll find something on this list to accompany that task. Oy and Egad.

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    Ashley
    3 Apr 2020
    7:27am

    I recently loved Tunnel 29, it’s about a group of students who dug a tunnel under the Berlin wall in the early 1960s.

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    ClaraB
    3 Apr 2020
    5:44pm

    So excited to get this list! I’ve been churning through podcasts with badly disrupted sleep (Kim’s mum’s episode of EiF had pride of place last night, what a woman, what a great Mother-daughter relationship) and while I listen to some of these this is a trove of amazing new things to follow up. Thanks for helping make my insomnia more bearable!

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    Kimbersam
    3 Apr 2020
    9:58am

    Here are my favorites (yes there are many)…(I may have a problem) BBC Start of the Week, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour, 92Y Talks, BBC The Forum, The Glossy Podcast, BBC In Our Time, Savor, Deconstructed, The Beauty Brains, BBC 4 Women’s Hour, Bobby Brown Long Story Short, BBC You’re Dead to Me, Appointment Television, BBC 4 Evil Genius, Factually……..Thanks for your recommendations, Tally! P.S. As a former facilitator/host for tech industry webinars/seminars I appreciate how gracefully you (and Kim) bring out the best in your guests.

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      Tally
      3 Apr 2020
      1:07pm

      Thanks, Kimbersam! That’s really nice of you to say.

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    Rosa
    4 Apr 2020
    10:02am

    Great list with some new ones for me to check out-thank you! I love serial podcasts Ike Dirty John and To Live and Die in LA, but sometimes I crave something lighter yet creative. Tim Ferriss is great, Creative Pep Talk with Andy Pizza has a few standout episodes, and the ladies at Creative Happy Hour strike a good balance of funny and informative/ inspiring.

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    Tia
    7 Apr 2020
    5:40pm

    If you like Heavyweight, you’ll love Wiretap, Jonathan Goldstein’s pre-Heavyweight gig. Very, very funny with a regular cast of characters including Jonathan’s parents Buzz and Dina.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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