On podcasts

I have become someone who listens to podcasts. And I, like the newly born again Christian/vegan/CrossFit enthusiast, can’t help but find excuses to wedge podcast recommendations in to my every conversation. So I’d like to master-list them right here, to track them as well as to keep a record for myself. This is part one of a who-knows-how-many-part series.

I’m not going to include the podcast episodes I downloaded and then deleted without ever subscribing, since I have kind of forgotten a lot of them. Whoops. I have not even begun to walk down the podcast block, never mind having been around it, as I tend to operate off recommendations. Most of the ones I’ve found myself have been duds, sad to say. I love lists like these, however. So here goes, in no particular order, ranked out of five stars because I have decided arbitrarily that is a good measure of judgement:

Welcome to Night Vale – 5/5
I’d heard about this on ye Olde Tumblr years ago, with accompanying fanart that hinted at a tantalizing narrative. I jumped on the bandwagon late summer 2017 and started listening through archives from episode one. Reader, it was well worth it. The narrative was so well written, the production so well acted, the voices so very compelling. The production quality def. goes up through the seasons. Characters return! Random things turn out to be not so random! There are several satisfying narrative arcs!

The one drawback I found was that as the podcast progresses and gains in popularity, there are like seven hours of announcements about merch and Con attendance before the show itself. It was irksome. Other than that, it is to me the gold standard for radio acting and storytelling.

Witch, Please – 75/5

Feminist Harry Potter fanchatting, yes please. This podcast came recommended to me by the U of A English and Film Studies department grad lounge generally, and fellow graduate students specifically. And the fact that Marcelle Kosman, one of the co-hosts, was my grad buddy (she didn’t mention it to me in person, but you can bet I internet-creeped researched her before we met and it came up). In this podcast, two lady academics read Harry Potter, watch the movies, and have conversations debriefing after every book/movie, deconstructing narration, patriarchal social norms, racism and heteronormativity, and considering the excellence of Hermione Granger (but not without a critical eye to her White Feminist saviour complex and plot-convenient sexism). They have branched out in to fandom and related HP media (Lego Harry Potter!) in recent seasons.

I am a huge fan of taking the things I love and pulling them apart gently to examine them in minute detail, and this podcast does that and more. Marcelle and Hannah talk about HP with love and rage and above all give it the critical treatment it is worthy of. Of which it is worthy. They are also incredibly funny.

Terra Informa – 4/5

This is actually a radio show run out of the University of Alberta community radio station CJSR, but I took a class with a few of the contributors and gave it a listen – I was hooked. Terra Informa brings you an hour-long informative show on the environment, highlighting specifically local news (Alberta and BC mostly), as well as Canadian or international news if it is pertinent. They usually have a longer feature story that explores an issue in-depth such as the recent election, where they evaluated different candidates on their environmental policy – they also did one specific to the U of A students’ union elections. Other topics include coverage of visiting speakers, interviews with environmental scientists at the U of A, and in-depth reporting on specific issues like menstrual product waste, the 2013 Calgary floods, and Shakespeare and the environment. It’s fascinating, informative, and I find that the presenters all have oddly soothing voices.

That’s it for the list this week. Please note that these are all very different genres of podcast. One’s a radio play/storytelling, another is a critical discussion/fanchat, and the last one is a hyperlocal, student-focused radio news show. I know I’m ranking them like they have something in common beyond medium but that is a false construction and I readily admit that. I may be a hypocrite, but I am a transparent hypocrite.

Stay tuned for more! And if you have any suggestions for what I should listen to, let me know! And let me know why!





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