I spent most of my Saturday listening to “S-Town.”
The podcast by the producers of “Serial” and “This American Life” is an undeniably engaging true-life tale of life and death in small-town Alabama. I don’t want to spoil the story, which has plenty of twists and turns, so I’ll just say that while I consumed the whole thing in a day, it does meander a bit toward end. I also have to add that journalist and narrator Brian Reed is so good that I had something of a crush on him by the end. (If you too like his style, consider checking out the documentary “What Happened at Dos Erres,” for which he snagged a Peabody Award.)
The seven chapters of “S-Town” take a little less than seven hours to get through. I realize this seems like a lot, but the great thing about podcasts is that you listen to them and still get on with your life. I walked the dogs, washed dishes, cooked dinner and did a couple loads of laundry, all while talking out loud to my phone or computer, positing theories for what would become of the folks in Woodstock, Ala.
Here are few other podcasts worth checking out:
“Good One” — Vulture launched its newest podcast in February. Each week, a comedian tells a joke and then breaks it down. Host Jesse David Fox does a good job of getting guests like Kyle Kinane, Jen Kirkman and Jim Gaffigan to open up.
“Reveal” — This investigative journalism program schools listeners on subjects they may not have realized they were so in the dark about. For instance, how unclean air affects schoolchildren or what it means to be a night-shift worker. Like Reed, “Reveal’s” creators won a Peabody Award for their investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs’ role in over-prescribing opioid drugs to war veterans.
“Hidden Brain” — Ever perplexed as to why you make the decisions you make? I am, pretty much daily. So I love listening to host Shankar Vedantam delve into the science behind people’s patterns of behavior, unconscious choices and ingrained biases. Sometimes, as is the case with the NPR podcast’s latest episode about social media (apparently it makes users feel more isolated, not more connected), it makes me feel validated in my choices (I’m not on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). But much more than just a salve for my ego, the program is consistently illuminating and interesting, tackling topics such as what isolation does to a person, why we dig into our beliefs so vehemently despite proof to the contrary and how technology may be able to make those feeling stuck in their lives gain some clarity.
“You Must Remember This” — As you may have guessed by my occupation, I’m pretty into all things entertainment related. So this podcast, in which host Karina Longworth explores old Hollywood, is right up my alley. But even if you don’t care about showbiz, you can learn some interesting American history. In 2016, in addition to focusing on Joan Crawford’s life, for instance, Longworth also provided an in-depth look into Hollywood’s blacklist. This season, she’s dedicated “You Must Remember” to the bluntly named series, “Dead Blondes.” For 11 episodes she’ll tell the stories of “eleven blonde actresses who died unusual, untimely or otherwise notable deaths — deaths which, in various ways, have outshined these actress’ lives.”
Lindsey Fleming is a writer/copy editor for The Dominion Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.