Local Reviewers Share Podcast Recommendations
Review by Tiffany Harkleroad
Often, podcasts will contain commercials for other podcasts in their network. I listen to a lot of podcasts from Wondery, and recently, one of them advertised the podcast This is Actually Happening, playing a snippet of the most recent episode. I decided to check it out, but instead of jumping into the recent episode, I went all the way back to the beginning. By the end of the day, I had listened to 13 episodes. No worries about binging too quickly, as there are (as of writing this) 177 episodes. In fact, I am listening to it now.
What makes this podcast so bingable? First of all the episodes are short. More recent episodes range from 30 to 60 minutes, but the early episodes are often 20 minutes or less. I really like shorter episodes, because I can more easily fit them into my day, listening to an episode over lunch, or while I get ready for work. So, the episode size is really convenient.
More importantly, however, is the truly unique content of the episodes. This entire podcast is dedicated to the stories of real people, often in unique situations, where a large change takes place. Each episode is basically a monologue of a person describing their life experience. It feels...intimate.
These are not everyday situations; these are often situations that involve some trauma, or some situation we cannot even imagine ourselves being in. And we are given an honest, sometimes stark, first person point of view. This is the kind of podcast that allows you to broaden your perspective, and really cause a shift in your thinking. A human face is given to all these situations that are outside our own personal experience. Stories range from people suffering from addiction and other mental or physical illnesses, to encounters with actual pirates.
In a podcast with this premise, there is always a danger of judgment of the speaker, or that the show might exploit the people it features, but so far, I have not found any of that. It is just honest, and real, and truly informative.
I have always loved a good life story, which is why memoirs tend to be my favorite reading genre. Each episode of this show is a mini memoir, and I guarantee you will encounter at least one story that is beyond anything you could have ever conceptualized. Listeners need to be prepared for adult language and subject matter in pretty much every episode, but do not let this deter you. This podcast is mind blowing, and I cannot wait to keep listening.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Bowser
If you could live in any time period, when would it be? This is a question almost every history lover has been asked or has considered themselves. I have always been fascinated by history. When I was young, my family used to visit Gettysburg almost every summer. I was raised by a history buff, and it shows.
If asked, my younger self would have happy told you that my favorite place was the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. My favorite exhibit was the mummy’s tomb on the Egyptian floor, though I was never brave enough to go through it alone.
Studying history was my first vice, and I’ve never been able to kick the habit. If asked what time period I’d prefer to live in, however, I would say the one that I’m in right now. I can read about the Black Death without fear of catching it myself and I don’t have to worry about the Greeks sneaking into my town in a giant, wooden horse.
Speaking of the Trojan horse, did that actually happen? Did the war even happen at all? These are some of the many questions that the podcast Our Fake History has answered. Our Fake History is all about the myths and rumors surrounding historical events and figures.
We’ve all heard about how the Spanish came to the Americas searching for the Fountain of Youth. However, it turns out that this was never something anyone actually went looking for, at least not in the new world. While I wasn’t surprised to learn this is a myth, I did have my mind blown by some of the other historical myths I was taught, like the Renaissance for instance.
If this sounds intriguing to you, I can’t recommend Our Fake History enough. Some of my favorite episodes are: #126 & #127, Who Was The Blood Countess?; #84, What Was the Vodka War?; and, #77, Was There a Real Pied Piper?
According to Our Fake History, I may not have really had to be wary of Greeks bearing gifts after all. However, I’m still content with the time period I was born into.
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
Reviewed by Rhiannon Bowser
If there’s ever been a show that makes me happy to live in the 21st century, it’s Sawbones: a Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. This show, created by Doctor Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy, covers strange cases in medical history and how our ancestors tried to heal others.
Sydnee regales listeners with bizarre tales and ancient remedies, while Justin, the audience stand in, cracks jokes and asks questions. The show is family friendly and contains no curse words, making it safe to listen to while at work.
Although you don’t have to listen to this podcast in order, it may help to first listen to the initial episode which covers trepanation. At the end of every episode they remind their listeners, “don’t drill a hole in your head,” as a callback to this episode.
Whether you’re a history nerd like me, or you just want something to remind you that although 2020 was hard, it could have been worse, I recommend Our Fake History and Sawbones.
Reviewed by Jillian Larko
As a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, I always find it amusing to hear someone talk about the series after reading the books or watching the films for the first time. I remember when I experienced the series as a teenager and became enrapt with the world of Middle Earth and all of its fascinating characters.
Over the course of the pandemic and while being in quarantine, I rediscovered the films and watched them through a few times, just because I find them so comforting.
While trying to find something new to listen to on Spotify at work, I came across quite a few Lord of the Rings and Tolkien themed podcasts and thought I’d give one a try. The one I chose was That’s What I’m Tolkien About, a podcast that covers The Lord of the Rings novels and then the film trilogy, hosted by Mary Clay Watt, who had never experienced them before.
Each episode covers a new chapter and almost feels like a book club discussion, as she brings on other fans of the series and has lively discussions about the themes and characters. The books took over a year to get through in this format, so there is plenty to listen to. She then moved on to viewing the movies, dividing them into various parts, and watching both the theatrical and extended editions.
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan and haven’t taken the dive back into the series lately, I highly suggest this podcast. It’s fun to hear someone talk about it as they’re experiencing it for the first time, as well as gaining perspectives you may not have considered before.
That’s What I’m Tolkien About is on Spotify, or at tolkienaboutpod.podbean.com. When you’re done, another podcast I recommend is Lord of the Rings Minute, where hosts Cassandra and Norman analyze each extended Lord of the Rings film, minute by minute. They’re huge Lord of the Rings fans, as well, and a lot of fun to follow. Happy listening!