I updated this piece as of 1/6/18
This summer I went through hella changes. My boyfriend of over 10 years became my ex, and my job—also of 10 years—moved us from downtown Baltimore to a business park in a flavorless suburb. I went from thinking I knew what life had in store for me, to being single and having an hour longer work commute. I couldn’t bear to listen to music—every lyric was a land mine, but my drives were too long to sit in silence. So what to do? I bought a bluetooth cigarette lighter plug-in for the car, added a cell-phone mount, and began listening to podcasts. I stumbled across most of these through random articles or Twitter posts. Here are the six that got me through and introduced me to a whole new(ish) world of entertainment. In no particular order…
Update: I was saddened to find out that Reggie Ossé of Combat Jack & Mogul passed away on Dec. 20th. I will miss his voice and him addressing his audience, “Internets…” R.I.P.
Reggie Ossé—also of the Combat Jack podcast, for those hip-hop heads out there— narrates Mogul:The Life and Death of Chris Lighty. If you love hip-hop, and want to know more about the man that influenced groups like Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, Warren G, and 50 Cent, this is a must-listen. The reporting in this story is fantastic, and the narrative arc is compelling without being sensational. At a time when I was going through so much, this particular podcast immersed me in another world, rich with texture and vibrant storytelling. Truth be told, this is an emotionally wrenching story because fans know that Chris Lighty was reported as having committed suicide, but the topic is addressed with respect. Don’t let that prevent you from checking it out; it contributes to hip-hop history.
New York Times staff writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris tackle pop-culture and current affairs beautifully in Still Processing. Wesley Morris is a Pulitzer Prize winning movie critic and Jenna Wortham is a technology reporter. They tackle all kinds of topics candidly and with humor. I love Jenna’s voice, and her talks all summer about her beach days. The beach is also my sanctuary, she made me want to skip work and join her. I can’t wait for the next season. I’m having withdrawal waiting for them to get back on the air!
Oh yes, Issa Rae’s series Insecure returned at just the right time this summer. I was able to see a bit of myself in a TV show through Issa and Lawrence’s breakup. Watching Insecure was a constant reminder that others have been through the same damn thing, and I will live. Anyhoo, I digress, Insecuritea is a weekly podcast that allows the fans to recap the episode with commentary from Crissle, from The Read podcast with Kid Fury (Ha-styerical!), and Fran from Hey Fran Hey and Friend Zone. A must-listen for Insecure fans.
Give Me the Deets is the brainchild of— fellow local writers and University of Baltimore MFA alum—Erin Drew and Mary Adelle. These fab girls interview a variety of mostly Baltimore community members, from authors, to a city councilman, and various activists. Topics have covered transgender rights, eating disorders, sexual awareness, and the origins of #MeToo. Content is diverse and these hosts are passionate, curious, and willing to pull from their well of personal stories too.
Phoebe Robinson, comedian and author of You Can’t Touch My Hair and Jessica Williams, comedian and former correspondent on The Daily Show teamed up to create this jaunty podcast crammed with wide array of comedians, interviews, and their hilarious intros. I probably look crazy as hell laughing out loud, and slapping the dash on the highway, but these two and their guests are to blame.
Larry fucking Wilmore! He’s a comedian, writer, producer (he also co-created Insecure), actor, and Renaissance man (that’s not in his real bio). Can I just say, that I craved the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on Comedy Central? Once I knew of its existence, I watched it faithfully until its abrupt and unceremonious cancellation. I never got to finish seeing the “Unblackening,” a segment on the show signifying the exit of Obama and subsequent unblackening of the White House. Hysterical. Now that I’ve gushed a bunch, it’s clear that I’m really happy he’s Black on the Air…pun intended.