Of these 20 podcasts of 2018, I most highly recommend Thunder Bay. For most, I suggest a sample episode to help you decide whether to subscribe.
… where the culprit isn’t a person—it’s colonialism.
- Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo investigates the disappearance of a Saskatchewan girl, revealing the story of one of the more than 20,000 Indigenous children taken from their families in the Sixties Scoop. It won best serialized story at the 2018 Third Coast International Audio Festival (the Oscars of radio). (Connie Walker, CBC) 🇨🇦
- Thunder Bay: Ryan McMahon spent many months building trust before recording this must-listen first season. “The highest homicide and hate crime rates in the country. A mayor charged with extortion. A police chief who faced trial for obstruction of justice. Nine tragic deaths of Indigenous high schoolers. Why does it all happen here?” (Canadaland) 🇨🇦 🆕
News & Politics
- COMMONS: The new season of the bi-monthly politics podcast focuses on money, influence, politics and corruption in Canada. Sample episode: How Vancouver Became a Money Laundering Paradise. (Arshy Mann, Canadaland) 🇨🇦
- Wag the Doug is a pop-up podcast about Ontario premier, Doug Ford. I miss Detangled, but I’m happy to hear Allison Smith again (with co-host Jonathan Goldsbie). Sample episode: The Many Lawsuits Against Doug Ford’s Government. (Canadaland) 🇨🇦 🆕
- CANADALAND is a bi-weekly media criticism podcast. If you don’t like host Jesse Brown, listen to incredible guest hosts like Omar Mouallem (They Asked Me To Join The Militia) and Elamin Abdelmahmoud (The Last Labour Reporter) and any episode co-hosted by Sandy Garossino. 🇨🇦
- The House is a bi-weekly national affairs podcast, frequently interviewing ministers and premiers, and convening journalists for panel discussions. (Chris Hall, CBC) 🇨🇦
- Spacing Radio is a monthly urbanism podcast that has become more political in 2018, with many great election panels ahead of the Toronto municipal election. (Glyn Bowerman) 🇨🇦
- MEDIA INDIGENA: Listen to its summer episodes in July and August that take deep dives into Indigenous issues in Canada. (Rick Harp) 🇨🇦
Society & Culture
- Love Me’s third season is its best yet. If you have to choose between This Is Love and Love Me, pick Love Me — no question. Sample episode: To My Heart. See also the Third Coast Festival’s playlist inspired by the podcast. (Lu Olkowski, CBC) 🇨🇦
- Ear Hustle’s second and third seasons continue to “bring you the stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it.” Its episode Dirty Water won honourable mention for best documentary at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. (Earlonne Woods, Nigel Poor, Radiotopia) 🇺🇸
- A Bodies episode is a medical mystery, and also “an intimate, feminist exploration into the forces of history, society and identity that shape women’s health.” Sample episode: Unraveling. (Allison Behringer) 🇺🇸 🆕
- Other People’s Problems lets you hear real people’s therapy sessions (with their consent), with interspersed explanations about mental health and therapy techniques. Sample episode: Maggie: When good moms need to be bad. (Hillary McBride, CBC) 🇨🇦 🆕
- Alone: A Love Story is an authentic, unfiltered memoir by writer and narrator Michelle Parise. The first season described her marriage and separation, and this second season describes her new life as a single mother. Sample episode: Adrift. (Michelle Parise, CBC) 🇨🇦
Meat 🇮🇹 and bitchface 🇺🇸 had only one episode each in 2018 — I hope they return in 2019. Meat’s 2017 episode Host’s Fat won the Skylarking Award at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. See my earlier reviews.
- Just Work It’s two seasons address myths about millennials, and interview pairs of millennials working on decent work. (Ausma Malik) 🇨🇦 🆕
- The Secret Life of Canada shares under-told stories from Canadian history – though a bit ‘pop history.’ (Leah-Simone Bowen, Falen Johnson, CBC) 🇨🇦
- Food 4 Thot: “A multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, race, identity, relationships, what we like to read, and who we like to read.” 🇺🇸
- Secret Feminist Agenda is about the “insidious, insurgent, and mundane ways we enact our feminism in our daily lives.” (Hannah McGregor) 🇨🇦
- If Govern Yourselves Accordingly returns in 2019, I’d re-subscribe based on my earlier review. (Mark Coffin) 🇨🇦
Arts & Performance
- Trampoline Hall is a barroom lecture series with a special focus on good Q&As. Sample episodes: Juliann Wilding: Emo (S1), Josh Vettivelu: Wrestling (S2), Celeste Yim: Hauntings (S3). (Misha Glouberman) 🇨🇦
- Koffler.Digital Audio Programs has only a few episodes per year of artist talks & conversations. Sample episode: Objects of Affection. 🇨🇦
Ended in 2018:
- The Imposter was the best arts & culture podcast in Canada. See my earlier review for sample episodes. (Aliya Pabani, Canadaland) 🇨🇦
- If you like episodes about one artwork or interviews with one artist, try: The Lonely Palette, Métis in Space, Broken Boxes or The Cuts.
- Within the Wires’ third season continues to play with the conventions of audio storytelling: the first season took the form of relaxation cassettes; the second, museum audio guides; the third, dictated letters. The stories take place in an alternate universe, in which countries and families have been abolished. (Nightvale Presents) 🇺🇸
- The Shadows is Kaitlin Prest’s latest work, using audio fiction to explore truths about love and intimacy. Listen to the first episode for a better idea of what this story offers. (CBC) 🇨🇦 🆕
- This Sounds Serious is a true crime parody. (Chris Kelly, Pat Kelly) 🇨🇦 🆕
Kaitlin Prest previously hosted The Heart, whose episodes Man Choubam (I am good) by Sharon Mashihi won silver for best documentary and God + The Gays by Phoebe Wang won best new artist at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. Read Phoebe Wang’s acceptance speech about diversity in the audio industry.
Ended in 2018:
- ars Paradoxica ended this year, an Audio Verse Award-winning “journey through spacetime and the Cold War.” (The Whisperforge) 🇺🇸
- The Polaris Podcast shares stories behind the Canadian albums nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, including artist interviews and juror analysis. Sample episode: Jeremy Dutcher Wins. (Steve Jordan) 🇨🇦
- The Dominionated Podcast’s episodes are either music news, deep dives on specific artists, or annual lists of favourite albums. Sample episode: Gonna die in suburbia: A deep dive into Matthew Good Band’s Beautiful Midnight and Chastity’s Death Lust. (Mac Cameron, Geoff Parent) 🇨🇦 🆕
- Underground Sounds is two hours of independent music every week, with a special focus on Montreal artists. Sample episode: September 10, 2018. (Nick Schofield, CKUT) 🇨🇦