The best podcasts you should listen to this week

By Jaclyn Schiff and Simon Owens

Do you love listening to podcasts but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices out there? Have you subscribed to way more podcasts than you could ever listen to and don’t want to miss the best episodes? AudioTeller is a weekly newsletter that tells you the can’t-miss episodes you absolutely need to download. To have this newsletter delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Let’s jump right into this week’s podcast recommendations:

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Anthony Weiner’s undoing[link]

With the news today of Huma Abedin’s separation from Anthony Weiner after the revelation of yet another sexting scandal, Weiner’s interview on the Candidate Confessional podcast from earlier this year is timely. Openness isn’t something Weiner seems to struggle with, it’s deep self reflection and reform that appear to be his undoing.

The girl who doesn’t exist [link]

This mind boggling episode of Radiolab documents a woman’s quest to join society after being home-schooled and raised in a very strict and controlled environment by her parents who limited contact with the outside world. When she leaves her parents’ home, the most basic things are a challenge since there is no record of her birth and she is missing other critical identifiers like a Social Security number.

Thoughts from a dying woman [link]

In this shorter episode of the Death, Sex and Money podcast, a 30-something woman has recently learned that she has a few months to live. Podcast host Anna Sale accurately describes this episode noting, “There are some interviews that just stay with you.”

From Renan Borelli, director of audience growth and engagement at MTV News:

Eddie Murphy’s first podcast interview [link]

Eddie Murphy did his first-ever podcast this week with Scott Feinberg for The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast. If you’re a comedy nerd at all, you regularly hear people like Chris Rock talk about how Murphy is as quick as ever and still the funniest guy in every room. But every Eddie Murphy story is second-hand, behind closed doors. This podcast is notable for getting a glimpse of that Eddie Murphy, the one who still slips into funny voices and impressions at a second’s notice, the guy who is quick to crack self-deprecating jokes, saying “we celebrate Pluto Nash at my house. We don’t have Christmas Day, we have Pluto Nash Day. And we don’t have Halloween, we have Vampire in Brooklyn Day.” If at some point in your life, you loved Eddie Murphy, this is worth listening to.

From Michele Cox, neuroscience PhD student at Vanderbilt University

How fracking changed the world [link]

Over the past few weeks, NPR’s Planet Money has been doing a series on oil. The series as a whole is interesting: The team purchases oil fresh from the Kansas earth and follows it through many miles and chemical reactions into an actual gas tank. However, the highlight of the series for me was the episode on Fracking (#3 of 5). You learn how and why modern fracking came into existence — from the inventor himself. One of my favorite moments is when the shy engineer risks a multimillion dollar drilling operation to show up some Halliburton contractors.

A nice companion podcast is Science Vs Fracking which explores the health and environmental impacts of fracking in the US.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

The underground tree economy [link]

I think there’s an argument to be made that Radiolab is the best podcast in existence. Yes, I love and have a deep affection for many others, including This American Life, Startup, and Modern Love, but in terms of consistent quality, sound design, editing, and sheer storytelling, no show hits all the right notes as often as Radiolab does (I’m not the only one who thinks this; Ira Glass agrees). I was struck by this revelation when what could have been a mundane episode about tree roots ended up being one of the best damn podcasts I listened to this week. It turns out that everything I thought I knew about tree roots — that they simply go into the ground and sap up nutrients — was reductive and wrong. There’s actually an underground tree economy in which trees of different species will actually trade and donate resources to each other, and the middleman who facilitates these transactions is a fungus that co-evolved with plants for millions of years. There’s a term you often hear from science fiction fans — “sense of wonder,” the feeling you get when you’re thrust, even momentarily, into the unknown, and Radiolab delivers that sense of wonder again and again.

Why we stand in lines [link]

There are two kinds of people: those who stand in lines (and even, in some ways, enjoy the sense of anticipation lines engender) and those who avoid them at all cost. I’m of the latter camp, someone who often finds that the longer a line is the less likely I’m going to enjoy what’s at the end of it (this is especially true for bars; I hate crowded bars and a line outside a bar is a sign that it’s extremely crowded). In a fantastic episode of Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner seeks to understand why we wait in lines — what it says about the value of the thing we’re waiting for and if the line is a true representation of supply and demand (hint: it isn’t always).

Thanks for reading (and hopefully listening to our recommendations). Think we missed a great episode? Email us at audioteller@gmail.com. Want to have this list delivered to your inbox every week? Go here.

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Image via ABC

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