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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.

Welcome! In this week’s issue you’ll learn what it’s like to converse with an actual android, hear an interview with one of the great frontmen of popular music, and get outraged at America’s absurd healthcare incentives. Stay tuned…

From Sriram Gopal, a DC-based writer and musician:

An interview with one of the great frontmen of popular music [link]

Podcast: Nerdist — Episode: Dave Gahan

Depeche Mode was one of the most influential acts to come out of the ‘80s, largely due to great songs built on the pioneering use of electronics. Nerdist is not my favorite interview podcast, largely because host Chris Hardwick always tries to go for the joke instead of truly listening to his subject. In this episode, however, Hardwick keeps his tendencies in check and allows Gahan ample time to discuss the early days of Depeche Mode, his struggles with success and substance abuse, and the preparations that are underway for Depeche Mode’s upcoming international tour. Gahan is one of the great frontmen in popular music, and this interview provides some insight into his artistry.

Tracing the career of one of the most important jazz composers [link]

Podcast: Meet The Composer — Episode: Henry Threadgill: Dirt, and more Dirt

Many would count Henry Threadgill among the most important composers in jazz, right up there with figures like Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. In 2016, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his suite, In For A Penny, In For A Pound. This episode traces his career, which started in the 1960s and includes a lapse in judgement that resulted in Threadgill being shipped out to Vietnam. Several of his collaborators are interviewed, giving us a peek into Threadgill’s process as a composer and bandleader. We also get an impression of Threadgill’s own personality, which comes off as warm and jovial. Threadgill’s body of work is vast, and this profile shows the intelligence and curiosity that such a broad spectrum of creativity requires.

From Adam Peri, a marketing consultant in Chicago:

Maybe our AI overlords won’t be so cruel after all [link]

Podcast: Guardian Science Weekly — Episode: Erica Answers: responses from an android

Erica is beautiful and intelligent and if you meet her out somewhere she’ll give you more than a one-word, trite discussion. Unlike most people, she actually loves to talk about her world. Alas, Erica is only a super-intelligent android created by scientists at Osaka and Kyoto Universities, but she gives us hope that if robots become sentient someday and take over the world, the world will actually be a much better place. The Guardian Science Weekly spent last week talking to Erica’s creators from Japan and used this episode to field listener questions for Erica the android herself. With her pensive answers and sanguine worldview, Erica provides thoughtful discussion on the future of man, machine, and mind. The episode acts like a progress report on artificial intelligence, displaying just how far it has come and how interesting an android can be. There are hopeful overtones, but little in the way of detail and specifics about the future of manmade sentience. One thing that’s certain: no matter what becomes of super-intelligent machines; in their current form they can contribute to a very interesting ~15 min podcast.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

Growing up with an abusive father and then later learning he killed your mother [link]

Podcast: Strangers — Episode: Claire Obscure

Ever since I started listening to the Strangers podcast it’s consistently rocketed toward the top of the list for the best shows I listen to on that particular week. In this episode we hear from “Claire,” a woman who’s completely changed her name and abandoned most of the people from her former life in order to ensure her abusive father never finds her. In this first-person story, we’re treated to revelation after revelation: her father goes from verbal abuse to, later during her teenage years, sexual abuse. And after she’s finally escaped him and fled to the foster care system, Claire starts investigating what really happened to her mother when Claire was still an infant, and even she, after years enduring violence and horror, isn’t prepared for what she’s about to learn. This story grips you and doesn’t let go.

It’s impossible to hear about American healthcare economics without getting enraged [link]

Podcast: Fresh Air — How U.S. Health Care Became Big Business

I consider myself an amateur healthcare policy wonk who follows the industry somewhat closely, but that still doesn’t keep me from getting flustered when I hear about the absurd norms we’ve decided to subject ourselves to in the U.S. Healthcare journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal went on Fresh Air to discuss the perverse incentives that you’ll only find in America’s healthcare industry and how it’s making our care more expensive while at the same time producing health outcomes that are among the worst in the developed world.

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

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