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 hear some of the world’s most famous comedians walk you through the writing process for their jokes, listen to Bob Woodward explain how he took down Nixon, and learn about the best podcast debut of 2017. Stay tuned…

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Jonah Lehrer on what his life is like now [link]

Podcast: The Moth — Episode: Leaving, Loving and Coming Home

Jonah Lehrer, the former New Yorker writer who was revealed to have plagiarized prolifically, discusses the moment it all came tumbling down for him on an episode of The Moth. Lehrer’s story is kind of like looking at the scene of an accident; you feel like you shouldn’t do it, but you go ahead and look anyways. He’s popped up a few times since evidence of his plagiarism came to light, including the time when he delivered a controversial $20,000 apology speech. Despite what I wanted to think about Lehrer going into this episode, he comes off quite humbled and genuine. Combine that with some downright uncomfortably honest moments and you get a pretty good 11-minute story about what it’s like to put one foot in front of the other after the world blows up in your face.

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

A podcast about the anatomy of jokes [link]

Podcast: Good One: A Podcast About Jokes

I want to recommend a short-run podcast called Good One: A Podcast About Jokes, from Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox. Fox, who frequently covers comedy and masterminded Vulture’s list of The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy (as well as 100 More Jokes), is sitting down with comedians to break down the thought process behind their best jokes. The first episode is with Jim Gaffigan, who talks about a bit from his Netflix special Cinco, and future episodes will feature Weird Al Yankovic, Neal Brennan, and Kristen Schaal.

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

Can conservatism ever embrace diversity? [link]

Podcast: The Ezra Klein Show — Episode: Avik Roy On Why Conservatives Need To Embrace Diversity

Ezra Klein’s podcast is not among the most entertaining of broadcasts, there is no witty banter and the subject matter tends to be highfalutin. Still, it is one of the most educational to those deeply interested in politics and policy. Avik Roy, Klein’s guest on his latest episode, is the co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. While the second half of this interview goes way into the weeds on health care policy and the Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare — a little too into the weeds for my taste — I’m recommending this podcast for the first 45 minutes or so. Roy is politically conservative and worked on campaigns for Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. He abandoned the Republican Party as it embraced Trumpism. The question his think tank is trying to answer is, “What is it that you are trying to conserve?” To that end, as a man of color, he embraces the philosophies of classical conservatism (limited government, free market) but finds nationalism’s rise very disturbing. His goal is to form ideals around which a conservative party can compete for the votes of ethnic and religious minorities to create a political system in which the debate isn’t divided between the ethnic and religious majority on one side, and everyone else on the other.

From Michele Coxander, neuroscience PhD student at Vanderbilt University:

A banker who took on Wall Street’s sexism [link]

Podcast: Corner Office from Marketplace— Episode: What Sallie Krawcheck learned about being a women on Wall Street

Sallie Krawcheck was welcomed to Wall Street with photocopied genitalia on her desk. Now, 30 years later, she’s launched a digital investment platform for women. In this interview, it’s Krawcheck’s talks about the very real costs of workplace homogeneity, Wall Street regulation, and the future of business.

One of many great quotes from the episode: “You can’t objectify somebody with one group of people in one room, and then walk into another room with those same people and promote that individual”

Bob Woodward explains how he took down Nixon [link]

Podcast: Presidential — Episode: Richard Nixon: Looking Inward

President Trump had a very “direct” talk with the press this week. While breaking it down in their weekly roundup, the NPR Politics podcast referenced the The Washington Post’s podcast about Richard Nixon from September. While not technically from this week, “Looking Inward” is a fascinating portrayal of Nixon by the man who helped fell his presidency, Bob Woodward, with striking parallels to our current President.

From Erik Jones, a blogger who writes about learning on the internet:

If you can convince a klansmen, you can convince anybody [link]

Podcast: Love + Radio — Episode: How to Argue

One of my favorite podcast episodes ever is The Silver Dollar from Love + Radio. It’s about Daryl Davis, a black musician who has fallen into the habit of befriending KKK members and changing their minds about racism. This is a follow up episode where he shares what he’s learned over the years on how to bring people together and how to argue successfully with those who traditionally refuse to listen. There are some surprising and hyper relevant lessons to be gained from Davis, who has super-human patience and does the rare thing of attempting to understand the opposing view.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

Missing Richard Simmons is the best podcast debut of 2017 [link]

Podcast: Missing Richard Simmons

I should preface this review by noting that three of our other AudioTeller contributors either offered to review this podcast or checked in to make sure that I was going to review it. Somewhere in America, Sarah Koenig is currently kicking herself for not getting to this story first, because this would have made for an amazing third season of Serial.

Let’s start with the premise: For most of his adult life, Richard Simmons, the iconic workout guru, has been one of the most accessible celebrities. Not only did he regularly appear as a guest on talk shows and other forms of entertainment, but he led a weekly aerobics class that anyone could show up to and take. But then suddenly, about three years ago, he disappeared from public life without any explanation. Dan Taberski, the host of the podcast, sets out to discover what happened to Simmons, and we’re led to believe, while listening to the first episode, that he’ll do whatever it takes to bring us answers.

What’s so great about the podcast is how it humanizes someone who had existed mostly as a caricature to most people. This man who made hundreds of millions of dollars from his fitness tapes called obese women in the midwest to serve, without payment, as their personal fitness coaches. He exhibited constant ebullience on camera but, according to those who knew him, off camera he was incredibly lonely. He was a complex man, and Missing Richard Simmons promises to unearth that complexity as it hunts down its subject. To sum it up, Missing Richard Simmons sounds like what you’d get if Serial and the short-lived Mystery Show had a baby.

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