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 issue you’ll hear about why the children of immigrants feel torn between two worlds, learn what coal miners think about Trump’s energy policies, and get to read our review of the much-discussed new podcast from the people who brought you Serial. Stay tuned…

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Tim Ferriss interviews famed author Cheryl Strayed at SXSW [link]

Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show — Episode: How to Be Creative Like a Motherf*cker — Cheryl Strayed

The latest episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast is of his live interview with the famed author Cheryl Strayed at SXSW in Austin. Podcast live recording don’t always translate so well for listeners at home, but this interview offered a lot of thought-provoking lines of discussion on mortality, uncovering clear truths, and writing. Strayed also shares advice she’d give to someone hiking the Pacific Crest Trail today. At just over an hour and 40 minutes, this is a long one (not uncommon at all for a Tim Ferriss interview), but well worth it if the personalities intrigue you.

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

A new collaboration between Rookie Magazine and MTV [link]

Podcast: Rookie

This week, I’d like to recommend a new podcast that I (full disclosure!) am working on in my role at MTV, which is Rookie Magazine’s podcast, hosted by Tavi Gevinson. The first episode, which is being released today, features a conversation between Tavi and the musician Lorde (who are friends outside of the world of podcasts), and future episodes include guests like Heben and Tracy from Buzzfeed’s Another Round, George Saunders, Winona Ryder, and St. Vincent. The show will also feature several recurring Rookie segments like “Ask A Grown” (recently highlighted on an episode of This American Life) and “Life Skills.”

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

How the children of immigrants manage to exist between two worlds [link]

Podcast: Maeve In America — Episode: Children of Immigrants — Listen To Your Parents

This episode resonated with me for a number of reasons. First, I’m the son of immigrants, so I very much relate to the experiences described in this episode. Second, I’m acquainted with two of the guests on the program. I spent several years as an organizer for Subcontinental Drift, a community group for artistically inclined South Asians that started here in Washington, D.C., and in that role had the pleasure of working with comedian Aparna Nancherla and podcaster Ashok Kondabolu. Kondabolu interviews his father about living in New York during the ‘70s and what it was like to navigate the city during that time. Nancherla recounts her own experiences of integrating into American culture while maintaining aspects of her heritage. Other guests include Alex Karpovsky (Girls), journalist Mona Chalabi, and writer/actor Charla Lauritson. What ties all of these stories together is not only the challenges that each guest faced while navigating a hyphenated existence, but also the pride they each clearly take in bringing a personal cultural perspective to the American salad bowl.

From Adam Peri, a marketing consultant in Chicago:

Going beyond simple measures of corporate diversity [link]

Podcast: The Economist asks — Episode: How do organisations counter diversity fatigue?

The idea that diversity enhances productivity feels about right to me; but what about large corporations that look past conjecture towards bottom-line measures of success? Thursday’s installation of the Economist Radio podcast dives deeper into the topic of workplace diversity. The podcasts offers both quantified data and an exploration of specific qualities inherent to diverse organizations and employee groups. Admittedly, the episode doesn’t follow through on the promise of its title: “How do organizations counter diversity fatigue?” In fact, it never directly mentions the idea of fatigue or tacitly implies it. Despite veering from this promise, the content is unique and includes several authentic and honest moments in interviews with various corporate employees.

In addition to understanding the role of data in proving the efficacy of diversity, a vice president of intellectual property at IBM (and member of the LQBTQ community) emphatically emphasizes the importance of putting diversity measures into practice. She then holds little back in declaring IBM’s interest in using its economic pull to affect change in government policy. This sentiment is reiterated later in the podcast by an executive at Virgin Atlantic Airways, who notes the firm’s economic leverage despite challenges of placating the administrations of countries around the globe. Perhaps the most apropos, yet ironic, part of the episode is not the misaligned title, but the advertisement flanking it on both ends for “luxurious, pragmatic clothing for the professional woman.” It seems to underscore the need for more in-depth research and application that augments the easier to produce, but often less meaningful, “big data.”

From Tristan Vick, an accountant from Texas:

How coal workers view Trump [link]

Podcast: The Daily Episode: Thursday, March 30, 2017

President Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has repeatedly sued the very agency he is leading. Trump has repeatedly said that he will bring back jobs for coal miners in Appalachia. The New York Times goes all in on this issue and explains a key provision of the controversial Clean Power Plan that Pruitt is surprisingly looking to keep on the books while trying to support a pro-energy administration. The second half of the podcast takes you into the life of a former coal worker. Climate change advocates are rarely presented with the story of the benefits the coal industry has in some people’s lives, specifically coal miners.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

The crime podcast that isn’t a crime podcast [link]

Podcast: S-Town

Listening to the first episode of S-Town, you’ll be forgiven if you assume you’re being treated to a murder mystery, especially if you’re aware that the podcast is backed by the same folks who produce Serial. But by the second episode, you begin to realize that it isn’t a murder mystery at all, but something much more intricate, mesmerizing, and, ultimately, more heartbreaking.

At the center of the story is John B. McLemore, a southern, flamboyant, depressed genius who is both one of the world’s most talented horologists and inextricably trapped in Woodstock, Alabama — or, as he’s wont to call it, shit town. This American Life producer Brian Reed started visiting McLemore in 2014, and in doing so stumbled into an alternate reality far removed from the coastal, cosmopolitan milieu that is New York City. What he discovers when he mines this town for its values, secrets, and, yes, racism, will leave you devastated by the very end. Before the podcast launched, John B. McLemore was a mostly-unknown eccentric living in podunk Alabama. After listening to S-Town, he’s a haunting figure few of us will ever forget.

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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