The best podcasts you should listen to this week

Image via YouTube

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.

In this week’s issue, you’ll learn why drug prices are so high, what it’s like to marry a doll, and how scammers use Google Adwords to scam you. Stay tuned…

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Why the “match” sound on Tinder is so addictive [link]

Podcast: Why Oh Why — Episode: #11: Listen to Your Heart

The latest episode of Why Oh Why opens with host Andrea Silenzi talking about some of the major changes she noticed now that she is recently single and back on Tinder. These days when people match, there’s a quick, distinct sound. She chats with the guy responsible for the signature sound… and yes, there’s a sample included so those of you non-Tinder folk can hear it.

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

Three black writers consider the 10-year anniversary of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade [link]

Podcast: All Songs Considered — Episode: Join The Black Parade: My Chemical Romance And The Politics Of Taste

The best podcast I listened to this week was an episode of All Songs Considered from October, where three black writers (NPR’s Daoud Tyler-Ameen, Buzzfeed’s Tracy Clayton, and MTV News’s Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, the latter of whom is a colleague of mine) discuss the tenth anniversary of pop-punk/emo band My Chemical Romance’s album The Black Parade. They discuss what the seminal album meant for them ten years ago, both from the perspective of the album’s status as a crossover mainstream hit as well as the meaning and feeling of listening to a band from a genre dominated by white musicians and fans. As a fan of the album (and of the work of all the writers involved), it was a fresh angle on a topic not often discussed in conversations about popular music.

From Sriram Gopal, a DC-based writer and musician

What do we owe Iraqi citizens who risked their lives to help the U.S. military? [link]

Podcast: Maeve In America — Episode: The Nayyef Episode: Sleepless in Seattle

Maeve Higgins was a television star in her native Ireland before relocating to New York to grow her career as a comedian and actress. She has co-hosts Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson on National Geographic and also appears on Inside Amy Schumer. Higgins recently launched her own podcast, Maeve In America, in which she addresses immigration, a political hot button during the recent presidential campaign. Rather than exploring the issue from a dry policy perspective, Higgins seeks out immigrant stories to illustrate how this historically marginalized subset of the population has contributed to America’s cultural fabric. The most recent episode focuses on Nayyef Hrebid, who worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. He received a Special Immigrant Visa because of the danger he faced as a result of his service. Hrebid, who is gay, speaks of his time in Iraq, the dangers that face the LGBTQ community there, and the touching story of how he fell in love and had to battle numerous obstacles to realize that relationship. Mark Doss, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, provides broader context and argues persuasively that the U.S. government has a moral obligation to protect local nationals like Hrebid who provide the military assistance in foreign conflict zones. The episode also includes a segment with data journalist Mona Chalabi, who provides some facts and figures on how languages are distributed around the world.

From Michele Cox, neuroscience PhD student at Vanderbilt University

A new fiction podcast from Gimlet Media [link]

Podcast: Homecoming

I’ve revealed my predilection for fiction podcasts previously — the way these “audio plays” use sound to build the story totally consumes me (fans of RadioLab can likely relate). Lots of programs feature brief fictional asides as part of the normal program (e.g., This American Life, Snap Judgment), but extended, multi-episode podcast fiction has been limited (The Truth APM and The Message are excellent exceptions).

Thus, I was excited to hear about “Homecoming,” a six-episode psychological thriller from Gimlet Media. The story centers around an undoubtedly shady DOD program named The Homecoming Initiative. After listening to the first three episodes, I’m hooked and eager for more info on Heidi and Walter and whatever went down while the former was “rehabilitating” the latter. Listen and get hooked with me!

A doll’s house [link]

Podcast: Love + Radio — Episode: A Girl of Ivory

This episode is from earlier in the fall. On first listen, it didn’t feel like a “best of the week.” However, in the time since, I have found myself thinking about it pretty often. This episode is a “muller” for two reasons: (1) the topic is a sexual arrangement that diverges from social norms and (2) the producers seem to approach it head-on, but then turn the topic over, and everything is complicated again. Since I’m not going to reveal more specifics, I’ll say that this episode is for you if you enjoy “weird psychology” and learning about people who may approach the world very differently from you.

[Editor’s note: AudioTeller co-editor Simon Owens also recommended this episode a few weeks back]

From Lakshmi Sridharan, a physician in New York City:

Putting our current predicament in its historical context [link]

Podcast: The Axe Files — Episode 100: Doris Kearns Goodwin

In this podcast, David Axelrod shares his vast experience in journalism and politics in thoughtful conversations with sociopolitical thinkers, activists, and journalists. In an era of media consumption limited by character count, Axelrod’s conversation with noteworthy presidential historian and writer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, is a refreshing in-depth assessment of our times. Axelrod and Goodwin discuss the historical forces that have shaped the American sociocultural and political landscape of today. Their measured and insightful commentary is both refreshing and affirming of the American experiment in democracy. Goodwin paraphrases Teddy Roosevelt as she reminds us that “…the most important aspect of democracy is that…[we] have fellow feeling for the other….empathy…the other is not the other…A nation like ours is a nation of other nations.”

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

How scammers use Google Adwords to scam you [link]

Podcast: Reply All — Episode: Lost in a Cab

Sometimes I’ll be listening to a podcast and suddenly find myself enraged on behalf of the people featured in the episode. That’s what happened while listening to this episode of Reply All that tells the stories of several individuals who were scammed by misleading Adwords ads at the top of Google search results. Who are the people behind these ads and what do they say when you confront them? What is Google doing to stop these scammers from using its advertising platform? I can’t say you’ll be satisfied with the answers Reply All comes up with, but you’ll be riveted until the very end.

Why drug prices are so high and what would bring them down [link]

Podcast: Signal — Episode: Election Day Special: How our next president could affect drug prices

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Martin Shkreli, the “pharma bro” who was hauled in front of a congressional committee after he bought a generic drug company and steeply hiked the cost of HIV drugs. While his actions count as a particularly egregious form of price gouging, drug prices in general continue to increase at drastic rates. Why? Likely you’ve heard all sorts of supposed reasons, from the high cost of developing new drugs to the speed at which the FDA approves them. Many of these reasons are promulgated by the marketing departments of drug companies. This episode of Signal, a podcast on medicine I recently discovered, explores the history of the FDA, rising drug prices, and the policy proposals politicians have made to bring those prices back down.

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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