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 everything you wanted to know about chocolate, how scarcity causes us to make bad decisions, and why a cop didn’t shoot a murder suspect who was charging right at him. Stay tuned…

From Jaclyn Schiff, AudioTeller co-editor:

Everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate [link]

Podcast: The Slow Melt

When I heard there was a podcast devoted to all things chocolate, I didn’t ask the usual questions like who is behind it? Or what’s the show format? No. Being a chocolate lover, I just wanted to know how to listen, and frankly whether I could get through an episode without salivating uncontrollably. I quickly found out the answer to the last question was no.

The Slow Melt is a new podcast series that uses chocolate to explore important global issues — economics, climate change, gender relations — behind the $100 billion chocolate industry. Episodes feel a little bit like a cross between​ Frontline​ and Michael Pollan’s Netflix series Cooked. ​The content is substantial and well presented featuring specialists with unique expertise like the sensory technologist and professional chocolate taster ​who is interviewed in episode 5 or Godiva’s executive chef who appears on episode 2.

The series is hosted by the journalist Simran Sethi, a former environmental correspondent for NBC News, who is the author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.​ Five episodes have been released so far with four more on the way. The Slow Melt is a kind of brain food that is likely to appeal to an assortment of tastes — even if you’re one of those crazy people who doesn’t particularly care for chocolate​.

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

An interview with a legendary saxophonist [link]

Podcast: A Noise From The Deep — Episode: Joe Lovano

Dave Douglas is a pioneering trumpeter who has been at the jazz scene’s forefront for 25 years. In 2013, Douglas started a podcast under his label, Greenleaf Music, in which he interviews some of the most innovative artists in the genre. A Noise From The Deep doesn’t come out on any regular schedule — there have only been 41 episodes in four years — but each conversation goes beyond the technical aspects in music and reaches the emotional elements in jazz. The latest episode features my favorite living saxophonist, Joe Lovano, who is known for adapting his rich tone into any context. Douglas and Lovano discuss Lovano’s career path, his works with drummer Paul Motian and pianist Hank Jones (both jazz legends who passed in recent years), and the way Lovano uses music as a tool in his personal spiritual journey. Both of these musicians understand music on a very deep level and hearing how they apply this understanding to life at-large is inspiring.

Harrowing stories of police violence in Florida [link] and [link]

Podcast: Radiolab — Episodes: Shots Fired, Parts 1 and 2

This two part-er from Radiolab is a masterclass in combining traditional reportage with storytelling on a human scale. Partnering with the Tampa Bay Times, Shots Fired takes a deep dive into the issue of police violence in Florida, a daunting task made ever so slightly easier in comparison to other states due to Florida’s comprehensive sunshine laws. There is a fair amount of number crunching, but things get personalized when the reporters visit a support group for people whose loved ones have died at the hands of law enforcement, or while listening to the challenges facing a Daytona police chief. The second episode looks into the systemic causes of unnecessary police shootings and uses one particular incident as a case study. There are segments that are hard to listen to, but this is an important issue that is too often discussed on superficial or purely political terms.

From Joel Coxander, a Nashville immigration lawyer:

How a shortness of time, sleep, or money causes us to make bad decisions [link]

Podcast: The Hidden Brain — Episode: Tunnel Vision

This episode really should have just been called scarcity. The biggest takeaway for me was that scarcity of anything — time, sleep, money — can drive you to make short sighted decisions. Making those short sighted decisions aren’t a sign you are an idiot, you weren’t thinking clearly because the immediate scarcity overwhelmed planning and long term consequences. Part of what makes this episode valuable is that it identifies a weakness in modern day human cognition that most people don’t realize exists, and by identifying it it allows you to at least try to compensate for the weakness. Realizing that scarcity of time, for example, is resulting in you wasting hours and hours per day agonizing about your schedule and causing worse decisions about time means you can be mindful and clear your mind when you’ve gone off the rails. Plus there’s a compelling personal narrative threaded throughout the episode. So it’s a pretty good way to spend 30 minutes.

From Lakshmi Sridharan, a physician in New York City:

A Saudi Arabian girl pursues a career in science [link]

Podcast: Re:Sound — Episode: #235 The “I Do” or “Do I?” Show

Re:Sound is a compelling podcast created by Third Coast Festival. This week’s episode contains two stories of falling in love and the possibility of marriage in two very different cultures — America and Saudi Arabia. Though both personal journeys are excellent, the first story of a young Saudi Arabian girl with dreams of becoming a scientist is both deeply personal and engaging. Her listeners join her as she discovers hints of Western cultural attitudes but always remains firmly rooted in her societal structure and religious mores. It is fascinating because she speaks so eloquently and relatably, but occasionally makes statements about what she considers “normal life” that are shocking to the American psyche.

From Adam Peri, a marketing consultant in Chicago:

A podcast that explores breakthrough scientific research [link]

Podcast: Nature Podcast
 
Nature.com is a vast repository of current and archived scientific journals published by the Nature Publishing Group (NPG). Each week their Nature Podcast covers new research that has been added to the database. The weekly podcast features content from their eponymous journal Nature and brief highlights from other NPG publications. The latest installment of the podcast features potential breakthrough findings in paleontology, astrophysics, and cancer research. While it isn’t mentioned “on the air,” it’s interesting to note the risk/reward nature of innovative research. You can get a sense of this from interview questions and answers with the scientists in all three features. In the first, the hosts impute a degree of trepidation on paleontological researcher Kevin Padian. Although they note that many paleontologists might disagree with Padian’s findings, the research could also beget a breakthrough in the field. The idea is compelling and invokes the work of philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn on “scientific revolutions” and his belief that scientific advancement isn’t a steady progression but instead lurches forward, creating new paradigms. This theme runs through all three of the main stories from this week’s Nature Podcast episode. The podcast also includes vignettes on other recently published work and a coda on current events.

From Simon Owens, AudioTeller co-editor:

When the cop doesn’t pull the trigger [link]

Podcast: Embedded — Episode: Police Videos: Cincinnati

Usually when a video recording of a police altercation makes national news, it’s when something horrible has occurred. From the beating of Rodney King to the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, police using deadly force on non-violent people of color has become a constant staple of the American news cycle. But in 2015 a police video attracted national attention, not because it recorded a violent confrontation, but just the opposite. Police officer Jesse Kidder was rushed by a murder suspect who was high on heroin, and rather than pulling the trigger, Kidder retreated and then eventually convinced the killer to surrender.

Why didn’t Kidder use deadly force, which most experts agree would have been within his rights? Was it because the suspect was white? Was it because of his combat experience in war zones? Or was it simply because he happened to be wearing a body camera? This episode of Embedded explores all these possibilities and leaves you wondering if an end to unnecessary police violence is within our grasp.

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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