Favorite episodes of radio shows/podcasts
December 7, 2016 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I like listening to This American Life while doing my PT exercises. I've been going through the favorites section, and it's pretty great. Do you have any favorite episodes of other shows to recommend? (I'm a total podcast newbie and "listen to RadioLab" is a bit overwhelming, hence specific episodes)

Of the dozen or so TAL's I've heard, the most memorable have been #513: 129 Cars, about what it's like to be a car salesman at a dealership with a quota system, and #218: Act V, about putting on Hamlet while in prison for murder.
posted by danceswithlight to Society & Culture (33 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
From the blue
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

A lot of gems in this previously
posted by Mchelly at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jack and Ellen
posted by monologish at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2016

Episode 68 (white light white heat) and episode 43 (far below Lake Michigan) of the podcast The Memory Palace are two of my favorites ever.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:25 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I love love love The Memory Palace. It's very lyrical retellings of weird/fascinating minor stories from Americn history. It has very short episodes - none of these three are over 10 minutes long - but they stay in your mind.

Dig Set Spike - Nazis in an American prison camp launch a Great Escape type caper. It does not go well.

High Above Lake Michigan - The invention of the ferris wheel.

The Sisters Fox - Twins who, from an early age, made a living as spiritualists claiming to be able to channel the dead.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I know you said other shows, but Babysitting, a 2001 This American Life episode (#175). The reason I'm recommending it: the story of the McCrearys, two teenagers who decide to invent children to babysit, as an excuse to get out of their own house. It's hilarious, poignant, sad, and delightful, classic TAL.
posted by Dolley at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

480 animal sacrifice- the third story is about the ridiculous things Ira Glass does for his dog Piney.
posted by H21 at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour is a fantastic podcast where the host interviews guests about their experiences with mental illness or trauma, and also reads letters and survey responses from listeners. It's very moving, honest, and not as depressing as you might think, though some episodes are more harrowing than others. Three episodes I particularly remember as being great:

Paul F. Tompkins - he talks a lot about his childhood and early adulthood, and all the ways in which he used to be sort of a dick. This is the least harrowing of the three.

Ex-CHP Officer Kevin Briggs - an ex-highway patrolman whose main job became stopping people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Laurie Kilmartin - warning, this episode is about sexual abuse.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

The recent "Hello?" episode of Reply All was staggeringly good. It really, really touched me during a dark time of my life.

The "10,000 Years" episode of 99% invisible (about how to label nuclear waste for millennia to come) is SO quirky and funny and thought-provoking, and I've listened to it dozens of times.

"The Mind Shaft" episode of Strangers (about early-onset Alzheimer's) is gutting and brutal and astonishing. The entire podcast is great, but that one's a standout.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I utilize earbud.fm for this! Curated favorites, introduced by listeners and professionals. Typically a nice solid jumping-off point.
posted by a good beginning at 9:44 AM on December 7, 2016

Ooh, this week's 99% Invisible about guano and US colonialism was super interesting.

Let's see what else. This American Life's two-part episode about school reforms was really well reported, as well as this two-parter about violence at a Chicago high school.

There's this episode of Reply All about a guy who writes a blog from prison despite having never experienced the Internet.

This episode of Radiolab: Colors.

This episode of BackStory about time is also a good one.

Finally, Oh No Ross and Carrie spent eight episodes trying out Scientology.
posted by General Malaise at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

My two all-time favorite This American Life episodes: And the Call Was Coming From the Basement and Superpowers.

My favorite Radiolab: Limits
posted by shornco at 10:06 AM on December 7, 2016

The finest hour of radio I have ever heard: the Heretics episode of This American Life. It's a gut punch for sure.

Also love the Rodney versus Death episode of Radiolab - about a controversial rabies treatment and the little girl undergoing it.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not my personal selection, but a recent MeFi post: Ear of the Year, The best podcast episodes & audio journalism of the year, as chosen by the Bello Collective team.
posted by ringu0 at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2016

There was a podcast on Supers of buildings on This American Life that was incredible.
posted by xammerboy at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2016

The House on Loon Lake is my all-time favorite, and has been a sort of TAL gateway drug for many people in my life! Also, any of the David Sedaris episodes.
posted by kittyb at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2016

Wits is kind of hit or miss for me, but I loved episode 14, with Paul F. Tompkins and Aimee Mann.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:20 AM on December 7, 2016

Radiolab: Either Colors or Debatable
Welcome to Night Vale: Street Cleaning Day (At least as a mostly standalone episode for someone unfamiliar with the show. There are other episodes I like more, but are also more dependent on knowing what came before.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on December 7, 2016

Nerdist: John Lithgow.
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2016

Mystery Show #3: Belt Buckle
posted by ewok_academy at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

One reason why I love Radiolab and I love all their podcasts are they teach me so much about a subject I didn't even know I needed to learn about.

Here are some great episodes that I still think about, years later:

I really enjoyed The Juicervose episode. I still hear the words of that podcast in my head.

Fu-Go from Radiolab is also a great episode. Fascinating telling of WWII balloon bombs found undetonated on the west coast.

Also, Patient Zero and the update/part 2.

Adoptive Couple Vs. Baby Girl

oh, and I can't forget the super strange episode about Lucy.
posted by hydra77 at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2016

Another Reply All: #17 The Time Traveler And The Hitman.
posted by paduasoy at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2016

Testosterone was fascinating.
posted by HotToddy at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2016

I loved the story "The Stare Down" within this episode of Snap Judgment.
posted by lakeroon at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2016

Kevin Pollack's Chat Show #253 - Vince Gilligan (The X-Files, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul.) A master class in writing, directing, and graciousness with an interesting detour to season one of Fargo. Starts at 5:20.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2016

Love + Radio: The Man in the Road

Reply All: Making Friends
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2016

This american Life's a Little Knowledge is a favourite of mine - it deals with people's revelations that they had a belief or piece of knowledge that was widely known to be wrong.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:40 PM on December 7, 2016

The "Staind Glass" episode of U Talkin U2 To Me? is one of the funniest things I've ever heard.
posted by zeusianfog at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2016

Radiolab's One Vote was great
All of More Perfect (6 episodes, I think)
Episode 153 of the Todd Glass Show is hilarious and bananas in the best way. (with Paul F Tompkins)
posted by getawaysticks at 4:24 AM on December 8, 2016

I like the Out of Body episode of Radiolab.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:37 AM on December 8, 2016

Marc Maron's WTF Podcast is a general favorite of mine.

His interview with Barack Obama was the most candid I've ever heard any politician speak. He gets riled up about obstructionism, racism, and being a dad.

Also, whatever you feelings about Jackass, his interview with Steve-o is fantastic. He's a complicated and interesting guy who has been through and put himself through a lot and come out the other side a remarkably self aware human. Also, a good portion of it is just the two of them laughing their asses off at each other, which is especially fun with Maron.

Also, shockingly similar to Steve-o is Neil Strauss, the dude who wrote The Game (that pickup artists' book). One should listen to this one especially if they are viscerally resistant to doing so.
posted by cmoj at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2016

I've queued up a bunch of new-to-me podcasts to listen to from this list of the top 100 audio stories of 2016.
posted by benbenson at 12:54 PM on December 8, 2016

Robert Wright (author of "The Moral Animal") had an hour-long discussion this week with Yale cognitive psychologist Paul Bloom on "The Wright Show" about Bloom's new book "Against Empathy." A fantastic and fascinating talk. Here's the podcast audio link
posted by Auden at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2016

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