I can’t believe it’s come to a “Part 9” of my podcast recommendations – but here we are. Dream big, folks!
It’s been an entire year since I posted about podcasts and that’s simply because I haven’t been devouring them quite like I used to. Since then, I’ve gotten my own office, with a door, which means I spend more time working in silence, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I’m simply listening to new episodes from the podcasts I’ve recommended over the years.
I’ve slowly been finding new podcasts to listen to, and well, that’s why I’m writing today – just in case you’ve been looking for some good content to feed your brain. Here goes…
If you’re missing the kindness, wisdom, and poise from our former President (le sigh), this one’s for you. Created by the same people at WBEZ Chicago who brought us “Making Oprah”, this is “Making Obama” and it documents his story from his application to law school. Here’s the description from NPR:
Former President Barack Obama — along with key advisers, mentors, and rivals — tells the story of his climb from Chicago to the national stage. Season One of Making told the story of how Oprah built a media empire. Now, the story of how Chicago shaped the country’s first African-American president.
Right now there are only six episodes (I’m currently on episode 5), and that might be all we get – “Making Oprah” was only 3 parts, with a few bonus episodes. But nonetheless, each episode is around 1-hour, and is so interesting. Start listening to episodes here.
I just started listening to this one after I finished watching season 1 of “The OC” for the first time (read my review here). So, I’m only one episode in, but this is pretty comical. Here’s the podcast’s description:
A podcast following the journey of three jerks watching the mid-2000’s show The O.C. Super-fan JT tries to explain the show to his dumb friends, Russell and Jamie, who know nothing about it.
These guys go pretty deep – some of them are studying film, so they really discuss the actors, the body language, and even camera angles. But of course, they’re still talking about “The OC”, and it’s one episode at a time. From the looks of it, they have one podcast episode per “OC” episode, and it looks like they’re all posted, so you can binge away. Start listening to episodes here.
I had “Drawl” on my list of podcasts to listen to for months and am finally getting caught up – I’m so glad, because it’s wonderful! Before I go any further, here’s the description:
Drawl is a weekly podcast about Southern poets by Southern poets. Follow along as we feature poetry performances, conversations with poets, and lots of laughs in between. Hosted by Desireé Dallagiacomo and Donney Rose also known as Donney Rose & Desireé Dallagiacomo. Come thru.
I met Donney and Desiree when I was dabbling into the Baton Rouge poetry scene – and these two are so inspiring. They are both amazing poets and they also do an incredible job working with Baton Rouge youth, helping them to use their voices in positive ways. The podcast features a new guest each episode, and it’s making me want to pick up my poetry pen again! Listen to episodes of “Drawl” here.
Straight Up With Stassi
I love, love, LOVE “Vanderpump Rules” and I’ve had my ups and downs with how I feel about Stassi. She’s fashionable and fun, but is she someone I’d go to for political advice? Maybe not. But, this is a fun podcast, and she’s real about everything she discusses, which I love. You can’t fault her for being true to herself, plus, she features fun guests, friends and family. Here’s the scoop:
Love her or hate her, but you can’t ignore the sassy, quick-witted Stassi Schroeder, star of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules.” Never one to hold back on any topic, Stassi is here with a weekly podcast, “Straight Up with Stassi’, a biting and hilarious look at the world and everyone in it, according to the Queen Bee herself.
Listen to episodes here.
For Christmas, I asked for an actual pair of headphones, as those awful earbuds were really starting to hurt my ears since I was listening to podcasts 8 hours a day! I got my headphones, and even though I have my own office at my new job, listening to podcasts has become a little bit of an out for me – a way for me to listen to fun or interesting things while I’m working on political things. And so, I’ve got another batch of podcast recommendations for you, if you’re looking…
Making Oprah – I kept seeing this one on the top charts, and finally decided to dive in. I have never been a huge fan of Oprah; I think she’s cheesy, and quite full of herself, if you want to know the truth. But this podcast made me understand just how important Oprah was to daytime television, and to the overall conversation in our culture. Here’s the scoop:
The inside story of a TV revolution. In this new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives, and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show’s scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance, and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.
Yes, you saw that: “Three-part series”…I listened to it in about a day. But, there are several bonus episodes to prolong the goodness. Listen to the episodes here.
In the Dark – This is for my true crime lovers! No matter how much scary movies freak me out, I think I’ll always be a fan of crime mysteries. I hear about this podcast on another one, and it was one of those end-of-the-year roundup things. I made note of it and started listening last week, so I’m only a few episodes in. Here’s what it’s about:
Child abductions are rare crimes. And they’re typically solved. For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. In the most comprehensive reporting on this case, APM Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.
When I was a kid, I was so afraid of robbers and getting kidnapped. And THIS was the case that scared us all – whether we knew it or not. It put laws in place that are still followed today. Now, I will say that some of the content in this podcast is difficult to hear. After all, an innocent child was the victim. However, hearing about the investigation is the part I really like – why, and how, did they miss so much? You can listen to episodes here.
Nerdette – I’m pretty sure I came across this podcast by searching for “Issa Rae” (sorry, I’m obsessed). There was a great episode where the hosts interviewed her, but then I started searching through other episodes and got to listening. While the show has great sound quality, and the co-hostesses are really good – the show is about lots of different things, which I enjoy. The “Nerdettes” are particularly known for their recaps of “Game of Thrones”, I haven’t listened to those episodes since I don’t watch the show. Here’s the overall gist of the show:
A safe space for nerding out about all the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering in real life. Hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen talk to people about their obsessions: from science to science fiction, great lady nerds of history to Beyoncé. Because what the world needs now is not another superhero, but for the glasses-clad alter ego to make you a podcast.
The Minimalists – I’m honestly not sure how I came across this podcast, but I do know it’s ALWAYS on the top of the charts. I started listening to it around Christmas and have really learned a lot about the minimalist lifestyle, and have even started a “donate” pile in my apartment as I sort each corner of my place.
The hosts, Josh and Ryan, have really spread the word on minimalism, as they have a documentary on Netflix, two published books, and are always on “tour” hosting events around the globe. You can listen to episodes here.
What podcasts are you listening to? Any I should add to my list? I am always looking for more things to listen to, so let me know!
I am so excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you all! I’ll preface this by saying that the month of October was SO, so busy that sometimes reading felt like a chore to me, and that is a feeling I hate.
But, after this weekend, my schedule is clearing up more, and I’m looking forward to more leisurely reading time like I was used to during the summer months. I went to the library last weekend and spent a few minutes wandering through the stacks, instead of just running to the shelf of reserves and running back out – and I saw so many NEW, good-looking books that I immediately added to my list of bookmarks on my account. Having a full reading list makes me so happy; it’s unexplainable.
Anyway, the latest read is for all of my “Serial” podcast lovers – it’s “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry. If you recognize Chaudry’s name, it’s because she’s the co-host on the “Undisclosed” podcast, which started shortly after “Serial” and also shared details surrounding Anan Syed’s case during its first season.
Chaudry is a close, family friend to the Syeds, and much like the rest of the community, was shocked when Anan was arrested and charged for murder. As an attorney (though not Adnan’s), Chaudry has always worked to seek Adnan’s justice and finally see him live a free life. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:
In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners
But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serialjoined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.
I don’t want to give anything away, but if you listened to “Serial”, this book presents that evidence and much, much more. In fact, the evidence in this case is compelling, and really makes me feel like this is a man that should not be behind bars.
And I’ll also say that I’m not someone who thinks everyone should be exonerated. Amanda Knox, Steven Avery? I’m not so much on their sides. But this case, Adnan’s case – it’s incredible the very small amount of evidence that was used against him, which was debunked from every angle.
This book also shows handwritten letters, scanned files, and the infamous cell phone records. All for you to see with your own eyes. Even though I knew how the story ended this time, I was hooked.
Currently, Adnan has served 16 years in prison, and is awaiting his retrial, which was granted in June of this year – big thanks to “Serial”. You can read the update here.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Regulars” by Georgia Clark. Want to read it with us? Contact me on social media @OrangeJulius7 and chat it up! There really are no rules in our tiny, non-committal bookclub.
As always, I hope you all have a great weekend planned. I’m performing in two shows on Sunday, so I’ll be practicing and weaving in hair extensions on Saturday, hosting a ladies’ night for my fellow stiletto performers, and rehearsing all day on Sunday prior to curtain call.
I took Monday off work to recover and give my brain a much-needed break. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging – you know I’d miss it too much not to. See y’all on Monday!
So, around a month ago I realized two things: 1. I am not really cut out for an “open office” environment. I get really, really distracted, and the sound of other people typing ignites a rage inside my blood that I cannot explain or deal with.
And 2., In order to block out all the noise (I’m the Grinch: the noise, noise noise!), I decided to stuff earbuds into my head from the moment I get to work until the moment I leave. This means I need 9 hours of things to listen to each day – 45 hours of listening content each week.
I looked into an Audible account, but it was ridiculously expensive. So, I asked YOU guys for cool podcasts I could listen to. And you delivered! Currently, here’s my list:
- Johnjay & Rich
- The Jillian Michael’s Show
- What Should I Read Next?
- Modern Love
- Mystery Show (finished)
- The Blog Millionaire (finished)
- The Agents of Change
- The Daily Boost
- Content Warfare
- On The Page: Screenwriting
- Curious About Screenwriting
- Oh Boy!
- Serial (finished)
Obsessed much? I’ll talk more about some of these other podcasts one day, but I really wanted to talk about Serial, because I finished listening to both seasons last week, and my days are pretty empty without it.
So what the heck is Serial? From the website: Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.
Currently, there are two seasons. Don’t worry, I’ll warn you if I drop any spoilers.
Season One: The Case Against Adnan Syed
Here’s what Serial’s website says about season one:
A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.
Sarah Koenig sorted through thousands of documents, listened to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talked to everyone she could find who remembered what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee. She discovered that the trial covered up a far more complicated story than the jury – or the public – ever got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence — all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.
This case is interesting for several reasons, but for me, one of them is the length of time that’s passed. I cannot remember shit, so if I were being asked now about what happened in high school on one certain day, there’s no way I’d be able to recall.
Also, the “evidence” in the case is super shady. Three words here: Cell Phone Data. It was 1999. You do the math. Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say. If you’ve listened to season one already and are hungry for an update, I found one here.
Season Two: The Case Against Bowe Bergdahl
This is my first time really seeing what Bergdahl looks like. He’s cute, no? If you pay attention to war news, the chances are likely you’ve heard of Prisoner of War, US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It was very high-profile, even pre-Serial. Here’s what the Serial website says about season two:
In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.
President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.
Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation. Finally, in March, the military charged Bergdahl with two crimes, one of which carries the possibility of a life sentence. Through all of this, Bergdahl has been quiet. He hasn’t spoken to the press or done any interviews on TV. He’s been like a ghost at the center of a raucous fight.
Now, in Season Two, we get to hear what he has to say.
For this season, Sarah Koenig teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 to find out why one idiosyncratic guy decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still going on.
Nightly News Update from March 2015 (no spoilers here):
Lots of people found season two to be boring, but I found it FASCINATING, to say the least. I will admit, because of my politics, I do not listen to as much war-related news as I did years ago. But, hearing a lot of this information firsthand was very, very eye-opening.
I found a recent update on Bowe’s case from January 2016, if you’re game.
So, will there be a season 3 of Serial? YES. Recently, season 3 was announced and is set to drop this spring. Details? Serial’s host, Sarah, has revealed the season 3 topic here.
And that’s a wrap, y’all! It’s Friday, and I hope you have a fantastical weekend that goes by nice and slow. I’ll see you right back here, on Monday!