Yesterday’s Chip Paper is a nonfiction podcast in which hosts Violet and Jim look through old newspapers to find the strangest, most interesting stories they can:
Fortnightly(ish) podcast delving into incredible, macabre and bizarre stories from historic newspapers. Violet and Jim are two amateur researchers based on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Violet in London and Jim in New York, and every couple of weeks or so they get together to discuss the stories, poems and letters to the editor that they’ve found in the archives. Whether it’s global headline-making stories completely forgotten today or unusual reporting of famous events, it’s always guaranteed to be downright bonkers.
In practice, Yesterday’s Chip Paper is somewhere between Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!, a friends-discussing-a-topic podcast, and happening upon a gem of a Wikipedia article. Yesterday’s Chip Paper, though, has the benefit of discussing parts of history that are largely forgotten by online archives. Because the stories are taken from actual newspapers, they often have a local–or just especially strange–spin. If you’re looking for a podcast to learn some interesting cocktail party conversation, Yesterday’s Chip Paper is the perfect place to start.
Each episode of Yesterday’s Chip Paper is about an hour long, which is enough time to dive deep into the story they’re discussing while also allowing some much-needed banter. The jokes here are relaxed, getting (necessarily) a bit more bitter when reflecting back on how racist most of these writings were. The pacing is much more NPR or My Dad Wrote a Porno than My Brother, My Brother and Me, which feels welcome. Yesterday’s Chip Paper manages to balance between being funny, being informative, being relaxing, and being engaging. It’s a cozy listen that doesn’t feel sleepy. The dynamic between hosts Violet and Jim is funny and friendly without being exclusionary to the listener, as so many “friends discussing a thing” podcast tend to be.
The minimal editing sometimes gets this podcast close to the Good Conversation, Bad Podcast problem, but more often, the lack of editing feels natural here. There aren’t too many stumbles or mutters left into the audio, and the ones that are there add personality instead of detracting from the content. Yesterday’s Chip Paper isn’t 99% Insivible or Radiolab, because it doesn’t need to be.
Because this is a nonfiction podcast, listeners don’t need to worry about starting back in episode 1. I’d actually recommend starting with the newest episode and moving backwards. “26. The Gruesome Crimes of Anton Probst” was an especially fun listen, feeling delightfully subversive of the true crime podcast genre with its levity. If discussions of terrible crimes aren’t your interest, “24. ‘Jane ‘Jane Cakebread Again’: The Tale of History’s Drunkennest Woman” is another hilarious and bizarre first listen.
You can find Yesterday’s Chip Paper on any major podcast platform or on their Player.fm site.
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