This Week in Podcasts is a weekly roundup of the goings-on in podcasting, from highlights to pitfalls to updates and more. Have updates or crowdfunding campaigns you want listed? Check here for directions on how to get in touch.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
“Our Summer Movie Preview”
Release date: 4/18/19
Runtime: 34 minutes
Transcript not available
Most NPR podcasts are listens I get to when I can, but there are certain annual event releases I never miss. Pop Culture Happy Hour’s annual summer movie preview is always a favorite: not only does it put upcoming movies on my radar, but it’s also fascinating hearing how each host will predict which movies will do well, both critically and financially. These episodes have a certain electricity with them, making it feel like the hosts look forward to it every year, too. I love that Pop Culture Happy Hour, especially in episodes like these, focus on media without being dismissive of “low art.” There’s discussing of capital-F Film, naturally, but there’s also genuine adoration of popcorn movies.
A RadioPublic embed of the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode, “Our Summer Movie Preview,” which you can also find here.
The Adventure Zone Picks Up—A Little Late
I’ve had a long love affair with The Adventure Zone, but for the last few months, their ongoing “Amnesty” arc has fallen flat for me. This actual play podcast, currently running the Monster of the Week system, recently picked up some of the excitement from its previous “Balance” campaign, but unfortunately, this only served to emphasize how lackluster the game has been overall. There’s been some discussion about how “Amnesty” feels less exciting due to its system, that actual play podcasts only feel successful when they run traditional Dungeons and Dragons, but as someone who understands the virtues of Monster of the Week, I couldn’t disagree more. Instead, it feels like Keeper Griffin McElroy hasn’t quite found his footing in the overarching narrative of the story, that the players haven’t quite settled into their characters yet. The Adventure Zone remains a fun listen, but it’s no longer a podcast I find myself waiting on every other week.
Invisibilia Eschews Reality for Story
Another once-was favorite of mine, Invisibilia, has fallen to a podcast I sometimes avoid entirely because of the discomfort it’s started to bring. Invisibilia, like similar podcast Radiolab, uses true stories to analyze a certain theme. In a recent episode, the podcast praised a shockingly unethical treatment method for pain management; in another, empathy is discussed as something detrimental instead of positive. The problem here isn’t the discussion of the topics at hand. The problem, instead, is twofold: first, there’s an idea that one position on the argument is correct, though the hosts seemingly want the episodes to feel more open to interrogation; second, the podcast continually favors the concept of an interesting story over the human lives behind it. There’s a sort of intellectualization of dehumanization throughout the series—a series which prides itself, at least until recently, on being powered by empathy—usually reserved for genres like true crime. The intimate look into peoples’ lives has started feeling less like a genuine care for its subjects and more like a smoke and mirrors attempt to hide the voyeuristic, removed-from-reality approach to each discussion.
SyFyWire Shares Some Favorite Fantasy Audio Fiction
Kristina Menente via SyFyWire shares her favorite fantasy audio fiction to help Game of Thrones fans recover when its final season ends. A mix of actual play and scripted audio fiction, the list features plenty of independent podcasts like The Once and Future Nerd.
What’s the Frequency? IndieGogo for Season 2
What’s the Frequency?’s crowdfunding campaign for their second season ends on 4/24/19.
Catch-ups are podcasts that aren’t new, but ones I caught up with during the week.
Moonbase Theta, Out
It is 2098. The Moonbase program, owned and operated by corporate enclaves back on Earth, has been determined unprofitable. The last base, Theta, is twenty weeks from being decommissioned. Most of the crew is in stasis awaiting retrieval.
In a series of weekly broadcasts, Roger Bragado-Fischer, Communications, reports to management. He counts down to the scheduled end with a wry sense of humour, reporting on the crew’s progress, the frustrations and isolation caused by the shutdown, and the bits of beauty and hope still available. Each broadcast ends with a personal message to his husband, Alexandre, waiting for his return.
A RadioPublic embed of the Moonbase Theta, Out episode, “Promo Episode!” which you can also find here.
Timestorm is an audio fiction series produced by Cocotazo Media.
When twins Alexa and Beni Ventura are sucked into an inter-dimensional portal, they meet a distant cousin who presents them with an incredible mission: travel through time to uncover hidden moments from their culture’s past. Along the way, they meet people from Africa, Europe, and the Americas who have left their mark on Puerto Rican heritage…only their names aren’t found in history books.
In the twenty-first century, Alexa and Beni navigate school, friendship, and home life while keeping their time-traveling pursuits secret. When a natural disaster devastates islands across the Caribbean, the twin’s come to understand just what’s at stake for their ancestral home. As Puerto Rico faces an uncertain future, Alexa and Beni do all they can to witness, find, and remember its past.
Timestorm is produced with support from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program.