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.
Note: During the current COVID-19 crisis, I will not be covering any COVID-19-related podcasts; however, I recommend you read Inside Podcasting, which is covering how podcasts react to the pandemic. Instead, I will be using the usual “Highlights” section to talk about comforting, uplifting, and cathartic podcasts that may help you feel more at ease.
WBUR’s Kind World is the fun-sized sweet fix we all need
From WBUR in Boston, Kind World is a podcast with true stories of kindness. Clocking in at under 20 minutes each episode–and with early episodes running at just around 5 minutes–the stories are paced to have a sense of narrative, usually starting off in an emotionally dark place only to be brought into hope towards the end. The stories linger just enough to make a lasting impact, never running on long enough that they feel melodramatic or saccharine. With a long backlog of episodes, there’s plenty here to remind you of the kindness in the world.
Do you listen to a hopeful, uplifting, or comforting podcast that might bring readers comfort? Comment down below, and your contribution may be used in a future edition of This Week in Podcasts.
VALENCE releases a standalone guided relaxation exercise
Our team at Hug House Productions has released a guided relaxation exercise episode to help listeners find some peace right now. While there are mentions to the world and plot of VALENCE, it can be listened to without any knowledge of the show.
Jeff Stormer of Party of One and All My Fantasy Children debuts actual play resource series, The Podcast Game
Award-winning podcaster Jeff Stormer of actual play podcasts Party of One and All My Fantasy Children has launched a series of articles for actual play podcasters, The Podcast Game.
As explained in a press release, “The article series, publishing bi-weekly on Jeff’s Medium page, will cover the topics podcasters need to know about approaching publishers, recruiting guests, and promoting games through podcasts — and how designers can leverage podcasts to promote their games, make the most of guest appearances on podcasts.”
As of writing, three editions have been published. The series updates biweekly.
Unnecessary Sequels‘s first season wraps
Fiction podcast Unnecessary Sequels aims to make sequels to films that didn’t need one. Initially, the podcast seems to be an anthology, but “it is in fact slowly serialized with the character development of one of the hosts (and his fictional need to sabotage the show) and a recurring character in most episodes.” The first season of Unnecessary Sequels concluded on March 18th, 2020.
Four-part fiction comedy Captivated concludes
A semi-finalist from the 2019 Austin Film Fest, Captivated is a comedic audio drama about a radio station held at gunpoint by a gunman who is in way over his head.
Starved for listeners, Barry the Beast in the Morning is hosting a call-in contest for a cash prize and a pair of Kid Rock meet and greet tickets. Under the impression that the money is literally kept inside the radio station, Kid Rock fan KEVIN and his “good Christian” girlfriend HOPE conspire to steal the prize money.
The fourth episode has been released, and the series can now be listened to in full on any podcatcher.
New literature interview podcast Bookable debuts
Bookable launched March 1st, 2020, and features sound-rich interviews with authors about their novels:
Hosted by author Amanda Stern, creator and host of the Happy Ending Music and Reading Series at New York City’s famous Joe’s Pub and Symphony Space, Bookable features your favorite and soon-to-be favorite authors sharing stories–both in and around the book–with deep-dives into how the work came to be. Bookable’s first season is eight episodes, and includes Alexander Chee, Mira Jacob, Susan Choi, Oyinkan Braithwaite.
Each Sunday, listeners can expect tight interviews, creative sound design, and mood-provoking scores as you settle in to explore a new book–one everyone’s talking about, a classic or something slightly obscure with the author leading the way.
New cryptid-focused audio drama Believer debuts
Believer, a paranormal drama fiction podcast, was launched on March 3rd, 2020:
Created, written, and produced by stage and TV scriptwriter Julie Saunders, BELIEVER is the story of a fake psychic who travels to a small town in Oregon in search of her missing ex-girlfriend. Dealing with themes of faith, belief, and mental illness, the show mixes real-world paranormal concepts with a fictional setting. The first season places Bigfoot lore against a Lovecraftian backdrop, all set in the Mount Hood National Forest. With a complicated bi/pan protagonist and a distinctly Pacific Northwest mood, BELIEVER seeks to feel familiar and brand new all at once.
New sci-fi fiction podcast Red Valley debuts
Red Valley, a new sci-fi fiction podcast borne out of an obsession with hypersleep, released its first episode March 22nd, 2020:
Hypersleep, also known as cryosleep, stasis, suspended animation and any number of other names, is one of the most pervasive tropes in science fiction. Like lightspeed or artificial gravity, it is one of the great means-to-an-ends in all of the genre.
From Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo waking in their matching white pods in Alien, to Dave Lister being in stasis for 3 million years on board Red Dwarf, none of these stories ever explain how such incredible technology – the ability to place a human in safe, ageless hibernation, often at extreme low temperatures – came to be. To what lengths might someone go to create such technology? What lines might they have to cross? Who would be the first subjects to go through this process – and would they make it out in one piece?
The L.A. Times launches the limited series Asian Enough
On March 20th, 2020, The L.A. Times launched interview podcast Asian Enough. The series will run for 13 episodes.
[Asian Enough is a] new podcast about being Asian American — the joys, the complications and everything else in between. Hosted by Times Staff Writer Jen Yamato and Columnist Frank Shyong, the 13-episode series will feature interviews with celebrity guests where they share personal stories and unpack identity on their own terms.
The podcast will explore the vast diaspora across cultures, backgrounds and generations, as guests reveal “Bad Asian Confessions” and try to expand the ways in which being Asian American is defined.
New relationship podcast How’s Your Heart debuts
Hosted by Michael Turrentine, voice actor on Unwell, How’s Your Heart is an advice podcast about navigating relationships while black and queer:
Michael Turrentine and Audacious Machine Creative launch the chat style podcast How’s Your Heart? on Monday, March 16, 2019. Michael Turrentine & his fabulous friends gather to discuss dating, sex, queerdom, all those feelings, and more.
Diving into the conversations we don’t usually have in public, How’s Your Heart? is hilarious, vulnerable, and unapologetic. Early episodes cover topics like being pigeonholed as a bottom, online dating while black, communication in polyamorous relationships, and yoni eggs.
New Own Voices fiction podcast Light Hearts to premier in April
Light Hearts, an upcoming fiction podcast by Tal Minear, will debut April 6th, 2020:
Light Hearts is an episodic, light-hearted sitcom about queer people thriving in strange and unusual situations. The first episode, “Opening the Door” will be released on April 6 of this year. Currently, two trailers have been released.
This show is created by Caroline Mincks (she/her), Evan Tess Murray (they/them), and Tal Minear (they/them). The three of them also write, act in, and produce the show. Each episode will also feature a different guest voice actor in a central role.
Designed as an Own Voices story, this show is intended to both build community among queer podcasters and to create an escape from some of the less savory aspects of queer life. Light Hearts is committed to respectfully showing the breadth and variety of queerness, while also being as silly as possible, with low-stakes hilarity that doesn’t rest its humor on doing harm.
New fiction podcast Signed, Venus to premier in May
A new road trip mystery fiction podcast, Signed, Venus, will debut May 27th, featuring “Rin and Michael McKitt as Hayden and Kameron, and will feature the voices of Jamie Kim, Shari McNeill, and Audio Verse Award winner Emma Sherr-Ziarko of Wolf 359.” The podcast
Set in the fictional country of Conclaire, a setting marked by isolated, distinctly cultured towns that have only a travel taboo in common, the only way for residents of Coast Venus to learn about the rest of the country is by reading Signed, Venus, an ongoing series of journals written by a convention-breaking traveller known as The Writer.
When Hayden, Signed, Venus’s biggest fan and most astute reader, becomes convinced that the latest instalment contains a hidden invitation to find The Writer, they persuade their partner Kameron to join them on a fun and light-hearted quest to track The Writer down. Along the way, they meet many of the colourful characters that The Writer thought to record in their journals, and soon begin to realize that things may not all be as the traveller made them seem.
Catch-ups are podcasts that aren’t new, but ones I caught up with during the week.
The Subjective Truth
The Subjective Truth is a serialized docudrama about Legacy, Ego and the Unexplainable. In June of 2020, a podcaster disappeared from the Carson National Forest while searching for the Fenn Treasure. Join our host, Graham Anderson, as she uncovers all the answers to the question of… What happened to Buddha Kline? KILL THE GOATMAN FIND YOUR TREASURE Writing & Sound Design by Jeremy Ellett Original Music provided by Bajio Alvarado Starring: | Addison Peacock | A.R. Olivieri | Danyelle Ellett | Sarah Golding | Steve McGrath | Roger J. Thacher | Jen Lyles | Josh Rubino | Dallas Wheatley | Blythe Renay | Chris Butera | Gabriel Hicks | Jordan Cobb | Halen Dean | Aurore Gautheur | Lauren Ezzo | Bajio Alvarado | Karin Heimdahl | Bailey Cuccaro | Good Pointe Podcasts.
Asking for It
A queer contemporary take of the Goldilocks tale: about love, music, and breaking the cycle of abuse. Goldie escapes a chaotic childhood only to go from a partner who starves her of love to a partner who nearly drowns her in it, before learning to be just right on her own. From CBC Podcasts and Mermaid Palace. Produced by award-winning podcast creator Kaitlin Prest featuring writer/director Drew Denny.
Margaritas and Donuts
MARGARITAS & DONUTS is a limited series romcom about dating over 40. Josephine, a pediatrician, is pretty unlucky romantically. With a little coaxing from her best friend Katrina, Josephine starts a relationship with Malik, an ophthalmologist that works in the office across the hall from hers. Malik is exactly what Josephine needs, but she doesn’t quite realize it…yet.
Folxlore tells the stories of queer people living literally and figuratively between two worlds. In one sense, we try to live normal lives while the world tells us we are not normal. In another sense, our normal lives are interrupted by a very not-normal rift opening up between our world and another plane of existence filled with nightmarish horrors. Folxlore is rooted in everyday Glasgow, where monsters are always on the edge of your periphery.
Null and Void crowdfunding its first season
Upcoming fiction podcast Null and Void is crowdfunding its first season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $3,300 USD and will be running until April 1st, 2020:
Out past the edge of town, past the rock outcroppings where the highway disappears. You’ll see a tree. She’ll be there.
Null/Void is a story about finding your place in the world and all the aggravations and heartbreak that come with growing up. It is a queer, modern science fiction audio drama that follows a young woman, Piper Lee, whose life is saved by a mysterious voice named Adelaide. After uncovering a malicious plot, Piper and her friends must defend their small town from a family of ruthless billionaires who wish to exploit and destroy it. The season premiers April 2020 and will have 13 episodes, released every two weeks.
This campaign is currently 10% funded as of publication.
Cryptic crowdfunding its second season
Fiction podcast Cryptic is crowdfunding its second season via Kickstarter. The campaign has a goal of $2,000 USD and will be running until March 31st, 2020:
Cole and Julie continue their adventures in the unknown, and the things that go bump in the night!
This campaign is currently 75% funded as of publication. 10% of the funds raised will be independently donated to local charities by the podcast’s creators.