These new shows always pop to the top of my queue.
I encountered thousands of new shows this year, sampled hundreds of them, and from that endless list, some of them stuck around my queue and my mind for quite a bit longer. These are the seventeen shows that started in 2017 I’m grateful exist in the world today: for their fresh perspective, creative approach to telling a story, and for taking me places I’ve never been before.
A Piece of Work (WNYC Studios and MoMA)
You might not think that visual art can be stunning in audio form, but my friend, you’d be wrong. Whether you love modern and contemporary art or you don’t “get” it, Abbi Jacobson is the perfect guide to accompany this audio-visual journey.
Beginner Podcast (Misha Euceph)
It can be easy to forgot the process of learning the small things we first experienced as kids that are second nature to us now. Misha revisits a lot of the basic things she missed in an American childhood including riding a bike, learning to sing, and reading children’s books in her personal narrative podcast.
Dear (brie ripley and Davis Land)
Two friends send audio letters to each other. Dear is short, sweet, and really, really lovely.
Ear Hustle (Radiotopia)
Stories about life in prison, told by those living it––deeply personal, eye-opening, touching stories. I have probably recommended this show to more people close to me this year than any other: I can’t get it out of my mind and I’m eagerly awaiting the next season.
Every Little Thing (Gimlet Media)
The trivia obsessed person who lives inside me is unabashedly in adoration with this show. Flora Lichtman asks the best questions of the most interesting people about the smallest things.
Fruit (Issa Rae and Stitcher)
I’m still warming up to fiction podcasts so I try many yet rarely get past the first episode. This drama about sexuality and a professional football player finding his way in the world was a solid 1.5 hours of marathon listening during a summer road trip, and it wasn’t just the July heat that was steamy.
Hostile Worlds (The Podcast Host)
I have truly never heard anything like this show. It’s dancing on the line of fiction and non-fiction, with a spaceship traveling across the universe to dangerous places unexplored by humans and researchers explaining what we’re experiencing there. It’s incredible. (The first few minutes of the first episode explaining our solar system are stunning.)
Kismet (Bart Warshaw)
I love meeting stories–in fact, I had a birthday party once in which everyone in attendance told a story about how we met (for the record: my dad won that round). Kismet intertwines the narratives of how people meet in a simple and effective style: interviews are done separately, then edited together in a forward moving story (I love it when each interviewee uses the same turn of phrase about a particular moment).
Meet Your Maker (Liam Geraghty)
Any creative endeavor that is about the people behind a creative endeavor is automatically on my list of favorite things. (Also the show’s theme music? Top Breakmaster Cylinder composition since Reply All’s theme music, in my opinion.)
Nancy (WNYC Studios)
I’ve been waiting for this show to appear since I learned about the original pitch winning the WNYC Studios podcast accelerator in 2015. It’s real, honest, and down to earth, and covers a huge range of stories, journeys, and experiences that I’ve never heard all in one place before.
Never Before with Janet Mock (Lenny Letter and Pineapple Street Media)
Insightful, critical, and touching interviews with performers, politicians, writers, and activists. Janet Mock is a magnetic and warm interviewer, even when she brushes up against tricky subjects with her guests.
Other: Mixed Race in America (Alex Laughlin and Washington Post)
Other is a shining example of what a deliberate and thoughtful in its delivery short-run series can be. I’m firmly in the mindset that not all things need to go on forever even if they are really good, and Other’s approach (one episode per day for one week) was exactly right for me. I found myself listening as soon as an episode appeared each day, and that was an extremely satisfying listening experience.
Pregnant Pause with Zak and Shira (Zak Rosen)
I’ve never made a podcast and I’m not a parent, so from my observational standpoint, both are an overwhelming labor of love that are time-consuming, exhausting, and something to be incredibly proud of. Pregnant Pause is part personal narrative, part research, and it’s such a roller coaster of emotions.
Rough Translation (NPR)
Rough Translation provides an international perspective of our current topics of conversation here in the US. It does an incredible job of centering the narratives of a particular place in a timeless way, and it’s done wonders for me as I think about my place in the world.
Sum of All Parts (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Did I expect a mathy show to become one of my go-to additions to my podcast queue? (I wasn’t NOT not expecting it, I suppose? I never know what to expect will come next in the world of podcasts.) Sum of All Parts has my undivided attention when it comes to reporting the unseen influences of numbers in our lives.
Even the title of this show hits me on exactly the right level: open the fridge, the light goes on. The ah-ha moments in this investigative food podcast wasn’t something I didn’t know I was hungry for til it appeared (I don’t think I’ll ever get my fill of this one).
Versify (Nashville Public Radio)
There’s so much heart in this show: over the course of each episode, life stories are shared, then turned into an original poem that’s shared back with the storyteller. It’s a shining example of the symbiotic magic that can come from empathetic ears and creative minds.
Launching a new show or season in 2018? Do let us know.