Caroline Ballard is the host of HumaNature, a storytelling podcast at Wyoming Public Media that chronicles where humans and their habitat meet. Along with her colleagues Erin Jones, Anna Rader, and Micah Schweizer, she presents a collection of podcasts that feature women telling stories about living in the world.
If you’re reading this article here on RadioPublic, you probably already know we’re in a golden age of audio production. For us at HumaNature, this means it’s a remarkable time to share voices we otherwise wouldn’t hear. In addition to being hosted and (mostly) produced by women, our show features many women telling stories about their experiences in the natural world. These stories allow us, as listeners, to see the world through their eyes and then to think about our own place on Earth.
This selection of shows features stories told by women on a wide range of subjects: science, entrepreneurship, love, loss, the environment, and more. We hope they prompt you to think deeply about the world we share.
It’s us! Based at Wyoming Public Media in Laramie, WY, we tell stories about where humans and our habitat meet, putting our guests front and center. Giving people space to be vulnerable and express themselves means a mostly stripped down sound – I like to think of it as an “acoustic” podcast – that lets the stories shine. Wolves, death doulas, mountains, shark attacks, racing pigeons, sad stories, hilarious stories, scary stories – we’ve got it all.
Threshold is another show produced in the Mountain West, in Missoula, MT. Its debut season last year told the story of a Western icon: the American bison. Host Amy Martin crawled through sagebrush, mic in hand, to catch bison sounds (who knew even the mighty bison is mic-shy?), and interviewed ranchers, conservationists, and tribes to detail the bison’s past and future. Now, Threshold is back with its second season, reporting on life in the Arctic in a warming world. It’s a thoughtful show considering big questions about how we all relate to the wild.
This podcast has everything I look for in a science-fiction movie. A fantastic score, characters you grow attached to, drama, and the feeling of, “Can we travel to Mars?” The best part is it’s all real. The Habitat is presented as a type of reality show, with each episode showing what happens when you put six volunteer scientists in a dome for a year in an isolated part of Hawaii. Having a woman’s perspective in science fiction is pretty much nonexistent, so hearing from host and producer Lynn Levy is refreshing. Her curiosity gives you a chance to see what being an astronaut is all about. They’re not a group of heroic people. They’re complicated and flawed. But as Lynn has said about the show, that doesn’t mean they’re not “capable of greatness.”
If you love podcasts and you love hanging with cool women (which, you’re here, so… you do) you will LOVE ZigZag. Jen Poyant and Manoush Zomorodi are the cool older sisters I always wanted. I would kill to have a drink with them and talk all about women and media and entrepreneurship. Thankfully, this podcast – which details the beginnings of their new startup media company “Stable Genius Productions” – does the trick. They’re frank, funny and great producers, and they do an excellent job of taking you along for the ride as they navigate new digital territory (blockchain!) after quitting their WNYC jobs.
Alone: A Love Story
The CBC has been pushing boundaries in podcast production, and Alone: A Love Story is no exception. It opens the intimacy of audio to the most intimate literary genre: memoir. Writer and narrator Michelle Parise tells the story of a marriage, a baby, and a divorce. Common tale, uncommonly vulnerable telling. The podcast represents what I love best about books (fiction and memoir in particular): the pleasure of surrender to another person’s world and inner musings. But Alone lacks the clunky feel of book-to-movie. Instead, Parise has found an avenue to make podcasting literary in its own right.
Nocturne sounds unlike anything else in my podcast feed. It’s about nighttime, which may sound simple on the surface, but this goes deep. Host and producer Vanessa Lowe does an incredible job of scene-setting and pulling you into each episode. Lowe calls it “essay radio,” combining the best parts of interview, narrative, and rich soundscapes. Pair it with a sleepytime tea and a big comfy chair, and thank me later.
Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: firstname.lastname@example.org.