Reimagining storytelling in hyperlocal communities

Curated by Luke Griffin, creator of Bushwick Podcast

Luke Griffin is the creator of Bushwick Podcast, a hyperlocal series for residents in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Here, Luke presents a collection of other podcasts informing and engaging local communities around the country.

So much of the narrative around podcasts these days is about their potential to go big. But at Bushwick Podcast, we’re more excited about their potential to go small.

Podcasts are more portable, democratic, and accessible than nearly any other medium, making them uniquely well-suited to focus on topics, like local stories for intimate audiences, that other mediums can’t. With our series, for instance, we’re exploring how to use podcasts to share actionable—and, as we like to say, “hyper-relevant”—stories in our home of Bushwick, Brooklyn. And we’re not alone.

Podcasting’s low barrier to entry has catalyzed a new generation of voices to begin sharing stories from their own communities, and podcasters from all kinds of backgrounds are using the medium’s accessibility and flexibility to engage with audiences in innovative new ways. As traditional local media outlets shrink and disappear across the country, it’s never been more urgent to do so. With this collection, we’re sharing some of the most exciting teams using podcasts to reimagine the future of local storytelling.   

While this is just a small sample of the many different local shows available, we wanted to highlight how dynamic this new frontier of podcasting is. There are series that cover topics as broad as local policy, and as specific as neighborhood food scenes. They come from sources as traditional as local radio stations, and as unconventional as small business owners. But as diverse as these shows are, what unites them is simple: they’re using the power of storytelling to bring their communities closer together.

View, follow, and listen to the whole collection of shows on RadioPublic, available on iPhone and Android.

Bushwick Podcast (Brooklyn, New York)

Our series share stories of the artists, activists, and entrepreneurs reshaping Bushwick, one of Brooklyn’s most dynamic—and fastest gentrifying—neighborhoods. We work with community stakeholders, like local businesses and nonprofits, to celebrate Bushwick’s culture and break down the neighborhood’s biggest issues for anyone to understand. In a community that feels increasingly vulnerable, our goal is to inspire listeners to connect with their neighbors to help make it stronger.

LA Podcast (Los Angeles, California)

Over on the west coast, LA Podcast is a sharp weekly update on the latest in Los Angeles policy and politics. The hosts bring a fresh and approachable voice to some of the city’s most urgent issues, ranging from housing to public transportation. While Los Angeles has the benefit of being a big media market with more coverage than most areas, this series shows how podcasters are redefining what a smart briefing can sound like for civically-minded folks looking to diversify their media diets.

The Broadcast Podcast (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

The Broadcast Podcast is a great example of how podcasts are activating necessary new voices to share important local stories. As the duo behind the show says, they’re breaking away from the “dude-centric” trappings of many podcasts and highlighting the voices of women doing incredible work in the Pittsburgh area. The Steel City has a rich history of celebrating local stories, and this series takes that tradition in an exciting new direction.

Women in Wyoming (throughout the state of Wyoming)

Like The Broadcast Podcast, Women in Wyoming highlights local stories of inspiring women. But in this case, “local” has a bit of a broader meaning: Women in Wyoming unpacks the journeys of pioneering women, from cowgirls to cultural preservationists, across the state.

Peach and Prosperity (throughout the state of Georgia)

Produced by a dad and daughter duo, Peach and Prosperity is another example of how podcasters are redefining what the voices of local media sound like. Each episode takes a colloquial, intimate look at how Georgia’s movers and shakers are driving change in their local communities and shifting conversations across the South.

The D Brief (Detroit, Michigan)

Something like a digital take on the morning radio show, The D Brief breaks down the latest in Detroit’s arts and entertainment. Featuring guests like the mayor-appointed “chief storyteller of the City of Detroit Government,” the series introduces listeners to the people and scenes moving Detroit’s dynamic culture forward.

Lawrence Forking Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas)

Local podcasting has unlocked a whole new scale of storytelling. Take Lawrence Forking Kansas, for example. The series focuses on the surprisingly big food scene in the small college town of Lawrence, Kansas. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about your favorite local haunt, the show’s candid interviews with Lawrence’s chefs and restaurateurs play out a bit like the questions you never had the chance to ask.

Out of the Blocks (Baltimore, Maryland)

While many of our examples are independently produced, Out the Blocks shows what happens when a local radio station—in this case, Baltimore’s WYPR—invests in ambitious local storytelling. This PRX-supported series dives into the many shades of urban life across Baltimore, with richly-produced stories stretching from block to block.

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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: librarian@radiopublic.com.

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