I travel across the state for work and across the county getting to my office. As a result, I spent a good deal of time listening to podcasts. Here are my favorites from the summer of 2017.
S-Town. S-Town is an investigative journalism podcast created by the producers of the award-winning podcast, Serial. The host, Brian Reed, created S-Town in seven chapters and unlike the common form of releasing a chapter a week, released all seven chapters at once allowing followers to binge listen. The podcast was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times in four days.
Reed lets us in on a secret; S-Town is actually a euphemism for “Shit Town”, the colorful name bestowed on the town of Woodstock, Alabama by the show’s even more colorful protagonist, John B. McLemore.
McLemore sends an email to Reed, a staff member of This American Life, asking him to investigate a murder in Woodstock. The journey Reed and McLemore takes is breathtaking with shocking turns of events. If you have ever lived in the rural south, you will recognize the characters and their stories, and your hearts will rise and break along with theirs.
Ear Hustle. An intriguing name, to ear hustle is to eavesdrop. Or as the Urban Dictionary says, “all up in somebody else’s business without knowing the details”. When you finish Ear Hustle, you know the details. Co-produced by San Quentin inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, along with Bay Area artist, Nigel Poor, the series explores life in San Quentin.
The podcast does not preach against the ills of mass incarceration or of a justice system that has glaring faults, instead, the show humanizes men who are spending decades in prison. They talk about everything from family and heartbreak to the difficulties of finding a compatible roommate.
With no training in the medium, rudimentary equipment, and boatloads of bureaucracy and red tape, Woods, Williams and Poor are becoming master storytellers and I am hooked. As I listen, I am reminded of Bryan Stevenson’s quote in his excellent book on social justice, Just Mercy, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman. Internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman interviews famous founders such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Lean In, Eric Schmidt of Google and Sara Blakely of Spanx.
Hoffman explores such ideas such as leadership, building company culture, critical problem solving and gender equality in the workplace.
Revisionist History. One of my favorite social scientists and authors, Malcolm Gladwell, examines the way the passage of time “changes and enlightens our understanding of the world around us.” One of my favorite episodes from last season was “My Little Hundred Million”. This episode looks at the ideologies behind charitable giving and educational philanthropy. An episode this year that got my attention was “A Good Walk Spoiled”. Because of this episode, I’ll never look at golf courses in the same way.
WDW Prep to Go. Walt Disney World. Enough said. Well, perhaps a little more. Shannon Albert, the host of this delightful podcast offers tips to planning the most magical Disney vacation. Her website is a “must visit” if you are planning a trip and her six step planning process is a great model.
I hope your summer has allowed for some down time and in the remaining weeks, you will get a chance to listen to some of these great stories.