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Four Podcasts to Listen in the Fall of 2017

When you’re circling the block with your phone in your hand because you just have to finish an episode before going home (Ottawa, October 2017)

Are you guys all back to work? Are you dealing with long, boring commutes? Someone spoiled Game of Thrones for you? Is the news too depressing?

I have the solution—podcasts. Download, play, and enjoy an immersive experience.

Here is how I usually proceed:

  1. I download the podcast. There is either a direct link (i.e. you click on it and the file downloads automatically) or a media player. In the latter case, if you want to save the file on your computer or device, just right-click and choose “save audio as” from the menu.
  2. I transfer the files to my phone. I just plug the device into my laptop and drag the files to the “podcast” folder. This way, I can listen to podcasts offline and I don’t waste my precious data.
  3. If data isn’t a concern or if you can rely on a good Wi-Fi connection, you can also use one of the many apps to manage and play your podcast subscriptions.

All good? Here are my latest picks for the season.

Locked Up Abroad

Locked Up Abroad conjures two nightmare scenarios—running into legal trouble in a foreign country and going to jail. The podcast, an audio adaptation of the National Geographic TV series, brings first-hand accounts of people who lived through this experience in Bali, Istanbul, Sao Paolo or Somalia.

The season opened with the famous story of Billy Hayes’ 1970 arrest and imprisonment for possession of hashish at the Turkish Airport. If most of the stories involve very bad decisions, drugs and the naïve belief you can totally get away with smuggling marijuana, cocaine or heroin into a country, a few focus on “wrong place at the wrong time” moments, such as a Colombian kidnap or a journalist held hostage in Somalia. No matter where the story takes place, it’s a truly immersive experience for listeners.

Science Vs.

Sometimes, you instinctively know some fads or trending opinions are bullshit, even though they are framed as “scientific facts.”

From organic food to attachment parenting, from gun control to detoxing and cleansing, Australian host Wendy Zukerman relies on the scientific community to find out what’s fact and what’s not. With an emphasis on balanced, non-political positions on a wide range of topics, this is the anti-fear-mongering Facebook feed—because science > opinion.

Ear Hustle

When I first saw this podcast, a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist, I thought it was scripted… but it’s not, and it’s surprisingly candid, nuanced and honest.

Ear Hustle brings stories of life in California’s oldest prison, from the way inmates cope with insanely long sentences to how skin colour influences carceral experiences, from solitary confinement to the art of being married and serving 30-years-to-life sentences.

While most inmates explain the context of their incarceration, the podcast doesn’t dwell on the past and the crimes committed but focus solely on the immediate experiences of the person. It doesn’t explicitly question the American prison system either, although I’m sure you will wonder about the big picture, including the structures of the prison-industrial complex.

There’s a breath of humanity in Ear Hustle. Surprising given the context, amazing even considering this environment is often cruel, inhumane and degrading.

Bonus for French Speakers: Transfer

Look at the person sitting next to you on the bus. Look at the woman in front of you at the bank, and the guy behind you at the coffee shop. They all have a story you can probably relate to.

Transfer features first-person narrative tales. You don’t know these people but you’ll feel close to them by the end of the episode. Stories are detailed, facts are clearly articulated. You feel like you’re listening to a friend. You think you see it coming but you won’t because each personal story has twists and a depth beyond what you probably imagined.

Turn off the lights and listen to them. Then pause and analyze how you feel. Different? Yeah, you will.

If you have podcasts to recommend, please do share!

When you’re circling the block with your phone in your hand because you just have to finish and episode before going home (Ottawa, October 2017)
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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