Our Favorite Podcasts

Our Favorite Podcasts


This week, we brought you interviews with the historians behind two new history podcasts, Dig and Sexing History. Today we polled our editors and writers: what are you listening to? 

What is your favorite history podcast?

Averill Earls: For indie podcasts, obviously Dig: A History Podcast. For people who get paid to podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class. Tracy and Holly are great hosts, do excellent research, and tell some fascinating stories in 30 minute episodes.

Lara Freidenfelds: I’m a fan of Ben Franklin’s World, which features interviews with scholars who write about early American history. Host Liz Covart does a great job of getting historians to articulate the core of their arguments clearly and succinctly. It’s a good way to learn about all the fantastic books I don’t have time to read. I also really enjoy listening to historians Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young dissect the week’s news and offer historical insights on Past Present.

Jacqueline Antonovich: All the ones above and I would add Radio Diaries to the list. It’s not your typical history podcast; rather, it’s a public radio project that gives tape recorders to people and works with them to report on their own lives and histories. It’s fascinating and each podcast intersects with so many historical topics like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Massacre of Tlatelolco, and the March of the Bonus Army. Listen to the episode “Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair” for a particularly moving and unnerving story of one woman trying to learn more about her past.

Sarah Handley-Cousins: Uh, obviously everyone’s answer should be Dig. (Shamless plug.) I echo Averill’s recommendation of Stuff You Missed in History Class – I often assign episodes to my students. But I also love The Whiskey Rebellion, a conversational podcast hosted by two American historians, David Silkenat and Frank Cogliano, who teach at University of Edinburgh. It’s like getting the chance to talk to very smart colleagues about the historical context to current affairs.

Screen shot of the most recent episodes from Dig: A History Podcast.

R.E. Fulton: For a podcast created to make sense of the 2016 election, Presidential is a delight to listen to. The cool thing about studying each of our 45 presidents in turn is that you get to touch on the “big moments” in history with people like Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, while also discovering the weird little pockets of the national past that don’t get much airtime in your basic U.S. survey. Who knew that Zachary Taylor was technically our most successful president?

Evan Sullivan: I’m a bit new to podcasts, but I have become acquainted with a few recently. I really enjoy the New Books Network podcasts, specifically the ones on Military History and Medicine. Its cool to hear the author’s own thinking behind each monograph. I will definitely commend Dig! I’ve only listened to a couple so far, but I really like that there’s an accompanying transcript (accessibility!). Not all podcasts do this, so kudos!

Emily Contois: For food history podcasts, I quite like A Taste of the Past, hosted by Linda Pelaccio on Heritage Radio Network, which broadcasts more than 40 different podcasts on a variety of food topics: food policy, culinary trends, food system innovation, up and coming chefs, the list goes on. A Taste of the Past often hosts food historians as they publish books, so it’s a great preview of all the great new work out there. I also like The Kitchen Sisters Present. I was so glad to be introduced to their work at last year’s Food History Weekend at the Smithsonian. Oh and Gastropod is great, “food with a side of science and history.”

Screen shot of Gastropod’s Sep 25, 2017 episode on marshmallow Fluff. Yum.

Lauren Thompson: I admit, I’m not a podcast person, but I’ll put in another plug for Dig — thanks to Sarah and Averill! I absolutely loved the one on Marie Stopes, and was fascinated by the one on the Marquis de Sade. If I teach a history of sex class, that one will be required listening!

Carrie Adkins: I mean, obviously Dig. But I also love The Memory Palace! Most of the episodes are just short vignettes from American history, but they’re surprisingly compelling and emotional.

Amelia Grabowski: Have we mentioned Dig? My favorite “history podcast” is technically a podcast about design, 99% Invisible. By exploring the design choices that inform our world, host Roman Mars and his team are actually exploring the history of what was happening when the choice was made, and how it has informed society in the past and present.

Do you have a favorite podcast that’s not history that fits within our general NC mission of gender/medicine/etc?

Laura Ansley: I’ve mentioned it on the blog before (a couple of my essays have been prompted by their episodes) but I love love love The Longest Shortest Time. It started out as a parenting podcast — and I don’t even have kids — but has expanded into telling all kinds of stories about families. Whether Hillary Frank is talking to the Accidental Gay Parents (one of my favorite series on the show) or interviewing celebs about their kids or getting a single guy to eat placenta, it’s just a great show.

Screen shot of the Sep 9, 2017 episode from The Longest Shortest Time.

Jacqueline Antonovich: I’m still a big fan of Invisibilia and Radiolab.

Sarah Handley-Cousins: I love Sawbones, a hilarious podcast about the wackier points in the history of medicine as hosted by physician Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin. It’s a great blend of history and comedy, but also sometimes has an important touch of serious, modern medical perspective on issues like the history of gender confirmation surgery and opioid addiction.

Evan Sullivan: I’m really looking forward to Alice Wong’s new Disability Visibility Podcast. It started September 18th and will incorporate guests to speak on disability activism, rights, culture, and politics. Episodes will deal with specific subjects like immigration, violence, and public service, among others. It sounds like a great and important podcast!

Emily Contois: I was just on Food Psych Podcast, which is hosted by Christy Harrison. Her background is in public health and dietetics, and she now specializes in intuitive eating, but her work and her podcast are also about so much more that, addressing issues like weight bias in healthcare and fat stigma in society more broadly, folks’ complicated relationships with food, the myths of western beauty, the empty promise of clean eating—all with a distinctly feminist foundation.

Carrie Adkins: Like Sarah, I definitely enjoy Sawbones. Neither host is a historian, and I sometimes wish for that perspective when I’m listening, but most of the time, it’s an incredibly fun way to hear about how health and medicine has evolved over time.

Screen shot of everyone’s (second) favorite podcast, Sawbones! (Second only to Dig, of course)

Amelia Grabowski: I love Death Sex and Money hosted by Anna Sale. Sale explores those three topics with her guests — from anonymous callers to some of the most famous names (Jane Fonda! Titus Burgess!). Looking for a place to jump in? Check out their series on the 10th anniversary of Katrina.

What’s generally your favorite podcast right now?

Laura Ansley: I’m a huge pop culture person and the very first podcast I got into was NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. PCHH continues to be the podcast that I immediately listen to when it appears in my feed. They have recently switched from once a week shows to shorter episodes multiple times a week, and it’s nice to get my fix of cool people talking great movies/TV/books more often.

Averill Earls: My Dad Wrote a Porno. I don’t even know what to say about this one. I just started it, and it is very funny and awkward, and I love it.

Lizzie Reis: I hardly ever listen to podcasts (since I don’t like to walk around in NY with headphones, and I don’t drive here, I don’t see when people find the time to listen!), but I always find time for Israel Story. I’ll admit that the reason I started listening was because the founder, Mishy Harman, was my daughter’s resident dorm advisor in college, and he was fabulous! He started the podcast with some of his high school friends (and then he got a PhD in History!), and they modeled it after This American Life. In fact, Ira Glass makes a guest appearance on their first episode. Each episode is about some aspect of daily life in Israel. The stories are fascinating and thoughtful; I’ve even used the one about gay Israeli men going abroad for reproductive technologies in one of my classes. The music that goes along with each episode is worth mentioning. I love this podcast!

I also listen to The Struggle Bus, a new podcast by my cousin, Sally Tamarkin (she also is a Health Editor for BuzzFeed) and her BFF, Katharine Heller. Their credentials are “They have lots of feelings and opinions.” They answer listeners’ questions and give sage advice, paying special attention to social justice issues.

Jacqueline Antonovich: I love, love, love, love Criminal. Did I mention I love it? I could listen to Phoebe Judge’s voice all day long. The thing I like about Criminal is that although it fits into the true crime genre of podcasting that is so popular these days, it never feels voyeuristic, and Judge always treats her subjects seriously and with compassion. My second favorite pop culture-ish podcast is Lore. It’s creepy, scary stories that aren’t too creepy or too scary.

Screen shot of Criminal’s really awesome episode display.

Sarah Handley-Cousins: I listen to way too many podcasts. But the ones I listen to as soon as they hit my feed are Dear Prudence, Savage Love, and Reply All. I’m loving a podcast created by my cousin on coping with grief, called Grief Relief. Recently, I’ve been delving into what might be categorized as progressive Christian podcasts, such as Deconstructionists and Inglorious Pasterds. I feel like I leave every episode with my mind blown. It’s a great way to refocus on the spiritual during a stressful week.

R.E. Fulton: My podcast feed is approximately 90% true crime. For thoughtful analysis of missing persons cases that often tackles social issues like mental illness, homelessness, border control and immigration, Thin Air is my #1 recommendation. For weird mysteries mixed with banter, try Thinking Sideways. And for quasi-true-crime that takes a sharp left turn into poignant small-town drama: you’ve probably heard it already from someone in your life, but you really do need to listen to S-Town.

Evan Sullivan: I started a couple podcasts, but it’s too early to say if they are my favorite because I’m new to them. The one that seems most promising is called Sawbones. As Sarah has explained above they take different medical ailments and go into detail about how people have tried curing or fixing them in the past.

Emily Contois: Y’all have given me tons of ideas for more podcasts I should be listening to! For food stuff I also listen to The Racist Sandwich Podcast and Special Sauce with Ed Levine. And totally randomly, I also dig How Did This Get Made, where a celebrity panel views and discusses wonderfully terrible movies. Adam Scott comes on everytime there’s a new Fast and Furious movie, and I just die laughing.

Cassia Roth: I love, love, love 2 Dope Queens from WNYC, hosted by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. These two amazing women host queer, women, people of color comics on their stand-up show, creating a funny space for resistance to the powers that be. I have seen them twice live, and it’s even better than listening on my phone. I use the piece by Pat Brown on Season 1, Episode 10 (We Got Some Feedback) to talk about the sexual politics of slavery in my courses.

Carrie Adkins: I listen to tons of podcasts, and some of my favorites — S-Town, Savage Love, 2 Dope Queens, How Did This Get Made — have already been mentioned. In addition, I’d suggest You Must Remember This, about the history of Hollywood film, and Imaginary Worlds, which is supposed to be about science fiction and fantasy writing but is actually so much bigger and more universal than it sounds.

Amelia Grabowski: I love, love, love Reply All. Ostensibly a show about the internet, it’s really about the incredible stories that come out of people intersecting with technology … or just the amazing story that the hosts discovered and have to share. From cam girls to internment camps, the episodes can touch on anything but consistently entertain and educate. Other favorites: West Wing Weekly. Having grown up knowing more about the fictional Bartlet Administration than the actual Bush administration, it’s the right blend of a nostalgia fest, learning about policy and politics, and catching all the references I was too young to get the first time.

Readers, did we miss your favorite podcast? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image caption: Podcasting week at Nursing Clio. (Image created by Averill Earls)

1 thought on “Our Favorite Podcasts

Comments are closed.