Written by Taylor, staff member, Central Library
There is a forever growing list of amazing podcasts out there. Whether you’re looking to learn something new, be inspired, or entertained, there is something out there for you. With so much out there it can be hard to figure out what to listen to, so listed here are a variety of single episodes and podcast series that I think you’ll enjoy.
These podcasts will: teach you something, make you laugh, or keep you on the edge of your seat.
1) Levar Burton Reads: 1,000 Year Old Ghosts By Laura Chow Reeve
Let Levar Burton—of Reading Rainbow fame—read to you in his podcast Levar Burton Reads. In each episode, Burton reads one of his favourite pieces of short fiction allowing the listener to be submerged in the world of his story selection. In the linked episode, Burton reads Laura Chow Reeve’s 1,000 Year Old Ghosts, a story about remembering, forgetting, traditions, and the complex way families share these things. The story has beautiful soundscapes, including a variety of sounds from the story, like the cutting of an apple as well as some peaceful and quiet music. I recommend taking this beautiful story and enchanting voice on a nice peaceful walk.
2) This American Life: The Room of Requirements
This American Life tells the stories of everyday people, each week picking a theme and telling stories based on that theme. This episode of This American Life compares libraries to Harry Potter’s Room of Requirements, a room that appears exactly when you need it; a place where people are able to find exactly what they need. This episode shows the power of the library as a sanctuary, a safe place and a second home through three stories. It includes: one story about a library on the border of the U.S. and Canada, another on a fictional library that becomes reality and the last about a woman who spent a lot of time in her local library as a child. We’re of course a little biased but we believe this episode of This American Life shows the power of libraries—like Halifax Public Libraries—to be a place for everyone to learn and grow.
3) What Happened to Holly Bartlett
This podcast follows an investigation into the death of a young woman and may be disturbing to young listeners. Listener discretion is advised.
What Happened to Holly Bartlett is a six-episode series from Accessible Media Inc and Ocean Entertainment about the death of a Halifax woman. Holly Bartlett, was a blind woman and a Dalhousie University graduate student who was found nearly dead under Halifax’s MacKay Bridge in March 2010, passing away hours later in hospital. Halifax journalist Maggie Rahr, investigates the life and death of Holly and the quick conclusion by Halifax Regional Police, which determined her death to be an accident, closing the case. This was a conclusion that never sat right with the people who knew Holly. Maggie Rahr interviews friends and family and investigates with a private detective in an attempt to figure out what happened in the moments before Holly’s death and to try and bring a sense of closure to Holly’s loved ones. This podcast is an exceptional example of compassionate and thoughtful reporting done by Maggie Rahr and her team.
4) Radiolab: The Punchline
Radiolab is a podcast that covers just about everything. Their stories are interesting and intricate, often based on new scientific knowledge, but the podcast also covers just about any strange and interesting things happening in our world—all with exceptional reporting. You don’t have to be a hockey fan to love this hockey-centric episode of Radiolab. To quote the story producer, Latif Nasser “It’s a sports story but it’s so much more.” When a sports podcaster tries to take control of the NHL All-Star Game they call on their fans to vote for John Scott. John Scott is the last of a dying breed in hockey, an old-fashioned goon. He can’t shoot, he isn’t all that fast but he sure can fight, which is not the type of player generally deemed one of the greatest players in the NHL. Punchline is a heartfelt story about the trials and tribulations of standing your ground and an example of the power of the internet.
Accessibility note: There is also a transcript of this podcast which can be found here: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/radiolab-punchline
5) Everything is Alive: Maeve, Lamppost
Have you ever wondered what inanimate objects think, feel and see? This podcast, Everything is Alive has just what you’re looking for. Ian Chillag interviews various objects like pillows, soda cans, paintings and much much more, getting to know each person and to see how they view the world around them. Some episodes are silly and funny and others are uplifting and sweet. In this episode Ian interviews Maeve, a lamppost from New York. Listen to Maeve talk about what it’s like to be a lamppost and hear about her unique perspective on interpersonal issues and movies. This episode is laugh-out-loud funny and full of surprises.
6) 99% Invisible: Articles of Interest
Have you ever wondered how casual Friday came about? Or why women’s wear rarely has pockets? This six-episode mini-series from 99% Invisible is all about clothes. This podcast is brought to us by the 99% Invisible a podcast, which reports on the invisible things that move the world, particularly focusing on design with episodes about play structures and concrete. Each episode of this series tells the history and impact of various articles of clothing we live our lives in, basing each episode on one “article of interest” which includes: kids clothing, plaid, pockets, blue jeans, Hawaiian shirts, blue jeans, and the clothing style of punk. Each episode is an intricate look at how clothing and culture impact one another in invisible and very visible ways.
7) Heavyweight: Jimmy and Mark
Canadian storyteller, Jonathan Goldstein, aims to bring people back together with his podcast Heavyweight. This episode tells the story of Jonathan Marshall at 10 years old and his best friend John, as well as his family friends, Jimmy and Mark as they do something seemingly impossible. In the 70s these children biked 240 miles (386 km) across two states in two days, totally unsupervised. This episode of Heavyweight (like all others) is funny, sweet, charming and filled with surprises.
8) Reply All: #158 The Case of the Missing Hit
Reply All is essentially a podcast about the internet, but it spans much further than that, touching on all aspects of modern life, and helping people find answers to their questions and problems. This episode follows an investigation to find a song. A California man can remember the melody and some of the words of a song he is sure was a hit in his youth, but he can’t find proof that it truly existed anywhere outside of his own memory. Follow as host PJ Vogt goes to the ends of the earth in an attempt to track the song down. This episode provides some interesting insights about the music industry of the mid 90s from none other than Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies. This episode of Reply All is a charming look at what perseverance looks like—even for something a bit silly—as well as the power of memory and music.
Accessibility note: If you scroll down on the page you can click on the transcript and it will pop up.
Share with us some of your favourite podcasts and what you think of some of our selections in the comments! Happy listening.