Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton have been making their endlessly discursive podcast since 2010. Each episode picks a culinary category—kale chips, spanakopita—but subjects are really just apparatuses for the hosts’ convivial riffing.
Here’s to trivia, marginalia, and esoterica! Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy! fame) and John Roderick (of band the Long Winters) tackle topics to which you’ve likely given little thought—German telegrams, Thomas the Tank Engine, Marilyn vos Savant. The pleasure is that they’re passionate enough to make their erudition feel infectious.
Think you understand Anastasia and Rasputin because of that animated movie? Or that you dismiss, say, Courtney Love for good reason? Well, let Michael Hobbes (a Seattle HuffPost reporter) and Sarah Marshall (a Portland writer) serve as your joyful killjoys. Each week they take a topic and tear down the facades built by media, capitalism, and your own faulty memory. available via major platforms
Local writers Anastacia-Reneé and Reagan Jackson host conversations, by turns probing and funny, with artists and thinkers of color. That can mean talking with experience designer and consultant BJ Star about their transformation while fasting in the wilderness. Or joking with poet Quenton Baker about how his life story resembles the Azealia Banks movie Love Beats Rhymes.
Former lovers Clara Pluton and Val Nigro pair the easy conversational chemistry most never-entangled podcasters only dream of with satisfyingly spicy opinions on questions like, “What makes a queer icon?” They’re well on their way to qualifying. available via major platforms —Zoe Sayler
Think Seattle psychology show and you likely think Frasier. But rather than a wellspring of pretense, Psychology in Seattle host Dr. Kirk Honda offers an even-keeled take. There’s something refreshing about an advice guy, in an episode on pandemic hope, saying: “We have this obsession with being positive and happy, which is completely irrational. Life is suffering and sadness.”
If this winter is anything like the end of last, we’ll spend a good amount of it indoors and some escaping into nature. Ecologist Chris Morgan’s podcast, The Wild, can help us understand such escapes. In each episode, Morgan, in his calming English accent, discusses a topic related to the outdoors, like whether we should reintroduce grizzlies into the North Cascades.
In this podcast, photographer Matika Wilbur (Tulalip and Swinomish) and scholar Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) bring in experts to investigate aspects of contemporary Native life. What does it mean to decolonize sex? What’s really going on with cultural appropriation, or blood quantum? The talks are filled with insight and laughter.
Do you need to be a contemporary poetry geek to love The Poet Salon? Maybe. But possibly this podcast will convert you. Three excellent local poets (Luther Hughes, Dujie Tahat, and Gabrielle Bates) host regional and national guests. The conversations are—contrary to popular perceptions of poets—wonderfully unfusty.
While most podcasts fall into set forms of conversation or narrated reportage, Here Be Monsters is more nebulous. Some episodes are like a collage of voices speaking on a single topic. That makes sense: This is a show exploring the unknown. Should we try to eliminate all suffering? Did Neanderthals bury bodies? The minds at HBM seek answers.
3 National Podcasts with Notable Seattle Episodes
Just after Seattle director Lynn Shelton died in May, her boyfriend Marc Maron rereleased his interview with her from 2015, the first time they met. Maron’s intro, recorded just after Shelton’s death, is devastating. The discussion that follows is full of life.
Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark run down just what happened in 1986 when bottles of Excedrin laced with cyanide popped up on store shelves and killed two King County residents.
Five years after it aired, local musician, writer, and comedian Ahamefule Oluo’s story (“The Wedding Crasher”) about trying to understand his father, and his family, remains poignant and engrossing.