10 Podcast Episodes We Think You'll Love

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Well, we are well and truly into the holiday period. Perhaps you have a long drive ahead of you and need a break from that old Christmas CD you’ve heard a million times. Perhaps you need to plug in some headphones and take a break from the family for a precious half an hour of YOU time. Or perhaps you’re headed off on an adventure outdoors, and need to load up your playlist with new material (lucky you!). Whatever your situation, we figured that a lot of you might be in need of some good listening material around this time of year.

Here at Out There, we’ve done a lot of podcast listening during the year. And so we wanted to suggest some stories to accompany your holiday period. Here are some episodes we listened to in 2017 that really spoke to us in some way. We hope you load them up on your playlist and enjoy!


Note to Self, “Ghosting, Simmering, and Icing with Esther Perel”

Recommended by: Willow

I listened to this episode just as my last relationship was ending. It was a relationship that had shown so much promise. This guy was kind, generous, inquisitive, and willing to talk about feelings. He was curious about my work, eager to embrace my hobbies, and interested in everything from ultra-running to improv comedy.  Not only that, but for the first time, I’d felt the “slow burn” that’s supposed to be the hallmark of a solid partnership.

And yet, things weren’t going well. And I couldn’t put my finger on why.

Then I listened to this episode from Note to Self.

The episode helped me make sense out of my situation; it showed me that things were unraveling not because of incompatibility, but because my boyfriend and I had fundamentally different needs -- different ideas about the role a relationship should play in our lives.

It’s a fascinating listen, regardless of your current relationship status.


Invisibilia, “Bubble-hopping”

Recommended by: Alex

During 2017, as stories of divides across America abounded, I found myself wondering more and more about the lives of people who have totally different experiences of the world to me. And so I was fascinated by the exploration on NPR’s Invisibilia of different ways people have set out to escape the so-called “bubbles” of their own communities and online spaces. Particularly interesting was one guy’s mission to get out of his Silicon Valley bubble, and counteract his natural biases, by embracing randomness. He builds an algorithm that chooses public Facebook events at random, and the Invisibilia team join him in attending events hosted by total strangers.


Double X, “1800 Patriarchy Street Edition”

Recommended by: Erika

When all of the sexual harassment claims started coming out recently, instead of wallowing in sadness about the state of women in 2017, I tried to go positive by seeking out some stronger feminist voices in my life. I came across Double X, and it has helped me both process current events and widen my lens a little more. I appreciate the contributors’ intelligent and insightful, yet good-humored approach, particularly during this episode in which they answer listeners’ “is it sexist?” questions.


BBC, “As Many Leaves”

Recommended by: Willow

This isn’t a podcast, but it’s probably the most moving audio piece I have ever heard. Sally Herships’ first-person account of the dissolution of her marriage is honest, raw, vulnerable, and beautifully told. You really should listen; I can't recommend it enough.


Ear Hustle, “Unwritten”

Recommended by: Erika

Every episode of Ear Hustle covers a different topic related to life in prison. I really enjoyed the first season of this new show, so it was hard to choose just one to share. The chemistry between the host who is incarcerated, Earlonne Woods, and the host on the “outside,” Nigel Poor, is easy-going in a satisfying way. I found this episode thought-provoking in its exploration of the role of race in prison, and how you are expected to stick with your own race for your own safety. Despite some of the uncomfortable realities shared in this episode, there were still some heartening points. I loved when they talked about the group of what one of the hosts calls “L7s” who challenge the status quo by playing Dungeons & Dragons.


Love Me, “At a Loss for Words”

Recommended by: Willow

The beginning of this story has the most beautiful montage of untranslatable words about love. For example…

“Tiam (Farsi) - the twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone”

“Forelsket (Norwegian) - the indescribable euphoria as you begin to fall in love”

“Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese) - the act of tenderly running your fingers through the hair of somebody you love”

The episode as a whole is a delightful story about love, communication, and language.


On Being, “Rebecca Solnit: Falling Together”

Recommended by: Alex

On Being is my go-to podcast whenever I need some healing and some hope. Within moments of pressing play, I can’t help but be soothed by Krista Tippett’s thoughtful and empathic questioning style, and I am always inspired to think more deeply about the world.

The recent interview with Rebecca Solnit particularly struck a chord for me. I found the discussion on this episode about how we can approach the concept of hope in a different way -- not in the sense of adopting an optimistic attitude, but in the sense of learning to live with uncertainty, and feeling as though we can still choose to embrace compassion and engagement and generosity in the face of this uncertainty -- completely apt for the year that was 2017.

On a side note, if you like the sound of this episode, I would completely recommend listening to the episode Maya Kroth produced for Out There in 2017: The Same Humanity.


Kerning Cultures, “Not Just My Hijab”

Recommended by: Willow

Four women, and their relationship with their headscarves. This is a two-part series, and I particularly liked Part II. It’s a thought-provoking, nuanced look at an issue that we often see as black and white.


Answer Me This!, “Episode 353: bike on fire”

Recommended by: Erika

Some podcasts are for learning new things, some are for hearing a good story, and some are for pure, silly entertainment. Answer Me This! is a great podcast for that day when you just need a break from life and want to listen to a couple of cleverly goofy British friends answering totally random listener questions. Most of the time, you could simply Google the answer, but that is not the point of this podcast - it’s all about their hilarious commentary, anecdotes, and quirky jingles. This one covers questions ranging from whether resorts water down their liquor to how to ask your mom not to use the term “glory hole.”

The Broad Experience, “Episode 104: Starting Over”

Recommended by: Willow

This is a story about a Mormon woman who was raised to believe that having a career is selfish, and the only worthy goal in life is to raise a family. Eventually, that belief is turned on its head, and she finds herself trying to launch a career (and figure out basic life skills, like how to set up utilities in your name) when she’s in her 30s. She’s newly divorced, has $40 in her bank account, is now the breadwinner for her family -- and she’s faced with navigating hurdles that most of us learned much earlier in life.