@lenadunham, Instagram
@lenadunham, Instagram

Pod City: 9 New Podcasts To Put on Your Radar

@lenadunham, Instagram
@lenadunham, Instagram

According to my Stitcher app, I’ve logged more than 1,010 hours listening to podcasts. Below are a few new shows I’ve come across in recent weeks—all of them interesting and well-produced—making me think I could hit that 2,000 mark before I know it.

For more recs, peruse the Pod City archive. In no particular order:

1. Women of the Hour

Lena Dunham and BuzzFeed bring us this new podcast, which features conversations about “friendship, love, work, bodies, and more.” Guests in the first episode include besties Amy Sedaris and Todd Oldham and Emma Stone.

2. Codebreaker

Do you love technology? Do you loathe it? Either way, this show might be up your alley. Hosted by Ben Brock Johnson, this co-production from Marketplace and Tech Insider explores tech-based issues. (In the first season, all episodes pose the same question about an aspect of technology: “Is it evil?”) As a bonus, each ep also includes a secret code. Figure it out, and you can access more content on the show’s website.

3. Conversation with Alanis Morissette

The singer celebrated the 20th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill this year, but her podcast is far tamer and more soft-spoken than that album. In the series premiere, Morissette tells us she’ll discuss everything from psychology to science to art, with some politics and feminism thrown in. Her first guest is relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily EVEN After

4. Esquire Classic

So far I’m really enjoying this new show, which digs up classic nonfiction pieces from Esquire and examines how they’re still relevant or influential today. The latest ep delves into The Crack-Up, the series of personal essays by F. Scott Fitzgerald that were originally published in 1936. 

5. The Trail Tapes

If you’re looking for unconventional political coverage, check out NBC News’s new offering, hosted by Jake Heller. Short eps spotlight “real people who offer a unique perspective on the election,” like a professional Donald Trump impersonator. (He’s not hurting for business right now, to say the least.)

6. The New Yorker Radio Hour

The New Yorker already has a few podcasts, but this new WNYC show is its own thing, not solely relying on the contents of the magazine. Episodes feature stories from New Yorker contributors, well-known folks, and regular New Yorkers. 

7. Tanis

If you enjoy fiction podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale and The Black Tapes—or, hey, if you’re just psyched The X-Files is coming back—sample this new serialized docudrama that delves into conspiracy theories and the unknown.

8. Aw Jeez! A Fargo Podcast

As Season 2 of the FX drama heats up, fans may want to hear this thoughtful Fargo podcast produced by Minnesota Public Radio. Sure, the series takes place in North Dakota, but hosts Tracy Mumford and Jay Gabler still offer unique perspectives on life in a snowy state. So far, guests have included show creator Noah Hawley and an NYU professor who taught a class on the Coen brothers.

9. Surprisingly Awesome

Writer and director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Eastbound & Down) and Adam Davidson (NPR’s Planet Money) share fascinating and funny facts about, in their words, “topics that seem really, really boring.” The first episode is all about mold.

S-Town Podcast Is Being Turned Into a Movie

S-Town, a seven-part podcast from Serial and This American Life, has all the trappings of a binge-worthy story. It all started when a man from the tiny town of Woodstock, Alabama asked a reporter to investigate a local man from a wealthy family who allegedly boasted he had gotten away with murder.

As for what happens next, “someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life,” reads the 2017 podcast’s synopsis, without giving too much away.

Now, that riveting story is being turned into a movie with This American Life’s participation, IndieWire reports. Participant Media acquired the rights to the S-Town podcast, and negotiations are underway to get playwright Samuel Hunter and director Tom McCarthy on board. McCarthy is perhaps best known for directing and co-writing 2015's Oscar-winning Spotlight; he also co-wrote Up and was an executive producer and director for the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times over a period of four days after its release, and it received a Peabody Award for the radio/podcast category, according to IndieWire. Just last month, HBO and Sky announced they would be releasing a documentary series about Adnan Syed, the focus of the first season of the Serial podcast, which is developed by This American Life.

In case you missed S-Town when it premiered, you can go back and listen to it here.

[h/t IndieWire]

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There's Now a Podcast That Plays Nothing But Laughter for Six Hours Straight
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iStock

If you’re the kind of person who loathes sitcoms with a laugh track, this one probably isn’t for you. A podcast (that might be a generous term) called “Radio Haha” has been launched in celebration of World Laughter Day on May 6, and it plays nothing but laughter—for six hours straight.

In the podcast, produced by UK apartment share service SpareRoom, you’ll hear some guffaws and giggles, and plenty of cackles and chortles. It may seem absurd at first, but listen long enough and you might find yourself laughing, too. That’s because laughter is contagious, even when it comes from an artificial source.

One study by neuroscientist and “laughter expert” Robert Provine revealed that 90 percent of test subjects smiled while listening to 19 seconds of laughter generated by a novelty store toy, and nearly half laughed along. This study and others like it suggest that the dreaded laugh track does in fact work, even if many modern TV viewers find it tacky.

Science has also shown that many health benefits are associated with laughter. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also relieves stress, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, relieves pain, and improves brain function.

Presented with all this evidence, one doctor in India invented “laughter yoga,” a movement that has been growing ever since it was founded in 1995. Dr. Madan Kataria realized that even forced laughter can trigger a genuine giggle, leading him to create the very first laughter club, which spawned the first World Laughter Day.

The inaugural event in Mumbai, India, attracted over 12,000 members of local and international “laughter clubs." Participants carried signs, marched, and bellowed "ho-ho-ho, ha-ha" in unison, making it seem a little more like a protest than a joyous celebration. (If so, it would have been the happiest protest in history.) Check out some footage of the first World Laughter Day below.

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