Twice a month I’ll post a list of 4 podcasts of the week you hopefully haven’t heard of that follow a theme and fit into boxes of a New and Old and Light and Heavy “Punnet Square“. Light podcasts are meant to be listened to without the need to focus on the content too much, a refreshing alternative to music as background noise. Heavy podcasts should be approached with some caution and willingness to listen a little more carefully.

Light podcasts of the week focus on the idea that fans aren’t always in control of the narrative the way they think they are. The featured podcasts are Who? Weekly and Imaginary Worlds. Heavy podcasts of the week dive into police violence against people of color and the awful effects it continues to have on all of us with 74 Seconds and The Dollop.

 Who Weekly PodcastNew. Light.

Who Weekly | Who’s There: Drake Bell & Braison Cyrus | June 22 2017 | Runtime 30:27

Suitable for: Teenage girls and people who are very confused by pop culture, but would like to understand it better and want to indulge their embarrassing and secret affinity for celebrity.

How to Listen: To skip ads go to 1:10, to skip Canadian Airline talk go to 4:00.

Series Binge Rating: 1/5

Why Listen: Do you ever give the headlines of the grocery store tabloids a once-over and get a hit of curiosity that’s quickly beaten back with shame? Indulge your curiosity with the two hosts of this self-aware podcast about “whos” – their name for D-list Instagram celebrities. The hosts aren’t obsessed with their subjects, and they cast no judgement on anyone, including listeners and callers, who are often high. It’s so vapid that sometimes I feel embarrassed about how much I like this podcast, so I only listen to episodes about something in the news that piqued my interests. As a Nickelodeon fan Drake and Josh was on my radar, so this episode caught my eye. I would not recommend listening to more than a few episodes at once because this show is like a stick of fruit stripe gum for your brain.

Imaginary Worlds PodcastOld. Light.

Imaginary Worlds | The Canon | October 8 2014 | Runtime 14:48

Suitable for: Nerds of all stripes.

How to Listen: No Ads, get in touch with your inner nerd.

Series Binge Rating: 2/5

Why Listen: Early episodes of shows with high production values are the best. They remind me of early Beatles albums, they had so much talent and nobody else was making money off them. Episodes that fall into this category raw and authentic in a special way. Panoply acquired Imaginary Worlds since this episode aired. While the show is still good, this episode stands out. The host is a super-nerd with a radio production background, and this topic clearly interests him. Creative Direction, Religious Doctrine, and Fan Fiction combine and really changed my perspective about who ‘owns’ stories. Serious fans will relate to this exceptionally well-told story, especially those of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Judaism (seriously). 

74 Seconds Podcast by MPRNew. Heavy.

74 Seconds | The Documents and the Juror | June 29 2017 | Runtime 21:07

Suitable for: Adults who haven’t taken much time to consider the effects police violence against innocent people of color can have on someone.

How to Listen: No Ads, be ready to be angry. 

Series Binge Rating: 4/5

Why Listen: I don’t have much to add to the narrative of this episode so instead I’ll opt for a personal story. I listened to this podcast when it started airing, up to the beginning of the trial. I started listening again after the acquittal, when the full Dashcam video was released. Watching the video was devastating and I broke down and wept for a few minutes. Afterwards I entered into a state of helplessness that took a few weeks to shake. This particular episode gave me some hope, but I’ll warn you that some things in it are painful to hear. If you want some more context, I highly recommend listening to earlier episodes of this series. Regardless, this episode has some life-altering audio. I’m not sure any person can listen to this without feeling justice hasn’t been done.

The Dollop Podcast

Old. Heavy.

The Dollop | 181 Martin Tabert and Convict Leasing | June 12 2016 | Runtime 1:23:49

EXPLICIT – Suitable for: headphone-wearing adults who need to be reminded our country has a very troubled past (and present).

How to Listen: To skip ads and Plugs go to 4:10 unless you want to hear about their cat, Jose. 

Series Binge Rating: 5/5

Why Listen: While heavy podcasts will not always be this funny, after 74 Seconds I needed something to laugh at. Fortunately the hilarious hosts of the Dollop discussing the transition from slavery to “Convict Leasing” in the Post-Civil War South – believe it or not – did the trick. For those unfamiliar with the format, one host cracks up the other – and me – with a story from American history. The style is what I would consider anti-revisionist history, meaning they try to tell the story as it happened. Because of this the narratives often sound like they’re about another country, but unfortunately they’re about the US. It landed in the Old. Heavy. box because the topic is a disgraceful reminder that we aren’t the “Shining City on the Hill” we say we are. Still, I would expect to laugh if only because the hosts come across as very funny people.