We’re a month into 2016, enough time for you to get your bearings and shake off any 2015 hangover. Two Radiotopia podcasts were back into the swing of things last week with their first new episodes of the year. Meanwhile, if you made a resolution to deal with your uncontrollable appetite for all forms of media, another podcast looking to help. Speaking of information overload, last week saw another flurry of new and interesting podcasts bidding for your time. All of this and more in last week’s podcast highlights.
After a couple of months off, The Memory Palace was back with a new episode and a new schedule. According to host Nate DiMeo’s show notes, the topic for the new episode was one he’d been considering since he started the show. DiMeo told the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, specifically how builders were able to dig the foundations for the bridge’s two support towers back in the 1870s. DiMeo, with his mood-setting voice and background music, takes you down under the East River with the men who worked 14 years to complete one of the great engineering wonders of its time. Starting with last week’s episode, DiMeo will be releasing new episodes every other Wednesday.
Helen Zaltzman’s Allusionist was also back last week after a brief break. Last week’s show was the first of a two-parter about lonely hearts ads and online dating. The first part focused on the history of the lonely hearts ad, striking a fun contrast between early business-like newspaper ads in which a typical suitor might look for a mate capable of tending to his pigs to modern online dating profiles, like those read by Allusionist listeners. The second part of the two-parter will be out this week, and according to Zaltzman, it will be an “absolute humdinger” of an episode about presenting our best selves in our dating ads.
If you find yourself drooling at the sound of an alert from your phone, you might want to start listening to Note to Self. Last week’s episode marked the beginning of a new series designed to help listeners get control over their consumption of information and turn information overload into something “infomagical” (their term, not mine). The sheer volume of information available to us can be overwhelming, and turns out, could be stressing us out and hurting our ability to think clearly and creatively. Note to Self host, Manoush Zomorodi, an admitted infoholic herself, will be guiding listeners through the project with daily challenges designed to help listeners and participants get better control over their information consumption. On top of listening to the podcast, you can sign up to participate in the project online, which allows you to set a goal for yourself and receive daily updates from the Note to Self team about the challenges.
Just ahead of today’s Iowa caucuses, the folks at FiveThirtyEight launched what had to be one of the most anticipated podcasts in the large and ever-growing pool of election-focused shows. FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver will be joined by politics team members Clare Malone, Harry Enten and Jody Avirgan each Monday to talk about the 2016 presidential race. In their first official episode released last Monday, the team talked about the upcoming Iowa caucuses and how the Republican and Democratic establishments seem to be turning against Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders respectively. Of course, being a product of FiveThirtyEight, there was plenty of talk about polls and their roll in the primaries. Election followers will want to make room in what is not doubt already a crowded queue of election podcasts.
The husband and wife team of Travis McElroy and Teresa McElroy launched a new etiquette advice podcast last week called Shmanners. Travis, who you may know from a number of other podcasts including My Brother, My Brother and Me and The Adventure Zone, plays the uncouth-but-eager-to-learn understudy to Teresa’s finished, proper etiquette expert, and with their first episode, the couple tackled the subject of thank you notes. Listen and learn when to write thank you notes, what to write in them, and how thank you notes can make you just like John Lennon.
Time Magazine and Panoply “launched” a new podcast about space last week, hosted by Time editor and author of the book Apollo 13, Jeffrey Kluger. I can hear podcast nerds everywhere groaning at this encroachment into the podcast wilderness by big corporate media, but Time certainly isn’t the first of its class to do this and one minute listening to Kluger talk about his love for space should quickly free you of your puritan beliefs. It’s Your Universe promises to explore different aspects of space, from black holes to asteroids, and is starting right here with our own solar system. Kluger spent much of the first episode explaining his own infatuation with space, which began in the age of Sputnik. The host’s writing skills carry over seamlessly to this beautifully worded podcast, which should draw in both space nuts and space amateurs alike.