Podcasters seemed to want to jump at the chance to make use of the extra hour gained from moving back onto standard time last week by releasing a slew of new podcasts. Unfortunately, we gained only an hour, so you’ll need to find some more time in your schedule to make room for all of these new shows. You better start getting ahead soon, though, because you’ll be losing an hour of podcast listening time before you know it.
You won’t have to make too much time in your busy schedule to listen to this new podcast hosted by scientist Ainissa Ramirez. Episodes of this new show will come in small, two-minute bites, feeding that part of us that Ramirez says has always loved science. Ramirez aims to show listeners that science can be fun and understandable, and her first episode proved just that. In the first episode of Science Underground, Ramirez talked about the science behind a football spiral and brought in Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice to talk about the difference between left- and right-handed quarterbacks, a subject on which Rice is an expert. Ramirez also released a second episode last week, just in time for fall, about the science behind the changing colors of leaves.
Hosts Adam Davidson (journalist and co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money) and Adam McKay (writer and director of movies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights) are looking to make the mundane interesting in their new podcast, Surprisingly Awesome. To kick off the show, Davidson and McKay released two episodes in the first week. The first episode was dedicated to mold. The hosts found a number of interesting things about mold, from the fine line between good and bad molds to the way in which mold linked the hosts together as distant cousins. The second episode looked at basketball free throws, arguably one of the most boring parts of a basketball game. McKay showed Davidson how this is actually one aspect of basketball where professional players can look just like the rest of us, and by the end of the episode, Davidson claimed to have an all-new self-image and outlook on fatherhood. From free throws to a new outlook on fatherhood? Davidson and McKay are off to a surprisingly awesome start.
Lena Dunham is a screenwriter, author, actor and now podcaster. Dunham released the first full episode of her new podcast mini-series last week. Dunham will be using Women of the Hour to talk with other women (women Dunham wants you to know, if you don’t already) about a variety of subjects, from friendship and love to work and sex. Last week’s episode looked at female friendship and included a variety of interviews and discussions tied together by a string of emails between Dunham and her friend, author Ashley Ford. Dunham and Ford each took turns reading their back-and-forth emails throughout the podcast, cracking open the fascinating seeds of their friendship, which began on Twitter. The first episode also featured reflections, stories and advice on friendship from the likes of Emma Stone, June Squibb, Amy Sedaris and a group of kids from 826LA, a nonprofit that helps students with their writing skills. This new podcast series is currently set for just five episodes, but Dunham also promises bonus content, some of which is already available.
This new podcast from the Panoply network looks to walk the line between sports and politics. Host Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation Magazine, burst out of the gate with an interview of rap legend Chuck D. The two discussed the impact and political importance of sports figures like Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and 1970s, and where those types of figures can be found today. On the lighter side, Chuck D revealed his love of Pilates, which he described as “the rapper’s workout.” Zirin also used his first podcast to talk about a topic from a recent article he’d written: why does anyone still play football? Zirin raised the topic, which seems to gain new relevance after each weekend of football, after LeBron James recently talked about why his own kids don’t play the sport. Zirin’s podcast joins another recent Panoply addition, Talking Heads, in promising a different, and possibly more critical, look at sports than what is currently offered through many sports media outlets.
Not to be outdone by all the new podcasts that came out last week, podcast mainstay Freakonomics Radio delivered a fascinating episode about the science of food. Host Stephen Dubner looked first at the science behind the flavor of food, talking with J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. López-Alt explained how energy and a food’s shape can affect its taste, and perhaps most importantly, addressed the old theory that New York’s water makes New York pizza uniquely good. New Yorkers may be crushed to learn the answer to that one. After talking about the science behind food taste, Dubner then spoke with Jo Robinson, investigative journalist and author of Eating on the Wild Side, about the science behind food nutrition. Robinson talked about how, over time, our food options have veered toward less nutritious foods because of their taste resistance to disease. She provided tips for finding and maximizing nutritious foods, including one surprising detail about canned tomatoes. Listen to the episode for the full explanation, but if you’re looking for a heart-healthy food you might just grab a can of tomato paste and a spoon.