2017 In Review – My Best Podcasts of 2017

From The New Yorker authored by Sarah Larson:

“This year, podcasts continued to boom as an industry and thrive as an art form—and to push journalism into unexpected places. “The Daily” has humanized the news and helped keep us sane; further along the news-entertainment spectrum, oralhistory andbiographical podcasts have emerged, and true-crime podcasts have continued to flourish. The results have been both spectacular and unnerving. Two of the most powerful podcasts I heard this year, “Missing Richard Simmons,” which is not on this list, and “S-Town,” which is, reached new heights of biographical intimacy and insight—and, in very different ways, exposed their subjects a bit too nakedly. “Missing Richard Simmons” treated Simmons with respect that other presentations of him, including his own, haven’t always provided, but it also invaded the privacy of its elusive subject—and entertained wild, reckless theories about Simmons’s longtime live-in housekeeper. The podcasts that I loved the most this year didn’t give me a should-this-be-happening? vibe. Podcasting is a form built, in part, on the best of what public radio can do, and much of my favorite work honors the traditional public-radio values of enlightening us, focussing on voices that we need to hear, and helping audio newcomers tell their own stories. (Listen to the work honored by the Third Coast International Festival this year, including “Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl” and “Emancipation: A Young Man Leaves Foster Care on His Own Terms.”)

Before my list, a caveat: these are my favorite podcasts that I’ve written about in 2017, in alphabetical order. I began writing a dedicated podcasting column in August, so it’s skewed toward podcasts that came out recently. Some of the shows here are intimate and personal; some are revealing and funny; some are educational; all helped me cope with life in 2017. It’s not a top-ten list of best podcasts over all, which would require, in this time of bounty and greatness, a level of listening fortitude and critical hubris that I can only aspire to.”

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