Things I Read That I Loved #181: Things I Listened To That I Loved

Hello! This is a special edition of Things I Read That I Love and next week the column will return to its typical content and format. By “next week” I really mean “next week” — TIRTL will remain every other week, but because this week is not really a bona fide TIRTL, I will be posting a full TIRTL next week as well, featuring things you can read on paper or on a screen. Does that make sense? I sure hope so.

So, usually I spend a lot of time reading things and then I tell you about what I read. But, in addition to the 20 hours I spent in a car going to and from Big Bear for our annual Senior Staff Shakedown, I spent the majority of the past two weeks either packing, unpacking, or driving a series of all-day jaunts as I moved from the San Francisco area to the Detroit area — activities that are not incredibly conducive to reading. I’ve never been a passionate podcast listener, really. There are some I’ve listened to here and there: This American Life, The Planet Podcast (’07-’09), Savage Love, Questionable at Best with Deanne Smith, Gayest of All Time With Johnny McGovern. But that’s about the extent of it. Now that we’re making a podcast for A+, I figured this long journey would be a grand opportunity to see what’s happening in the wide world of podcasts and would better equip me to have feelings about our own podcast!

So I did and wow podcasts have gotten so much cooler since 2006 when I lived in Brooklyn and needed something to listen to on the train between episodes of The Planet Podcast and This American Life. Back then it was basically like, NPR, Slate, and some comedy podcasts starring bros. It got me really pumped for the A+ Podcast.

Podcasts I listened to on my trip included Backstory, Stuff You Should Know, Radiolab, The Mystery Show, CriminalFresh Air, Risk!, The Heart, Stuff You Missed In History ClassInvisibilia, Love + Radio, Death, Sex & Money, Reply All, WTF With Marc Maron, 99% InvisiblePlanet Money, Stuff Mom Never Told You and Sword and Scale.

Below I’ve included the episodes that I’m still thinking about a week later!

Death, Sex & Money: I Killed Someone. Now I Have 3 Kids


At 17, Lawrence Bartley was involved in a gang-related shooting in a movie theater that killed an innocent bystander — and the bullets came from his gun. He’s been in jail now for 23 years and has gotten married and sired some children and WHAT NEXT. It’s an interesting look at what happens when somebody makes a fatal mistake as a teenager and then grows up behind bars.

Making It With Riki Lindhome: Tig Notaro


This podcast was recorded in 2013 but it felt more recent so maybe you’ll forget that I even told you it was recorded in 2013. “Making It” is a podcast about how people in the entertainment industry got ahead in their careers, and this one is with Tig Notaro, who is friends with the host! It’s very funny.

99% Invisible #130: Holdout



I discovered 99% Invisible — a podcast about design — late in the road trip, so there are so many more good episodes on my iPhone just waiting for my attention. There’s one about pdx carpet, even! But of the ones I’ve already listened to, this is the one I keep thinking about. Developers in Seattle wanted to build a shopping mall in a place where people lived, so they did that thing where you pay people to move so they could destroy their house and build over it. But one woman refused to let them demolish her home, causing them to build the mall around her. This is her story.

Criminal Episode 14: The Fifth Suspect

The “fifth suspect” police tracked down in the case of a child pornography ring turned out to not be the right guy… but first they fucked up his entire life forever!

This American Life Episode #561: NUMMI


Obviously moving back to Michigan and wanting to get involved with Detroit’s rebirth makes me EXTRA INTERESTED in how the auto industry has evolved and failed in this country. So this was about that — specifically, how workers from a plant in Fremont, California, who went to Japan in the late ’80s to learn a different way of doing things… but those new ways — those new, successful ways! — didn’t stick.

Mystery Show


I couldn’t pick just one episode of this podcast, hosted by Starlee Kine, in which Starlee attempts to solve longstanding mysteries you can’t solve just from poking around on the internet. For example: how tall is Jake Gyllenhall? Why did that woman in LA have a license plate that read “ILUV911”? Did Brittney Spears read and enjoy the book she was holding in a 2008 paparazzi photograph because the author of that book would really like to know if she did because the thing is that nobody else read it? But the real highlight of the program is Starlee herself. She’s funny and so are her friends and their mysteries.

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Child Migrant Program


Um, did you know that in the 19th and 20th centuries, 150,000 children were sent from Britain to commonwealth countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the then-country Rhodesia, to ensure the white population in those areas remained large and growing? I had no idea.

Radiolab: The Trust Engineers


Facebook is doing social experiments on you! It’s just that researchers have never had so much access to so many people and been able to target their research so dramatically as they can with facebook. So this is what they’re doing and you can decide how you feel about it. Then you can listen to Eye in the Sky and decide how you feel about a plane that takes photos of everything in order to help curb crime and catch criminals… but you have to give up a lot of privacy in exchange.

Risk! Slave


So this is a very, very, very intense but oh-so-compelling story from Mollena Williams of The Perverted Negress, who had developed sexual fantasies about being a slave, which obviously is a loaded fantasy for a black woman to have. This is the story of what happened when she found somebody interested in playing out that fantasy with her.

WTF With Marc Maron: Wyatt Cenac


Wyatt Cenac was the “Senior Black Correspondent” for The Daily Show for a long time and then he basically quit after the fallout of a disagreement between him and Jon Stewart over whether or not a certain bit was racist. Yup. You’re gonna wanna hear this story and while you’re there you’re gonna be pleased as punch to also hear more about Wyatt’s life and work in general.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. This couldn’t have been better-timed because I was JUST about to download a fresh set of podcasts for my 3 hour bus ride today, and now I have Tig and Wyatt Cenac along for the ride. Also, I’ve been listening to 99% Invisible all the time lately, but I haven’t even listened to the one you mentioned yet! I really enjoyed the one called “Penn Station Sucks,” and also the one that was about how sitting will probs kill you slowly.

  2. Thanks for this, Riese!
    I just started listening to podcasts THIS WEEK because I guess I am a clueless old lady who sort of didn’t really understand what a podcast is???
    I don’t know how I missed that podcasts were a real thing that everybody is into.
    The A+ podcast was the only one I’d ever listened to and then one day I was like ‘Oh wait, probably other cool people do stuff like this too? I should check.’

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Oooo, yay! I listen to podcasts like it’s my job one day a week while I take an 8 hour drive. Thanks for these.

    Fun feature if you have an iPhone and don’t care about tone or pronunciation or anything, you can set your accessibility to make Siri read you any page with a swipe. That’s how I generally experience this column. Lol.

  4. I’m about to go on an eight hour road trip back home to St. Louis and this is perfect and came at the perfect time and oh my goodness perfect.

    Also, I listen to so much DeAnne Smith I think I’ve started hearing her voice in my dreams.

  5. Love these suggestions! The most recent This American Life is really great. It’s about how the school district Michael Brown graduated from is segregated and attempts over the last year of integrating schools in the area. I’m not doing it justice, but I wish I could make it required listening for all my racist family.

  6. Omg guys Risk! is so good. I love most of the podcasts mentioned on this list (surprised Serial didn’t make it on there, but then again it did get a ton of coverage last year!), but I feel like the world would be a better place if Risk! had a wider listening audience. It just makes you realize all the stuff that is out there that people are and do that is weird and off putting and yet totally ok.

  7. This is perfect timing, I am heading to Seattle for the weekend and was looking for things to do. I am totally going to check out that house with the mall built around it.

  8. I’ll have to start listening to some of these as I do enjoy hearing podcasts while at the gym. Right now I am getting into Startalk from Neil Degrasse Tyson and it’s very good. Plus, he has an old friend Bill Nye the Science guy as a frequent guest.

  9. I love the writers Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter podcast “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment” and the podcast by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow called Call Your Girlfriend

  10. Yay, podcasts! I listen to so many. SO MANY! But one I really want to recommend, because I know so many Straddlers love comics, is Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men (“Because it’s about time someone did!”). They re-read the X-Men and related X-titles from the very beginning and talk about the stories, characters, themes, and retcons in a really funny and entertaining way.

    Plus, both hosts care a lot about social justice and I think it’s a good example of how to both love and criticize occasionally problematic media without falling back onto non-stop performative self-flagellation and outrage.

    Their website is definitely worth checking out because they have companion posts for every episode with scans of specific pages they discussed as well as various other things. Their Patreon support campaign was very successful, so they’ve added a lot of interesting things as fulfillment of the push goals, such as episode reviews of X-Men cartoons, guest art, and guest essays.

  11. This was great but is it wrong that my favorite part was reading your updated bio with Detroit area as your current location?

  12. PLEASE keep us posted about life in Detroit. I know a lot of folks who are considering relocating to affordable places like this, since we’re all exhausted by west coast rents.

  13. ‘No Such Thing as a Fish’ by the team from QI is great for people who are sponges for random great facts about everything and anything. Makes the day at work go by really quickly!

  14. Awesome list, I’d add The Longest Shortest Time (parenting podcast that’s really well done) and HOMOGROUND

    I’d like to chime in with some feedback, Dan Savage of Savagelove has repeatedly said transmisogynistic things on his podcast/in his written advice column and refused to apologise when engaged on this by people. People should know this before listening to his stuff. It would also be great if you could write a disclaimer about this in the article.

  15. Oh snap, a bunch of my colleagues have apparently been on RISK! but I’d never checked it out. Guess it’s time to change that.

  16. I just recently discovered the 99% Invisible podcast, and I loooooove it so much. Oddly enough, I stumbled upon it because they did an episode about the sound design on the show Hannibal, and someone at tweeted the link, and BOOM! Addicted. I want Roman Mars to read me bedtime stories.

    Speaking of, if you like TV and liked Television Without Pity, their Extra Hot Great podcast is aces.

  17. I just went on a road trip (but just from california to idaho) and based on this recommendation we listened to Mystery Show and loved it so much we listened to four episodes in a row! It’s so good!

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