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The Big Listen

NPR

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There are tens of thousands of podcasts out there. So how do you know what to listen to? On The Big Listen — THE broadcast about podcasts from WAMU and NPR — host Lauren Ober introduces you to podcasts you might not have ever heard of, and gives you ...Show More
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51:54 | Dec 21st, 2017

We look back at our favorite interviews with the makers of new podcasts in 2017: Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer of By The Book, Alex Kotlowitz of Written Inside, and Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika of Uncivil.

50:28 | Apr 5th, 2018

Writer Jon Ronson traces The Butterfly Effect from the moment pirated porn became free on the web. Plus: The hosts of Terrestrial and Closer Than They Appear, and Jillian Bauer-Reese documents people in recovery with The Rooms Project.
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49:12 | May 24th, 2018

Musicians Tegan and Sara are podcast obsessives. This episode, we take a peek at their extensive playlist and hear about their own idea for a podcast. Also, the hosts of the LGBTQ show Nancy share their funny and tragic coming out stories. And the Pa...Show More

48:59 | May 17th, 2018

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle and Joseph Fink of Welcome To Night Vale talk about what it means to be a fan on I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats. Plus: Nicole Drespel mines your email InBox for comedy gold, a hotel with a radio studio in the l...Show More

49:56 | May 10th, 2018

We're celebrating Mother's Day with stories from all kinds of women — a single lesbian mother by choice (Not By Accident), a young woman who chose sterilization (Tie My Tubes) and a Korean mom raising a multi-racial daughter (Other: Mixed Race In Ame...Show More

50:41 | May 3rd, 2018

Comedian Nicole Byer shares some of the tips she's learned from friends on her podcast Why Won't You Date Me. Reporter Dan Lamothe tells us about reading hundreds of letters from World War II, Heather Mizeur describes how she rebuilt her politics aft...Show More

50:19 | Apr 26th, 2018

Norman Lear's work in television and movies could fit every category, which might be why he calls his podcast All Of The Above. We also hear about the culinary delights of hotdish from Senator Heidi Heitkamp, explore the many facets of veterans with ...Show More

50:22 | Apr 19th, 2018

Larry Wilmore's got a new podcast, Black On The Air! Plus: the lowdown on a possible Powerline in New Hampshire, a Slow Burn with Leon Neyfakh about Watergate, and a new book from Bill McKibben.

50:16 | Apr 12th, 2018

Chris Gethard describes how Beautiful/Anonymous satisfies his craving for human connection. Plus: therapy with Esther Perel, poetry with Versify, and a podcaster who invites strangers to his home.

50:23 | Mar 29th, 2018

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle and Joseph Fink of Welcome To Night Vale talk about what it means to be a fan on I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats. Plus: Nicole Drespel mines your email InBox for comedy gold, a hotel with a radio studio in the l...Show More

50:22 | Mar 22nd, 2018

Singer/songwriter Laura Veirs talks to other musicians about how they balance work with parenthood, Annie Gilbertson investigates an officer involved in multiple shootings in Repeat, and Kameel Stanley and Tim Lloyd remind St Louis, "We Live Here!"

49:51 | Mar 15th, 2018

Actor Denis O'Hare tells us about Deadly Manners and the ingredients for a dismal dinner, Liz Plank talks feminism with Divided States of Women, and Joel Werner puts numbers on the air with Sum Of All Parts. Plus: Alice Wong of Disability Visibility ...Show More

49:52 | Mar 8th, 2018

It's a Big Listen smörgåsbord! We'll meet Francis Lam, new host of The Splendid Table, taste chocolate with The Slow Melt and hear which food podcasts New York Times food writer Kim Severson favors. Plus: Lauren enters brunch hell with Brendan Franci...Show More

50:05 | Mar 1st, 2018

We head back into the golden age of Hollywood with Karina Longworth, explore representation in film with Aisha Harris, and predict this year's Oscar winners with Erik Anderson. Plus: Paul Scheer talks about his affection for movies that are so bad th...Show More

50:05 | Feb 22nd, 2018

Comedian Nicole Byer shares some of the tips she's learned from friends on her podcast Why Won't You Date Me. Reporter Dan Lamothe tells us about reading hundreds of letters from World War II, Heather Mizeur describes how she rebuilt her politics aft...Show More

49:23 | Feb 15th, 2018

DeRay Mckesson discusses going from newsletter to podcast, Uncivil tells the untold stories of the Civil War, and Trey Kay explores our divides in Us & Them. Plus: Oral history podcast Ferguson Voices.

49:17 | Feb 8th, 2018

Lauren Shehadi shares the stories behind the Olympics with The Podium, Dan Zirin explains the dark side of hosting the Olympics, and ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates tell us about their sport and their favorite podcasts. Plus: Learning to cur...Show More

49:33 | Feb 1st, 2018

Norman Lear's work in television and movies could fit every category, which might be why he calls his podcast All Of The Above. We also hear about the culinary delights of hotdish from Senator Heidi Heitkamp, explore the many facets of veterans with ...Show More

49:58 | Jan 25th, 2018

Le Tigre's JD Samson talks composing music for podcasts, Nora McInerny says she's Terrible, Thanks For Asking, Helen Zaltzman unpacks annoying language. Plus, we check out the Potluck, a collective of Asian American podcasters.

50:01 | Jan 18th, 2018

"Keep It" is pop culture writer Ira Madison's way to say "No thanks" to, well, anything. Also: Breasts Unbound on everyone's favorite body part, Seeing White on the history of race, and Harry Leslie Smith on being a 95-year-old podcaster.

50:02 | Jan 11th, 2018

Abbi Jacobson gets artsy with her podcast A Piece Of Work; Leila Day and Hana Baba of The Stoop dialogue about the diaspora; YouTube provocateur Dylan Marron confronts his online bullies and Kathleen Barber dishes on her debut suspense novel, Are You...Show More

50:21 | Jan 4th, 2018

Larry Wilmore's got a new podcast, Black On The Air! Plus: the lowdown on a possible Powerline in New Hampshire, a Slow Burn with Leon Neyfakh about Watergate, and a new book from Bill McKibben.

50:55 | Dec 28th, 2017

CNN political firebrand Angela Rye talks about her new podcast. Note To Self's Manoush Zomorodi helps us live in harmony with our digital devices and Slate's Dear Prudence, Mallory Ortberg, just helps us. Plus: The voices of D.C. Metro with Dallas Ta...Show More

50:43 | Dec 14th, 2017

Broadway actor Jonathan Groff, Geoff Turner of CBC's On Drugs, Eleanor MacDowall of Radio Atlas and writer and domestic abuse survivor Jes Skolnik, who penned an op-ed about the healing power of true crime podcasts.

51:21 | Dec 7th, 2017

Writer Jon Ronson traces The Butterfly Effect from the moment pirated porn became free on the web. Plus: The hosts of Terrestrial and Closer Than They Appear, and Jillian Bauer-Reese documents people in recovery with The Rooms Project.

50:30 | Nov 30th, 2017

It's a Big Listen smörgåsbord! We'll meet Francis Lam, new host of The Splendid Table, taste chocolate with The Slow Melt and hear which food podcasts New York Times food writer Kim Severson favors. Plus: Lauren enters brunch hell with Brendan Franci...Show More

49:40 | Nov 23rd, 2017

We talk to the Reading Rainbow star about his new podcast for adults, LeVar Burton Reads. Also, we dig into black culture with the hosts of The Nod, and the stories behind sports with Jody Avirgan of ESPN's 30 For 30 podcast. Plus: Ingrid Jungermann ...Show More

49:55 | Nov 16th, 2017

Actor Denis O'Hare tells us about Deadly Manners and the ingredients for a dismal dinner, Liz Plank talks feminism with Divided States of Women, and Joel Werner puts numbers on the air with Sum Of All Parts. Plus: Alice Wong of Disability Visibility ...Show More

50:08 | Nov 9th, 2017

Chris Gethard describes how Beautiful/Anonymous satisfies his craving for human connection. Plus: therapy with Esther Perel, poetry with Versify, and a podcaster who invites strangers to his home.

49:50 | Nov 2nd, 2017

We adventure with the overlanding couple behind Let's Not Panic, talk traveling while black and female with Aminatou Sow, and hear tales of survival from the Outside Podcast. Plus, a National Geographic explorer tells us her podcast picks for trekkin...Show More

49:58 | Oct 26th, 2017

Snap Judgment host Glynn Washington on making Spooked and Aaron Mahnke on transforming Lore into a TV show. Plus: Spooky voices with the No Sleep podcast and old time radio horror with Murray Horwitz.

49:29 | Oct 19th, 2017

Le Tigre's JD Samson talks composing music for podcasts, Nora McInerny says she's Terrible, Thanks For Asking, Helen Zaltzman unpacks annoying language. Plus, we check out the Potluck, a collective of Asian American podcasters.

50:53 | Oct 12th, 2017

DeRay Mckesson discusses going from newsletter to podcast, Uncivil tells the untold stories of the Civil War, and Trey Kay explores our divides in Us & Them. Plus: Oral history podcast Ferguson Voices.

50:09 | Oct 5th, 2017

A REAL look at the messiness of relationships from Love Me, and of Canadian history with Canadaland's Jesse Brown. Plus: Jonathan Goldstein, the self-styled mealy-mouthed mensch behind Wiretap and now Heavyweight.

50:35 | Sep 28th, 2017

CNN political firebrand Angela Rye talks about her new podcast. Note To Self's Manoush Zomorodi helps us live in harmony with our digital devices and Slate's Dear Prudence, Mallory Ortberg, just helps us. Plus: The voices of D.C. Metro with Dallas Ta...Show More

50:17 | Sep 21st, 2017

Hanna Rosen and Alix Spiegel on Invisibilia's new concept album, the hosts of By The Book on living by self-help book guidance, and the creator of Celestial Blood on KPCC's bilingual radionovela. Plus: Swedish true crime podcast Spår.

50:09 | Sep 14th, 2017

Abbi Jacobson gets artsy with her podcast A Piece Of Work; Leila Day and Hana Baba of The Stoop dialogue about the diaspora; YouTube provocateur Dylan Marron confronts his online bullies and Kathleen Barber dishes on her debut suspense novel, Are You...Show More

50:24 | Sep 7th, 2017

Broadway actor Jonathan Groff, Geoff Turner of CBC's On Drugs, Eleanor MacDowall of Radio Atlas and writer and domestic abuse survivor Jes Skolnik, who recently penned an op-ed about the healing power of true crime podcasts.

50:55 | Aug 31st, 2017

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus is the perfect podcast for the actress and comedian, because she'd much prefer to play a character than be herself. Also, we ask Strangers' Lea Thau how she maintained her radical empathy by bunking with Trump support...Show More

50:34 | Aug 24th, 2017

The Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York City produces an all-girl podcast called WGRL. So naturally we had to put aside our fear of teens to go visit. Plus, we talk tragedy and healing with the documentarian behind First Day Back. And find out why ...Show More

50:40 | Aug 17th, 2017

Actor Larenz Tate slides into your ears with the new fictional audio series, Bronzeville. And comedian Marina Franklin does impressions of her family. Plus, we go back to college with Chioke I'Anson and find ourselves charmed by Charm City.

23:00 | Aug 15th, 2017

Jonathan Groff isn't just a luminary of stage and screen. He's now a bona fide podcast star. And a really nice guy. His newest project, 36 Questions, where he plays opposite Jessie Shelton, is a podcast based on the New York Times Modern Love column ...Show More

51:03 | Aug 10th, 2017

If you haven't listened to S-Town yet, hop to it! But what to think about this complicated piece of aural literature? Media ethicist Kelly McBride helps us sort through our feelings. And we visit a lively S-Town Hall in Chicago. Plus, we unpack the m...Show More

50:09 | Aug 3rd, 2017

As a species, humans love to explore. And then they love to podcast about their explorations. This week we head out on an adventure with the overlanding couple behind the podcast, Let's Not Panic. And we talk traveling while black and female with On ...Show More

51:52 | Jul 27th, 2017

This week on The Big Listen, we gobble candy with Ronna & Beverly, pet a lot of hypothetical dogs with the host of Can I Pet Your Dog? and peer inside prison life with Written Inside. Plus: a woman who used podcasts to help her get to sleep!

50:14 | Jul 20th, 2017

Kids love being read to. But what about adults? According to actor LeVar Burton, they love it, too! We talk to the Reading Rainbow star about his new podcast for adults, LeVar Burton Reads. Also, we dig into black culture with the hosts of The Nod, a...Show More

50:13 | Jul 13th, 2017

Invisibilia's Hanna Rosen and Alix Spiegel tell us what they listen to when they aren't making concept albums about concepts. We hear from the women of By The Book about self-help books, meet the creator of KPCC's bilingual radionovela Celestial Bloo...Show More

51:08 | Jul 6th, 2017

Actress Gillian Jacobs lets us in on what podcasts she listens to when she's in the shower. Then we head out to sea to learn about cargo ships with Containers' Alexis Madrigal, and we tickle the ivories with some of piano's greatest young stars with ...Show More

50:57 | Jun 29th, 2017

America's hat is turning 150 years old! To celebrate Canada Day and our neighbors to the North, we talk to the women behind Love Me, a CBC podcast about the messiness of relationships, and we get a more realistic look at Canadian history with Canadal...Show More

50:52 | Jun 22nd, 2017

Comedians Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher host a comedy show--in real life, in a podcast and on their TV sitcom, Take My Wife. We talk about their dog, their meta lifestyle and their favorite podcasts. And we find out if the host of The New York Ti...Show More

50:59 | Jun 15th, 2017

Musicians Tegan and Sara are podcast obsessives. This episode, we take a peek at their extensive playlist and hear about their own idea for a podcast. Also, the hosts of the LGBTQ show Nancy share their funny and tragic coming out stories. And the Pa...Show More

24:08 | Jun 12th, 2017

In this very special LGBTQ Pride bonus episode of The Big Listen, we talk with Canadian musical duo Tegan & Sara about the joys of air travel, the business of music and Sara's Beatles of podcasting. Plus, we chat about LGBTQ podcasts, and the twins r...Show More

51:12 | Jun 8th, 2017

Pajama-wearing podcaster Katie Couric explains why she's over being America's sweetheart. And we talk Hawaii's complicated racial history with the host of Offshore. Plus, untold stories from the Middle East from the folks behind Kerning Cultures. And...Show More

50:42 | Jun 1st, 2017

"America's Dad" Bill Cosby is on trial for sexual assault in Philadelphia. We check in with folks behind Cosby Unraveled about the entertainer's Philly roots and his impact on the City of Brotherly Love. Also, Obama advisor David Axelrod chats about ...Show More

51:58 | May 25th, 2017

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus is the perfect podcast for the actress and comedian, because she'd much prefer to play a character than be herself. Also, we ask Strangers' Lea Thau how she maintained her radical empathy by bunking with Trump support...Show More

51:42 | May 18th, 2017

Malcolm Gladwell tells us why he tries to get people to cry during interviews. And podcaster Sam Sabin finds her Native American heritage by way of her estranged father's obituary. Plus, why Alec Baldwin has the best celebrity podcast.

50:57 | May 11th, 2017

We're celebrating Mother's Day with stories from all kinds of women — a single lesbian mother by choice (Not By Accident), a young woman who chose sterilization (Tie My Tubes) and a Korean mom raising a multi-racial daughter (Other: Mixed Race In Ame...Show More

51:43 | May 4th, 2017

The Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York City produces an all-girl podcast called WGRL. So naturally we had to put aside our fear of teens to go visit. Plus, we talk tragedy and healing with the documentarian behind First Day Back. And find out why ...Show More

52:08 | Apr 27th, 2017

We brush up on our Supreme Court history with the folks behind More Perfect, explore George Washington's home with Alexis Coe, the host of Presidents Are People Too! and pick up some podcast recommendations from our foreign correspondents, the Audito...Show More

51:57 | Apr 20th, 2017

S-Town has everyone hooked. But what to think about this complicated piece of aural literature? Media ethicist Kelly McBride helps us sort through our feelings. And we visit a lively S-Town Hall in Chicago. Plus, we unpack the many Muslim-American id...Show More

51:15 | Apr 13th, 2017

This week on The Big Listen, we talk Passover and Easter candy with America's favorite Jewish mothers, Ronna & Beverly. We also pet a lot of hypothetical dogs with the co-host of Can I Pet Your Dog?, and we peer beyond prison bars with writer Alex Ko...Show More

22:49 | Apr 10th, 2017

In our special Passover bonus episode, Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsburg — America's favorite middle-aged Jewish women — drop by the Big Listen HQ to gab about Liam Neeson, Canadian geography and the Jews' exodus from Egypt. Ronna and Beverly are t...Show More

52:07 | Apr 6th, 2017

Most producers want to keep you awake; we talk to a podcaster bent on putting listeners to sleep. Then, we interview Oprah! Just kidding. But we check out a podcast that did, Making Oprah from WBEZ! Plus, we discover salacious sex columnist Dan Savag...Show More

52:24 | Mar 30th, 2017

Actress Gillian Jacobs lets us in on which podcasts she listens to when she's in the shower. Then we head out to sea to learn about cargo ships with Containers' Alexis Madrigal, and we tickle the ivories with some of piano's greatest young stars with...Show More

52:59 | Mar 23rd, 2017

Pajama-wearing podcaster Katie Couric explains why she's over being America's sweetheart. And we talk Hawaii's complicated racial history with the host of Offshore. Plus, untold stories from the Middle East from the folks behind Kerning Cultures. And...Show More

51:58 | Mar 16th, 2017

Who's more hardcore: Dan Carlin, for making Hardcore History? Or his listeners for absorbing three-hour-plus episodes? We also ask Andrea Silenzi Why Oh Why dating today is so hard and learn how podcasting makes Gretchen Rubin and her daughter Happie...Show More

52:08 | Mar 9th, 2017

Comedians Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher host a comedy show — in real life, in a podcast and on their TV sitcom, Take My Wife. We talk about their dog, their meta lifestyle and their favorite podcasts. And we find out if the host of The New York T...Show More

52:10 | Mar 2nd, 2017

Author Susan Orlean tells us about podcasts that make her cry. Also, comedian Phoebe Robinson shares the public radio personalities she would date. And we chat with a guy who is literally Making Gay History.

52:00 | Feb 23rd, 2017

Actor Larenz Tate slides into your ears with the new fictional audio series, Bronzeville. And comedian Marina Franklin does impressions of her family. Plus, we go back to college with Chioke I'Anson and find ourselves charmed by Charm City.

51:43 | Feb 16th, 2017

Discomfort is the currency of Death, Sex & Money, according to host Anna Sale. Plus, we chat with the folks behind Historically Black about everyday objects in African-American families. And Nate, our favorite kid podcaster, gives us interviewing tip...Show More

51:10 | Feb 9th, 2017

Valentine's Day is upon us. So we're diving into online dating trials and tribulations with The Zoo, exploring the messiness of human intimacy with The Heart and getting some sage love advice from Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond of Dear Sugar. Plus, ...Show More

51:21 | Feb 2nd, 2017

Malcolm Gladwell tells us why he tries to get people to cry during interviews. And podcaster Sam Sabin finds her Native American heritage by way of her estranged father's obituary. Plus, why Alec Baldwin has the best celebrity podcast.

52:07 | Jan 26th, 2017

We meet Lauren's Scandinavian doppelganger, then explode songs with the host of Song Exploder. Then we chat with the makers of the hit show In The Dark, and Al Letson tells us what he's listening to.

51:39 | Jan 19th, 2017

On inauguration weekend, we talk to two gals podcasting their way across America to D.C. Then we hit the history books with the hosts of Presidents Are People Too! and Presidential. Plus, what Ezra Klein thinks POTUS 45 should be listening to (Hint: ...Show More

51:48 | Jan 12th, 2017

Author Susan Orlean tells us about podcasts that make her cry, then we have a conversation about Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race (meta!) and chat with a guy who is literally Making Gay History. Plus, did you know podcasts can...Show More

50:24 | Jan 5th, 2017

Warehouses are great places to listen to podcasts, says a former warehouse worker. Also, comedian Phoebe Robinson on whether she'd date Terry Gross. And Nate Dimeo on his favorite podcast genre.

51:04 | Dec 29th, 2016

2016 brought so many great guests on The Big Listen, and this episode, we revisit our favorite segments of the year. Plus, we take a deep dive into the highest court in the land with More Perfect. And our brand new foreign correspondents give us thei...Show More

50:09 | Dec 22nd, 2016

We nerd out with the women of Nerdette, then we get our slumber party on with the host of Sleepover, public radio's first reality show. Plus, Jesse Thorn of Bullseye tells us what he's listening to.

51:11 | Dec 15th, 2016

This week, Lauren's whole family joins the show to gab about podcasts. Then, we zoom into the future with the host of Flash Forward, and the host of the Smithsonian's new podcast tells us why Pandas maybe aren't worth all the fuss.

51:53 | Dec 8th, 2016

Most producers want to keep you awake; we talk to a podcaster bent on putting listeners to sleep. Then, we interview Oprah! Just kidding. But we check out a podcast that did! Plus, Dan Savage's vanilla tastes in podcasts.

51:49 | Dec 1st, 2016

Podcasting is so hot these days, it has its own paid critics. We talk to one. Plus, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris of the New York Times dish about their new buddy podcast, Still Processing. And we sample some delicious canapés and crudités with the...Show More

50:58 | Nov 23rd, 2016

We're hitting the highways and byways of America for our cross-country podcast tour. We cruise through Appalachia, hike through the deserts of Nevada and rouler on down to the Big Easy to hear what's happening across America. Buckle up!

50:48 | Nov 17th, 2016

Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin has a podcast. So does her teenage daughter, Eliza. They're basically a mother-daughter podcasting duo.

50:36 | Nov 10th, 2016

Warehouses are great places to listen to podcasts (says one former warehouse worker). Comedian Phoebe Robinson talks whether she'd date Terry Gross, and Nate Dimeo gives us the scoop on his favorite podcast genre.

49:50 | Nov 3rd, 2016

Election day is here! We celebrate with some favorite politics pods. Sam Sanders tells tales from the campaign trail, we gab with The Pollsters and laugh off the election with comedian Negin Farsad.

50:18 | Oct 27th, 2016

We take a field trip to the Government Accountability Office, learn about Sharia law on #GoodMuslimBadMuslim, occupy some federal lands and learn what podcasts the host of Gravy is snacking on.

50:41 | Oct 20th, 2016

We meet Lauren's Scandinavian doppelganger, then explode songs with the host of Song Exploder. Then we chat with the makers of the hit show, In The Dark. And radio Renaissance man Al Letson tells us what he's listening to.

49:58 | Oct 13th, 2016

We nerd out with the women of Nerdette, then we get our slumber party on with the host of Sleepover, public radio's first reality show. Plus, Jesse Thorn of Bullseye tells us what he's listening to.

50:07 | Oct 6th, 2016

The host of The Show About Science gives Lauren some hot tips on interviewing, and we talk to the producer of Historically Black about the stories of everyday objects in African-American families.

01:52 | Sep 29th, 2016

Hosted by Lauren Ober, The Big Listen introduces listeners to podcasts they might have never heard of, and gives them the inside scoop on shows and creators they already love.