The month may be over, but you can listen to these podcasts anytime! I publish the best podcast episodes of the week every week on Friday – you can find those episodes and my reasoning behind why they’re great by going here to see an archive of those posts. But I also wanted to curate a list of the handful of episodes that simply rose to the very top over the whole month, the ones I’m still thinking about weeks later.
Here are the best podcast episodes (and a list of the podcasts that appeared on my Delicious Ingredients list more than once this month) that I listened to in October 2018 – the best of the best. This month I listened to 240 episodes, with 37 of them being new shows (to me at least).
If you’re interested in seeing what I listen to, I have a running log by month. I also have a newsletter that comes out every other week which is a bit more editorial than the site – you can find it here.
Best Episodes of October 2018
- Home Cooked: On the Back Burner (10/1/18): What it’s about: “At school, Nick was embarrassed by the smell of the Chinese food his parents packed him for lunch. When he decided to become a chef, he perfected French techniques under some of the top chefs in North America and Europe. Returning home, it was his grandmother’s wontons that gave him a jolt of sensory memory that would define his current success.” Why it’s great: Home Cooked is a lovely new show about family recipes and the stories behind them, with a backdrop of actual cooking going on in the background. The sound is mixed really nicely and after one episode I found myself wanting much more – a great sign of good storytelling.
- How It Is: Time, With Maria Menounos, Eve Rodsky, and May Kim-Tenser (10/17/18): What it’s about: “If there’s one thing we never have enough of, it’s time. So how can we be more mindful of it — appreciating each moment without losing momentum? Relationship expert Eve Rodsky shares her groundbreaking research about how couples divide their time and household labor; Maria Menounos tells us how being diagnosed with a brain tumor changed her perception of time; and neurosurgeon Dr. May Kim-Tenser explains what it’s like to make life and death decisions in a matter of minutes.” Why it’s great: At the risk of sounding dramatic, Maria Menounos’ commentary on what time means to her given her potentially shortened life was profoundly impactful for me. Why should we spend hours, days, weeks of our lives worrying about meeting non-family members’ expectations? We have to take time for self-care. Life is just not unlimited and it’s crap to waste time stressed out when a job, something you volunteer for, all the mental load things that women carry will be there whether you’re alive or not. All The Things will get done. You don’t have to do all of them.
- Carruth, Chapter 1: Rae and Cherica (10/16/18): What it’s about: “Cherica Adams, a former model and dancer from Charlotte, meets NFL player Rae Carruth at a party. Carruth, a Sacramento native, has looks and a magnetic charm. Soon Cherica is pregnant—but the trail of women in Carruth’s past suggest the Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick is struggling with adult responsibility in the face of adulation lavished upon a star athlete. ” Why it’s great: This is a terrific, compelling story of a man who made some terrible life decisions that impacted many others’ lives, resulting in one death and a baby born with cerebral palsy who is thriving today as a teenager. I am planning to write this one up, so I won’t give a lot away, but this is an excellent binge listen that is about true crime (a negative for some and a positive for others) but is also about a mother and grandmother’s dedication, forgiveness, and drive to continue on after the death of her daughter.
- Mass Exoneration, Episode 1: Fred (9/16/18): What it’s about: “From a creaky door in a group home, to the flash of a gun in the dark, to a face-to-face meeting with the man who thinks you killed his brother, this is the story of Fred Clay. This episode airs on the anniversary of the day Fred was sentenced to life without parole — for a crime he didn’t commit.” Why it’s great: There are other podcasts in the wrongful conviction world, but I like this new entrant because it showcases how human these people are, instead of just a story of injustice. Clay talked about his emotions, how he felt about missing his mother’s funeral … it was really touching.
- Scene on Radio: Himpathy (MEN, Part 7) (10/3/18): What it’s about: “Several years after Janey was sexually assaulted by her former boyfriend, Mathew, she told some of her closest friends, and her mother, what Mathew had done. Janey was so troubled by her loved ones’ responses, or lack thereof, that she went back to them years later to record conversations about it all. In this episode: Janey’s story, and philosopher Kate Manne, who coined the term “himpathy” in her 2017 book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.” Why it’s great: Whew. It’s been a sucker-punch week or two for women. The himpathy evident in the U.S. Senate is ridiculous (see also this Texas Monthly article about my Senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, thanks to my mom for sending). This was yet again, a heartbreaking episode about how himpathy is deeply, deeply embedded in how we view boys and men – we feel bad for them when they are accused (or convicted!) of treating a woman unfairly. I have experienced this in my life. A coworker treated me very inappropriately and I myself didn’t want anything “bad” to happen to him. Why? Why are men protected in this way?
- Varmints!, Episode 100: Emus (10/3/18): What it’s about: “Emus! Woo hoo! It’s our 100th episode and we have all sorts of fun stuff in store! First, we’re joined by nationally recognized biologist and TV personality, Corbin Maxey, to discuss emus! And, we announce the winners of our Cellphone Backyard Wildlife Photo Contest! It’s going to be a fun ride, and we’d like to thank you, the listener, for making 100 episodes possible. You Varminions rock! Let’s get our giant bird on!” Why it’s great: Congratulations to Varmints! on 100 episodes! Paul and Donna have profiled dozens of critters, have kept the show fresh and creative the whole time, and truly produce something fun, funny, family-friendly, and educational to listen to. How awesome is it that Corbin Maxey binge listened to all 99 previous Varmints! episodes? And he didn’t just come on for a guest spot, he stayed for the whole episode about emus, because Maxey has one (of course!). If you haven’t heard Varmints! before, one of my favorite parts is when Paul and Donna debate how intelligent an animal is on a scale of 1-10. Emus are … not bright.
- The Competition, Leather: May the Best Man Win (10/7/18): What it’s about: “11 contestants fight for the title of Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2018. But only one will win.” Why it’s great: The penultimate episode of The Competition season two has all of the contestants we’ve met in previous episodes competing for Mr. L.A. Leather. Some completely bomb portions of the competition (be it the “bar-wear” or very personal interview questions in front of the judging panel) and others are total crowd-pleasers. When James Kim and Elyssa Dudley caught up with the winner after he was announced, I could totally feel his exhilaration and freaked-out-ness – really great tape.
- Women at Work: We Deserve Better Than “Attagirl” (10/9/18): What it’s about: “Hearing your manager say you’re doing a great job is, of course, lovely. But without examples of your greatness in action, or suggestions for how to be even better, you don’t have the information you need to keep improving. Studies have found that women tend to get feedback that’s vague or tied to their personalities, which doesn’t boost our performance ratings. Meanwhile, men get feedback that’s specific and tied to business outcomes, which sets them up to develop and be promoted. First, we talk with Harvard Business School professor Robin Ely about the research on women and feedback. Next, we talk with Tuck School of Business professor Ella Bell Smith about how to draw out actionable, useful feedback from our managers, and how to respond when we’re not getting what we need to succeed.” Why it’s great: I was yelling “YES! YES! YES!” listening to this while simultaneously wondering if it would be kosher to send it to my boss. No offense to him, but his reviews are along the lines of “attagirl” which leave me almost no actionable growth opportunities. I know enough to push back and ask for specific examples, so I felt validated by this podcast episode albeit a little depressed that it’s so prevalent.
- Other Men Need Help: Fancy Pants (10/17/18): What it’s about: “After years of hiding behind clothes, Mark seeks out one of the leading authorities on dandyism to ask for some pants and to share some secrets.” Why it’s great: Second week in a row on the list for Other Men Need Help – great episode about clothes and why the intimacy invoked by talking about how you look is uncomfortable for men. If you like Scene on Radio’s current season on men, you’ll enjoy this slightly lighter take on what’s wrong with masculinity from a guy trying to find the right lane.
- My Dad Wrote a Porno, S4E7: Copier Blues (10/7/18): What it’s about: “James Spooner starts his search for the Special One at Steele’s Pots and Pans.” Why it’s great: My Dad Wrote a Porno is a very happy place for me, I always let some stress go out of my body as I’m having a full-on gut laugh. This time I was completely cracking up at the description of the character Bella taking all of her clothes off at the copier machine as she was changing an ink or toner cartridge, because of course she wouldn’t want to get any ink on her.
- Intrigue: The Ratline, Episode 8: Nest of Spies (10/1/18): What it’s about: “Philippe and the team work out the identity of the mysterious man Otto lunched with on Lake Albano, and discover he too is connected with the Nazi Bishop. They take a trip to the lake to meet the Priest who buried the man and he reveals an unbelievable family secret.” Why it’s great: Honestly, this entire series was a phenomenal show, extremely well-crafted and researched, with creative audio including voice-overs by Laura Linney and Stephen Fry. This episode stood out to me but you need to listen in order.
- Someone Knows Something, S5 Episode 6: The Call (10/29/18): What it’s about: “A retired RCMP officer claims that certain suspects, tips and evidence may have been overlooked during the original investigation, including a very suspicious phone call.” Why it’s great: I really loved the whole trio of episodes that were released this week from SKS (one of my all-time favorite shows because of David Ridgen’s careful, calm approach when talking to people directly or peripherally related to a cold case) but this one was really great because I almost couldn’t believe that the current RCMP officer he talked to would actually talk to him on the record about what he did or didn’t hear related to said suspicious phone call – and suggested that Ridgen’s source may not be credible. The drama! So good.
Binge recommendations of the month
Carruth – a former NFL player is involved in the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend, and the baby survives the ordeal
Intrigue: The Ratline – BBC Radio 4’s investigation of the disappearance of a Nazi official
Someone Knows Something, season 5 – David Ridgen investigates the cold case homicide of Canadian teenager Kerrie Ann Brown
Best Podcasts of October 2018
(Multiple appearances on weekly Delicious Ingredients including Honorable Mentions)
- The Competition
- Scene on Radio
- Other Men Need Help
- Last Seen
- Someone Knows Something