The Big Listen

The Big Listen

United States

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 the inside scoop on shows you already love. Through interviews, listener recommendations, show snippets and more, The Big Listen helps you curate your perfect playlist.

Episodes

36 Questions for Jonathan Groff  

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.

Lauren Lapkus Is Our Special Guest! (Encore)  

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 supporters and rescue the host of How's Your Day from endless newspaper archives. Plus: How Rep. Keith Ellison uses a podcast to talk to his constituents (and the Congressman's spot-on Ira Glass impersonation).

Tavi Gevinson, Rookie (Podcast) of the Year (Encore)  

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 mental illness can be so dang funny from John Moe of The Hilarious World of Depression. Bonus: writer, actor and media entrepreneur Tavi Gevinson of Rookie magazine gives us her top podcast picks.

Larenz Tate Goes Old School With Bronzeville (Encore)  

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.

Falling In Love With Jonathan Groff: The Special  

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 titled "To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This." The story follows a couple trying to repair their broken marriage by asking each other the 36 questions that lead to love. And it's told in musical form. So it's a podcast musical. Or a musical podcast.

We Need To Talk About S-Town (Encore)  

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 many Muslim American identities with See Something Say Something's Ahmed Ali Akbar. And Irish writer and comedian Maeve Higgins introduces us to some of her favorite immigration stories. Including her own.

Adventure Times! Podcasts Celebrating Travel and Exploration  

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 She Goes host Aminatou Sow. Also, we hear tales of survival and derring-do from the Outside Podcast. Plus, a National Geographic explorer tells us what podcasts she's listening to when she's trekking to far-flung locales.

Munching Mini Eggs With Ronna & Beverly (Encore)  

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!

LeVar Burton Reads (To You)  

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, and we unpack the stories behind the sports with Jody Avirgan of ESPN's 30 For 30 podcast. Plus: writer and director Ingrid Jungermann on her new feature film "Women Who Kill," about a pair of true crime podcasters.

Getting Invisible With Hanna Rosin And Alix Spiegel  

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 Blood. Plus, the Swedish true crime podcast Spår.

Gillian Jacobs Gets Squeaky Clean With Podcasts  

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 The Competition. And we get fizzy with the hosts of the heavily carbonated Seltzer Death Match.

Moose On The Loose: Podcasting Canada's Sesquicentennial  

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 Canadaland's Jesse Brown. Then we catch up with Canadian-American hybrid Jonathan Goldstein, the self-styled mealy-mouthed mensch behind Wiretap and now Heavyweight. Plus: Native storytelling from the world's first indigenous podcast network.

Talking Wife Life With Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher (Encore)  

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 Times' The Daily ever sleeps and learn some art history with The Lonely Palette.

Tegan & Sara, Podcast Super Fans  

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 Pakistani-American host of Beginner walks us through all the things she never learned as a immigrant, like biking and swimming. Plus: saving podcasts for posterity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Tegan & Sara Pride Special!  

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 reveal their idea for an official Tegan & Sara podcast.

Katie Couric Is No One's Sweetheart (Encore)  

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 a senior citizen podcast club where wine plays a prominent role.

The Unraveling of Bill Cosby  

"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 the art of telling politicians' stories, and comedian Aparna Nancherla explains why it isn't always good to say yes, especially to podcast hosts. Plus: the ultimate public radio send-up—the parody podcast, Consider Our Knowledge.

Lauren Lapkus Is Our Special Guest!  

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 supporters and rescue the host of How's Your Day from endless newspaper archives. Plus: How Rep. Keith Ellison uses a podcast to talk to his constituents (and the Congressman's spot-on Ira Glass impersonation).

Malcolm Gladwell Will Make You Cry (Encore)  

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.

Mother's Day Extravaganza: Pods and Broads!  

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 America), among others. Plus, mom tributes from your favorite audio producers.

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