I’m hard-pressed to find a medium less Ladyist-friendly than podcasting. For something that seems so open and accessible, there’s a serious shortage of podcasts hosted by or primarily featuring women. Maybe it’s because women are tacitly discouraged from anything technical, or maybe (like stand-up comedy) it attracts a kind of self-promotion not traditionally allowed in women; whatever the reason, it’s bullshit, and needs to change. So if, like me, you’re in need of some podcasts with a lower-than-usual Y chromosome count, here are some new things to add to your podcast queue.
Less Than Live with Kate or Die
Kate Leth is a Canadian comic writer, artist and sometime retailer whose wonderfully heartfelt and funny work has appeared in collections like Womanthology as well as in her own self-published books (under the name Kate or Die). She’s written a bunch of terrific Adventure Time comics, contributed to Locke & Key, and has recently taken over writing the comic of Bravest Warriors.
Her podcast is a casual affair, with Kate talking in a very familiar way that feels like a rambly, sweet Skype chat with your super-cool bestie (except it’s even better because you don’t have to reply). She’ll talk about comics she’s reading, conventions she’s been to, the amazing writers and artists she meets, and all in an awed tone that says ‘I can’t quite believe this either’. She also gets her fellow comic creators on for some very laid-back interviews: her chat with Brooke Allen and Grace Ellis (co-creators of the most excellent comic Lumberjanes) is delightful, and I’m actively having to stop myself from putting aside this paragraph to go listen to a new interview with Babs Tarr, who’ll be drawing the new run of Batgirl.
It’s incredibly endearing, plus it has a sweet electro-pop theme tune. GO LISTEN.
I studied Cinderella as my central text in Year 12 Advanced English, so Tabled Fables is right up my alley. Amy Kraft and Sophie Bushwick are science journalists who also like to dig into the symbolic meanings of fairy tales. With the help of some experts, Amy and Sophie look at a particular fairy tale each episode, and note how it changes over time and across cultures.
If that sounds dry and academic, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the light touch and curious minds of the show’s hosts. They really relish the gruesome roots of modern fairy tales; some of the older variations on Sleeping Beauty they talk about in their eighth episode make Roald Dahl’s Revolting Ryhmes (a staple of my childhood) seem like Disney by comparison.
The history of X-Men is more convoluted and confusing than any fairy tale, so it’s very generous of X-scholars Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes to take the time to explain the “ins, outs and retcons ” of the superhero soap opera to save us all from wading through generations of back-issues, lifting spine-bending omnibuses or falling prey to an overdose of Chris Claremont melodrama. They’re both clearly immense fans of the series, and their enthusiasm (as well as their awareness of the pure ridiculousness at the heart of X-Men) is enough to carry even the most casual X-fan through. Their chemistry is brilliant, and X-Plain has rapidly gone from a curiosity in my podcast queue to the top of my list.
If you’ve ever wondered how Scott Summers figured out that ruby quartz would stop his optic blasts, or groaned at yet-more Wolverine titles, GO LISTEN (and even if not, listen anyway; it’s really fun).
Over 200 episodes in, PCHH still has an air of joy about it that’s impossible to imitate (trust me, I tried). A few months ago, one of its founding members chose to move on, leaving a chair vacant. Sad I was to see Trey Graham leave, though, it’s been wonderful to see this excellent podcast include a rotating roster of new guests, many of whom are women. Audie Cornish, host of NPR’s All Things Considered, and Kat Chao, a journalist working on NPR’s Code Switch blog are just two of the people who fill the fourth slot on occasion, and the show is thriving on the new range of perspectives that are brought to bear on movies, TV, books, and other pop culture ephemera. Linda Holmes is an attentive and self-effacing host, but their recent live episode confirmed by long-held theory that she’s funnier than everyone else lets on. Fellow regulars Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon are delightful and charming, but it’s Linda’s thoughtfulness and warmth that makes this podcast my go-to. GO LISTEN.
It’s immediately obvious that NTC comes from the same radio station that produces Radiolab. A more traditional radio show than most of the other podcasts listed here, New Tech City shares its fellow show’s elegant production and journalistic intent. Nominally about technology, host Manoush Zomorodi and her team find the human heart of whatever advances they investigate, and look at our ever-evolving relationship with technology. It’s the kind of podcast that changes the way you look at the world around you, and leaves you feeling a little smarter with every episode. If you like feeling a little smarter, or just want some info to make you seem smart and technologically savvy, GO LISTEN.
There are always more podcasts out there (don’t forget ones I’ve talked about before, like Stuff Mom Never Told You and Wham Bam Pow with Cameron Esposito), and I can’t possibly find them all, so please, recommend your favourites! What podcasts do you go to before all others? Share them below!