Thursday December 28, 2017
The best podcasts of 2017: our staff picks
I love hearing our staff picks because each member of our team has such unique taste. This year is no exception. Matt and Lindsay chose stories with a ton of emotional weight. I, on the other hand, picked something really... creepy. Any story that involves kidnappings and conspiracy theories is going to land somewhere on the creepy spectrum and The Polybius Conspiracy falls somewhere between "unsettling" and "can't turn away."
It's a mostly-fictional thriller about a mysterious arcade game which may have factored into the disappearance of two teenage boys.
I'm always intrigued by podcasts that attempt to blend fact and fiction. Entering an audio landscape where you're not quite sure what's actually real can be super engaging and fun. But in the case of this podcast, the marriage of real and not real may have been a little too successful. Some reviews of the podcast reported on the story as though it were a piece of nonfiction. This confusion brought up some relevant discussion around audio fiction that uses a documentary style. In a time where false reporting and "fake news" is such a hot button issue, narratives like this can walk a fine line. It will be interesting to see how this will affect podcasts of this genre moving forward.
You can find an official statement from PRX regarding their use of a fact/fiction hybrid in The Polybius Conspiracy here.
- Kate Evans, producer, Podcast Playlist.
Podcasts featured this week:
- Where Should We Begin - (LINDSAY'S PICK) Step into relationship therapist Esther Perel's office and listen as anonymous couples in search of insight bare the raw, intimate and profound details of their personal lives. Click here to listen to the full episode.
- Radio Diaries - (MATT'S PICK) Majd Abdulghani is a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wants to be a scientist. Her family wants to arrange her marriage. Click here to listen to the full episode.
- The Polybius Conspiracy - (KATE'S PICK) In this podcast fact meets fiction. Polybius, a mysterious arcade game from the 1980s whose alleged existence in the Pacific Northwest is fueled by myth and an obsessive online fan base, and which may have factored in the abduction of two teenage boys. Click here to listen to the full episode.
- The Daily - (PHIL'S PICK) Stephen K. Bannon has declared war on the Republican Party. He may no longer be in the White House as President Trump's chief strategist, but he says that only makes him stronger. Click here to listen to the full episode.
- The Adventure Zone - (AYESHA & ARMAN'S PICK) From the penultimate Dungeons & Dragon's podcast, our heroes are empowered by a somewhat gross and dangerous scientific process, and are dispatched on their first mission. Click here to listen to the full episode.
- Trampoline Hall - (STAFF FAVE) Author Monica Heisey shares the story of her two great loves. Click here to listen to the full episode.