January 08

Ice Skaters, Catcallers, Ancestors, and Other Things We Listened to in 2016


January is all about newness—new year, new resolutions, new prospects, new endeavors. And yet, if you’re like me, January is also about looking back and taking stock of the past year. As a radio producer I listen to a lot of radio shows and podcasts for inspiration, enjoyment, and to stay current. But you don’t have to be a radio nerd like me to enjoy a good, gripping story—which is why I’ve compiled a few of the most interesting stories either about women or by women that I listened to in 2016.* So if you’re going for a jog, running errands, doing chores, or just looking to clear your head, whip out your earbuds and tune into some of my recommendations:

  • “Once More, With Feeling (Prologue + Act 1),” This American Life. Key phrases: sexual assault, catcalling, confrontation. Australian writer/reporter Eleanor Gordon-Smith embarks on a one woman crusade to understand why catcallers harass women. Hollaback girl, indeed.
  • “Something Can’t Be Everything,” Everything is Stories. Key phrases: Vintage Hollywood, ‘60s, cults, raising consciousness, magick. This is the story of Robin Baker, who, as a young aspiring starlet, meets and marries spiritual leader Jim Baker. Together they begin Source Code, a commune in California with over 140 members (it does not end in a way you might expect).

Robin Baker, subject of “Something Can’t Be Everything,” by Everything is Stories.

  • “Quit Already!” Reply All. Key phrases: Facebook, civil war, unintentional hero. How a Facebook account transforms one woman into a revolutionary leader in Guatemala. #renuncia
  • “Miss Manhattan,” 99% Invisible. Key phrases: NYC, architecture, supermodels, history. There is a woman so embedded in the landscape of New York City that we barely notice her anymore. This is Audrey Munson, once the most famous artist’s model in the US. Her likeness appears in numerous statues and architectural features across the city. 99% Invisible tells the story of her rise and fall in popularity.

NYC’s ubiquitous Audrey Munson, the focus of 99% Invisible‘s “Miss Manhattan” episode.

  • “One Last Thing Before I Go (Act 1),” This American Life. Key phrases: Japan, tsunami, ancestors, phone booth. TAL producer Miki Meek tells the story of a phone booth connected to the spirit world and the Japanese families who use it. Be warned: I cried over this story.
  • “On the Edge,” Radiolab. Key phrases: Ice princess, Olympics, rebel, speak your piece. Skate into this story about Surya Bonaly, a professional figure skater trying to make a name for herself in a sport that’s, well, not quite ready for change.  #notmyrules
  • “Kids’ Election Questions,” Longest Shortest Time. Key phrases: politics, USA, comedy, age 5. Comedians Hari Kondabolu and W. Kamau Bell (attempt to) answer kids’ questions about the 2016 election. A good primer on how to talk to—and listen to!—the next generation about the world’s complications. Also, adorable.

Kids asks comedians to explain politics in “Kids’ Election Questions” by Longest Shortest Time.

What were you listening to in 2016? I’d love to know! Happy listening in the new year ahead.

*Note that these are stories I heard for the first time last year; they weren’t all necessarily produced last year.