Lately, I’ve been begging to pick people up (or drop them off) at the Atlanta airport. Not necessarily because I’m a good Samaritan or friend, but because I find that to be the best setting to listen to podcasts. This new hobby makes mind-numbing menial tasks like folding laundry, washing dishes and Atlanta traffic actually enjoyable. The podcast’s rise in popularity feels like a callback to a time when families would gather around the radio to listen to everything from the news to detective tales to the latest dance craze. As an avid podcast listener, I’ve recently found myself preferring shows made right here in my hometown. For those just dipping their toes in the world of episodic digital audio or current aficionados looking for new recommendations, here are some of my favorite locally made podcasts to keep you sane during the holiday season.
Inspired by “This American Life,” “Athenia” is slice-of-life journalism with small-town charm. What started off as four-minute news clips that played on the local NPR station has now, to our benefit, expanded to longer content with half-hour episodes that focus on a central theme. Sensational and shocking news items are cast aside in exchange for lighthearted interviews, fun hijinks and local stories intent on fostering community.
For those not in the know, the Heritage Room in the Athens-Clarke County Library is a true hidden gem. With archival material dating back to the early 19th Century, it is a research nerd’s dream and a beacon for local history. In keeping with that theme, they are now producing the “Keeping Athens Historical” podcast, with its first season dedicated to the wonderful and weird music history of Athens. Rikki Chesley, head of Archives and Special Collections, along with a guest historian, explores Athens through the lens of those who actually lived it.
As if the Kindercore guys aren’t busy enough with their new vinyl plant, they’ve now added podcast hosting to the mix. In “Load In/Load Out,” Ryan and Cash interview local musicians on how they got started playing music, the weirdest shows they’ve ever performed and touring nightmare stories. From up-and-comers to hometown heroes, it’s great to hear the range of stories and learn how touring has changed through the years. Expect stories about wild parties, car hijinks and cringeworthy sets.
I think the best way to bond with someone is to play board games with them. And if they don’t want to play board games, that’s not somebody I want to bond with. Period. I believe in this so much that it is now a tradition on my birthday to get a group of friends to The Rook and Pawn and force them to play Girl Talk for three hours. Justin and Tim capture that magic that happens over a cardboard square perfectly in their podcast. They interview local folks inside the café while playing lesser-known titles from the shelves. You would think people sitting around playing board games wouldn’t translate to an audiovisual format, but Justin and Tim keep it entertaining while getting great stories out of their guests.
Part of the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, this podcast is a fascinating look into not only the world of law but the many facets and people who are a part of it. Co-hosts Leslie Grove and Rachel Evans bring together the UGA School of Law's students, faculty and staff for intimate discussions about topics they are passionate about, enabling them to share their professional expertise. Each episode tackles a different theme, and I highly recommend the pilot episode that is all about animals, from professors teaching animal law to interviews with staff and students advocating for animal rights.