This time we live in is a feast of audio storytelling. You can find a podcast for any interest — from Harry Potter to stories of death-defying survival — and it turns out Oregon is a hotbed of homemade shows. In fact, several enterprising producers have joined forces to host the first-ever Portland Podcast Festival on Dec. 2 at the Hawthorne Theater.
We’re taking this as an opportunity to talk to them about their shows and to spotlight some more of our favorites made in Oregon. On this week’s episode:
Minority Retort - 1:30
Jason Lamb’s morning drive drops as part of the XRAY-FM feed feature conversations that reflect what’s going on in communities of color — often featuring stand-up artists Lamb’s met hosting the monthly “Minority Retort” comedy showcase.
Funemployment Radio - 5:31
Greg Nibler and Sarah X Dylan have chops honed by years in the trenches of terrestrial radio. But when they turned their powers to podcasting, freed from the constraints of three- to five-minute breaks, their creativity found a fifth gear. Voted Portland’s Best Podcast in the Willamette Week’s 2016 and 2017 Readers’ Polls, “Funemployment Radio” tackles all kinds of subjects, but shines brightest on the weird stuff.
Roam Schooled - 13:58
Musician, sound engineer and producer Jim Brunberg is best known to music fans around Portland as the founder and co-owner of two iconic venues: Mississippi Studios and Revolution Hall. But this side project, undertaken with his twin 8-year-old daughters, is an audio odyssey. Brunberg and the girls hit the road and interview everyone from the governor of Oregon to gun shop owners and Big Foot experts, as they explore big (and sometimes silly) issues, like death, the Second Amendment, fear, memory and more, under the guiding principle: “Let’s go find out.” While the touchstone from each episode are questions from the girls, this podcast is one for the grown-ups.
Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men - 23:34
In 2014, Jay Edidin and Miles Stokes launched a grand experiment to tease out one of the most confusing — and compelling — storylines in comics: the saga of the X-Men, a group of outsider superheroes, mostly hated and feared by humanity. Taking on all the storylines, duplicate backstories and alternate universe complications in order was no small task, but they ultimately took an even thornier storyline to unravel in their own lives. We love the podcast for their ultra-brainy takes and intensive research on the publishing history and the sheer glee they derive from Marvel’s intricate superhero soap opera.
Episodes to start with:
#20 - The Brood They Carried (You might want to keep going through other Brood Saga episodes.)
#32 - Off the Map (covering the New Mutants Demon Bear storyline)
#100 - Unexpected Wonder (with Chris Claremont)
Outside Podcast - 35:47
Gorgeous production values and edge-of-your-seat storytelling are the hallmarks of this podcast offshoot from Outside Magazine. Whether telling harrowing survival stories (getting cast adrift at sea, getting struck by lightning, getting treed by a jaguar, oh my!), interviewing extreme athletes of all stripes, or wandering far and wide with stories of the natural world, Portland-based Robbie Carver and Peter Frick-Wright are laser-focused on bringing each episode home with a slam-dunk narrative clinch.
Episodes to start with:
#1 - Frozen Alive
#10 - XX Factor: How the Sports Bra Changed History
#15 - The Death Blow
5 More We Can’t Do Without:
Oh boy, was it hard to narrow down favorites for this week’s episode. Oregon’s quite the hotbed for DIY audio producers. Here are a few other favorites for you to check out.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History — Eugene’s Carlin also hosts an interesting political podcast, but we’ve become addicted to his intensively researched, multi-hour monologues on Ancient Persia, the complicated grudge match between Julius Caesar and the Gauls, and much more.
Small Town Dicks — Yardley Smith (the iconic voice of Lisa Simpson) and her pal Zibby Allen chat with Smith’s husband, Dan, a former mid-Valley detective, and Dan’s brother Dave, who’s also in law enforcement. They explore real-life stories from their small town western Oregon case files. A ripping listen.
Racist Sandwich — 2017 was a huge year for Soleil Ho and Zahir Janmohamad’s ongoing conversation about food, class, race and gender. Janmohamad left Portland, but continued work on the podcast. (Our former production assistant Juan Ramirez also works on the show.)
Spawn On Me — Portlander Kalief Adams is one of four gamers who come together for this rolling conversation from the perspective of gamers of color. They bring reviews of new titles, analysis of what’s happening in the industry and unique takes on the trends.
Hear in the Gorge — Narrative documentaries on all manner of stories told along the Columbia River, from tribal life to mountain rescues to Japanese American resistance to oppression. Great stuff — especially for newcomers to the area.