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Playlist: PRX Podcasts

Compiled By: PRX Editors

Curated Playlist

Get out your earbuds.

PRX presents podcasts of all stripes - from those included in Radiotopia to freestyle offerings on all sorts of subjects with creative collaborators.

You can subscribe on iTunes, stations, air them - just be sure to preview before broadcast!

Sidedoor (Series)

Produced by Smithsonian

Sidedoor is a podcast only the Smithsonian can bring you. It tells stories about science, art, history, humanity and where they unexpectedly overlap. From dinosaurs to dining rooms, this podcast connects big ideas to the people who have them.

Most recent piece in this series:

The Art of War

From Smithsonian | Part of the Sidedoor series | 23:14

Side_door_logo_640x640_small In this episode, we look at artists whose work has helped reveal the human side of war. You’ll hear about a famous artist who got his start sketching Civil War soldiers and landscapes, and was never the same again. Also featured are two contemporary artists: a painter whose work depicts war's psychological impact on his best friend, and a female combat photographer who repeatedly risked her own life to document her fellow soldiers’ experiences on the battlefield.

Offshore (Series)

Produced by Honolulu Civil Beat

Stories from Hawaii. Because sometimes being in the middle of nowhere gives you a good perspective on everywhere else.

Most recent piece in this series:

S2 Ep. 6 Creation

From Honolulu Civil Beat | Part of the Offshore series | 35:08


When we started out our journey to Mauna Kea for Offshore, we were looking at this story as a clash of science versus culture. What we’ve discovered is a whole lot more complex than that. But where does that leave things? 
Is there room on Mauna Kea for both the observatories and Native Hawaiian practitioners? Does one side have to push the other out, or is there room to coexist? 
And if what we’re seeing across the country at places like Oak Flat and Standing Rock is a clash between western values and indigenous values, is there a way for us to find a better balance in the future?

Outside Podcast (Series)

Produced by Outside Magazine

Brought to you by the editors of Outside and PRX, this podcast aims to apply the magazine’s long-standing literary storytelling methods to the audio realm. Each episode is either prompted by a feature from the archives or simply inspired by a theme Outside has explored. The podcast’s first series delves into the science of survival in some of nature’s most extreme environments.

Most recent piece in this series:

The Devil's Highway Part 2

From Outside Magazine | Part of the Outside Podcast series | 28:06

Oustide_podcast_small In the spring 2001, a large group of men set out from Mexico to cross the border into Arizona through some of the harshest desert terrain anywhere. The tragic result helped researchers develop the Death Index, a new model for predicting dehydration fatalities.

Esquire Classic (Series)

Produced by Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Hosted by acclaimed journalist David Brancaccio (Marketplace and PBS' NOW), this podcast dissects classic Esquire stories and reveals the cultural currents that make them as urgent and timely today as when they were first published. Guests include Esquire writers, along with noted authors, comedians, and actors who offer unique and personal perspective on some of the most lasting stories ever published.

Most recent piece in this series:


From Public Radio Exchange (PRX) | Part of the Esquire Classic series | 29:12

Cover170x170_small We will all get old one day. Mike Sager’s astonishingly intimate portrait of Glenn Sandberg, age ninety-two, is about what it actually feels like to be close to the end. It’s a story about mortality and love and companionship and the things in life that matter most—and how those things we once held as so important fall away. 

Sager, a longtime Esquire writer at large, joins host David Brancaccio to discuss how and why he wrote “Old,” which was published in 1998, and how the story continues to ripple and shape his own views on work, death, and what matters most. 

HerMoney with Jean Chatzky (Series)

Produced by HerMoney with Jean Chatzky

Anyone who tells you women don’t need financial advice specifically for them is wrong. Women, whether they’re the caretakers, the breadwinners, or both, face a unique set of financial challenges. That’s where HerMoney comes in. In her frank, often funny, but always compassionate way, Jean Chatzky takes every audience of women through the steps they need to take today to live comfortably (and worry-free) tomorrow, offering the latest research, expert tips and personal advice. A co-production with PRX.

Most recent piece in this series:

Ep 80: How To Talk About Money With Celeste Headlee

From HerMoney with Jean Chatzky | Part of the HerMoney with Jean Chatzky series | 33:40

Hermoney-3000x3000-768x768_small Biologists say conversations are essential to our survival, yet we're having less of them and getting worse at them. We talk about money every week in hopes of inspiring you to do the same. But we know. It's hard. Celeste Headlee is here to help. The author of the new book "We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter" shares five ways we're holding ourselves back from being better communicators. Then, Kelly and I answer your questions on credit freezes and the FAFSA and consolidation loans. And we dive into burnout — and how to avoid it. Do us a favor? Leave us a review.

Orbital Path (Series)

Produced by Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Orbital Path with Michelle Thaller takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about our life here on Earth. From podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Most recent piece in this series:

The 11 Dimensions of Brian Greene

From Public Radio Exchange (PRX) | Part of the Orbital Path series | 29:23

Brian_greene_2_small We live our lives in three dimensions. But we also walk those three dimensions along a fourth dimension: time.

Our world makes sense thanks to mathematics. Math lets us count our livestock, it lets us navigate our journeys. Mathematics has also proved an uncanny, stunningly accurate guide to what Brian Greene calls “the dark corners of reality.”

But what happens when math takes us far, far beyond what we — as humans — are equipped to perceive with our senses?  What does it mean when mathematics tells us, in no uncertain terms, that the world exists not in three, not in four — but in no fewer than eleven dimensions?

In this episode of Orbital Path, Brian Greene, director of Columbia’s Center for Theoretical Physics and a celebrated explainer of how our universe operates, sits down to talk with Dr. Michelle Thaller.

Together they dig into the question of how we — as three-dimensional creatures — can come to terms with all those extra dimensions all around us.

For more about the show, visit orbital.prx.org

Blank on Blank (Series)

Produced by Blank on Blank

Blank on Blank is building and broadcasting an archive of journalists' lost interviews.

Most recent piece in this series:

Alvin Toffler and Margaret Mead: Future Shock, Innocence and Innovation

From Blank on Blank | Part of the Blank on Blank series | 16:07

Theexperimenterslogo_social_chalkboardgreen_small Alvin Toffler and Margaret Mead: an author and an anthropologist who endeavored to understand the impact of scientific invention. In this episode of our series, The Experimenters, we hear from two visionaries who believed that while we’ve started a technological revolution, we don’t quite know where it’s going to take us. But maybe most interesting of all – we get to hearing these archival interviews from the very future these thinkers were trying to imagine. Mead and Toffler guide us into a view of what the present might have been — or perhaps in some ways actually came to pass.

Transistor (Series)

Produced by Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Transistor is a podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters.

Much as the transistor radio was a new technical leap, this Transistor features new women voices and sounds from new science producers. Learn more at transistor.prx.org.

Most recent piece in this series:

Engineering NYC from Below

From Public Radio Exchange (PRX) | Part of the Transistor series | 10:11

Transistor1400x1400_small Head underground to hear how the first subways were built, and how they are built today.

How To Be Amazing (Series)

Produced by How To Be Amazing

In this in-depth interview show, Michael Ian Black takes listeners into the minds of some of today’s most fascinating celebrities and newsmakers to discuss the process of how they became, well, amazing.

Most recent piece in this series:

#16 Ingrid Michaelson

From How To Be Amazing | Part of the How To Be Amazing series | 01:02:19

Im_headshot_small Ingrid Michaelson is the best-selling recording artist of such hits as "Girls Chase Boys" and "The Way I Am."  While her voice certainly qualifies her as amazing, it's the path she chose to follow as a recording artist that is so interesting.  Michaelson bypassed the established labels so that she could release her music on her own and found success as a recording artist on her own terms.

Israel Story Podcast (Series)

Produced by Israel Story

Israel Story is a bi-weekly podcast, hosted by Mishy Harman and distributed by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. It tells modern tales from an ancient land - the kind of stories you'd share with a friend over a plate of hummus on a Friday afternoon, or with your partner at the end of a long day. These are everyday stories, told by, and about, regular Israelis. The award-winning show is one of the most popular programs in Israel, where it is aired nationally, on prime-time. Available every-other Wednesday.

Most recent piece in this series:

The White Elephant

From Israel Story | Part of the Israel Story Podcast series | 32:00

Centralbusstation In "The White Elephant,” Yochai Maital walks us through the history of Tel Aviv’s ‘New’ Central Bus Station — a derelict eight-story behemoth and modern day Tower of Babel — which mirrors much of modern Israeli history, with its grand vision and messy implementation.

HowSound (Series)

Produced by HowSound

The backstory to great radio storytelling.

Most recent piece in this series:

#46 - Recording in Remote Locations

From HowSound | Part of the HowSound series | 14:33

Howsoundxprx_240_small I have field recording envy. Daniel Grossman has recorded science stories in so many places on my travel list - Greenland, the Arctic, Madagascar, Mongolia.... I just might secretly stow away in his bags next time he leaves to report. Of course, the problem would be finding space.

Dan says he usually carries about fifty pounds of recording gear when he reports in remote locations. Much of it is back-up equipment because, as he says, anything can go wrong. Dan doesn't ever want to be left unable to make quality recordings so he's built a serious amount of redundancy into his set-up.

On this HowSound, Dan shares some of his favorite field recordings --- calving glaciers, stick throwing howler monkeys, penguins, and elephant seals --- along with his overseas reporting tips for gear and how to prepare.

And, while I'm on the subject of science, PRX recently launched the STEM Story Project . They're eager to fund stories about science, technology, engineering, and math. Got a story idea along those lines up your sleeve? Then hurry because the deadline is April 22, 2013.



NAUTILUS podcast from PRX (Series)

Produced by David Schulman

The podcast of NAUTILUS, a different kind of science magazine. Distributed by PRX.

Most recent piece in this series:

"To Save California, Read Dune." With Andrew Leonard

From David Schulman | Part of the NAUTILUS podcast from PRX series | 20:00


Frank Herbert's science fiction epic "Dune" is set on a desert planet. For the indigenous Fremen of 'Dune," the water in even a single tear is precious. 

Could Herbert's sci-fi world of 1965 offer any lessons for the drought-stricken California of 2015? Andrew Leonard takes  on that question in his provocative piece in the water issue of Nautilus

In this edition of the Nautilus podcast, Leonard talks with host David Schulman about water, fog, fog-catchers, gigantic sandworms — and the prescience of "Dune."  

This sound-rich podcast also features a field visit with environmental scientist Daniel Fernandez, who has established a network of Dune-like fog-catchers along the California coast. And we’ll hear a field recording of a fog-catcher at work in one of the dries places on planet earth, the Atacama desert, in Chile.

Strangers (Series)

Produced by Lea Thau

Since the beginning of time, strangers and strange places have given rise to our wildest dreams and our deepest fears — and to the greatest stories on earth. Hear them here. Real people, true stories.

Most recent piece in this series:

Love Hurts 3 (podcast)

From Lea Thau | Part of the Strangers series | 40:31

Brokenheart_small In this third installment of Love Hurts, Lea seeks dating advice from two experts and lets it all hang out. Love Hurts is a series in which Lea investigates why she is single. We recommend listening to the episodes in order.

99% Invisible (Director's Cut) (Series)

Produced by Roman Mars

Trying to comprehend the 99% invisible activity that shapes the design of our world.

Most recent piece in this series:

99% Invisible #277-Ponte City Tower (Director's Cut)

From Roman Mars | Part of the 99% Invisible (Director's Cut) series | 24:15


Back in the 1980’s, when Louis Smuts was growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, his family couldn’t go outside together without risking arrest. “My mother would always walk behind [my father] wherever they went,” he recalls. And in the car, she would sit in the back and pretend to be the family maid. At the time, Smuts didn’t understand that only white people could move freely in the city, while black South Africans were pushed to the outskirts. The country’s white-ruled government called this system by the Afrikaans word “apartheid,” meaning “separateness.” Under apartheid, white people had access to the best schools, jobs and healthcare.

Smuts’ father was white and his mother was colored—a South African term for people of mixed race. They had gotten married in neighboring Swaziland, but back home their marriage was illegal.

Apartheid leaders claimed that segregated cities were better for everyone, and apartheid was strictly enforced. Police would patrol neighborhoods to make sure that white people and black people weren’t living together. But the system was never airtight, and people found creative ways to slip through the cracks.

“If you lived in a high rise building with five or six hundred flats in it,” explains Smuts, “they weren’t going to go through each and every flat to come look for any illegal persons.” And over the years, many interracial families like the Smuts disappeared into one high rise apartment building in particular—a tower called Ponte City. “I don’t think there’s anybody in Johannesburg that doesn’t know Ponte,” Smuts says. “They might not have been there. But everybody knows Ponte.”

Looking at Johannesburg’s skyline, the 54-story tower is hard to miss—it is the tallest apartment building on the African continent. It is also distinctively shaped, a massive cylinder with an empty central core. The billboard wrapping its top like a crown also helps it stand out. For many, the building symbolizes Johannesburg—because over the past four decades, its fortunes have reflected the changing city around it.

Ponte tower against the Joburg skyline at sunset by flowcomm (CC BY 2.0)

“Because of its scale, size, its checkered history, its toughness, and roughness, [Ponte speaks] to a very Johannesburg condition,” says architectural historian Melinda Silverman. “It has spoken to a city which goes very rapidly through cycles of decline and prosperity and decline and prosperity.” Ponte has always been a kind of vertical waiting room for admission to South African society. But it’s also been a laboratory, a place where the city seems to try out new versions of itself.

Before Ponte became a hideaway for interracial families like the Smuts, the building attracted a much different kind of clientele.

Ponte City lit up at night by Nico Roets (CC BY 2.0)

At the start of the 1960’s, the apartheid system had been firmly in place for more than ten years and South Africa’s economy was a rising star in the world. It had just given birth to a new currency, the Rand, which was already stronger than the US Dollar. Its success was largely driven by its access to cheap black labor and the high value of gold.

Over the next decade, foreign investment in South Africa doubled, but skilled workers were in short supply. Because the government had denied the majority of the black population a decent education, it had to fill the gap by recruiting single white men from all over Europe. The country’s white population increased by over 50% between 1963 and 1972. They were attracted in part, explains Silverman, by “a level of privilege that you probably couldn’t have found in any other part of the world. If you’re a middle class person, living in England or America, you probably had to wash your own dishes, and make your own beds, whereas if you were a middle class person living in South Africa, you probably had at least two people doing that for you.”

Central Joburg at night, image by Andrew Moore

One particular square mile of central Johannesburg—the future site of Ponte City—served as a regular landing place for incoming European migrants. It was home to bars and live music joints, a place where specialty stores hawked French magazines, Italian shoes and American rock-and-roll. It had a shiny, vibrant, bohemian edge that people compared to New York’s Greenwich Village and London’s Soho District.

At the same time, it felt almost like a foreign country. As with most of Johannesburg’s nicest neighborhoods, this area was zoned exclusively for white people. Black South Africans could work there, but unless they were live-in servants they had to be out by nightfall each evening.

Developers could hardly satisfy the demand for high rise apartments in this part of the city. Buildings kept getting bigger and taller, monuments to a thriving economy. “This was white people wanting to make their mark on the landscape,” says Silverman, to show that “South Africa is a modern, progressive, impressive place.”

Of course, South Africa was neither truly modern nor progressive at this time. Across the continent, change was underway; this was the era of African independence. Old colonies were falling like dominoes and by the mid 1960s, most African countries were black-ruled. To much of the world, South Africa’s white government began to look pretty backward. And it didn’t help that the country had recently thrown several of the anti-apartheid movement’s most powerful leaders in jail for life, including a young lawyer named Nelson Mandela.

Ponte City’s concrete facade and by day, image by Geoffrey Hancock (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nonetheless, Johannesburg kept developing, and in the middle of it all rose Ponte, a great round tower completed in 1975. Rodney Grospkoff, one of three architects who designed the building, describes the structure: “The whole outside of it is made out of raw concrete. And then at its foot it’s really anchored,” he explains, describing the big base that spreads out at the bottom. “It’s so beautifully done that people once upon a time said it looks like a wedding cake.”

But not everyone shared this affection for the massive, brutalist structure. “Straight after it was built, it was voted as the second ugliest building in Johannesburg.” Second ugliest or not, Ponte City was popular. Residents started moving in even before the building was finished, lured by its furnished flats and panoramic city views. All the units in Ponte faced both inward and outward, with entrances wrapping around the central core and views out the sides.

Ponte City floor plan

Ponte was designed to be like a city within a city, featuring housing above but also shops below. There was even talk of putting a miniature ski slope inside its hollowed-out core.

But even as Ponte’s new residents were moving in, the city around them was cracking apart. At the time it was built, Johannesburg’s inner-city was almost exclusively white. Black South Africans lived on the edges of the city, in communities called townships. And about twelve miles southwest of Ponte, in a black township called Soweto, a new revolt against apartheid had begun.

Protests escalated and on June 16, 1976, police murdered at least 176 high school students during a peaceful protest march. Images of the massacre quickly circled the globe, inspiring renewed calls to end white rule. The Soweto uprising also sent Johannesburg’s urban planning dreams crashing down. International sanctions and boycotts in the wake of the violence helped tank the country’s economy. It became difficult to keep all the newly constructed high-rises fully occupied.

Meanwhile, like many cities around the world, Johannesburg had also started to experience a wave of suburbanization, with white people moving out of the inner city and into new suburbs. And for black South Africans fleeing from the poverty and violence of the townships, the inner city was an alluring option, especially Ponte.

It was still illegal for black, colored, and Indian South Africans to live in these areas, but the scale and density of the inner city made the laws harder to enforce. A new term was coined to describe the increased mixing going out on—”graying“—and for many, gray areas were refuges, impossible for the police to close down and search all at once. Landlords would turn a blind eye to skin color, but, in exchange, illegal residents had to deal with rent increases and poor maintenance.

Inside Ponte, apartments started to get crowded and grimy. Plumbing broke down, and trash began to fill the open core in the center of the building like an oversized concrete garbage can.

Pretty soon, banks stopped issuing home loans in the area around Ponte—known as Hillbrow—as white people kept moving out. Between 1983 and 1993, Johannesburg’s inner city went from 20 percent black to 85 percent. So by the late 1980s, “white suburbanites would have been terrified of Hillbrow,” explains Silverman, but for black and colored people: “Hillbrow would have been this great beacon of opportunity,” a way into urban life.

Then, on February 2nd, 1990, President F.W. De Klerk went in front of Parliament to give his annual State of the Nation speech. Much to the shock of the audience, he announced the end of a long-time ban on many anti-apartheid political parties and liberation movements. He also announced that, after 27 years, the government planned to release Nelson Mandela unconditionally. From all over the world, exiled political activists began to return, eager to make their mark in a dramatically changing country.

Anti-apartheid activists who had fled South Africa, like Lentswe Mogatle, returned and found homes in Ponte. “It was like being in New York,” he recalls. Many of the old European cafes from the 1950s and 60s were still standing, serving late-night espressos and thick schnitzels. But alongside them were new shops and nightclubs, including one run by the famous South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who had also recently returned from his own exile.

Thabo Mbeki, who would later become president of South Africa, lived in the building next to Ponte. At the time of the country’s first democratic election in 1994, one observer counted 50 of the new members of parliament staying in the area.

But the end of apartheid didn’t represent the end of Ponte City’s evolution. Among other things, the transition to black rule in South Africa also meant the end of the country’s tightly closed borders, which for decades had cracked open only for white immigrants and a few laborers from the surrounding countries.

Throughout the 1990s, immigrants began arriving in Johannesburg by the tens of thousands. Many came from nearby Congo, Zimbabwe, or Malawi. Others traveled from as far as Nigeria or Pakistan. Some fled persecution. And many of them landed in Ponte Tower.

But the rush of immigration didn’t help the neighborhood’s physical decline. Like the residents of the 1980s, many new migrants had few legal protections against unscrupulous landlords. Ponte, the giant concrete trash bin at the center of it all, became the ultimate symbol of the neighborhood’s decline. There was no clearer, more distressing sign of how far things had fallen than when an American architect announced in 1998 that he was interested in turning the tower into a jail. In the end, Ponte never became a prison, but the symbolism was clear: not many people wanted to live in this building by choice.

Many of Ponte’s flats were eventually abandoned, while others were crammed with people trying to scrape together the monthly rent. The building, and the neighborhood, experienced a wave of violence and prostitution. Criminals took over the abandoned high rise and ran it like a vertical slum.

Developers made a few attempts to gentrify the tower and to turn it into luxury apartments again, but ultimately those plans didn’t really work. Ponte remains a lot like it was at the end of apartheid — a home for recently arrived immigrants from all over Africa. 

Like South Africa itself, Ponte has gone from a symbol of white opulence to something far more complicated. It’s hopeful and it’s a little a rough around the edges. It’s a microcosm of the country’s history, but it’s also a place that moves on. And the strange concrete tube at the center of Johannesburg’s skyline continues to play the same role for newcomers that it always has. “The diversity is the same,” says Silverman. “It might have been Czechs, Portuguese, Italians and Danes living in Hillbrow then, but now it’s Cameroonians, Angolans, Nigerians and Zimbabweans. It always has been your entry point into the city.”  



Producers Ryan Brown and Dhashen Moodley spoke with Ponte City resident Louis Smuts; Melinda Silverman, an architectural historian who studies inner city Johannesburg; and architect Rodney Grospkoff who was one of three architects who designed Ponte City. This episode also featured footage from a film called “Africa Shafted” by Ingrid Martens.


Original music by Sean Real
Additional Music by Jenny Conlee Drizos, Jon Neufeld, and Nate Query

Can You Help Me Find My Mom?

From The Truth | 09:04

The Truth features dramatic short stories that combine great writing with authentic-feeling performances and rich sound design. Host and producer Jonathan Mitchell works with a team of screenwriters and actors to create each original episode, revitalizing the craft of audio fiction for a new generation.

Icon_small A girl is lost and can't find her mom. Why won't anyone help her?

Bee Herbstman as MAGGIE
Melanie Hoopes as ROSE
Ed Herbstman as EDDIE
Evan Sudarsky Abadi as BODEGA CLERK
Gregory C. Jones as OFFICER
Blanche Ames as MAGGIE

Written by Diana McCorry, and produced by Jonathan Mitchell.

The Heart: Season One (Series)

Produced by The Heart

The things you whisper. The things you do in the dark...or light. The things you feel but you don’t know how to name. This is a radio show about all of those things. It’s about the triumphs and the terrors of human intimacy, the bliss and banality of being in love and the wild diversity of the human heart.

Most recent piece in this series:


From The Heart | Part of the The Heart: Season One series | 31:36

The Heart


When we do something for the first time, we enter into a world with new rules. It’s the creation of a new path, a new possibility. We meet this threshold with no knowledge of what will happen, how we or the world will react.

Once the rules of the game change, once we do something that we’ve never done before, the question of how to navigate the new world is what comes next. What do we do after the first kiss? Will it give way to the first holding of hands, the first public display of affection, the first sex, the first week sleeping in someone else’s bed every night? Or will it be the first, but also — the last?

This is a story featuring Drew Denny, a singer, songwriter, filmmaker and artist. You can check out her first feature film here.

The Allusionist (Series)

Produced by The Allusionist

Small adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman. Part of Radiotopia from PRX. http://theallusionist.org

Most recent piece in this series:

Allusionist 31: Post-Love

From The Allusionist | Part of the The Allusionist series | 18:28

Post-love_small_small Breaking up is hard to do, and it's hard to put into appropriate words. Comedian Rosie Wilby seeks a better term for 'ex', and family law barrister Nick Allen runs through the vocabulary of divorce.

NOTE: this episode is not full of bawdy talk, but there are adult themes and a couple of category B swearwords.

There's more about this episode at http://theallusionist.org/post-love. Don't go breaking my heart: say hi at twitter.com/allusionistshow and facebook.com/allusionistshow.

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia.fm for PRX.org.

50: The Boy Band Episode

From The Mortified Podcast | 34:19

The Mortified Podcast is a storytelling series where adults share the embarrassing things they created as kids– diaries, letters, lyrics & beyond– in front of total strangers.

This episode: From those who "Hung Tough" to those who "Wanted It That Way," fan-girls share stories of their biggest boy band obsessions -- with a very special appearance from a boy band icon. As well as cameos by Song Exploder's Hrishikesh Hirway, Answer Me This' Martin Austwick & The Memory Palace's Nate Dimeo.

Mortifiedboybandsrev2_copy_small From those who "Hung Tough" to those who "Wanted It That Way," fan-girls share stories of their biggest boy band obsessions -- with a very special appearance from a boy band icon.  As well as cameos by Song Exploder's Hrishikesh Hirway, Answer Me This' Martin Austwick & The Memory Palace's Nate Dimeo. The Mortified Podcast is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. Listen @ getmortified.com/podcast

the memory palace (Series)

Produced by Nate DiMeo

the memory palace is a series of short, surprising history stories from veteran producer, Nate DiMeo. Each episode tells the story of a forgotten moment or figure from the past or asks us to remember the reality behind history's more familiar facts and faces. New episodes posted every ten days or so here, on iTunes, and at thememorypalace.us

Most recent piece in this series:


From Nate DiMeo | Part of the the memory palace series | 09:14

Nate DiMeo

Chavez_small "Peregrinar" is about a march led by Cesar Chavez.

Criminal (Series)

Produced by Criminal

Criminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the “if it bleeds, it leads,” kind of crime but something a little more complex. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.

Most recent piece in this series:

Episode 68: All the Time in the World

From Criminal | Part of the Criminal series | 31:13

Criminalzag_small The “body farm” at Texas State University is a place almost no one except researchers and law enforcement is able to see, because it’s one of very few places in the world that deliberately puts out human bodies to decompose in nature. Forensic Anthropologists observe decomposition in order to help law enforcement discern when and how someone may have died. We asked if we could visit, and they agreed.

Love + Radio - (CENSORED VERSIONS) (Series)

Produced by Love + Radio

All the great L+R stories you know and love, just without the swears.

Most recent piece in this series:

The Living Room

From Love + Radio | Part of the Love + Radio - (CENSORED VERSIONS) series | 22:56


Diane’s new neighbors across the way never shut their curtains, and that was the beginning of an intimate, but very one-sided relationship.

Diane Weipert is a writer and filmmaker. Produced by Briana Breen.

Theory of Everything (Series)

Produced by Benjamen Walker

Theory of Everything plunges listeners into a whirl of journalism, fiction, art, interviews, and the occasional exploding pipe dream. Host Benjamen Walker connects the dots in a hyper-connected world, featuring conversations with philosophers, friends, and the occasional too-good-to-be-real guest.

Most recent piece in this series:

Artifacts (Redux)

From Benjamen Walker | Part of the Theory of Everything series | 22:58

Toe12_small Photographer Robert Burley takes pictures of the end of analog for his book The Disappearance Of Darkness. Christine Frohnert and Christiane Paul explain why it is difficult to care for digital artworks and Social Media theorist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to understand what is truly revolutionary about ephemeral photographs and platforms like Snapchat.

Fugitive Waves (Series)

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters

Fugitive Waves --  Lost recordings and shards of sound, along with new tales of remarkable people from around the world. Stories from the flip side of history.

Most recent piece in this series:

Basque Sheepherders Ball

From The Kitchen Sisters | Part of the Fugitive Waves series | 21:14


In the 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Basques were brought to the western United States to do the desolate work that no one else would do—herding sheep. Alone for months at a time with hundreds of sheep the Basque's improvised songs, baked bread in underground ovens, carved poetry and drawings into the Aspen trees, and listened to The Basque Radio hour beaming to Idaho, Washington, Colorado, California, traditional music and messages between the herders out in the isolated countryside.

"You say Basque to a Westerner and you think sheepherder," said Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World. "In Basque country very few people were shepherds. The seven provinces of Basque country are about the size of New Hampshire. No one has huge expanses of land there."

"Teenagers were ripped up out of their communities back home, brought to a foreign land, with a foreign language, put up on top of a mountain ... crying themselves to sleep at night during the first year on the range," says William Douglass, Former director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada.

Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who repressively ruled the country for nearly 40 years, made life miserable for the Basque people, suppressing their language, culture and possibilities. The result was a massive exodus, and the only way to come to the United States for many Basques was to contract as sheepherders. There was a shortage of shepherds in the American West, and legislation was crafted in 1950 that allowed Basque men to take up this lonely and difficult job.

Francisco and Joaquin Lasarte came to America in 1964 from Basque country in northern Spain. Each Lasarte brother had his own flock, and they rarely saw each other or anyone else for months on end. Mostly they ate lamb and bread cooked in a Dutch oven in a hole they dug in the ground.

Hotels like the Noriega in Bakersfield, CA were home in the winter months for these isolated men. They piled into these Basque boarding houses that sprung up in Elko and Winnemucca, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. The men ate family style — big bottles of red wine, accordion music, conversation and card games.

For 25 years, the voice of the Basque was Espe Alegria. Every Sunday night, sheepherders across the mountains of the American West would tune in to listen to her radio show on KBOI in Boise.  Dedications, birthday greetings, suggestions of where to find good pasture, the soccer scores that her husband got off the shortwave from Spain, and the hit tunes from Spain and the Basque region. She would help the sheepherders with immigration issues, with buying plane tickets home, with doctor's appointments. She did her show for free, but once or twice a year the owners of the sheep camps would give her a lamb. The family would take it home, throw it on the kitchen table, cut it up and put in the freezer.

The Sheepherder's Ball was the highlight of the year in Boise. The men wore denim, the women wore simple house dresses. Lambs were auctioned off and proceeds given to a charity. Huge platters of chorizo and stew and pork sandwiches were served. The ball continues to this day every December at the Euzkaldunak Club's Basque Center.


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