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Audiofiles: 14 Podcasts You Should Listen To In 2018

Twice a year, KCUR's Central Standard talks about top podcasts with the critics.

When it comes to podcasts, it’s all about storytelling. Whether that's an obvious narrative or just a conversation between two people in the comfort of a studio, podcasts stand out and win fans only when they can bring listeners along for a story, according to our critics.

Here are recommendations from three podcast experts who shared their recent discoveries with guest host Brian Ellison on Monday's Central Standard.

Beckett Graham, producer and co-host of "The History Chicks" podcast:

  • "Drawn: the Story of Animation": Holly Frey, a cartoon lover and host of the award-winning "Stuff You Missed in History Class" podcast,  dives into the world of animation with insights from the producers, historians, animators, and business people who create it.
  • "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd": The podcast description for "Armchair Expert" is straightforward: It “celebrates the messiness of being human.” Dax Shepard talks with people about their setbacks that made them better. Or not.
  • "The Habitat": Gimlet Media’s new podcast follows six volunteers who pretend they are living on Mars for one year. The experiment aims to understand what life might be like on the red planet for astronauts when they finally get there. (Also recommended by Madeline Fox.)
  • "Personal Best": This self-improvement show wants to help people become their better selves in non-obvious ways. For example, by creating doppelgangers.
  • "Bad Science": Have you thought about why "Star Wars" characters were wearing jackets on the space ship? With a comedian and scientist duo breaking down scientific inaccuracies in popular films and TV-shows, "Bad Science" might have an answer for you.

Madeline Fox, Kansas News Service reporter

  • "A Very Fatal Murder": The Onion’s parody of true-crime podcasts tells the story of a reporter, David Pascall (played by David Sidorov), who comes from New York to the small town of Bluff Springs, Nebraska, in search of a perfect murder, which might be that of a 17-year-old girl.
  • "Bundyville": The podcast follows Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his 21-year legal dispute with the federal government.
  • "The Uncertain Hour": Krissy Clark, from American Public Media’s Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk, busts myths about the economy.
  • "Terrible, Thanks for Asking": For those who are fed up with saying they are fine when they aren’t, Nora McInerny talks about pain and the awkwardness of human beings.

Cody Newill, audience development specialist at KCUR and co-host of the "What's in a Game?" podcast:

  • "Conversations with People Who Hate Me": Dylan Marron, a writer and video maker who focuses on social justice issues, chats with people who wrote negative comments about him on social media.
  • "Ear Hustle": Ear Hustle claims to be the first podcast to be created entirely inside a prison. Its hosts, inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, and an artist who volunteers at the prison, Nigel Poor, discuss the stories of people who are in prison – while being behind bars themselves.
  • "Song Exploder": We've recommended this podcast before, but we're still listening because each new episode tells a story about the creative process behind one particular artist's song.
  • "Noclip": This podcast goes in-depth on individual video games and on what makes them so attractive. Beware of spoilers.
  • "The Chalkboard Podcast": Kansas City residents Micah Conkling and Eric Milner discuss pop culture in their hometown.

Anna Yakutenko is Alfred Friendly Press Partners Fellow working at KCUR 89.3.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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