I listened to 208 podcast recommendations in 2022 – here's what happened
the power of podcast recommendation newsletters
At the beginning of 2022 I decided to try a little experiment. For the entire year, every time I found a podcast episode I wanted to listen to from a podcast newsletter, I would add that episode to a playlist. At the end of the year, I’d be able to look back on all the episodes I discovered thanks to podcast newsletters. 208 episodes or 136 hours and 52 minutes later, here we are! You can view the whole playlist on Goodpods.
That’s 208 episodes I may not have listened to if it wasn’t for the power of recommendations. Throughout the year, I even started to notice the impact of multiple newsletters talking about the same show or episode. Sometimes I would see a show mentioned several places, before one specific description of it struck a chord with me and I had to check it out. They say that buzz building is an important part of podcast marketing and they’re right. There’s something to that– it’s about being everywhere, but also what’s said when you’re there.
I love podcast newsletters and I’m so grateful to them. My list is proof that they help you discover so many different kinds of shows. It felt like each week I was sampling and exploring all kinds of shows beyond the ones I would stumble upon myself. It’s important work! And thankfully, it’s also endlessly intriguing.
I want to highlight some of my favourite episodes I learned about because of podcast newsletters, but first I want to list all the newsletters that they came from. The only flaw in my system is not knowing exactly which episode came from which newsletter but I’m okay with that.
I would also like to apologize for another flaw in my system… Since I would immediately open Goodpods when a recommendation interested me, I wasn’t clicking the links the writers put in their newsletters. I would like to apologize for the missed conversions in your analytics. I will try to be better about it this year!
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Thank you to the exceptional work of and recommendations from:
And now, for some highlights!
The Sporkful - Should You Put Ice In Your Milk?
I love food stories and low stakes debates over food preferences also fall into that category. Dan Pashman is joined by Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings to discuss unique food-related habits submitted by listeners. I could listen to a whole show of these three debating which food choices are actually strange and which ones are just subjective! (transcript)
Fruit Love Letters - The Persimmon
Every episode of Fruit Love Letters is a delight, but the persimmon was my gateway episode. Each episode is a poetic and loving celebration a different fruit. It’s simple in concept, but incredibly thoughtful in the execution with descriptive writing, thorough research, and softly supportive sound design. I don’t have much experience with persimmons, but this episode makes me want some.
The 11th - The Happiness Project
The Happiness Project combines interview and music in a very literal way - a musician turns interviews into songs. All the interviews are with people who live in his Toronto neighbourhood and each hold their own unique story that’s woven together around the theme of happiness. I was in complete awe for hours after listening to this. How can people be SO CREATIVE?! It’s beautiful. I cried and listened twice.
More Than A Feeling - Nostalgia
The making of the theme song for More Than A Feeling made me feel so many feelings. I loooove a good theme song in a podcast, so this was such a treat to hear behind the scenes. What makes a good theme song is actually a deeper exploration of emotions and music. Beyond just the skill it takes to write and compose a song, there’s an art to making that song convey the emotion you want it to. (transcript)
Richard’s Famous Food Podcast - Ketchup Packet Mystery
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. This could be a contender for favourite episode of 2022! It’s a low stakes situation with an empty ketchup packet, treated with the intensity and thoroughness of a high stakes investigation. That might be my favourite genre and Richard’s sound design style is the perfect match for it. He’s detailed, eccentric, and gets creative with pieces of the story and audio that most wouldn’t think to do.
Dear Daughter - The Confidence of a Cockroach
This show features letters written to daughters with all kinds of messages people want to pass on to them. The theme of this letter was about confidence, but the part about knowing when to jump or do something that scares you really stuck out to me. It was like a warm hug and a shot of espresso at the same time. It’s also got the kind of intentional and thoughtful editing/production that elevates what could’ve been a simple interview podcast.
Into the Depths - Episode 1: Trusting
Oh how I love personal journal/documentary style shows! And Tara Roberts had me hooked on her story right away. I wanted to go along with her for every second of the journey after she becomes so inspired by a photo of Black scuba divers that she ditches everything to tell stories about their work. The pacing and flow of this episode made me genuinely surprised it was already over when I finished. (transcript)
Who Killed Avril Lavigne? - Episode 1: Stuck in the Past
After listening to the first episode, all I could think was why isn’t everyone talking about this show? That sounds terribly cliche. But it was the music that put it on another level for me. Since it’s about a very specific pop-punk era, you get to relive the sound of that time through the angsty dialogue, timely slang, and style of songs that paint such a vivid picture. It’s ridiculous and raunchy and fun!
Spectacle: True Crime - 1. In Cold Blood to Serial & True Crime Tropes
Most true crime stresses me out too much to listen to it, so I’ve always wondered why everyone is so hooked on it. A series about how true crime became such a staple form of entertainment is exactly what I needed. I felt like Mariah Smith was asking all the questions I was curious about and desperately wanted to understand. It’s an investigative series about everyone’s favourite investigation topic.
Who Shat on the Floor at My Wedding - A Crime Was Committed
This whole series made me laugh so much and might have one of the strongest first episodes I’ve heard, at least in the comedy genre. Obviously I wanted to know who did it, but more importantly I wanted to know how this inexperienced detective cracked the case. I love how seriously they took the whole thing. This is the kind of true crime I can handle!
Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet - Reviews of Recipes
Imagine someone’s comment at the bottom of a recipe includes 15 changes to the original recipe and they complain that it didn’t turn out like they expected – it happens hilariously frequently! I know what it’s like to have people share unusual feedback of a recipe you published, so I sympathize with the creators of these recipes but I couldn’t help laughing at some of the ridiculous substitutions. Just writing this makes me want to go listen again. This show is such a genius concept all around!
Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant - Not Your Average Field Trip
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is immediately relatable and charming in the first episode of this show. Her passion for bringing more representation to the wildlife field is so inspiring and kept me recommending the show to others. Her story about her first trip to Africa is a great introduction to her voice as a storyteller. She’s so open and honest about what she actually experienced that you can’t help wanting to hear the rest of her stories. The camping story was my favourite. As someone who has been convinced while sleeping in a tent that a chipmunk is DEFINITELY a bear that’s going to attack me, I could never do what she did. I would’ve peed myself. (transcript)
If you’ve ever watched Netflix’s Chef’s Table, you might’ve wondered what it’s like to go to one of those restaurants where the food is more a work of art than a vessel of nutrition and sustenance. This episode talks about that trend in high-end dining where it becomes more of an experience than a meal. I love that it progressed to a bigger conversation about that balance between art/expression and actually satisfying hunger.
This scam story about a faulty method for teaching kids to read hit harder than I expected and harder than most scam podcasts. I remember feeling so shocked and stressed for the parents interviewed in this first episode. The stakes feel so high, because they kinda are! This first episode does such an effective job of introducing this faulty teaching method that I absolutely needed to know how it got so bad and so widespread. (transcript)
abandoned: The All-American Ruins Podcast - Prologue
I started listening to this episode casually while doing chores, but it quickly became anything but casual. I put my big, noise cancelling headphones on, sat down, and soaked up every second carefully. It’s a “sonic fantasy” and you’re given a heads up at the beginning that you should experience it as fully as possible. I’d never heard of that before and I’d never heard of the experience of anemoia either. It’s a feeling of familiarity that doesn’t quite make sense. From the writing, to the sound design, to the emotional story – this is another strong contender for best first episode of a series.
Well, this ended up being longer than I expected! What a fantastic year of listening 2022 was. I feel so lucky to have found all these shows.
I’m going to do this again for 2023, but this year I’ll be using Spotify to build the list. If you have recommendations for somewhere else I should build the list, I’d love to hear them! All I need is something that’s easy to add episodes to when I’m on my phone.
Thank you so, so much for this lovely shoutout.
Loving these emails - and thank you for reminding me of the 'Who Shat...' podcast! It's gone full circle and I put it into the Pod Bible newsletter this week as well :D