Two podcasts you should listen to this week: 'Invisibilia' and 'Limetown'
Do you love podcasts, but don’t know how to find new shows? Are you new to podcasts, and don't know where to start?
Welcome to “Thanks for Listening” — a column about the absolute best podcast episodes to listen to this week according to two producers at KUOW who make podcasts for a living. Every Monday, we'll both suggest a podcast that we really enjoy listening to and tell you why we like it.
You’ll hear about shows that span (and overlap) a variety of topics and genres: investigative journalism, fiction, food, feminism, comedy, history, true crime, mental health, Harry Potter, and much more.
So kick back and enjoy this week's picks.
Suggested episode: "The End of Empathy"
Length: About 44 minutes (it includes a preview of another podcast after the credits, total length is 52 minutes)
Listen while: On a hike
Brainpower required: 4/5
Family Friendly? No
Invisibilia, an NPR podcast hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin is a podcast that explores “the invisible forces that shape human behavior.” While I enjoy this podcast, I confess it’s not something I listen to every time it comes out. But when I saw the title of the episode, it instantly piqued my curiosity. Empathy fascinates me, and I love the layered way Hanna and her producer Lina Misitzis approached the topic.
I don’t want to give too much away, because it is one of those stories that is best to experience without too much context. In short, the piece explores some fascinating questions through the story of an incel named Jack: Is empathy always good? Who deserves empathy? Are there generational differences between how we apply our empathy?
Suggested episode: Start from the beginning!
Length: About 35 minutes
Listen while: On a walk (preferably in the rain)
Brainpower required: 4/5
Family Friendly? Yes, but scary at times
Limetown is some combination of The Twilight Zone, an Edgar Allan Poe poem and your favorite true crime podcast. The show is fictional and centers on Lia Haddock, a radio reporter trying to solve the mystery of Limetown. The town was a secretive research facility that was home to 300 people -- all of whom disappeared off the face of the earth 10 years ago. When Haddock starts looking for answers, she stumbles into a sci-fi thriller that goes far beyond what she imagined.
I like this show for two reasons: First, it sounds amazing. The combination of "found" audio and well-written scripts makes Limetown feel like a well crafted investigative show, drawing me into the places Lia visits and the people she meets.
This also helps the show sidestep some of my biggest gripes with fictional podcasts. Second, the story itself is just plain good. It has tinges of a classic mystery, but at its heart, Limetown is a unique and exciting science fiction story. I'm still thinking about the world of Limetown hours after I've finished listening to an episode.
What do you think?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.