Happy Monday! Here's what I've been thinking about lately...
1. Your brain on podcasts. Have you heard about the paper that was recently published in the journal Nature? It was everywhere on Twitter late last week. This article from The New York Times titled This Is Your Brain on Podcasts explains it well, I think. Using episodes of The Moth Radio Hour, seven volunteers, and MRI machines, scientists mapped out the way the listener's brain absorbs and responds to spoken storytelling. Previous research found storytelling to activate just the left hemisphere of the brain, but by tracking blood flow, this study found both hemispheres to be buzzing. It's a fascinating study, and the results make me feel pretty good about the massive amount of time I spend listening to story-based podcasts on a weekly basis. If you're curious, go check it out.
2. The This American Life of the South Caucasus. Did you happen to see the great piece in the Columbia Journalism Review titled Exporting Ira Glass-style podcasts to post-Soviet nations? It's from reporter Chava Gourarie, and it's about the new podcast Taxi Taxi. The show was recently created by two expats -- Vladic Ravich and Billie Jean Stirewalt -- who fell in love with the South Caucasus after brief stints living there. The goal of their show is to "reveal the region as a fascinating, human place without exoticizing it." Gourarie calls it "charmingly amateur" and Ravich describes it as "highly experimental." I listened to the first couple of uploads immediately after reading the piece, and so far it's really good. And now I'm curious -- besides Taxi Taxi and Israel Story (a show that wears its This American Life knock-off badge proudly) -- what are the foreign shows out there that have taken Ira Glass's storytelling style and run with it? If you know of any, I'd love to hear!
3. The Telegraph's Pod Couple. Have you listened to the new podcast from The Telegraph called The Pod Couple? Like Gimlet's Sampler, WAMU's The Big Listen, or CBC's Podcast Playlist, The Pod Couple is a podcast about podcasts. Its hosts are Gillian Reynolds, who's been reviewing radio for the newspaper for more than forty years, and Pete Naughton, who's written its weekly podcast column for the last four years. Together, they're delightful. In their first episode, they hear from Sam Jackson, the managing editor of the award-winning station Classic FM. He tells them why he loves radio so much and how his career in it got started. Episodes of The Pod Couple will be released weekly, and the hosts say we can expect to hear about the best new radio dramas, treasures from the BBC archives, chic Parisian music stations, and more. I'm really excited about this one. If you're looking for recommendations from non-Americans, go check it out.
PS -- More #AudioDramaSunday goodness went down on Twitter yesterday.