Every now and then, when I'm feeling a tad nostalgic, I'll scroll through the archives of my all-time favorite shows and give a listen to their very first uploads. With some of them dating all the way back to the early 2000s, it's fascinating to hear how they've changed. Here are ten of my favorite debut episodes, listed in no particular order...
Pilot from Welcome to Night Vale [June 15, 2012, 21 minutes]. In a wonderfully weird premiere, a new dog park is open (but dogs aren't allowed!), a light bulb that was touched by an angel is up for sale, and there's a new scientist named Carlos in town. This show has changed so little over the years, and that makes me very happy.
New Beginnings from This American Life [Nov. 17, 1995, 63 minutes]. An enthusiastic Ira Glass gets advice from Joe Franklin — host of the longest-running talk show in television history — and from his parents, Shirley and Barry Glass. He also hears all about fresh starts from three great storytellers, including filmmaker Lawrence Steger.
How Not to Pitch a Billionaire from StartUp [Sept. 5, 2015, 28 minutes]. In one of the most memorable debut episodes I've ever heard, host (and Gimlet CEO) Alex Blumberg makes a truly terrible business pitch to billionaire investor Chris Sacca. If for some reason you haven't heard it, drop everything and listen now. But be warned, you will end up binging the entire first season.
How Grassoline Works from Stuff You Should Know [April 17, 2008, 5 minutes]. In five short minutes, hosts Josh Clark and Chris Pollete dive into the world of bio-fuel. They discuss the potential of switch grass — a weed-like plant that farmers have been battling for decades — and they decide whether or not it could someday replace oil as car fuel.
99% Noise from 99% Invisible [Sept. 3, 2010, 5 minutes]. Host Roman Mars talks with Dennis Paoletti — an acoustic designer — about unwanted city sounds in this very brief pilot. It's his job to drown out the noise of busy buildings and board rooms, and sometimes, that involves adding sound instead of eliminating it.
Terry's Treasure from Strangers [Dec. 13, 2012, 31 minutes]. In this great story of loneliness, host Lea Thau remembers the strangest phone call she's ever received. A very sick man she met on the internet calls out of the blue to request a stool donation from her child. After some thought, she trades the feces for his story.
Who Am I? from Radiolab [May 7, 2007, 60 minutes]. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich hear from three different neurologists about the fascinating way one-half of the human brain shapes personality. They also consider the reason one woman woke up a totally different person after suffering an aneurysm. It's a fascinating pilot.
Animal Instincts from Criminal [Jan. 31, 2014, 19 minutes]. Host Phoebe Judge brings us a murder mystery in her very first upload, in which a great horned owl is the suspected killer of a middle-aged woman. Also, short stories from medieval Europe, where animal suspects were granted fair trials and had legal representation.
Welcome to Millennial from Millennial [Jan. 16, 2015, 10 minutes]. Megan Tan's Millennial has come a long way since the debut episode aired almost two years ago, which makes hearing it for the second time so enjoyable. In Welcome to Millennial, Megan is newly graduated from college, she's living back at home, and there's no plan in sight.
With a Bullet from Love + Radio [Oct. 18, 2005, 35 minutes]. A fantastic pilot episode featuring stories about guns, including one from a concerned young daughter who was determined to get rid of the loaded gun she found in her dad's underwear drawer. Ten years later, she confronts him about it.
Did I miss any of your favorite debut episodes? If so, I'd love to know down in the comments or via email!