This spring, it seems like the podcast world has taken the seasonal feeling of growth and renewal to heart. Promising new shows are suddenly popping up everywhere, including two great ones from NPR and public radio powerhouse WNYC.
From WNYC, we’re getting 2 Dope Queens, the live comedy brainchild of Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, two very smart, outspoken, funny ladies. Williams is a regular correspondent on The Daily Show. Robinson is a writer and comedian who’s performed and written all over the place, including her blog, Blaria.
The show features honest, hilarious conversations between the two friends on race, relationships, life, and pretty much anything else, along with live performances and storytelling from other comedian friends.
Robinson and Williams are like the cool friends you wish you hung out with more. Their stories, which range from encounters with racist cab drivers to getting a front-row bump at a Billy Joel concert, create an atmosphere that has the sharpness of a stand-up set, but the intimacy of a good conversation. It’s broken up with whip-smart short sets from great comics like Aparna Nancherla, Naomi Ekperigin and Gary Gulman. And the best part? This show is a weekly deal, with new episodes dropping every Tuesday.
On the more serious end of the spectrum, there’s Embedded, a new NPR podcast from All Things Considered host Kelly McEvers. The podcast promises to take a deep, personal look at headline-making stories, from a biker shootout in Waco to the making of a negative campaign ad to the life of a female comedy writer at a late-night show.
The first episode of Embedded was released on March 31, and explores the opioid pill addiction that’s caused an outbreak of HIV in Indiana, due to addicts injecting the drug using shared needles. McEvers visits a house populated by addicts with different stories, including a nurse and a military vet. All of them were prescribed medication for pain and got hooked. The company producing the pill has made changes to the formula to make it harder to cut up or crush, so McEvers follows the residents of the house into a back bedroom to see the way they’ve devised to shoot it up.
The story is heartbreaking and very detailed. As a former Middle East correspondent for NPR, McEvers wanted to apply her in-depth experience of embedding with the military to other stories that don’t get the same kind of treatment. The goal of Embedded is to allow listeners to share the experience of its reporters, as they get as close to the story as possible. Based on the first episode, it’s going to lead to some devastating stories. Based on other subjects McEvers says the show will take on, however, it seems there will be plenty of room for bizarre and creative stories, too.