2019 Year in Review: Favorite Podcasts

I love podcasts. I’m always listening to something.

I can’t list any new music for you (except LIZZO because of course) but I can (and often annoyingly) go on a tangent about a new episode of some podcast covering an obscure murder, new media commentary, or policy about to pass.

A mood.

One of my new favorite genres is a podcast that accompanies a TV show or hosts a book club. For whatever reason, most of the ones I listened to (Chernobyl, Game of Thrones) also included Peter Sagal, not that I’m complaining. Nerdette gets a special shout-out for their ever-changing podcast that included special series of TV recaps and book discussions.

Here are my favorite podcasts of 2019:

Weekly Series:

My Favorite Murder
Exactly Right

My Favorite Murder is an oldie but a goodie for me. I’ve listened to Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark for the past few years and continue to love their weekly podcasts. They’ve extended beyond strictly murder to include cult stories, wrongful convictions, and natural disasters, which has been met with some push-back from fans, but I’ve enjoyed the episodes this year.

Code Switch
National Public Radio

A weekly race and culture podcast from NPR, Code Switch was one of my must-listen series last year. Hosted by Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji, each episode tackles issues of race and intersectionality in politics. “A Tale of Two Districts” and “Political Prisoners?” were a couple of my favorite episodes.

Keep It
Crooked Media

I am horrible with keeping up on pop culture (see above) but Keep It is my weekly update on what is happening in the world of music, tv, and culture. Hosted by Ira Madison III, Louis Virtel, and now Aida Osman, the podcast hit one hundred episodes this year. Each week they discuss different aspects of culture and politics, along with the occasional brunch recommendation.

On the Media
WNYC Studios

I’ve been listening to On the Media since 2007 (!!) when OTM was only a show on NPR and before anyone knew what podcasting meant (I’m so old). Each week hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield cover the impact of media on American politics and the world. “Why Many Afghans Don’t Understand 9/11” and “We Need To Talk About Poland” are absolute must-listen episodes.

The Center for Investigative Reporting, PRX

A weekly investigative journalism podcast, Reveal focuses on telling the stories of important issues as host Al Letson says, with the intent of “finding out what really happened”. “To the Ends of Earth” and “Year of Return” were two of my favorite episodes this year.

Limited Series:

The New York Times

Last year The New York Times released the 1619 Project, an ongoing study into the impacts of slavery that first began in the United States 400 years ago. An accompanied audio series to the Times‘ magazine was released in August and I loved the series. “The Fight for a True Democracy” and “The Economy that Slavery Built” are absolute must-listens; In the second episode, Jesmyn Ward (author of Sing, Unburied, Sing) reads her piece on the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves and it is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking works I’ve heard all year; I think I listened to her reading the piece at least ten times.

Buried Truths (Season 2)

Hank Kilbanoff returned for the second season of Buried Truths to tell the story of A.C. Hall, a black teenager murdered by police in Macon, Georgia in 1962. The podcast beautifully covers Hall’s story and how the impacts of race and police privilege are still as much of an issue today as they were in the 1960s. Buried Truths is an amazing podcast and one of my favorites of 2019.

This Land
Crooked Media

An eight episode podcast developed by Crooked Media, This Land investigates how a 2000 murder in Oklahoma opened a case of land rights by five tribes in the state. Rebecca Nagle, a journalist and Cherokee Nation citizen, tells the dual narratives of the murder of George Jacobs and how the American government continued to marginalize Native Americans through policies that ignored treaties. Nagle’s ability to tie together true-crime, history, and politics makes This Land one of the most important podcasts of 2019.

In the Dark (Season Two)
American Public Media

Season two of In the Dark told the story of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who had been tried six times for the murder of four people. APM‘s year long investigation revealed a number of problems with the Fifth Circuit Court District, District Attorney Doug Evans, and investigator John Johnson. While a majority of the second season was released in 2018, new episodes in 2019 updated listeners on Flowers’ case, including a report from the Supreme Court. In the Dark’s shocking investigation was one of my favorite podcasts of last year.

White Lies
National Public Radio

White Lies is an absolute podcast masterpiece. Hosted by Alabama journalists Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace, the series focuses on the unsolved murder of James Reeb, a white minister killed during the Selma protests of 1965. A four year long investigation, Brantley and Grace tell the story of not only Reeb’s death, but also how the culture in Alabama continues to protect the perpetrators of the crime to this day. In one episode Grace narrates: “Anyway, it was so long ago. Why go back? Why dig this up? Why reopen these old wounds, bother this old man? That was then. What’s past is past – water under the bridge. But you know what? That’s bullshit. We know it’s not true. The past is not past.”

Reading: Such a Fun Age (Kiley Reid)

North(ish) Scotland: Sterling Castle, Loch Lomond & Glengoyne Distillery

View from Stirling Castle

Last year while visiting Edinburgh, Chris and I took a day trip with our friends up to a couple of locations at the boundary and just beyond into the Scottish Highlands. While we had hoped to travel farther north, our time constraints in Scotland made a quick journey the best option for us. Our tour included Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and Glengoyne Distillery. Castles, lakes, and whiskey–is there anything more you need in life?

Loch Lomond

Nerd alert as I discuss the human-created and geological differences between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. The social science geek in me (of course) is (always) interested in the impacts of history and culture on landscapes. While the human-created “Highlands Line” is the divider between the Highlands and Lowlands, it isn’t a a static, distinct boundary, but instead changes as people move, cultures shift, and languages change.

Where are we?

Mainland Scotland is divided into two main regions: the Lowlands and the Highlands. The definition between the two regions is not clearly defined; while the Highland Boundary Fault cuts between the areas north and west of the major fault zone, exact boundaries have never been truly defined between the two regions. Historically and culturally, the division between the two areas started during the Middle Ages when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic in most of the Lowlands.

Stirling Castle

From the 15th century to the mid 1900s, language became one of the biggest divisions between the Lowlands and Highlands; Gàidhealtachd (typically the Highlands and Islands) is the Scottish Gaelic-speaking part of Scotland, although the Highlands form of Scottish English is spoken there today. Clan units governed the Highlands until the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and remains a source of romanticized culture (see: Outlander).

Loch Lochmond

The Lowlands include Scotland’s largest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow; the Highlands are sparsely populated. While the Highland Boundary Fault does not necessarily define the line between the two regions culturally, it does play a huge role in the geology of both areas. The Highlands contains the majority of the mountainous terrain in the United Kingdom, while the southern part of Scotland is flatter, with less elevation.

View from Stirling Castle

You can spend weeks (or in a perfect world, years) exploring the Scottish Highlands. The landscape is absolutely beautiful, with so much to see and experience. We just crossed over from the Lowlands and our tiny sliver of the Highlands was one of my favorite days in the United Kingdom.

Stirling Castle:

Located on a giant volcanic rock, Sterling Castle is at a meeting point between the Lowlands and the Highlands.
While the castle dates back to the 12th century, it is believed that most of the buildings were constructed between 1490-1600.
Prior to the union with England, Stirling Castle was used both as a palace and fortress. Nearly every Scottish monarch until the Union of the Crowns (1603) either lived, crowned, or died here.
More than eight sieges have taken place here, the last occurring in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie was unable to take the castle during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
One of the major battles at the castle was Wallace’s victory over the English in 1297.
Hochschild sighting.
The Church of Holy Rude (pictured here in the distance) was founded in 1129 and is the second oldest building (only after the castle) in Stirling.
The National Wallace Monument can be seen in the distance. This monument was built for Sir William Wallace (yep, THAT William Wallace, although like all films in our youth, the movie is a lie compared to the actual story) and was built on a hill overlooking Stirling.

Loch Lomond:

Loch Lomond (Gaelic: Loch Laomainn, meaning ‘Lake of the Elms’) is a freshwater lake crossing the Highland Boundary Fault and located in the Trossachs National Park.
Loch Lomond is the largest lake (by surface area) in Great Britain and the second largest in Great Britain by volume. It also contains the largest fresh water island in the British Isles and was voted as the sixth greatest natural wonder in Britain (2005).
Kristin always getting the best shot.
When we visited the weather started out rainy and dreary, but later cleared up after we made the trek over to the water. It was a beautiful walk.
The loch was formed by glaciers between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. People first began to inhabit the area 5,000 years ago, during the neolithic era.
The loch is featured in the popular song ‘the Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’, first published in 1841.

St. Mocha Coffee Shop & Ice Cream Parlour:

Quick stop for coffee (and a break from the rain) at St. Mocha Coffee Shop. This cafe is adorable with a ton of options for coffee and snacks. The space is small but absolutely worth your time if you can snag a table.

Glengoyne Distillery:

Glengoyne Distillery was founded in 1833 and located just at the start of the Highlands. While Glengoyne became “official” in 1833, it is thought that they were one of the Scottish whiskey operators that illegally produced spirits in the forests of the Highlands. Glengoyne produces Highland single malt whiskey, although due to the use of air rather than peat to dry the barley, their malt is “stylistically closer” to a Lowland single malt.
The Distillery is beautiful and the tour was informative and fun. So proud of Kristin for sampling her whiskey!

Incredibly thankful to experience a little slice of the Scottish Highlands ❤

Me fulfilling my lifelong dream of designing postcards of hills and graveyards.

I absolutely adore Scotland and can’t wait to visit again.


Reading: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed by Men (Caroline Criado-Perez)
Watching: Years and Years (HBO)
Listening: The Scarlet E (On the Media)