Nearly every corner of the entertainment industry was shaken this spring by the global shutdown, and the podcast industry was no exception. Some shows that were in the final stages of production, like “Wind of Change,” debuted as scheduled. But because audio can be produced quickly and remotely, many podcasters scrapped their content plans in order to cover the coronavirus and its repercussions. Others have started entirely new shows to serve their audiences’ needs in this strange new world. If the people you talk to in a given day has become limited to your property line, and you’d like to hear how others are dealing with the compounding challenges of the crisis, try tuning in to these new and familiar voices to make the silences a little less lonely. You can find them all in your listening app of choice.
This podcast from American Public Media is one of the best “true crime” examples of investigative journalism and a humanizing portrayal of the criminal justice system. It has won Peabody and George Polk awards, and its most recent season, on the story of Curtis Flowers, brought that Mississippi case national attention; its reporting was cited by his defense attorney in the hearing that ultimately led to his conviction getting overturned. Rather than release their planned third season, the reporting team is offering a six-part special report to tell what’s happening in the Mississippi Delta — from its pulpits to its prisons — as the coronavirus spreads.
Rather than releasing its first serialized project, “American Rehab,” the Center for Investigative Reporting shifted gears to cover the outbreak. There are dispatches from lesser-known corners of the pandemic, like a Seattle E.R. and an immigrant detention center in Louisiana. And “Reveal” probes some of the biggest questions of the moment, like the value of essential workers, the motivation behind the shutdown protesters and people profiting from the pandemic, and why the U.S. is facing a P.P.E. shortage to protect health care workers.
This three-year old show, in which Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, quizzes entrepreneurs on their growth strategies, got a new host, a subtitle and mission statement. Bob Safian, the former editor of Fast Company, now conducts the conversations with entrepreneurs as they pilot their companies through the crisis. Among the questions they wrestle with are should corporations still push ahead with their public offerings, which advertisements work on the quarantined and what might their industries look like post-pandemic?
This reliably fun show uses interviews with scientists to debunk everything from who built the pyramids (apparently, not aliens) to the logic of anti-vaxxers. The show broke its hiatus to answer questions about the blossoming coronavirus crisis back in January. Instead of continuing work on their next season, the team has grappled with questions like “Will Chloroquine save us?” and “Can you get it twice?”
Three times a week, “Telescope” offers you the chance to zoom in on a stranger around the globe who is finding ways to deal with the same grief, boredom, loneliness and fear as you are. From a family stranded at sea to an engaged couple who had to cancel their wedding and finding an alternative to, what else, Animal Crossing, each episode offers a window into how others in the world are making this moment work.
These bite-size audio postcards come from people around the world talking about the ways the pandemic has changed life as they know it. Listen to an aerospace engineer piloting the Curiosity Rover from her kitchen; a bus driver in New York losing friends and colleagues; a dominatrix in Bali making her business digital; a man in Kashmir comparing the quarantine lockdown to the political one the region has experienced for almost a year, and many more.
To paraphrase Mr. Rogers, when the news gets scary, look for the helpers and you’ll find hope. That’s the idea behind this podcast made by 8-year-old June Jones and her mother, Kelly, an audio producer and editor. They share the stories of helpers working to get communities through this crisis, and suggest ways to help your community, and yourself. It turns out that when an ebullient 8-year-old interviews a trauma therapist, big scary things like collective grief are made simple, and come with many opportunities for hope.
When the coronavirus first arrived in the Pacific Northwest, the local jazz and blues Tacoma radio station KNKX moved quickly to document it in “Transmission,” a podcast covering “life at the heart of an epidemic.” Since early March, it’s tracked the spread and impact of the virus on the community and the broader world, telling the stories of local people fighting to survive against a global pandemic, all in 23 minutes or less.
Dylan Marron (Carlos on “Welcome to Night Vale” and the host of “Conversations With People Who Hate Me”) has a new podcast to celebrate the tiny accomplishments in your day. Whether it’s waking up before your alarm or making yourself a salad, no triumph is too small for Marron’s roster of orators like Bowen Yang and Jacqueline Woodson to applaud in a rousing, and sincere, speech. The feel-good incentivizing bonus is that all honorees have made donations to the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Coronavirus Care Fund, providing immediate financial support for nannies, house cleaners and other domestic workers without a safety net.
Every week in this no-frill production, Susan David, a psychologist and the author of “Emotional Agility,” offers short check-ins on how you’re coping. She doles out useful advice on managing grief, moving forward through moments of overwhelming uncertainty and keeping your quarantine relationships healthy. Listening feels like tuning in to a thoughtful shrink on demand.
The hosts of this writing advice show, which treats romance novels like sacred texts, are coping with the coronavirus by producing a mini-series focusing on the “Twilight” series. Each episode of “Twilight in Quarantine” takes the saga chapter by chapter, discussing and critiquing Stephenie Meyer’s young adult series. Because isn’t now the time to turn to the survival lessons of Edward Cullen, that sparkling telepathic vampire who only escaped the Spanish influenza by becoming undead?