There are more than 500,000 active podcasts listed on Apple iTunes. Yes, it’s an overwhelming number. But, it also represents a chance to discover podcasts that may not have been on your radar — that you wouldn’t have dared to try, until now. The world has changed, so we’re spending more time at home and consuming a lot of content, making it easy these days to get lost in an eclectic world of audio and stories.
I aggregated a sample of locally-based podcasts covering a wide variety of topics for your listening pleasure. Have a listen.
“Winging It With Vince Carter”
Topic: Basketball, the Atlanta Hawks
Hosts: Vince Carter and Annie Finberg
How it came to be: Finberg, senior coordinator of digital content for the Hawks, started a podcast with two Hawks players three years ago but it only took off when Carter - a veteran player who began his career in 1997 - became a co host. “He wants to get into broadcasting,” Finberg said, so this was a way to get his feet wet. The initial purpose of the podcast was to give fans a more personal look at ballplayers and with Carter, they’ve also spoken to those who aren’t athletes such as comic Chris Tucker, hip-hop artist Lecrae and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young. Finberg said popularity of the podcast grew after they spoke with Stephen Curry and he made a joke questioning whether man ever landed on the moon. That comment went viral.
Notable episodes: Grant Hill (4/13/20), Jimmy Butler (11/4/19), Ludacris (4/1/19)
Topic: Finances and the meaning of life
Host: Paul Ollinger, a Brookhaven resident who became wealthy as one of the first 250 employees of Facebook, is now a comic and author.
How the podcast came about: After striking it rich, Olligner said he quickly became “bored and depressed and lonely. I thought making a lot of money would equal happiness. It doesn’t.” So he created a podcast a year ago to explore the relationship between money and happiness. Early on, he got Dr. Drew Pinksy to do his podcast, which gave him enough credibility to talk to a Heisman Trophy winner, a Nobel Prize winner, rock stars, academics and journalists for subsequent episodes.
Notable episodes: Brad Klontz, financial psychologist to billionaires (August 27, 2019), Sir Angus Deaton on his study about happiness and money (July 16, 2019), a sometimes tense conversation with his wife Stacey about money (November 12, 2019)
“The UPSIDE with Callie and Jeff Dauler”
Topic: Inspiration, daily commentary
Hosts: Callie and Jeff Dauler
How it came about: After Jeff lost his radio job, he and his wife Callie decided to team up on a daily podcast focused on gratitude and positivity. It instantly jumped near the top of the Apple podcast charts and now averages an impressive 300,000 listens monthly.
How it’s working: “Listeners are awesome,” Dauler said. “We raised over $15,000 to buy food from restaurants and have them delivered to third shifters at hospitals. That took about 48 hours… And Callie and I just announced she’s pregnant and the love and support coming in with that is incredible. Despite the chaotic shove to get met here, this is the best thing I have ever done.”
Topic: Food and food history
Hosts: Anney Reese and Lauren Vogelbaum
Frequency: twice a week
What it’s about: Reese and Vogelbaum, both employees of Atlanta’s IHeart podcast operations, launched the podcast in 2018, thinking it would be fun to explore humanity’s relationship with food from all angles. “The story of food is the story of people,” said Vogelbaum. “It’s a shared connection.” Reese said food can be “a source of joy and conflict and history.” They do address specific foods at times (e.g. banh mi, cauliflower, milk) but also food festivals, food banks and people involved in the industry. They even did one on fictional foods in pop culture.
Notable episodes: “Savor Spills the Beans on Coffee” (November 7, 2019), “Turn Up For Turnips” (October 14, 2019), “Getting to the Heart of Moonshine” (July 10, 2019), “Law and Order: Food and Water Unit” (March 6, 2019)
Topic: Politics with focus on Georgia
Host: Bill Nigut, Georgia Public Broadcasting
How it works: Around since 2013, the once weekly show - heard both on the radio and as a podcast - is now daily. From day one, veteran journalist Nigut said he talked mostly about Georgia politics, not what’s happening in D.C. He has also seen the growth of interest in his show fueled by the very politicized environment we live in now. “I’m really proud of the group of panelists we’ve put together,” he said. “I have about 50 people who can be called upon to do the show: political consultants, political scientists, historians, journalists.” The goal is create a space where people on opposing political spectrum can hold stimulating but respectful conversations.
Disclosure: Two of his regular guests are AJC political journalists Jim Galloway and Greg Bluestein
“Did You Wash Your Hands?”
Topic: The coronavirus pandemic with Atlanta focus
Host: Sam Whitehead, Public Broadcasting Atlanta
How this podcast came to be: Scott Woelfel, new chief content officer at Public Broadcasting Atlanta, saw the podcast as a way to leverage his newsroom resources and take advantage of Whitehead’s journalistic expertise in health issues. Whitehead nabbed an interview with head of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which broke national news regarding use of cloth masks. Over the past month, the podcast has covered everything from the virus’ impact on religious gatherings to how the homeless are dealing with the pandemic. “Public radio is really well positioned to go deeper and find voices you normally don’t hear on commercial radio,” Whitehead said.
“What the Riff?”
Topic: Rock music
Hosts: Wayne Rowan, Rob Mabury, Brian Dickhute, Bruce Fricks, ages 50 to 58
How it came to be: Rowan - who is in construction sales - loves classic rock, especially deep cuts. So two years ago, he gathered three friends from the Hamilton Mill Methodist Church in Dacula to create this podcast where they spend 40 minutes a week dissecting four tracks from a particular rock album from 1965 to 1994. Their picks range from relatively obscure (MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams”) to hugely popular (The Eagles’ “Hotel California”) and they also discuss other notable songs from the month that album came out. “We have a good time,” said Rowan. “The idea is to expose people to different groups.”
Notable episodes :“Spinal Tap: This Is Spinal Tap” (December 16, 2019), “Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here” (July 2, 2018), “Rush: 2112” (November 19, 2018)
Topic: romance with true crime thrown in
Hosts: Jen O’Neil Smith and Sally Brooks
What it’s about: Smith, a stand-up comic and apartment manager, met Brooks, a fellow comic at the Laughing Skull Lounge in Midtown 18 months and immediately bonded. “We both love true crime, but there’s only so much you can stomach,” Smith said. “We wanted to do something people can feel good about.” Typically, an episode features a couple of quick stories about relationships. They then dig into a pure crime segment of love gone wrong followed by a romantic anecdote so people leave the podcast “feeling uplifted,” Smith said.
Notable episodes: No. 44 “Uncle Baby Bobby” (April 13, 2020), No. 30 “Dangling Off a Mountain (January 6, 2020); No. 3 “The Robot on the Mountain (July 1, 2019)
Topic: The Atlanta Falcons
Primary host: David Walker, SB Nation
What it’s about: A full-time software developer, Walker began hosting the podcast during the Falcons Super Bowl year of 2016-17. “We almost quit the podcast after the Super Bowl,” Walker said. “That first podcast after they lost was full of cursing and crying.” He often brings in SB Nation writers to debate aspects of the Falcons. Over the years, he said they have developed a steady fan base. And even with no sports going on, the Falcons at least has been more active than expected in free agency. “It’s a welcome distraction,” he said, from the pandemic. And the podcast itself is a “paid passion project.”
“Storytime With Legendary Jerry”
Topic: Celebrity interviews, mostly music
Hosts: Jerry Clark and Jaimee Paige
How it came to be: Clark, a music promoter in Atlanta since the 1990s, has worked with everyone from Outkast to Jay-Z to Jermaine Dupri. Two years ago, he decided to leverage his connections and start talking to the musical players in front and behind the mic. “I have a lot of stories to tell and I wanted to provide an Atlanta perspective on music,” he said. And he brought in Paige to provide a female perspective. “I’m excited,” he said. “It’s organically growing its own legs.”
Notable episodes: Cee Lo Green (May 23, 2018), Lenny S (October 11, 2019), Killer Mike (March 5, 2020)
Topic: True Crime
Host: Phillip Holloway
What it’s about: Holloway, a Marietta defense attorney who has done a lot of expert analysis on TV, was an expert in Tenderfoot TV’s successful “Up and Vanished” Tara Grinstead podcast. So the company created this spin-off which explores multiple cold cases in Georgia, tapping Holloway’s sources for insights. “I’m able to distill complicated legal scenarios in digestible form for the lay person,” he said. The second season, which focuses on wrongful convictions, is set to debut this summer.
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