In the past couple of years, podcasts have made a huge comeback in popularity and range. Podcasting is experiencing an interesting revival, attracting storytellers from all over, pulling them toward the mic and begging them to share information, personal experiences, and, in general, stories. In 2016, Pew Research Center found that 21% of Americans ages 12 and older had reported listening to a podcast within the past month — a significant uptick since the 12% reported in 2013. What’s changed? Why are Americans drifting back towards an all-audio experience, rather than audio/visual?
Perhaps, in our age of constant visual stimulation, it’s almost peaceful to become engrossed in a purely audio experience, and give our strained, over-worked eyes a rest from picking up information. On top of this, podcasters are breaking ground with new trends and methods of production. Popular national series, such as Radio Lab and Serial, are redefining storytelling through their use of sound engineering, becoming ever-more realistic and encompassing.
San Francisco is not hailed as a podcast industry leader. New York, Chicago, and some would even say, LA, have come to dominate our earbuds — but that doesn’t mean that our own city isn’t producing fantastic podcasts as well. While perhaps less well-known, the Bay Area is most definitely cranking out some podcasts that deserve recognition. We put together a list of a few of our favorite Bay-produced audio shows. Grab your headphones, and start listening!
While many locals may be aware of The Bay Bridged as a written and photojournalistic platform, few may realize that they produce a regular audio series covering up-and-coming music in the Bay Area. Often titled, “Audio Guides” and “Mixtapes” rather than podcasts, listeners are able to listen to music by the artists being discussed, giving them a sort of live radio experience that is not just informational, but artistic as well. Clashing well with the city’s (and SF Sound’s) personal interest in music, especially Bay Area artists, this podcast is a fantastic listen for anyone passionate about music.
Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, Peabody Award winning producers, are the creators behind The Kitchen Sisters. They are a non-profit production company working to build community through storytelling, and focus on local arts, rituals, and histories of various peoples. The Kitchen Sisters’ podcast, “The Kitchen Sisters Present,” dives into deep, often hidden cultural and historical stories behind food and cooking. The Kitchen Sisters’ radio documentaries have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Radio Smithsonian, among others.
This NPR podcast explores the hidden cultures, locations, and peoples of the San Francisco Bay Area. The show aims to uncover what makes the Bay Area so special, quirky, and, well… the Bay Area. Listeners are encouraged to ask questions, shaping what the hosts cover each episode. A podcast for the curious, the adventurous, and the questioners.
Bay Area resident and Ohio transplant Roman Mars originally started recording the podcast for KALW in his bedroom. Now produced in a studio in Oakland, the popular show questions the small things in life that we often fail to consider — for example, how those inflatable men became a staple outside of car dealerships, among other curiosities. The podcast may have gained national recognition, but it is still a show after our own SF heart.
While not always (or nearly at all) specifically focused on Bay Area history, this is one of the few podcasts actually produced in the Bay Area by local residents… featuring a keen love of trivia. The hosts dive into a variety of topics including pets, holidays, infomercials, and, one of their more recent episodes — eggs.