Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Pods and Ends,” a column that will appear every other week or so rounding up some recent highlights in the podcast world that didn’t occasion entire posts.
- Reply All: “#139: The Reply All Hotline” — A seemingly unstructured episode of Reply All that packs a mean punch. Hosts Alex Goldman and P.J. Vogt field calls from listeners, there are many highlights but the episode ends with a heartfelt call from a Syrian man who cannot enter the U.S. because of President Donald Trump’s travel ban and seeks help applying to college in Canada. To answer a recurring question from the episode, I wish I was a P.J., but deep down I know I’m an Alex. Listen here.
- Planet Money/Throughline: “The Phoebus Cartel” — A recent episode of Planet Money gave listeners a taste of Throughline, the latest podcast from NPR. Throughline provides historical context to stories currently in the headlines. This episode focuses on planned obsolescence and reveals that the eternally-burning lightbulb and the cartel that sought to thwart it in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow both have a basis in reality. Listen here.
- Embedded: “How It Ends Part 1: The Brother” — NPR’s Embedded returns this week with a new season that looks at the end of the Islamic State. The first episode tracks the journey of a Canadian woman who learns her wayward brother has been imprisoned in Syria and goes to find him, only to learn he has been radicalized by ISIS. It’s a strong episode that bodes well for the season to come. Listen here.