Pod People: Cut Through the Babble—Our Favorite NYC-Centric Podcasts

Julie Klausner
Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner likes to complain. And if you didn’t know that already, you certainly will after you listen to the author and comedian’s weekly, hour-long feature, How Was Your Week?, which New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman has called “one of the few essential podcasts.” Ms. Klausner delivers monologues, interviews and cultural critiques in an off-the-cuff manner that can sometimes feel kvetchy but is most often hilarious and just right.

Ask Roulette is hosted by Jody Avirgan, a producer for WNYC Radio, and the series first appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show. The premise of the podcast is simple: Strangers ask other strangers random questions before a live audience. There’s no way to know what question you’ll be asked or even the type of question that will be lobbed at you—hence the “Roulette” in the show’s title. Questions range from heavy (like “Is it immoral to have sex with your sibling, even if it’s mutual?”) to frivolous (for instance, “Have you ever licked an armpit?”).

Gregory Young and Thomas Meyers, hosts of The Bowery Boys, are not native New Yorkers, but they know more about the intricacies of the Big Apple than most would dream of. The subjects of recent episodes on this travel and history podcast include a look at the Great Blizzard of 1888 and an examination of the secret history of Herald Square. The Bowery Boys is delightfully old-fashioned without feeling recondite, like an episode of Car Talk without the car talk.

Curtis Fox, who has produced podcasts for The New Yorker and Parents magazine, hosts this weekly installment in association with The Poetry Foundation. Poetry Off the Shelf features interviews with authors, professors and, of course, poets. If you’re intimidated by poetry, this podcast might be for you: it’s short, easy to absorb and without a trace of highbrow didacticism. “Nothing is off limits,” reads the podcasts’s description, “and nobody is taken too seriously.”

This weekly, hour-long podcast is hosted by the writer and comedian Ophira Eisenberg—who tours regularly with The Moth—and it’s recorded live at the Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn with a rotating cast of guests. A whimsical game show, serious and playful, full of amusing trivia and word games and puzzles and homages to popular shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, the show feels like Peter Sagal’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! recast for a younger audience. Ask Me Another refers to its question makers as “puzzle gurus,” some of whom have written for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The stakes, of course, are not as high on Ask Me Another, which is what makes the show so charming.

Have you ever thought that maybe Jack shouldn’t have sold the family cow for those magic beans? And when you think of Beauty and the Beast, do you imagine more than just the Disney movie? Also, how did Cinderella’s slipper fall off if it fit so well in the end? New York City producers Sophie Bushwick and Amy Kraft spend a lot of their time thinking about this stuff and discuss it on their monthly podcast, Tabled Fables, in which they investigate the history behind, the evolution of and the meaning to be found in fairy tales.

The legendary Lewis Lapham–former longtime editor of Harper’s and founder of Lapham’s Quarterly–hosts this podcast of social criticism and historical inquiry for Bloomberg News. Mr. Lapham has a deep voice, with a cadence not unlike Edward R. Murrow’s. This lends an appropriate air of seriousness to The World in Time, which takes on serious subjects–in a recent episode, Mr. Lapham discusses the philosophical significance of islands with author J. Edward Chamberlin. But don’t be intimidated: Mr. Lapham’s weekly, 20-minute podcast is both easily digestible and mentally nutritious.

Pod People: Cut Through the Babble—Our Favorite NYC-Centric Podcasts