The theory is there will be two kinds of people who emerge from this long self-quarantine. Some of us are going to walk out of the house next month covered in potato chip crumbs and with an impressive knowledge of reality TV. Others will emerge with a sculpted body, a fluent grasp of three romance languages, and 40 new hobbies.
Which one are you going to be? Honestly, no judgment either way. What’s important is there’s no denying that — unless you’re a parent of school-aged kids (sorry guys) — many of us have a lot more time on our hands.
I want to make sure I’m spending some of that time connecting with the city I love, even if it’s not in the way I’m used to. One way I’ve been doing that is through podcasts, and holy cow, there are A LOT of great New Orleans-area podcasts!
Whether you’re interested in sports, true crime, news, haunted stories, gossip, history or whatever else, there’s a local podcast for you! Here are 10 of my favorites, guaranteed to teach you something new about this incredible city, even as we experience it in a very different way.
True-crime podcasts are all the rage right now. Actually, true-crime podcasts have been all the rage since “Serial” told a captivated audience the mysterious story behind the murder of Hae Min Lee. Everyone was talking about the guilt or innocence of Adnan Syed.
Wouldn’t it be something if there was a true-crime podcast about an event that happened here in New Orleans? Something lovers of the genre could rally around and discuss? Well, with “New Orleans Unsolved,” now there is. The podcast, created by celebrated reporters (and wife and husband duo) Anna Christie and Thanh Truong, attempts to answer the question, “Who killed Eddie Wells?” a 17-year-old boy found floating in the Mississippi River near the Bywater’s Piety Wharf.
New episodes are released weekly. Of course, with any serial podcast, you’ve got to start with Episode 1.
Mark Bologna was born and raised in New Orleans, and he bills his popular podcast as “an insider’s guide” to the city. His show — which releases a new episode approximately twice a month — has produced 109 episodes exploring the food, culture, places and people that make the Big Easy.
It’s a podcast that is interesting for those coming to visit New Orleans, as well as those of us who live here.
Some episodes are focused on Mark’s favorite things to do in NOLA, some are interviews with famous New Orleans personalities, some discuss events going on around town, and others look back at our history.
Now that all sports are canceled, the best we can do is get excited about the upcoming Saints season. (Let’s not even entertain the idea it might be delayed…or worse.)
The co-hosts are about as knowledgeable and insightful as they come. Nick Underhill covers the Saints for NewOrleans.Football, and to say Kevin Washington is an extremely knowledgeable fan is an understatement.
Their banter is natural and they dig deep on a Saints-related topic each week. Recently, they focused on free agent fits and Taysom Hill, but I’d suggest starting with whatever episode happens to be most recent.
My plan was to only include podcasts that were regularly producing episodes, but that plan fell apart when I remembered how much I loved Laine Kaplan-Levenson’s “TriPod.” Her team produced dozens (many dozens) of episodes in the lead-up to the city’s 300th anniversary, and the aggregate of their work is a treasure.
Each episode touches on a person or moment that shaped the city into the place we live today. They’re usually 20 – 30 minutes in length, and I learned so much listening to the Bulbancha 3000 episode. It’s the final episode of the series (you can jump around in any order to the topics that interest you), but I loved how it discussed the residents of what we now call Louisiana, long before European settlers first arrived.
Here’s a show for all of you out there who love to cook, love to eat, or — best yet — love to do both. Poppy Tooker is the host, and — like so many born in New Orleans — she’s a character and she can tell a great story!
Tooker does a great job combining history and all aspects of the city’s culture to touch on specific food items or traditions each week. Scroll around to see which episode subject you’re most interested in. This episode on the life and legacy of Leah Chase was a special one.
Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder are New Orleans columnists for The Athletic, a website famous for employing some of the best sports journalists in the business. These guys know what they’re talking about, and are releasing episodes about the Saints, Pelicans, LSU, Tulane, and just about anything else going on in the New Orleans sports scene.
Episodes are released each week and range in length based on how much sports news there is. To get a taste for their show, the March 17 episode was a short one: a seven-minute Saints free agent update, focusing on Drew Brees re-signing with the team.
This social-minded show is hosted by MarkAlain Dery and focuses on a mix of local, national and international social justice-related current events and news stories. Dery has spoken to Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Chris Rose; U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich; and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on the show and covered everything from charter school reform to upcoming state legislative sessions.
The series on charter schools is an interesting and important place to start, but — if that’s not most interesting to you — just scroll through the episodes to find a topic you love.
If you’re looking for something a little more current events-focused, we’ve got that, too! Tommy Tucker hosts a daily radio show. Clips from the show that range from seven to 12 minutes in length and focus on a single topic are then uploaded to their website.
The episodes are a mix of local news and national news (that will be interesting to New Orleanians, as well). Recent content focuses on COVID-19, and this eight-minute clip on whether or not we’re panic shopping at grocery stores as fear of the virus grows.
This podcast covers all things paranormal, but it sneaks in some very interesting history, as well. Each season has a different focus, and the fourth season hones in on New Orleans!
So far, the season has dedicated episodes to the infamous Madame Delphine LaLaurie, the Civil War, voodoo, local pirates, jazz and the red light district, Creole culture and more. Episodes clock in over an hour and 20 minutes, but they’re packed with great information. It’s best to start with the season premiere and work from there.
Do you want a task to go along with your podcast? Well, what if that task was to prepare a cocktail? Yup, that’s what caught my attention, too.
Episodes are released approximately once per month, and combine a history of the topic with a recipe for a cocktail that goes along with the episode’s focus. On March 7th, for example, the episode is called St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Whisky and includes a recipe for Satsuma Punch with — you guessed it — Irish Whisky!
“Drink & Learn” is hosted by drinks historian Elizabeth Pearce and local bartender Abigail Gullo. They’re experts in their fields and are a lot of fun to listen to. Episodes range 30 – 60 minutes and when you’re done, you’ll have a cocktail! I can’t think of a better way to self-quarantine.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
“Notes from New Orleans” gives a weekly peek into the Crescent City by chatting with local artists, entrepreneurs, musicians and more! “It’s a Good Life, Babe” features musicians, chefs, writers and politicians. (This interview with Tank & the Bangas is great.) “Happy Hour” is a wild, hourlong podcast that brings together a random group of New Orleanians each week for a fun and free-flowing conversation. And “Out to Lunch” is hosted by Tulane finance professor, Peter Ricchiuti weekly at Commander’s Palace. Recent guests have included everyone from local magicians to a New Orleans human resources consultant.
What’d I miss? Find us on social media and tell us about the local podcasts you love to listen to!