The best new podcasts for the week of June 29, 2019: The Thread and more

The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Washing dishes, going for a run, coloring, and especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s simply impossible to keep up. There are new ones debuting all the time, and it’s hard to know whether they deserve a spot in your feed.

Every week, we highlight new and returning podcasts we couldn’t put down. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your two into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about two princes, learning to be an adult, a chilling serial killer, and the fight for LGBTQ rights. 

Culture podcast

The Thread

The Thread Podcast

Why should I listen? It will introduce you to some remarkable women.            

How many episodes are there and how long are they? It’s a six-episode season, each around 27 minutes.       

Describe it in one word: Triumphant. 

The 2019 Women’s World Cup is still underway, but the U.S. team is having an impressive year. With a number of shutouts and Alex Morgan making an impressive five goals in one game, it’s been an exciting run so far. It’s hard to believe 20 years ago no one was even sure anyone would show up to watch the U.S. women’s soccer team play. 

It turns out, they did. Fans packed stadiums as Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm, and the rest of the team beat Germany, then Brazil, then faced China in the final. If it all seems inevitable now, season 5 of The Thread would like to remind you it was not. Host Sean Braswell starts with the 1999 team, then each episode goes back a little further in time to show how, without Title IX, none of what followed would have been possible.  

Culture podcast

This Is Uncomfortable 

This Is Uncomfortable Podcast

Why should I listen? To get some tips for coping with awkward situations.            

How many episodes are there and how long are they? There are three episodes so far, each between 20 and 31 minutes.       

Describe it in one word: Uneasy.  

Remember the mid-00s when “awkward turtle” was a thing? You could just say it — you didn’t even need to do the gesture — and everyone would just acknowledge the cringiness and move on. 

That’s sort of the idea behind This Is Uncomfortable. In the podcast, Reema Khrais discusses things that make many of us want to bury our faces in our hands, then she tries to find ways of making things less awkward. In the first episode, Khrais talks to a couple trying to pay off student loans. As business students, they figured out a way to talk about their money issues in less personal terms, by using percentages. If they’re trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and one of them is only feeling 30% on pizza, they look for another option. In the second episode, we learn Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal has cried at work. 

Science podcast

An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg Podcast

Why should I listen?  This issue was a big part of the recent Democratic debates, but it can’t be adequately addressed in two-minute answers.           

How many episodes are there and how long are they?  They’re under 20 minutes, and there are three thus far.      

Describe it in one word: Unsalutary. 

NPR’s “Bill of the Month” series offers a sobering look at the cost of the U.S.’s healthcare system. (Or “sickness care system,” if you Will-iamson.) For example, when a 9-year-old snakebite victim was airlifted for treatment, the antivenin cost more than the helicopter ride.   

Now in its second season, An Arm and a Leg also looks at the ways money and healthcare are all tied up in this country. It’s also very personal. Host Dan Weissmann experienced the confusion and apprehension that can come with filling a prescription when his pharmacy recently informed him his medicine would cost over $700. Shockingly high, yes, but the weird thing was, he used a drug-price-comparison app to find out just how variable the cost of the same meds was at nearby stores. At one, he could’ve picked up his prescription for $25. 

History podcast 

Sidedoor 

Sidedoor Podcast

Why should I listen? You’ve always wondered what museums keep behind closed doors.            

How many episodes are there and how long are they? Season 4’s two episodes (so far) are both under half an hour.       

Describe it in one word: Revelatory. 

I spent a summer working in a science museum, and I got to see the storeroom, which houses a mastodon tooth so big you have to hold in both hands. Museums simply don’t have enough room to put every item on display at once, so they all hold some literal hidden treasures. 

That’s also true of the Smithsonian menagerie of museums. Returning for its fourth season, Sidedoor opens the institute’s vaults. Because they have objects for everything from the African American Museum to the Postal Museum to the Air and Space Museum, there’s a lot of ground to cover. In this season’s first episode, new host Lizzie Peabody explores paleontology’s biggest rivalry, the Bone Wars. For a much more recent addition to the Smithsonian, Peabody interviews the creator of what’s been called the worst video game of all time

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