The Top Ten Local Podcasts of 2019

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(By Troy Price) If you go to Disneyworld, be prepared, you will wait in a line. As you would expect, when they open a new attraction your wait will be crazy long. Google wait times for Avatar Flight of Passage and Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and be amazed.

What you may not know is during most of the day, there is also a wait for the ride, It’s A Small World. Since it opened in 1971, the ride has been popular. Its popularity does not stem from amazing special effects or heart-pounding twists and turns, it is a ride that makes you feel good. The ride makes you feel good about the world and the people around you.

Local podcasts have a similar effect on people, and the only wait you will encounter is the wait until the next episode is released. When a podcast host shares something or someone they think needs to be lifted up in their community, we all win. With that in mind, I want to share my list of the top 10 local podcasts of 2019. Listen to them for yourself and discover that it is a small world after all.

Tennessee Farm Table 
Amy Campbell loves highlighting the foodways found in the State of Tennessee. She shares discussions with farmers, restaurateurs, as well as those who have a lifetime of experience canning produce. Some issues even address food insecurity in the State. Her dedication to place and the topic secures the Tennessee Farm Table Podcast (and Broadcast) as a 2019 top 10 Local Podcast.

Hong Kong Confidential 
Hong Kong has been in the news a good deal in 2019. And honestly, I have not fully understood the people protesting or others making the news. Hong Kong Confidential’s host, Jules Hannaford, has a quote displayed prominently on her website. It says, “We all have to be heard to heal and listening to the experiences of others can help the rest of us deal with what life has to throw at us.” Each episode gives voice to a different Hongkonger’s experience and offers more understanding than any time-limited news story can.

Beyond the River Walk 
According to the movies I watch, most people visit San Antonio, Texas to see the basement of the Alamo and to stroll the River Walk. Beyond the Riverwalk, one of the most popular local podcasts in the U.S., shares what is in San Antonio other than those landmarks. It is obvious that Kevin, Melissa and Emma Barron love San Antonio and, rightly, love their podcast.

The B. I. Stander 
In the interest of full disclosure, visiting Bainbridge Island (just out of Seattle, WA) is on my bucket list. Timothy Self has produced a crazy number of podcast episodes about his community since 2017. The people on each episode highlight the character of the island and this just makes me want to visit more. Another amazing aspect of this show is the quality of the show notes written for each episode. A+

Local with Laura Ekstrand 
From the onset Laura explains the purpose of her podcast. She says her show, “Explores what it means to make art and culture in New Jersey.” Her interviews with those making art and those creating and preserving culture in New Jersey quickly make you want to reach out to the creatives in the Garden State.

Wasted Local Talent 
Daniel, Jed, Ashley and Josiah love West Virginia. They proudly profess that their show highlights the best bands, businesses, and artists that West Virginia has to offer. If you are thinking stereotypically about what this show is about, well, shame on you! They are as likely to share punk music as bluegrass and more likely to talk about fantasy football than mountain crafts.

Made In Monrovia 
OK, I could not point to Monrovia, California on a map. But I know what that town feels like because the Made in Monrovia Podcast puts off a unique vibe as Leandra shares the ‘Magic’ of Monrovia on each episode. The most recent episode was posted in September 2019, but that one episode is seriously magical. You should go and listen to the episode titled, “The Whistling Diva”.

Speaking Municipally
I hate to use the same literary trope more than once per article, but I could not point to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on a map either, however, I feel like I have two friends there. Troy Pavlek and Mack Male make me laugh with their podcast all about the municipal administration and other happenings around their fair city. It is not that the city is led comically, but that Troy and Mack bring their own personal humor to the show which makes a podcast about a place I know very little about wildly entertaining.

Citizen Tacoma
Tacoma, Washington is home of a unique local podcast. I am sure Tacoma has lovely spots to watch a sunset and more than a few amazing coffee spots. I don’t know where these are because the Citizen Tacoma podcast singularly encourages local residents to become active in the political life of their city. This is a fine example of a podcast serving a niche (encouraging local civic participation) within a niche (a local podcast). Another interesting part of the show is that each episode’s cover art is a picture taken in the studio from the same angle. Each picture includes the episode host (be it Jenny Jacobs or Doug Mackey) and their guest. It is worth a visit to their website just to see how the menagerie of episode’s pictures present an interplay of diversity and continuity.

Two Governmental Podcasts tie for 10th place in this year’s list of the top 10 local podcasts: Podcast Quincy https://www.buzzsprout.com/255320 and Discover Cedar Rapids
Most of this list is made up of independent podcasters promoting their local communities. Here are two examples of actual city governments that are creating podcasts as a form of official promotion. Podcast Quincy, out of Quincy, Massachusetts, and Discover Cedar Rapids from Cedar Rapids, Iowa are two good examples of this podcasting trend.

Bonus: Local Anesthetic Podcast
This year’s bonus podcast is one that is intended to be funny, and actually pushes the boundaries of a ‘local’ podcast. Alex and Rob share headlines from the local newspapers throughout the United Kingdom and across the world. They make their listener’s (and each other) laugh with their keen British humour as they keep it local.

Troy Price is the co-founder of Front Porch Studios in Berea, Kentucky. He’s been involved with podcasting for over a decade. Reach Troy by email at Troy@frontporchstudios.com.

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