Audio blogging is a tradition that dates back to the 1980s, but that tradition has celebrated a pop culture resurgence in recent years. Today, we have access to hundreds of thousands of podcasts produced all over the globe and available online for free. Want to learn about Emily Dickinson’s hidden kitchen? There’s a podcast for that. Want to dive deep into true crime? There are at least one hundred podcasts for that.
Today, we’re highlighting the podcasts made right here in the Bay Area. Featuring regional topics, current events, history and local people, these episodes offer some of the most entertaining ways you can get to know San Francisco and the Bay Area. Enjoy!
The Bay is a podcast produced by KQED that takes a more interesting and engaging spin on current news to help you make sense of what’s happening here in the Bay Area. Host Devin Katayama starts local and focuses on one story, one conversation or one idea during each episode. That way, you can dive deep and really understand our local headlines. New episodes come out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Produced at KQED, Bay Curious explores the unexplored Bay Area through its mysteries, quirks and strangest stories. And host Olivia Allen-Price doesn’t choose stories at random; she answers your questions. On the website, you can ask your own question about the Bay Area, its culture or its people. You can also vote on the current top three questions and help choose the next Bay Curious topic. Past answered questions and explored topics include the myth of the San Francisco accent, why part of Alameda Island is in San Francisco and why San Francisco houses are so close together.
Photo courtesy of Eddie Herena via Ear Hustle
A podcast that has defined the genre, Ear Hustle is based in the Bay Area and developed inside San Quentin State Prison. Co-hosts Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor help tell the stories of life inside prison—shared and produced by those living it—to give an alternate view of the people living in the American prison system. Earlonne himself was formerly incarcerated at San Quentin, Nigel is a visual artist and co-founder Antwan Williams was a fellow inmate. Together, they produce stories that are both difficult and funny, honest and deep.
Produced and hosted by veteran radio reporter and storyteller Peter Finch, The Finch Files tells some of San Francisco’s best stories. Peter Finch himself has spent three decades as a radio personality and was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2014. Now, he uses this podcast to explore local businesses, tell the stories of residents, dig deep into legends and more. Past episodes have visited PianoFight!, told the story of the John Lee Hooker Foundation and explored Speakeasy SF.
The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, are now legendary voices in the world of podcasting and storytelling. Based in the Bay Area, their podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present, explores lost recordings and tales from around the world used to tell stories from the flip side of history. These topics cover everything from the dark side of the Dewey Decimal System to the Dust Bowl and everything in between.
Mortified is a celebration of storytelling, youthful wonder and, of course, embarrassment. And Mortified Live is where these storytellers get to step on stage and share their childhood writings, art and media in front of total strangers. The Mortified Podcast brings those live shows to even more people and lets you relive all that embarrassment. Though Mortified is not based in San Francisco, the team does host regular live shows in Oakland and San Francisco. To learn more, check out the website here.
A staple of San Francisco culture, Porchlight is a podcast recorded in front of a live audience. Whether you’re attending the show or listening afterward, listeners can enjoy some of the city’s best storytelling told by regular people just like you. For nearly twenty years, co-founders Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte invite six people to come on stage and tell their ten-minute stories without notes or memorization, and that storyteller lineup has brought us the stories of school bus drivers, mushroom hunters, politicians, authors, social workers and more. For more information on upcoming shows and events, follow the team on Facebook here.
Raw Material is the podcast of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each season, the museum partners with a different “podcaster-in-residence” to give a new voice and perspective to contemporary art. In addition to new hosts, they invite artists and thinkers from around the globe, and the result is a podcast that provides a sense of SFMOMA direct to your earbuds.
The San Francisco Chronicle podcasts invite listeners into the newsroom to further explore politics, pop culture, sports, dating, start-ups and more. With more than ten options, you can dive deep into news and analysis of the Oakland Raiders, learn about the state of the Golden State Warriors, explore local and national political arenas, meet local celebrities and personalities, hear in-depth stories and even more. To see all the options and listen online, click here.
Photo courtesy of Rick Scotch of Scotch Parlor
Scotch Parlor is all about inspiration, and they provide that through in-depth and unique storytelling based right here in the Bay Area. Their team produces a podcast and videos that capture the lifestyles and stories of some of our most inspiring locals—from the team behind Señor Sesig to the woman behind The Riddler and small businesses like Evans Woodshop & Design.
Begun all the way back in 2005, Sparkletack is a San Francisco history podcast that tells some of the city’s most interesting stories. Though Richard Miller is no longer producing new episodes, he has provided the entire library on the website here. From grade-school kids to retirees, these stories are told for everyone and serve as a collection of some of the city’s greatest stories.
What are you listening to?
If you have a favorite local podcast, tell us about it in the comments below!