Could it be the year of the podcast? Sure, people have been listening to podcasts for years now, but wasn't 2017 the year of the beloved Southern gothic tale, Shit Town? Wasn't 2017 the year City Paper added Best Podcast to our Best of Charleston issue? It's the year of the podcast, y'all — and Charleston's cashing in.
Are you obsessed with food? We got that podcast. Do you love storytelling in any form? You better believe we got that podcast. Want to hear a couple guys talk about whatever comes to mind? Boom — podcasted. So, in celebration of our ever-expanding podcast scene, here are five homegrown favorites, spanning a variety of topics.
Created by Steven Cardinal, the audio drama (and City Paper Best Podcast winner) Aural Traditions follows an anthology format that runs the gamut from family friendly radio animal stories ("Mellow Yellow: A Cat's Tale") to disturbing chillers that are best left off your child's iPod ("Sander Cobb"). Don't worry, because there's a content description before every episode. Lately, the podcast has begun incorporating more serialized content, like their sci-fi thriller "Crosswired" and their murder mystery satire "A Fragrance Most Foul." Thanks to the audio format, imagination is the limit. Shows can be set anywhere, like inside a volcano, the moon, or Delaware. "The ability to do stuff with audio only and really engage your listener is just something I think in this country we've kind of gotten away from," says Cardinal. Aural Traditions also makes good use of the local theater community. Thanks to the surplus of local actors, directors, and writers inhabiting the thespian world, Cardinal has no shortage of people to pick from for future podcasts. "I want it to be that launching point for local talents." auraltraditions.org [iTunes]
The Petty Couch Podcast
Stand-up comics Hagan Ragland and Jon Antoine are canonical saints of talking shit and being petty. "There's no cap on what you can talk shit about on our podcast," says Ragland. The two hosts, with their sound guy/ verbal punching bag Brandon Bair, interview local comedians, crack wise about local topics, and just hangout on air for an hour of target-destroying humor. "The first [episode] was a lot of us just talking about how we didn't know what we were doing and we still don't really know what we're doing. We just try to put out a funny good quality product that people enjoy listening to," says Ragland. Although the series is only seven episodes deep and uploads are sporadic, the guys have seen almost 1000 downloads an episode, with Ragland getting positive feedback from around the nation. The hosts of Petty Couch have also branched out into video content with their amazing "Petty Couch HD" special that saw Ragland gain ISIS as an Instagram follower and Antoine attempt to figure out what the hell La Croix is, all from the comfort of their displaced couch. In the future, the core trio hope to deliver more video content, feature more local VIPs (bartenders, bands, etc.), and of course talk mass amounts of shit. [iTunes]
We're Just the Messengers
We're Just the Messengers is a podcast that's kind of about everything."It's basically barbershop talk," says co-host Mike Huguenin. Along with Moe Spann, the duo take listeners through sports, music, relationships, social issues, pop culture, and everything else that comes on their radar. In the course of their hour long "Trump Card" episode, they hit the UNC Tar Heels, the military-industrial complex, and a shoplifter getting a sword pulled on him at a local store. "It's not like we're 40 or 50 years old trying to talk down on anyone," says Spann. "We're right here with them." It all works because of Huguenin and Spann's laid back rapport. Much of the podcast is a chance for the two hosts to shed light on black culture, rap culture, and urban culture. "They can really see how it affects us and help them have a better understanding of why things are the way they are out here and how we feel the way that we feel," says Huguenin. [SoundCloud, iTunes]
The Southern Fork
Post and Courier writer and food blogger Stephanie Burt's cuisine podcast started from a common journalistic problem. "When I was writing, I would have these great conversations with chefs and farmers and distillers and bakers, all in the culinary realm," says Burt. "And I could only really use about two or three quotes." Technology came to Burt's rescue in the form of her podcast where she brings on anyone related to the food business throughout the south. Restaurant owners, knife makers, even alcohol historians get their time in the audible spotlight on The Southern Fork. "If someone's back in the kitchen, we want to know who they are because they're actually communicating with us through their work." Burt's bubbly personality has brought in plenty of followers and has scored the show a nomination for Best Food Podcast in the 2017 Saveur Blog Awards. thesouthernfork.com
Charleston Time Machine
History and the Holy City are practically synonymous, like toast and jam, but most local history lessons hit the sames beats. Thankfully, Nic Butler and Charleston County Public Library are shaking things up with Charleston Time Machine. Butler, the CCPL's historian, explores the lesser known parts of Charleston's history and how it directly affects the city we live in today. Some of these esoteric topics include vultures, bicycling, and German expansion in colonial South Carolina. Butler's a passionate historian, and has an uncanny ability to make any subject (no matter how dry it may seem) an easy listen. "Good historians are good storytellers," says Butler. The main crux of Charleston Time Machine is to "take real facts and real stories, and not dumb it down or water it down, but present it in such a way that is palatable." In the near future, Charleston Time Machine will move over to the Public Library's website, where Butler hopes it will see a wider audience. "Whether we're talking about race relations, we're talking about the Battery sea wall that's crumbling, or there's potholes in the street, or there's bodies they dug up at the Gaillard, all history is relevant." charlestontimemachine.org