Here’s the problem: there are hundreds, maybe thousands of podcasts out there that are either about, reference or even mention NYC in a single episode. There is no way anyone is going to listen to everything and share what’s good, bad, or forgettable – and by anyone, we mean ArtsGazing, of course. Not only would it be nearly impossible, we don’t have the stamina to listen to all those podcasts. So we dusted off our problem solving skills and made a set of parameters for this section:
- The podcast has to have NYC as a filter, at least some of the time.
- Anything can be discussed if it affects, happens, has a parallel, or results in a NYC conclusion/situation.
- Creators should be devoted to NYC by either using it as a subject or having the podcast based in the city.
- Prefer to highlight podcasts linked to NYC institutions but as long as item 2 is met, we’ll include them.
- At least five episodes, so listeners can decide if the podcast is interesting
We’ll keep adding to the list but here’s what we’ve discovered so far:
New York City Institutions’ Podcasts
Flatbush + Main – Brooklyn Historical Society
The Brooklyn Historical Society has an excellent podcast called Flatbush + Main, hosted by Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia, discussing the borough’s history. One standout installment is Malcolm X in Brooklyn, a lesser known aspect of the activist’s life and work within NYC. Through meticulous research, Zaheer Ali walks listeners through the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant where the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X engaged in organizing and activism, changing the social and intellectual life of the community. There are also many other videos and podcasts from previous public programs and podcasts available on the website, take a look and/or listen here.
NAC Chat – The National Arts Club
Over at The National Arts Club (one of the city’s oldest clubs for artists and art lovers) they have a great podcast, NAC Chat, featuring interview subjects who operate in a variety of creative fields, in keeping with the organization’s mission to promote the arts regardless of disciplines or labels. Conversations are full of real world examples about professions that demand original and imaginative solutions, making this a fun and informative glimpse into the work so many take for granted.
The Community Oral Project – New York Public Library
New York Public Library has given the city so much during the current COVID-19 crisis with access to free e-books with or without a current library card, keeping the remote learning services for students going, and continuing to upload podcasts and videos (more information here). Another part of the library’s services has been to create The Community Oral Project, an outreach effort to document and preserve the histories of NYC’s many communities. Listening to these reminisces is both informative and comforting, keeping us connected until we all meet again. And if you want to help the library out, click on the project’s Transcript Editor, where you can listen and correct the computer generated transcripts, and tag the recording with relevant research terms for future listeners and scholars. This project is open to everyone, no need to be an NYPL cardholder.
New York City Themed Podcasts
New York Said – Hosted by Amon Focus
One of the best general interest podcasts we know about is New York Said, hosted by Amon Focus and featuring conversations with New Yorkers, some well known, others not so much, but all contributing something to the city’s cultural and social landscape. One of the reasons we like this podcast so much is Focus’ rapport with his guests and the free-flowing conversation that results from it.
Clever: A Podcast about Design
Although it isn’t strictly about NYC, Clever: A Podcast about Design, does have an interview with Murray Moss, one of the most influential design taste-makers in the US. His 18 year run in retail (the eponymous Moss, in SoHo) brought contemporary design from small and large firms to an audience starving for audacious yet practical ideas: we’re not ashamed to say that if it wasn’t for Mr. Moss, we wouldn’t know how to distinguish great design from the merely good.
Starting in 2005, Design Matters with Debbie Millman has brought voices from across the creative design landscape of NYC and the world. Through interviews, backed up with excellent research on each guest, Millman discusses the challenging process that everyone encounters when working in the arts, and the resulting solutions. This should be mandatory listening for anyone who wants to work in these fields or who’s curious about the people who have shaped so much of modern life.