Hugh Likes Podcasts: 2016 Top Five

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: 2016 Top 5

In no particular order, here are my five favorite narrative podcasts of 2016. I listened to a lot this year, and there seemed to be too much to really judge, but these five stood out as gems in the podosphere.

Six Stories Told at Night
K T Bryski and Blythe Haynes are a dynamic duo of podcast fiction. The writer/narrator pair have worked together on a variety of projects, from the audiobook Heartstealer to the Nightvale-esque Coxwood History Fun Cast. I think this is the apex of their collaboration. A six episode podcast about Canadian Folklore, “Six Stories” blurs the line between myth and reality, story and storyteller, and history and the present. It is an amazing work, commissioned by the Ontario Arts Council.

Gosh-Darn Fiasco
GDF Podcast
A live-roleplay podcast of Bully Pulpit’s Fiasco which started in 2015, this is a mix of roleplaying and improv that works just right for podcast. The episodes are a bit on the long side, with each running at least an hour and often running longer, but hosts Angela Webber and Richard Malena, as well as their recurring guests, are always surprising and hilarious. The playsets are well chosen, and lots of fun. Where else are you going to hear about secret muppets and Antarctic rock bands? No place, that’s where.

Alice Isn’t Dead
From the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale,” Alice isn’t dead is a one-woman audio drama about the long, strange gaps of rural America, the things that inhabit them, and what, precisely, makes us human. The narrator’s search for her presumed-dead wife, and the strange and terrible things she finds along the way are the stuff of American nightmare, compelling and frightening.

The Hidden Almanac
A micro-cast written by author and illustrator Ursula Vernon and produced by her husband Kevin Sonney, The Hidden Almanac is a look into the hagiography and domestic garden life of a world not our own. But more precisely, it is the adventures of the long suffering Rev. Mord and his saintly and drunken companion, Pastor Drom. This year they braved the dangers of a library catacomb, fought off an inter-dimensional invasion, and covered a fraught local judiciary election between a revenant used car salesman and a charismatic chicken.  Five minutes a week shouldn’t be this effective, but it is.

The Voice of Free Planet X
Jared Axelrod continued their run on this highly polished spec-fictional version of This American Life by visiting a city with amnesia, covering a funeral for a pulp heroine, and helping to preside over a rap battle for the fate of the Earth. Jared is an incandescent wit and talent, and I’m just glad they’re on our side.

Hugh Likes Podcasts: The Hidden Almanac and Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap

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The Hidden Almanac and Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap
Kevin Sonney and Ursula Vernon
Hiddenalmanac.com and http://kuec.libsyn.com

“The Hidden Almanac” and “Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap” are two very different, gloriously odd podcasts from Hugo Award-winning author Ursula Vernon and her husband Kevin Sonney  While Ursula is a children’s author these podcasts, particularly the later, are not for kids and they are two of my favorite new additions to my podcast playlist.
“The Hidden Almanac” is a micro-fiction podcast staring Immortal plague doctor Reverend Mord, played by Sonney in a delightfully creepy monotone, and his assistant, the enthusiastic and rarely sober Pastor Drom, played by Vernon.  Every few days, a five-minute or so episode drops, in which Mord intones the historical importance and Saint’s feast of the day from a world that is very much not our own.  He also fills the listener in on the status of his garden, which is filled with plants both fantastical and mundane.  Drom assists in much the same way that gasoline assists a campfire.  Episodes are written by Vernon, and the humor on display is similar to her popular comics.
“Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap” is a much longer podcast in which the couple test out a variety of prepackaged instant food and snacks.  If you can’t stand the sound of chewing, this podcast isn’t for you.  However, the presenters, particularly Ursula, are hilarious in their reviews and so colorful in their language that sitting through these two-hour episodes is a joy.  Ursula recently described one food choice as tasting ‘like an independent bookstore.’  The couple often goes on smart, funny tangents that are as entertaining as the food reviews.  Running the gamut from ‘healthy’ snacks including organic and gluten free items, to the most basic instant fare, these two food critics are sure to entertain with their common sense wisdom and curmudgeonly wit.
Whether you prefer your podcasts in short bursts or marathon sessions, check out these selections in itunes or your preferred podcast player.