Podcasts had an early adopter, indie/DIY popularity—and then a Mark Twain–style false death—before bursting into the zeitgeist in a big way with Sarah Koenig’s Serial towards the end of 2014. But Google “Canadian podcast” and you’re most likely to come up with just a handful of links to output from the public broadcaster and not much else (though a lot of those podcasts are truly great).
Yet Canada is in fact home to a tremendously diverse and robust podcast scene, and there are more voices joining the freshly mic-ed fray every day. Here’s a brief roundup of five Canadian podcasts to know.
Vancouver comedians Dave Shumka and Graham Clark’s weekly podcast has been going on for years (they recently hit episode 587) and it’s still incredibly funny and genuinely fascinating. Whether it’s a famous guest like indie comedian John Hodgman, or Shumka’s own wife, Abby, the conversation is always quip-filled and flawlessly entertaining.
Whether you think media critic Jesse Brown is a folk hero of the people, breaking stories and busting open cover-ups, or a self-appointed watchdog with an axe to grind, there’s no denying he creates compelling content and has a nose for controversy. Plus, when powerful people are afraid of you, that means you’re doing something right, right? Also, check out Arshy Mann’s Canadaland: Commons, a provocative and brilliant show that now has a series called “Crude” reflecting on Canada’s addiction to oil.
Comedian Ryan McMahon’s podcast is essential listening for every Canadian. Its mandate—forward-thinking “explorations, conversations, and investigations into the collision between Indian country and the mainstream”—makes it a critical component of the ongoing process of decolonization. But, more than that, Red Man Laughing offers hugely important perspectives that have been purposefully excluded and erased for decades.
Writers and funny people Dina Del Bucchia and Jen Sookfong Lee co-host this hilarious, raucous celebration of all things Canadian and literary. They zigzag between informed discussions of narrative devices and literary criticism to pop culture all while chatting with a diverse array of writers, authors, and poets who open up about everything from fan nudies to writer feuds. It’s ridiculous and wonderful, and offers up a very different and welcome window into the Canadian literary scene.
Canadian publication Hazlitt’s newest podcast is hosted by Toronto-based comedian Lauren Mitchell and bills itself as “a show about extraordinary women.” It lives up to its excellent tagline. Cavern of Secrets published 25 episodes before leaving the air-waves in 2016, but Mitchell hit the ground running, featuring interviews with Rookie founder/editor-in-chief and actress Tavi Gevinson, Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist and Portlandia creator Carrie Brownstein, and more. The result is conversation envy of the highest order. Her archive is worth a second listen.
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