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Five awesome podcasts you should check out

September 3, 2020—

This Podcast Will Kill You

Measles, scurvy, rabies, and more. Pick your favourite disease and This Podcast Will Kill You probably has an episode on it. And no, this podcast won’t actually kill you, but it will change the way that you think about disease. 

Hosted by two students, the podcast challenges the mainstream perception that disease and health are exclusively science topics. The show chronicles the fascinating yet devastating biographies of different diseases, while somehow remaining lighthearted and never taking itself too seriously. It takes a deep dive into not only the biology of disease, but also how history and society have shaped its narrative. 

Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a science student to follow along. Anyone interested in learning about disease from a multidisciplinary perspective will enjoy this podcast. The hosts are ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke. Maybe the best part of the show is how passionate these hosts are about the topics they discuss — you might even say that their enthusiasm is infectious! 

Ainsley Smith, Gauntlet Volunteer

Linguistically Aware  

Linguistically Aware is a new podcast, launched this spring and hosted by the University of Calgary’s own Dušan Nikolić, a doctoral student in the Department of Linguistics. While language and linguistics might sound like a niche subject, this podcast series is accessible and promises something for everyone. It covers phonetics to pragmatics in an engaging and thoughtful way. Linguistically Aware is focused on the roles that language plays in our lives, and the topics are varied and interesting.  

Current releases cover language and linguistics in rap music, created languages (complete with Klingon and Dothraki examples) and meaning and symbolism of sounds. Dušan hosts the podcast in an easy to listen conversational style, interviewing expert guests from around the city.    

Linguistically Aware is released approximately once a month and can be found here and on CJSW. 

Tanya Yeomans, Gauntlet volunteer

Alice Isn’t Dead

A gripping serial fiction podcast from the co-writer of Welcome to Nightvale, Alice Isn’t Dead is a phenomenal and dark podcast that follows a truck driver driving around America searching for her wife who she had assumed was dead. Her trips and searching across America results in encounters with monstrous creatures that walk amongst humans, conspiracies, towns lost in time and other creepy events that are voiced to the listener through the recordings she makes in her truck as she drives. 

The strongest feature of this podcast is definitely the gripping narrative; the way the story is being told and the realistic, small-town America descriptions that make it nightmarishly convincing. The events that transpire take place in truck stop diners, in Target parking lots, along the dark rural highways of sprawling America, and enrich the feeling of horror without being over the top about it. 

The podcast is concluded, and all three seasons are currently released. For the ultimate listening experience, listen to Alice Isn’t Dead while driving in your own vehicle. 

Nikayla Goddard, Gauntlet news editor

Freaknomics

Boasting over 400+ radio shows and a well-known podcast enjoyed worldwide includes Freakonomics, an American public radio program that discusses socio-economic issues for a general audience. It came to fruition after a book by the same name was published in 2005 when a University of Chicago economics professor Steven D. Levitt partnered with his trust sidekick award-winning journalist, author and TV and radio personality, Stephen J. Dubner. As an ex-economics major I had randomly encountered it after struggling to understand the deeper social problems that the typical boring, dry and mundane lectures full of mathematical proofs and theoretical jargon were not being fully absorbed. Not to mention the siloed thinking traditional college classes foster. This podcast was a nice supplement to not only understand lecture content better but to feel empowered and motivated to listen and quite frankly — get to the point of the systematic problem at hand. Topics range from more political including “Abortion and Crime” or gender equality in “After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff,” to behavioural “How to Make Your Luck” and “How to Get More Grit in Your Life” to everyday busyness of living including “The Hidden Cost of False Alarms.” What is most admired about Freakonomics Radio is that they reframe systematic problems by using a playful yet intriguing fun fact approach by telling you things you never really thought to ask about before or you did not want to know (but in fact, do!). With their broad cornucopia of the subject matter they offer and their deep delve into these underlying sticky situations, there is something for everyone.

Rachneet Randhawa, Gauntlet sustainability columnist

Rainforest Alberta

Often overlooked in times of difficulty and distress is supporting local artists and entrepreneurs, especially when there is calamity in the air because it is always good to give back to your community first and foremost. With the ongoing pandemic there needs to be more dialogue about how we are going to reframe and rebrand the local economy. With so many businesses suffering in the food and beverage industry despite lockdown restrictions being lifted there is still lingering trauma for many restaurants and retail businesses. One of the newer Alberta based podcasts on the radar nearing under 80 episodes is Rainforest Alberta a silo-busting, sector-agnostic, all-inclusive, all-industry, open-source, ego-stroking, ecosystem-building, entrepreneur-focused, wide-open podcast. 

Rainforest Alberta itself is a movement restructuring the economy to become more inclusive with innovative ideas and sustainable ventures for instance by initiating social impact initiatives that truly go by the mantra of thinking global and acting locally. This movement and podcast too were launched originally by the book: Rainforest: The Secret to Building Silicon Valley (2013) by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt which has spread globally to different regional/urban hubs based on the 6 key pillars of Culture, Leaders, Role Model, Policy & Infrastructure, Engaged Activities and lastly, Resources. The goal of the podcast is to have a casual conversation with local entrepreneurs who are actively contributing and/or supporting the innovation ecosystem in Alberta and aims to cultivate, build and develop these budding initiatives into sustainable ventures. What is the most admired about this podcast is that it serves as a halo of light and hope and is practical for so many youth and/or recent college graduates who wish to migrate to another city or province in search of opportunity. Ironically, the pandemic has allowed us the chance to become introspective and explore our backyards full of potential hidden and unknown treasures. Sure, the economy has been tanking in Alberta for the last handful of years but many don’t realize that this is the pivot point and the best time to set the example for the change we wish to see and set a precedent for future generations of Calgarians. 

Rachneet Randhawa, Gauntlet sustainability columnist


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