Editor’s note: We asked Seattle’s Katy Sewall, host of “The Bittersweet Life” and a longtime successful podcaster, public radio veteran and local writer, to share some of her favorite, nonmainstream shows. Here’s her shortlist.
I listen to a ton of podcasts, and many of the shows I love are mainstream: supported by marketing teams, podcast networks and radio stations. The harder-to-find shows are the great independent podcasts — shows, like mine, that grew up with little or no outside support. Consider this a “lesser-known” favorites list:
The mysterious, wondrous and puzzling stories behind famous works of art. If you think art history is boring, this show will prove you wrong.
“But That’s Another Story”
Author Will Schwalbe (“The End of Your Life Book Club”) invites his literary guests to describe the book that changed their lives. Schwalbe’s ardent love of reading is infectious. He’ll inspire you to contemplate which books formed you.
If you have trouble sleeping, let Kristen Eddy read you a bedtime story. Her peaceful reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” knocked me out this holiday season.
“Far from Home”
An adventurous, documentary-style show that begins with an 11,000-mile road trip from the United Kingdom to Mongolia in a tiny, unreliable car.
“Good Girls Talk About Sex”
Deeply personal conversations between women about sex and female sexuality. Host Leah Carey isn’t shy with her questions, and her guests are surprisingly open. The shows aims to inform, heal and inspire.
“Harry’s Last Stand”
Harry Leslie Smith was nearly 100 years old when he made this show. He was a survivor of the Great Depression and WWII, and an activist whose tales of hardship and love brought historical perspective to the issues of modern Britain. His stories are graphic and powerful: “I stumbled through the ruins of Hamburg, overwhelmed by the hunger, the dirt, the despair of ordinary folk. It was there I met the woman who became my wife … in the shadow of that shattered German city.”
“In the Moment”
Town Hall Seattle invites you backstage to meet esteemed thinkers and authors. Interviews are anchored by Steve Scher, a familiar voice to Seattle listeners. Steve hosted “Weekday” on KUOW Public Radio for nearly 20 years.
“Marlon and Jake Read Dead People”
Author Marlon James (“A Brief History of Seven Killings”) and Jake Morrissey (his editor) argue over the writers and books they hate (and love). No living authors allowed.
This is not a podcast, but it is worthy of discovery. Ratbox Radio is a pirate radio station that goes live whenever the wildly lovable, and slightly irreverent, host Casey wants to broadcast. He has great taste in music and happily plays requests. Most weeks, if you tune in Tuesday and Friday night, or Sunday morning, you’ll catch it. The birth of Ratbox is the only thing I love about quarantine; mixlr.com/ratbox-radio.
“Should We Get Married”
Local couple Kyle and Kiley discuss their relationship with much teasing and tenderness. Their segment “Me Likey, Me No Likey” is an entertaining, and frequently embarrassing, airing of the habits and behaviors they adore and despise in each other.
“Sleep with Me”
Host “dearest Scooter” mumbles and rambles you off to sleep with humor and kindness. His generous spirit makes him a trusted guide, leading you through the darkest night.
“That Stack of Books”
Nancy Pearl (America’s favorite librarian) and Steve Scher (public radio veteran) gather with Seattle readers in cafes to help you discover your next book.