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6 Podcasts to Start Your Summer Off Right

April 25, 2016

Hey there, District Tablers! (Districtoids? Tablettes? D-Tabes?). I’m Mikaela Lefrak, an editor and podcast producer at the New Republic magazine in D.C. I’m also Becky’s neighbor, which means I get to come over and mooch lots of the amazing food she makes for this blog. (Evidence: in the photo at the end of this post about dinner parties, I’m the girl on the left. No, not the smiling blond one—the snoozy one, who looks like she’s actively entering into a food coma.)

Since I eat so much of Becky’s cooking, typically sans invitation, I figure it’s finally time to share something in return from my own area of expertise: audio. Ever since podcasting boomed a few years ago (TL/DR: Serial), there’s been a glut of great audio content to discover. Here are some of my favorite newer shows that I think District Tablinos might enjoy:

2 dope queens

2 Dope Queens: In this new podcast from WNYC, Comedians Jessica Williams (you’d know her from The Daily Show) and Phoebe Robinson dish about sex, dating, race, city life, and a bunch of other millennial buzzwords. I’ve been binge-listening to this show ever since it launched last month, in part because of my complicated feelings for Jessica Williams (an intense mix of lady crush, hair envy, and frustration/awe that she’s 2 years younger than me and totally winning at life). They invite comedians to do standup routines, which can be hit-or-miss, but it’s still a cool way to hear about up-and-coming comics without actually having to suffer through amateur hour at some club: my literal version of hell.

death sex and money podcast

Death, Sex, and Money: Anna Sale, who I ate eggplant parmesan with one time in New York, hosts this wonderful show featuring one-on-one, intensely personal conversations with people about the topics we all think about, but don’t bring up in polite conversation. Their stories can go from funny to heartbreaking in the blink of an eye. This show is not actually that new, so to get you started, here are three of my favorite episodes: Lucinda Williams on singing, fame, and her father; what it’s like to live alone; and the senator who saved Anna Sale’s love life. Bonus: I also recommend signing up for the show’s weekly e-newsletter. Bonus Bonus: These songs though.

splendid table

The Splendid Table: Guys, the weird old lady in me—the one who makes pea soup for lunch every day and gives her grandkids cheap, inappropriate gifts—freaking loves this program. My boyfriend strongly disagrees, but he also thinks Prairie Home Companion is a legitimately enjoyable show, so I don’t trust his opinion on anything anymore. Host Lynne Rossetto Kasper holds interesting conversations about food movements, interviews chefs, and shares recipes. The absolutely indispensable part of this show, though, is when she fields calls from listeners asking about what to do with some weird ingredient they’ve been holding on to: port wine, say, or a lamb shank. Then, Kasper comes up with recipes on the fly (“Do you have a kumquat in your fridge? How about freshly ground horseradish powder? Yes? OK here’s what you do.”). Her spur-of-the-moment concoctions are totally impressive, as is hearing listeners blatantly lie to her about the contents of their spice racks.


How to Be a Girl: My sister Alli told me about this one, and I’m so excited share it with you. It’s the story of a single mom’s life raising her eight-year-old transgender daughter. She talks about her initial struggle to accept her daughter’s identity, the search for a supportive school, how other kids treat her, and lots more. It’s a loving, thoughtful portrayal of a mother struggling to make the right decisions for her kid, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention to you the two Pulitzer-worthy shows I produce for the New Republic:


Grierson & Leitch: Film critics and lifelong BFFs Tim Grierson and Will Leitch discuss and debate the week’s new movie releases. My favorite part of the show is the Reboot segment, where they re-watch classic movies suggested by listeners, ranging from Field of Dreams to some weird 80s arthouse film I’ve never heard of. This is a great show to listen to if you’re looking for Saturday night Netflix inspiration, or just want to hear two friends make fun of each other in the most endearing of ways.


Primary Concerns: Want to know more about the 2016 elections, but don’t know where to start? Each week, seasoned political writer Brian Beutler invites his friends to wade through the wackiness of the Republican and Democratic primaries with him. They cover voting results, campaign trail stories, and the larger implications for American politics in the future. Plus, I get to choose all the music, and I make it weird.


Ok, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’d love to hear about your favorite podcasts, and what you think of my suggestions. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. Now get listening!

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