Arts & Entertainment

5 podcasts to listen to this February

Dave Kleinschmidt/Flickr Creative Commons

Each month the KPCC podcast team will be sharing what they're listening to that month. Remember the staff picks section at the indie video store you used to love? This is like that, but for podcasts! This month we'll be launching our first investigative podcast, "Repeat." Here are some things to listen to while you wait for that to drop.

1. The Paris Review

When I heard “The Paris Review” was launching a podcast, my assumption was that the editor would sit down and interview writers and it would sound like all the other interview shows flooding your feed. I'm so glad I was so wrong.

Somehow the team behind this production has captured what it feels like to read an incredible piece of writing, and they’ve used sound to get us there. The episodes are nearly hostless, so you might not notice that the host changes just a few episodes in — longtime “Paris Review” editor and initial host of the podcast, Lorin Stein, resigned after an internal investigation into his conduct toward female employees and writers.

But the crew continues to produce these beautiful literary experiences actors to re-create interviews — LeVar Burton as James Baldwin, archival tape of Maya Angelou interviewed by George Plimpton, readings of some exceptional works — all with great scoring and sound design. This show takes you away from wherever you are as soon as you press play. — Arwen Champion Nicks

2. Beginner

“I had to learn entitlement.” This line is one of the many that have stuck with me from the podcast, “Beginner,” created and produced by Misha Euceph — now part of the KPCC on demand podcast team. Euceph was 11 years old when she moved from Pakistan to America with her family, and there were some quintessential things that she never learned to do.

The series follows her after she has decided to conquer some cultural touchstones of American youth, like learning to ride a bike, learning to swim, making her bed the “American” way and learning the names of all the members of N*SYNC. As Euceph learns throughout the show, the audience is let into her experiences as an immigrant, a daughter, a partner, a sister and as a beginner. Listening to this feels like someone ushering you through their experience with the complexities of American culture. — Arwen Champion Nicks

3. Where Should We Begin?

Relationship therapist and best-selling author Esther Perel lets you sit in on her therapy sessions with couples. Perel, whose parents were survivors of Nazi concentration camps, became a relationship and sex expert by exploring what made people feel “alive” after traumatic events.

Her first book, "Mating in Captivity," asks how to keep the erotic alive in a long-term monogamous relationship. Her second book takes on infidelity.

But her podcast expands beyond these two subjects, allowing listeners to hear couples talk to each other about disease, mental illness, children and religion. With Valentine’s Day just weeks ahead of us, this is an immersive experience for those coupled, looking for love or happily single. — Misha Euceph

4. The Big Loop

There are a lot of sci-fi audio dramas out there, but “The Big Loop” will have you hiding under your covers while crying at the same time. The show, created by Paul Bae, is an anthology series about the strange, harrowing and beautiful experiences that are hard to explain.

Each episode is structured like a therapy session, where one character recounts a moment in their life that has had a profound effect on them. I highly recommend starting from the beginning.

The first episode, “The Studio,” is about a woman who obsessively watches her neighbors’ relationship fall apart from her balcony window. And as she looks more closely, she realizes there’s a mysterious figure lurking in the background.

It’s beautifully told story with great scoring and production — and it’s rare for me to find such an addicting show that combines heartbreak and jump scares. — James Kim

5. Repeat

Ok, so we here at KPCC made this one but we think it's so, so good!

“Repeat” is an investigative series that begins with a man on a morning drive, deciding to break into a home — then digs deep into a string of officer-involved shootings in South Los Angeles. “Repeat” allows listeners to hear rarely featured perspectives from different sides of the law while asking questions about the lack of information surrounding police shootings.

Reporter Annie Gilbertson combs through documents, tracks down witnesses, interviews gang members and officers who have shot. Gilbertson’s dogged pursuit of information illustrates the difficulty of piercing a law enforcement accountability system shrouded in secrecy.

The first two episodes are out on Feb. 7.