A great (and sometimes terrible) thing about podcasts is their low barrier to entry. Experts and enthusiasts of all kinds can pick up a mic and start recording a show about the weird and niche things that fascinate them most — no matter how weird, or how niche, podcasters can make the kind of content they’re obsessed with, without having to prove to some studio exec there’s a huge audience for it.
The thing about niche audiences is that there are hundreds of thousands of them, and the internet has proven they’re bigger than you think. You may feel alone in your obsession with bad Yelp reviews, but did you know there’s a podcast celebrating them? OK, but did you know there are actually a bunch of them?
No matter the weird corner of the world your interests inhabit, there’s (probably) a podcast for that. Here are 12 that are notably offbeat, but feel free to share your more far-flung favourites in the comments.
The Pen Addict
Geek out over all things stationery — you got your pens, your pencils, your paper, your ink, etc., on The Pen Addict. Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley are into it all. They cover pen shows, talk to shop owners, and seek out the perfect paper in a quest to inform us about the pen industry while entertaining us with their funny back and forth. No huge surprises, here: The guys talk pens. If you’re a pen nerd, Brad and Myke are your people, and you’ll be happily surprised to find that there’s a community of folks out there just as excited to talk about the new Kaweco builds as you are. Even if you aren’t a pen addict, you have to admire Brad and Myke’s dedication to their niche, and the way they are able to squeeze content out of the humble pen, which, as you may have heard, might actually be mightier than the sword.
Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
There’s only one thing better than going down a Yelp review rabbit hole to find the most nonsensical customer feedback, and that’s hearing Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet hosts Xandy and Christine Schiefer read the weirdest of the weird reviews for you. (And do the work to find the best/worst ones.) Each episode hinges on a theme — Hot Topics, Spirit Halloween Stores, matchmaking services, or boardgames — as Xandy and Christine do dramatic readings (set to an over-the-top emotional musical score) of a litany of complaints, from non-returnable t-shirts at Wedding Chapels, to iguana bites on Royal Caribbean excursions, to ear-piercings gone wrong at Claires, to drooling waitresses at Waffle Houses. If these people could give less than zero stars, they would. But five stars to Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet.
Whether you’re in the Furry community or merely Furry-curious; whether you need some real heart-felt advice or just want to be entertained; Southpaws is the Furry podcast that will inform you, keep you laughing, and make you feel less alone. The hosts help with serious listener questions, like how to figure out if it’s safe to tell your parents you’re not straight, how to play with toys and lube, how to navigate prickly relationship problems and family issues, and even how to find a good cause to donate to. They also keep us up to date on all the Furry conventions we might not be able to attend, and they let us into their world by sharing what they’re reading, watching, and loving.
What is it like to be a woman in magic? That’s what professional magician Kayla Drescher is attempting to answer in her podcast Shezam, which was born out of Kayla’s extensive frustration with how women in magic, and other industries, are treated. It’s a deep look into the facets of the magic industry, from bubble magic to circus magic, to solid illusions and juggling, featuring interviews with women and minorities about how they’re trying to make the magic space more inclusive for all. This niche show is the scalpel into the industry, cutting into magic for the blind and hard of hearing, what it’s like to be a disabled magician, and the hurdles women have to clear to stay afloat in their craft. Kayla’s mission is to make the world of magic better, and there’s something for everyone to learn, no matter what industry they’re in.
8th Layer Insights
Cybersecurity professionals often refer to people as the eighth layer of security — it’s the human element that often protects us or puts us at greatest risk. Those interested in cyber security, and those who never even think they could possibly get into cyber security, will love 8th Layer Insight, a multidisciplinary exploration into how the complexities of human nature affect security and risk. Author, security researcher, and behaviour science enthusiast Perry Carpenter taps experts for their insights and illumination on cybersecurity, psychology, behaviour science, communication, leadership, and more. Episodes are immersive and never dry — Perry has even created a spoof episode of the beloved Everything Is Alive called Security Is Alive that is more creative and funny than cybersecurity has any right to be.
With the news of our new edgelord of Twitter Elon Musk, many of us are looking for other spaces to share our thoughts on the internet. Well, remember Tumblr? It’s still kickin’ it, and Dashboard Diaries is your unofficial podcast that dives into the depths of your other favourite blue hellsite. Lauren Shippen, best known for her work in fiction podcasts and creator of The Bright Sessions, and Cherokee McAnelly, former Tumbler-fanatic turned head of entertainment at the site, cover trending topics, ship characters from pop culture, and forecast upcoming fandoms. If you’ve ever gone feral over a fic or bonkers about one of your blorbos, this podcast is for you.
Living Beeing talks to entomologists, botanists, scientists, beekeepers, honey experts, historians, artists, and api-therapists to uncover the fascinating behaviours of bees. Episodes are packed with bee facts, sure, but they go to unexpected places — an episode about mead-making, bee genetics, and how bees were the inspiration for a Native American flute. Living Beeing is about bees and beyond, and the stories are approachable for people whose only bee-knowledge is that it hurts to be stung.
Malls have a pretty bad reputation, but on Mall Talk, indie comics Paige Weldon and Emily Faye remind us why they were once secular sacred spaces for many American. If you still have a Bath & Body Works punch card, get triggered (in a good way) by the smell of Auntie Anne’s pretzels, or have bought more than 10 regrettable items from Spencer’s Gifts, you’ll be thrown back to your teenage shopping days, and wishing to return. Paige and Emily interview their funny guests about their favourite stores, the food court, parking lots, mall culture and etiquette, and both good and bad purchases. Fun segments like “desert island mall” keep the game fast and fun. Expect tangents, but the conversations often offer sharp observations about America, suburbia, teenage ennui, and consumer culture. If you can’t make it to church, go to the mall. And if you can’t make it to the mall, turn on Mall Talk.
Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period
The name says it all — comedians W. Kamau Bell & Kevin Avery are convinced that Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time. (Period.) And on their podcast, they prove their theory by taking down Denzel’s filmography movie by movie (in mostly alphabetical order) with guests who share their love for Denzel, and then they share more Denzel news you probably need. The show has been retired, but if you aren’t on team Denzel quite yet, there’s a whole archive of joke-packed episodes waiting for you.
Centuries of Sound
Every month on Centuries of Sound, James M Errington posts an immersive mixtape of music, speech, and sound, for every year of recorded sound, from the 1850s to the present. It’s a time capsule and time machine in one. If you are a completionist, start at 1859-1860. If you want to hear famous voices (from Sir Arthur Sullivan’s letter to Edison to Thomas Edison’s Around the World On The Phonograph) explore 1887-1888. For what was later called “barbershop,” a marching band’s attempt at a waltz, piano workouts from Arensky, or Walt Whitman recording “America” shortly before his death, try 1892. It’s a show for history and audio nerds alike, or for anyone curious to hear a living biography of sound.
Ship Hits the Fan
There is something so compelling about a good ship disaster story — the idea of being lost at sea, getting eaten by a shark, or being trapped on a sinking vessel with not enough lifeboats. Maybe it’s our fear of it that draws us to these stories, and Ship Hits the Fan is the show that curates the wildest tales of sea excursions gone wrong. From unsinkable subs sinking themselves to ghost ships, flying canoes, and a ship sinking underneath the weight of an abundance of Christmas trees, you’ll find the specific marine disaster story that will educate you about unthinkable dangers of the sea served with a side of comedy — landlubber hosts Charlotte, Patrick and Brian keep things light and fun, despite the grim material.
Give Bats a Podcast
Nathaniel Marshall, of the Twitter handle @givebatsabreak was, for a limited time, the voice of Give Bats a Podcast, a show “for bats & their defenders.” Nathaniel talked to ecologists, Animal Behaviour experts, zoologogists, bat researchers and more about everything from vampire bats, bat poop, renowned bat specialist Nancy Simmons (if you didn’t know, now you know) and Bat Blitz (yes it’s a thing.) There’s a whole world of bats you don’t know about — so give Give Bats a Podcast a chance.
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