Local Ann Arbor Podcasts To Make Social Distancing More Entertaining

. May 2, 2020.

Podcasting has had its popularity on the rise for quite some time now. It seems more often, people are starting their own podcasts and talk about some of the most interesting things. With everyone looking for the newest trends and local hot spots, it’s no wonder that Washtenaw County has some of the best podcast shows!

Finding a local podcast doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of good shows going on in the area which are phenomenal at promoting themselves. Unfortunately, some of the podcasts in the area are currently on hiatus due to current circumstances. These podcasts will resume once the stay-at-home order is lifted, but this will give readers a chance to catch up before new episodes start. Here is a quick list of some of the best podcasts in the area!

Fellow Youths

Fellow Youths. Image by the Ann Arbor District Library.

Fellow Youths is a podcast that is run through the Ann Arbor District Library, but is free for anyone with ears to check out. This podcast is particularly good for teens who are interested in comics, video games, and literature, or anyone who would be interested in these topics! The group discusses topics from video games, such as Oxenfree, to Netflix shows but with a critical lens. The podcasters discuss difficult topics and tackle interesting takes on various works while being mindful of each other’s opinions.

Fellow Youths manages to keep a conversational tone while addressing tough topics. It’s the perfect place for younger listeners to explore new perspectives, learn about upcoming events, and get a few laughs. This podcast works as a way for listeners to think of works in nerd culture more critically and as a work of art or literature rather than just entertainment. If listeners are looking for a new perspective on something most would argue as being purely entertainment, then this podcast is the best local bet.

Although the podcast is currently on hold, there is enough content for new listeners to explore their ideas and thoughts. Check out Fellow Youths here.

52 Portrait Project

Image of Misty Lyn Bergeron. Photo by Doug Coombe.

Misty Lyn Bergeron is an Ypsilanti singer/songwriter/photographer who holds intriguing conversations with inspiring Michigan women. The podcast, 52 Portrait Project, is an ongoing series lead by Berergon that works on inspiring women around Washtenaw County and celebrates the society we have all worked hard to cultivate. Berergon works hard to encourage and inspire her listeners with every podcast, and encourages everyone to be the best version of themselves possible.

The podcast has had a variety of guests, from Ypsilanti Community High School art teacher Lynne Settles to Moth StorySLAM producer Patricia Wheeler. The podcast is very discussion based, giving the listeners a feeling of both comfort and a chance to better understand what is being discussed. Although the conversations feel relaxed, Bergeron’s message of confidence can still be heard loud and clear. It is the perfect place to hear about new places and events around the area that may be of interest for listeners. Additionally, Bergeron showcases the portraits of her guests on her website, so listeners can visualize who they are listening to.

Listeners can check out 52 Portrait Project here. You can also keep up with what Misty Lyn Bergeron on twitter.

Behind the Marquee

Find yourself to be a film buff? Want to know the latest movie trends and movie festivals? Then definitely check out Behind the Marquee, the podcast by the Michigan Theater Foundation. This roundtable style podcast brings listeners behind the scenes of the historic Michigan Theater. Although Behind the Marquee is brought to listeners from the Michigan Theater foundation, the podcast discusses new and interesting movies playing outside of the theater.

Listeners will also get a chance to keep up to date with the latest film festivals, showing how deeply the podcasting team loves movies and cinema. Behind the Marquee lets listeners explore what professionals working for an independent theater, sharing their film tastes which can be extremely vast. Talking about movies ranging from silent or foreign to major movies, such as Avengers: Infinity Wars, the podcast team explores what it is exactly that people love about the movie medium. The roundtable set up allows readers to feel as if they were part of the conversation, letters readers rethink how they look at and think about movies and the independent movie theater industry.

Behind the Marquee can be found on the Ann Arbor District Library website here

Ann Arbor Stories

New to the area and wants a rundown of what Ann Arbor is all about? Then Ann Arbor Stories is the perfect podcast to begin with. Although Ann Arbor Stories has come to an end, the podcast still does a great job of letting those in the area know about some of the fun facts and history of the city. Historian and author Richard Retyi takes listeners on a tour through Ann Arbor’s history while balancing humor and deep respect and clear love for the area. 

Retyi showcases how much knowledge of the area he has throughout this podcast. Retyi brings up information and stories that the Ann Arbor area (and Michigan) have forgotten. And, as philosopher George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Richard Retyi works to ensure that Ann Arbor natives avoid this problem by sharing a range of history with readers. From discussing who Shaky Jake and William Douglas Street were to Ann Arbor’s Red Light District, Retyi leaves listeners with the confidence to feel they know the area better than most!

Listeners can find all of Ann Arbor stories on the Ann Arbor District Library website.

Shelf Talking

Shelf Talking. Image from Literati Bookstore.

Story-telling podcasts are some of the best podcasts to check out, and Shelf Talking is no exception. Shelf Talking is the official podcast of Literati Bookstore, located on East Washington in downtown Ann Arbor. This podcast focuses on literature and how readers interpret different works. It is the perfect podcast for book worms who are craving the comfort of a bookstore.

Shelf Talking includes different podcast formats. From exclusive interviews and content to recordings from in-store events, readers can have the experience of visiting the sweet, local bookstore without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. The interviews conducted by the Literati team are in-depth and insightful, letting readers peek inside the minds of writers and creators to see where their inspiration comes from and how the creative process works for different minds. Shelf Talking allows listeners to feel closer and as more of an essential part of the local bookstores in the area.

Listeners can find the Shelf Talking podcast on Soundcloud.

Inter-Party Conflict

Are you looking to expand your horizons a little? Maybe discovering a good round of Dungeons and Dragons would help! Inter-Party Conflict discusses the ins and outs, dos and don’t of various tabletop games. The podcast covers both in-depth topics as well as beginner ideas, allowing listeners of all backgrounds to learn and better understand D&D and other tabletop games.

Although the podcast has more of a lean towards Dungeons and Dragons, the information from this podcast can be used for other tabletop games. This method may seem a little odd but the podcast works to show listeners how different aspects of the game work through walkthrough examples rather than pure explanation. As the team discusses different aspects of the game, listeners are guided through mini example campaigns to illustrate the topics that are being explored. This gives listeners an idea of what to listen for and what information to hold onto when playing any detailed tabletop game. The Inter-Party Conflict is not playing a straight through campaign but parts of the podcast will definitely lead listeners into a story or environment. Gabe the DM works hard to coordinate willing (and, as any D&D campaign goes, unwilling) players through a mini example then discusses the good and bad of each decision. 

Listeners can find any and all information on Inter-Party Conflict at their website here. Each episode is streamed on SoundCloud.

What’s Up in the Willow?

Any time West Willow is mentioned in the news, for some reason it is always tied to a crime. However, that’s not what the Willow is all about. Alex Thomas, New West Willow Neighborhood Association advisor, hosts a video podcast monthly called What’s Up in the Willow? Thomas’ podcast is not a traditional podcast. Instead, it utilizes imagery as well as voice to show what life in West Willow is like. This podcast works as a way for listeners to feel closer to the tightly-knit community.

What’s Up in the Willow? shares all news and resources within the community that the media just does not cover. From information on resources and local news to residents’ personal story, Thomas works to humanize and destigmatize an area of Washtenaw County that most residents feel is dangerous (spoiler alert, it isn’t). 

What’s Up in the Willow? can be found on Thomas’ personal YouTube page and focuses on organizations that serve the West Willow area. The podcast was created to ensure residents who are unable to show support at community events stay connected and have any resources they may need. This also gives residents of West Willow to define themselves rather than continuing to allow media coverage to dictate what the community is. This podcast is a wonderful way to better understand and learn about the area we are all a part of.

What’s Up in the Willow can be heard here.


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