The Complete Guide To Indy’s Burgeoning Podcast-Industrial Complex
When multi-marathoner Lindsey Hein couldn’t find a running podcast that went beyond cursory questions like “How many miles did you run this week?” she started her own. Since launching I’ll Have Another in 2016, Hein has interviewed more than 300 athletes. But the podcast isn’t just for runners—those looking for an hour of uplifting conversation can catch new episodes each Friday. Hein and her guests discuss running, of course, but also the latest shows on Hulu and the #MeToo movement. You won’t hear Hein push her guests to Terry Gross levels of discomfort, either; she’s an empathetic listener who encourages her guests to share their struggles and triumphs … and book suggestions. In Episode 240—2020’s most popular—Hein interviews 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden, who recommends Life of Pi and A Gentleman in Moscow.
After initially taking it upon himself to promote composers of African descent via his own performances, Indianapolis pianist Joshua Thompson was tapped by local organization Classical Music Indy to start his own podcast rooted in the same idea. The result, Melanated Moments in Classical Music, is an approachable show where Thompson and international opera soprano/fellow Indy native Angela Brown explore classical works by, for, and about Black people. Launched in March 2020, the podcast’s first season introduced listeners to composers like Evelyn Simpson Curenton and William Grant Still via informative episodes ranging from 15 to 25 minutes in length. While the show continues ahead with some more of these bite-sized history lessons in 2021, Brown and Thompson also interview some modern movers and shakers in Season 2 as well, including composer Anthony Davis, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
When they’re not racing for team Andretti Autosport or competing in reality television shows, James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi keep busy with this weekly podcast highlighting their lives on and off the racetrack. One week, the longtime friends might be taking part in a virtual whiskey tasting. The next, they could be chatting with entertaining guests like former Colts punter Pat McAfee or Indy-born author John Green. While racing naturally makes its way into the conversation each episode, it’s never the podcast’s sole focus, making Off Track with Hinch and Rossi a fun listen for novice and diehard IndyCar fans alike.
Dr. Aaron Carroll’s podcast is so chock full of helpful information, the library of episodes could almost serve as your concierge doctor on call, for free. You may not be talking to him in real time, but if you’ve got a healthcare question, it’s very likely he covered the subject on his show (launched in 2018 and released monthly-ish) in a very consumer-friendly way—i.e., you don’t need a medical degree to understand what he’s saying. Carroll is a pediatrician, researcher, associate dean at the IU School of Medicine, and opinion writer at The New York Times. He appears to have a sixth sense for what may be points of confusion among those of us who aren’t doctors, a skill he deploys over and over to the listener’s benefit. No matter the subject he’s covering on the show—Alzheimer’s disease, smoking cessation, or targeted immunotherapy treatment for cancer patients—as soon as an expert guest he’s interviewing starts to get so far into the medical-lingo weeds that the rest of us are lost, Carroll can practically sense our furrowed brow. He asks the exact question we were about to Google and gets us back on track.
A product of long-running hip-hop blog Bringing Down the Band, the New Old Heads podcast is co-hosted by an esteemed panel of local hip-hop experts, including producers Maja 7th and Longevity, DJs Jay Diff and Spoolz, and seasoned event emcee J. Moore. With 225 episodes and counting, the podcast primarily focuses on national hip-hop happenings, with topics that range from the hottest new releases to rap beefs and controversies. Occasionally, the New Old Heads crew will also zero in on Indy-centric discussions such as the legacy of bygone local icon Ron “DJ Indiana Jones” Miner, who passed away unexpectedly last December. Conversational in nature, the New Old Heads podcast invites its listeners to interact directly with the show each week via a live Tuesday-night Twitch broadcast, which they then edit down into a one-hour podcast distributed across all major streaming services.
Local restaurateur Ed Rudisell (Siam Square, The Inferno Room) is famous for honest, interesting conversations. Though he’s worked in the hospitality biz since he was a teenager, his curiosity and openness make him the perfect person to host a show that’s equal parts deep dive and good time. He’s geeked out about rum with legendary purveyor Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, and talked with Chicago bartender Josh Davis about his Brown and Balanced pop-up events highlighting the Black and brown men and women overshadowed by their white counterparts in the industry. Rudisell launched the show in 2016 with local spirits veteran Arthur Black, but he’s hosting it solo now, and in the wake of COVID-19, has used the bi-monthly podcast to spotlight small-business owners who survived the shutdowns (Rudisell closed two of his four restaurants in 2020) and encourage listeners to get involved with grassroots efforts to save restaurants and bars.
Spoken-word poet TOO BLACK and his co-hosts Terrell Alexander, Shelle Danielle, Ryan Mills, and Kam Daphine Banks debunk popular myths about Black culture in a format that’s a fluid amalgamation of group chat, history lesson, call to action, and bullshit decoder. The show launched in early 2020 with a three-part series called “Black Don’t Crack,” exploring myths about Black health. Subjects ranged from misconceptions about the coronavirus to the mistreatment of Black women in the healthcare system. This past February, the Indianapolis Public Library teamed up with the show for a series of episodes called “Black Myths of Black History.” The hosts talked with experts including Dr. Jared Ball of Morgan State University about the accuracy of Spike Lee’s 1992 film, Malcolm X, and Ball State University professor Dr. Olon Dotson about the lasting damage done to Black neighborhoods and political power by the 1970’s Unigov legislation, a project combining the governments of the city of Indianapolis and Marion County, spearheaded by then-Mayor Richard Lugar.
If you like your world history mixed with a dose of pop culture and your comedy on the dry, dark side, then do yourself a favor, clear your schedule, and binge The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast. Created, written, and hosted by local, best-selling author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down), this podcast, which debuted in 2018, explores the nuance of human existence. There are plenty of intriguing episodes, but racing fans and Gen Xers will love the May 2019 installment, “Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Stickers and the Indianapolis 500.” New shows, each with two tidbits of human culture first dissected, then reviewed on a five-star scale, usually drop each month, but the pod is currently on hiatus while Green launches a book by the same name (available May 18), with new episodes due to resume near that date.
Fans of true-crime podcasts are a self-identified curious bunch, voracious in their fascination with cold cases and missing people, and yet sheepish about their dark obsession. Since 2017, podcasters Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat have posted this weekly dose of citizen sleuthing in the form of one hour-ish deep dives into well-known and little-known cases. The two Indianapolis women, friends since early childhood, have covered malefactions ranging from the 2011 disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer to the Butcher Baker of Alaska to the Hillside Strangler, all recounted in Crime Junkie’s signature tag-team style: scripted for accuracy with some strategically placed ad libs for drama. The formula works. The show, which begins with an ominous xylophone-like intro that has its own Reddit thread and a genre of listener-submitted covers and choreography, perpetually tops the true-crime podcast charts (ranked second on Apple Podcasts at this writing). In 2019, Crime Junkie came under fire when several journalists accused the podcast of plagiarism, a dispute that was detailed on the pages of this magazine, in writer Adam Wren’s longform piece, “The Problem with Crime Junkie.” Flowers and Prawat eventually rebounded from the scandal (as a result, their recordings are shot through with attributions and extensive show notes citing their sources), not only recovering their audience but building out their own podcast network, Audiochuck. The duo currently has eight other shows under their true-crime umbrella. In other words, they’re killing it.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in the music biz, then this is your jam. The trio of hosts are long-haulers in the industry, each with a Hoosier connection, and their latest gig has an exciting lineup slated for its first season. “We have been fortunate to have worked with and supported some of the biggest names in entertainment. There are a lot of untold stories … our job is to get some of these stories out there,” says host Dane Clark (who is also John Mellencamp’s drummer). Bi-weekly episodes run about an hour, with deep-track–style stories from music, design, and live entertainment legends. Be sure to check out the third episode featuring Frankfort, Indiana, native Kyle Cook, solo artist and guitarist for Matchbox Twenty.
The Indianapolis Business Journal has kept its audience up to date on area business news with cutting-edge technology since it began faxing newsletters in the ’90s. Author and editor Mason King took it to a new level with the launch of IBJ’s podcast in 2018, which, as he explains, illuminates stories covered by IBJ from a different perspective “to give listeners a deeper understanding and entertain and surprise along the way.” Each episode focuses on one story with an easy-to-follow guest interview by King. New shows are available every Monday, so the most recent should always be your go-to, but according to OwlTail, a platform for podcast recommendations, the most downloaded episode is “Pete the Planner” on the magic of the 15-year mortgage (No. 58: July 15, 2019), and another worth going back in time for is King’s interview with local painter Justin Vining on his artistic yet analytical business model (No. 73: October 27, 2019).
In recent years, comedian Brent Terhune has become quite well known for his MAGA-inspired parody videos. But when the Roncalli High School graduate isn’t going viral, he stays occupied with this weekly pop culture–themed podcast. On Field Trip, fellow comedians join Terhune on the show to chat about topics like the best movie sequels, the history of memes, and South Park’s most controversial episodes. Occasionally, Terhune will also shift gears for a special “Just the Facts” episode, where he and a select guest discuss random facts found via the @UberFacts Twitter page. On an episode featuring Georgia funnyman Corey Ryan Forrester, for example, the two have a gas talking about the world’s longest-recorded fart.
With the national tech media focused on Silicon Valley and New York City, Powderkeg CEO Matt Hunckler decided to spotlight entrepreneurs and innovators in “unexpected” places. He hosted the company’s first episode in 2016, starting what would become an impressive backlog about employer branding, personal finance, and company leadership. While “regular” episodes and interviews are around 50 minutes, “pitch” episodes are 15 to 30 minutes. In those, entrepreneurs have a handful of minutes to talk to Hunckler about their business, be it barbecue sauces or product framework for Microsoft developers. The show has been on hiatus, but Hunckler says he’ll jump-start it this spring, with two episodes a week. If you’re into tech, SaaS, and startup stories, or even Shark Tank, tune in. There’s a chance Hunckler will interview the next tech giant.
“Fifty Shades of Grey, but for your ears” is how producer, writer, and sound engineer Eric Dizzy describes the erotica podcast he created. He’s not wrong; it’s super steamy. Early episodes of the show, now in its fourth season, centered on the fictional Jessica, who navigated the dating scene in pursuit of love and sexual pleasure. If you want to spice up your podcast playlist because it’s too heavy on politics and too low on libido, this is your show. Dizzy has expanded the Black Widow universe with more characters and stories, many of them sent in by listeners. He and his team turn the fan submissions into scripts, and local actors bring everything to life. For its current season, Dizzy is using 3-D immersion audio, making him one of the few independent podcast producers using technology that mimics the Dolby surround sound of a movie theater. The audio is so crisp and detailed that you’ll feel like you’re, ahem, in on the action.
Listening to Talking Hoosier History should put you on the fast track to becoming an amateur historian. Most episodes are based on Indiana’s 600-plus historical markers, which have room for only a few sentences. The podcast expands upon those, but still keeps episodes to a compact 20 to 30 minutes. Three lifelong Hoosiers—Lindsey Beckley, Jill Weiss, and Justin Clark—write, narrate, and record the monthly episodes. Their first one, “Bill Garrett and the Integration of IU Basketball,” launched in 2017. The sound quality is so-so, but each episode is well researched. Beckley is a natural narrator, and her stories about Ryan White, a Kokomo teenager who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, and Rufus Cantrell, a confessed body snatcher, are engrossing.
Pete Dunn, known professionally (colloquially?) as Pete the Planner, enjoys talking about an oft-avoided subject: money. Each week, the financial expert and former comedian helps people with the tumultuous math of personal finance. He and his co-host, Damian “No Relation to Pete” Dunn, answer listener conundrums from a point of empathy. They don’t shame listeners into making changes like a low-rent Dr. Phil. Instead, they use phrases like “fiscal warts” to break down complexities like Robinhood, a financial services company that offers commission-free trades. Each episode records live on Facebook and YouTube on Fridays at noon and usually has a “big” topic—minimum wage or student loan forgiveness, for example. There’s wit in each 45-minute episode, though some topics may feel political. Hang in there, though; the “Biggest Waste of Money for the Week” feature comes at the end of each episode and never fails to amuse.
Host Joe Kim, a former science teacher, is the sugar that helps the medicine of this Eli Lilly–sponsored production go down. While the refreshingly brief episodes (most run around 20 minutes) are geared toward an inquisitive lay audience, Kim’s effortless command of challenging material and his accomplished guests—many of whom are company scientists, researchers, and partners—might get overlooked but shouldn’t be undersold. Most episodes follow a two-part template. In the first half, listeners are introduced to gripping personal medical stories. While interesting and informative, the second half of the show is gussied-up advertising as Kim returns with panelists who bring the audience up to speed on related innovations from the drug-maker. So, if you’re allergic to press releases, be warned. But, as long as you know what you’re getting into, a dose of The Elixir Factor does the trick and comes off mostly side effect–free.
Reporters Jake Harper and Lauren Bavis investigated an Indianapolis fertility doctor who secretly used his own sperm to impregnate dozens of his patients in the 1970s and 1980s in the first season of this joint production from WFYI, Side Effects Public Media, and PRX that The Atlantic named one of the 50 Best Podcasts of 2019. This time around, the duo will build on Harper’s 2020 reporting on Indiana’s prison system during the pandemic. Look for a summer launch.
Local food celebrities Candace Boyd Wiley of FoodLoveTog and Tanorria Askew of Tanorria’s Table are expanding their Black Girls Eating Instagram page to another medium, launching a bi-monthly podcast that promises “sisterhood, well-seasoned food, and Black girl magic.” Guests are drawn from the duo’s wide network of movers, shakers, and dreamers, including teachers, friends, and food industry pros.