6 Austin-Based Podcasts You Should Be Listening To
These homegrown podcasts are original, diverse, and sure to entertain
By Katelyn Landry,
8:00AM, Mon. Jun. 17, 2019
There is an ever-growing ocean of podcasts out there that no one has the time to navigate. If you don't know where to start, where better to look than in your own backyard?
If you’re sitting in petrified traffic or taking yet another winding construction-related detour, listen to these Austin-based podcasts to keep your sanity intact and your reservoir of happy-hour conversation topics full.
The NIGHTLIGHT horror podcast brings you fiction written and narrated by Black creatives from around the world. The show boasts an “immersive, binaural experience” as it incorporates music and sound effects into each horror tale to deliver an hour of enticing storytelling. NIGHTLIGHT features original stories submitted by contemporary writers and narrated excerpts from the works of prolific Black American authors like Charles Chestnutt and W.E.B. Du Bois. Host Tonia Thompson, an Austin-based writer, conducts occasional interviews with contributors to the show to discuss the creative processes and cultural significance of the Black horror community. You can listen to NIGHTLIGHT on major podcast streaming platforms.
Recommended episode: “SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS – AUDIO DRAMA” was last year’s Halloween special and season finale. Thompson’s story “SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS” is not just narrated but completely voice acted, making for a unique auditory experience that is truly riveting.
If you’ve ever wanted Ghost Adventures to visit Austin sans the cheesy reenactments, host Stephen Belyeu delivers. Uploaded on the last Monday of every month, episodes of the Night Owl Podcast chronicle Belyeu’s paranormal investigations into Austin hot spots like the Spider House Cafe. Something about hearing firsthand accounts of paranormal activity and hauntings right in your own backyard make them more unsettling. And let's not forget the creepy photos of shadowy figures spotted during an investigation, available on the Night Owl blogs. The podcast also does a Campfire series that features personal ghost stories submitted by listeners which airs on the second Monday of every month. Make your listening “boo”zy by visiting the Clay Pit for a secret menu of cocktails inspired by Belyeu’s three-part investigation of the restaurant’s resident ghosts. Just ask for the El Engaño or HibiscusPalmer and your server will know you’re a Night Owl listener, so be prepared to meet a few spirits. The Night Owl Podcast is available on all major streaming platforms.
Recommended episode: “The Tavern – Part 1” is the episode that got me hooked. As far as the Tavern’s ghoulish rumors go, none of them send chills down your spine like a child’s drawing of the “weird girl” hiding in an upstairs crawlspace.
Ever think about how your houseplants will outlive you? There’s philosophy and politics in your plants and host Leah Churner wants you to know about it. Whether or not you’re a horticulture enthusiast, this ecology podcast introduces an array of existential perspectives on the effects of gardening on the environment and our relationship with the natural world and each other. Hothouse’s first 10 episodes are each about an hour long and feature a range of environmentalists, activists, writers, and entrepreneurs from in and around Austin. The show’s second season is set to be released this summer and will focus on climate change. You can listen to Hothouse wherever you get podcasts.
Recommended episode: “Nothing Natural About Capitalism (Part 1 of 2)” introduces a conversation on the overlap between democratic socialism and permaculture. This two-part series features three different guests who provide insight on how Democratic Socialists of America foster communal approaches to environmental sustainability in Austin and beyond.
“All the sex, all the people.” Austin-based comedians Ava Smartt and Arielle Isaac Norman tackle the far far out, oft-ignored depths of sex and gender on Gender Fluids. The show can be explicit, but couldn’t we all use some sex-positive discussion to help us work through some hang-ups? Smartt and Norman make it clear that their show is intended to serve as a productive, open space for queer voices and conversations that may not be ordinarily heard or accepted. Definitely listen if you’re interested in learning more about and engaging in queer culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more. You can listen to Gender Fluids wherever you get your podcasts.
Recommended episode: “Season Two Introductions & Content Warnings” is the perfect episode to start with in order to learn who the hosts are, their purpose and inspiration for creating Gender Fluids, and a full overview of the topics that are discussed on the show.
“Beer expert” is a highly coveted title here in Austin and the Beerists have certainly earned it. Hosts John Rubio, Anastacia Kelly, Grant Davis, and Mike Lambert just celebrated the seventh anniversary of their show, where they spend an hour reviewing up to a dozen beers every week. Starting this year, the group is crowning one beer with a Best of the Beerists Award every episode so you can go on your own beer tasting expedition like the connoisseur you want so desperately to be. This team of beer enthusiasts have Austin running in their veins, proven by their hefty recommendation list of local bars and breweries as well as their new theme music that was produced by Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma, who also happens to be host John Rubio’s cousin. You can listen to The Beerists wherever you get your podcasts.
Recommended episode: “The Beerists 376 – Trying Hong Kong Beers” showcases that beer featured on the show is not limited to American craft beer by any stretch. Listeners send in foreign craft brews from all around the world including Hong Kong, the U.K., Mexico, Norway, and more.
The Rabble podcast was created this year by Rouser, an Austin media agency and advocacy organization. In their intro, hosts Becky Bullard, Ashley Cheng, and Kristen Gunn state that they are progressive Texans who created Rouser in an effort to find a more productive alternative to flipping tables following the 2016 elections. Every week hear a random fact about Texas before diving into a game of “Political F*ck, Marry, Kill,” which does not involve metaphorically engaging in those verbs with politicians but instead with current events in Texas politics. Running anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour, episodes also feature a wide array of politicians and social activists and concludes with what Bullard, Cheng, and Gunn call “Sh*t To Do,” AKA action items for encouraging political activism among their listeners. You can listen to The Rabble on all major podcast streaming platforms.
Recommended episode: Episode 15 introduces a new game called “Westeros or Texas?” at a live show at Cheer Up Charlies, so if you’re still mourning Game of Thrones, listen for some vaguely dystopian quotes from Texas politicians that are more sinister than season eight’s writing.