Sometimes when I’m reading before bed I think—”I wish I could do this, but with my eyes shut” and then I remember podcasts exist. Whether you’re using it to unwind, educate yourself or discover something new, podcasts bring us into entirely different worlds. Add these five with Birmingham ties to your queue that check off all the boxes to great listening.
1. SHE WELL READ
The idea for SHE WELL READ came into this world the way most great ideas do—after a much-needed girl’s night. Hosts Alana Baumann and Samra Michael curated a community set on the goal of empowering women to invest in themselves and others through written and spoken word.
Birmingham has been a huge influence on the young entrepreneurs’ goals given it’s the city where they met, went through trial and error together and eventually learned more about themselves. Their episodes center around friendships, romantic relationships and current events.
“The city itself is full of diversity and unique experiences for creatives and has driven a lot of our conversations. Most recently, our mini-series titled ‘A Question for the Culture,’ influenced our discussions due to the conversations we had with many influential Birminghamians surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.
One of our goals for the podcast is to empower our community and be an advocate for positive change and in addition be able to give back to the city that has given so much to us.”SHE WELL READ
2. Adventures with Aggie
Connecting with your teammates and other athletes is one of the things that makes playing sports so fun. With canceled seasons and inability to practice, athletes feel more distant than ever. Luckily, through Birmingham native Aggie’s podcast, they’re able to engage in a whole new way.
“I have also been able to meet quite a few people from the Birmingham area that didn’t know they wanted to work in the sports industry until listening to the podcast or coming to a recording session. This is incredibly inspiring to see people opening their eyes to new pathways just from listening to my show!”Aggie Dent
Adventures with Aggie creates an interactive space for students to connect with professional athletes and sports executives. All recording sessions are open to any students, anywhere, to ask their questions and learn from the guest speakers.
While she has interviewed an impressive list of guests across the country, one episode that really took off was an interview with two soccer players who play for Birmingham Legion FC—Bruno Lapa and Bolu Akinyode.
“These interviews have also been intriguing to people outside of Birmingham because of the growth in soccer that is happening in the city of Birmingham. People from all over the country associate Birmingham with college sports, but are learning that Legion FC and soccer are growing so very much here.”Aggie Dent
3. 2 Americas
Corey Nolen and Jesse Suttle are two local musicians who started a podcast the same way many do—they had a conversation they thought others should hear. It’s not uncommon, but what makes 2 Americas unique is its ability to pull a listener into conversations about topics people tend to steer away from by using humor, personal experience and transparency.
“We’re trying to keep it to where we can still get people who maybe don’t normally think like this to listen. So, that’s why we try to laugh a lot.”Corey Nolen
4. The Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers
Sometimes the best plan is having no plan at all. I think The Mystic Order, a group of six women who have been together for maybe (they don’t keep track) 25 years, prove this best in their podcast.
“Each of the six Mystics selected two topics for recording. An outline was required from the Mystic suggesting the theme. These outlines went greatly ignored, and for that matter, no one managed to stay on topic. This led to some very curious, and hopefully, entertaining podcasts.”The Mystic Queen Gail Langley
The group, who’s written several books, consists of a retired art professor, English professor, science teacher, antique dealer, journalist and attorney. As you can imagine, this makes for diverse topics, enlightening conversations and hilarious tales.
“To give you an idea of our maturity, our Mystic Emeritus resigned due to uneasiness about driving at night. She dented most of our cars, so we took her name off the roll.
We are, in order by handsomeness, Gail, Marian, Katie, Joanne, Margee, and Mary. Or perhaps, Gail, Mary, Margee, Joanne, Katie, and Marian.”The Mystic Queen Gail Langley
While every episode promises some sort of whimsy and a laugh or three, make sure you listen to episode 12, where the Mystics interview Birmingham resident Hans Paul.
“We invited Hans, veteran traveler and bird enthusiast, to discuss being marooned on an island. He hasn’t been marooned on an island, but he has an IQ over 100, so we figured why not. Note, none of the Mystics have been marooned either, so it was a leveled playing field.”The Mystic Queen Gail Langley
5. Following Harriet
Tanya Ott produces and works on an impressive list of podcasts right here in Birmingham, including The Press Room from Deloitte Insights and Homemade. But, I was especially intrigued by one she sound designed and produced last fall—Following Harriet, a companion podcast to the film.
Tanya and her colleague Tanner Latham went beyond the few paragraphs we’re taught about Harriet Tubman in history class to learn more about the incredibly intricate and brave hero.
“We pieced together some of the history that we don’t get in class about Harriet Tubman, but then also modernized it into the context of the way museums are rethinking the way they tell the story of enslaved people.”Tanya Ott
I learned more about Harriet Tubman in my short interview with Tanya than I’ve learned in all my years of schooling and let me tell you—you’re going to want to dive more into her history with this podcast.
- Listen: Google Podcasts