Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah are the hosts of NPR’s history podcast, Throughline. Each week they bring audiences a new history documentary filled with soundscapes that create an experience, which makes the past feel very much present. In that spirit, here are some of the podcasts they love for their incredible production and sound design.
This show is a warm yet trippy journey through the archives of the world famous publication. But make no mistake, this isn’t just a repurposing of old material, it’s an experience that stands on its own. Each episode will make you feel and think differently about the world.
Recommended episode: Before the Light (with Toni Morrison, Molly Ringwald, Mary Terrier, Alex Dimitrov)
In The Dark
Each season of this show is a remarkable deep-dive investigation into a crime and a community. It may not have a ton of bells and whistles in terms of the production, but the delicate use of music, silence, and field tape flows beautifully into the smooth writing of the show’s host. You’ll be hooked from episode one.
Recommended episode: S2 E1: July 16, 1996
Sometimes less is actually more. Even though this show rarely uses music or sound design they clearly understand that sometimes the empty spaces in a conversation or section of narration are the most important parts. And that ability to create rhythm and musicality through skillful writing and production are what makes this show one of our favorites.
Recommended episode: Journey To The Center Of The Fed
There is a reason why this show has remained the gold standard for experimental audio storytelling. It is one of the few podcasts out there that will make you completely lose track of where you are in time and space. At its best Radiolab is pure cinema, a show that’ll renew your sense of awe and wonder.
Recommended Episode: David and Dominique
Twenty Thousand Hertz
As you might guess from its title, sound is the point of this incredible journey through the history of sounds. Every episode proves that there is no better way to fall in love with sound than to learn about how sounds are made and why they matter. Wear headphones. No exceptions.
Recommended Episode: Deaf Gain
Why do we do the things we do? Think the way we think? Hidden Brain brings these questions to life with fascinating stories told through artful sound design and production. It’ll make you see the world, and yourself, totally differently.
Recommended episode: The Cassandra Curse
Wow in the World
Are your young children home right now? Then go right now and play them an episode of this show and take a load off. You can thank us later. Zany, intense sound design can give way to elegantly produced set pieces explaining science to literally a first grader, in this powerhouse show from Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas.
Recommended episode: Ah, BATS!
Every conversation, every experience shapes our thoughts and behaviors. This show dives into the sea of all those thoughts headfirst, taking you along for the ride. Each episode transports you fully into a different world. The sound design is second to none and the storytelling accompanies it like a seamless melody.
Recommended episode: The Last Sound
Human relationships are what dictate almost everything in our lives. And this show is about all the emotions that flow from them. Music and sound design vibrate through every episode like the thread that binds every relationship together, and often, breaks them apart. No other podcast shows the kind of artful restraint this show does. It’s a masterclass in sound.
Recommended episode: The Detonator
Tension, anyone? Calling this show a podcast is probably selling it short. It’s essentially a futuristic, sci-fi thriller about the environment. And the sound is feature film good. All while remaining profoundly weird and unsettling. Proceed with caution and optimism.
Recommended episode: S7: Daria’s Nightmare