What are the Urbanists Listening to?

By Emma Vinella-Brusher

Looking for some podcasts to listen to while walking to class, doing chores, or avoiding homework? Check out some of our favorite urbanist (or urbanist-adjacent) podcasts and featured episodes below. And if you’re looking for, even more, our September 2020 post includes a few more recommendations.

99% Invisible
323- The House that Came in the Mail Again
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture.

  • Starting in 1908, the company that offered America everything, Sears, began offering what just might be its most audacious product line ever: houses.

Decoder Ring (Slate Podcasts)
The Mall is Dead (Long Live the Mall)
Decoder Ring is a show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

  • In this episode, author Alexandra Lange explains the atriums, escalators, and food courts of the singular suburban space of the mall.

How to Save a Planet (Gimlet)
Make Biking Cool (Again)!
Join us, journalist Alex Bumberg and a crew of climate nerds, as we bring you smart, inspiring stories about the climate change mess we’re in and how we can get ourselves out of it.

  • In this episode, the hosts look at how cycling developed its dorky reputation and counter it with some propaganda of their own.

Next City (Straw Hut Media)
The Business That’s Owned by an Idea
Each week Lucas Grindley, executive director at Next City, will sit down with trailblazers to discuss urban issues that get overlooked. At the end of the day, it’s all about focusing the world’s attention on the good ideas that we hope will grow.

  • This episode discusses Artisan Firebrand Bakery, an Oakland bakery owned by a “perpetual purpose trust” where the majority owner is the business’ mission itself.

Our Body Politic (Diaspora Farms)
How Building & Maintaining Community Makes a Healthier Society for All

Created and hosted by award-winning journalist Farai Chideya, Our Body Politic is unapologetically centered on reporting on not just how women of color experience the major political events of today, but how they’re impacting those very issues.

  • This episode features author Dr. Marisa Franco, who shares insights on the mental and physical benefits of social interactions and community building and how in times of loneliness, people are prone to inadvertently sabotage these critical bonds.

Outside Podcast
Forces of Good: The Gearhead Librarian Who Revived a Town

Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will entertain, inspire, and inform listeners.

  • This episode presents the story of a very enterprising librarian who came to a struggling town in Maine and took action on a novel idea: What if, in addition to loaning books, we started lending outdoor gear?

Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast (The Overhead Wire)
Episode 345: The Heat is On

Jeff Wood of The Overhead Wire interviews public officials and advocates about transportation and urban planning policy.

  • This episode features Dr. V Kelly Turner, Director of Urban Environment Research at UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, and covers how to think about, measure, and regulate urban heat.

The War on Cars
The Pedestrian

The War on Cars brings you news and commentary on the latest developments in the worldwide fight to under a century’s worth of damage wrought by the automobile and to make cities better.

  • In this episode, the hosts take a look back at author Ray Bradbury’s dystopian vision in his short story “Pedestrian” and talk about how walking contributes to our essential humanity, and what we lose when we build environments that make it impossible for people to walk.

Battery City

Technopolis is a podcast from CityLab about how cities are changing with new technology.

  • In this episode, the hosts have a discussion with John Zahurancik from Fluence Energy and Rushad Nanavatty of Rocky Mountain Institute on renewable energy for future cities.

What else should we be listening to? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

Emma Vinella-Brusher is a third-year dual degree Master’s student in City and Regional Planning and Public Health interested in equity, mobility, and food security. Born and raised in Oakland, CA, she received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Carleton College before spending four years at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Cambridge, MA. In her free time, Emma enjoys running, bike rides, live music, and laughing at her own jokes.

Featured image: a collage of podcasts

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