San Francisco-based podcasts that tell the fascinating stories of the Bay area

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If your life hasn’t been the same since you discovered podcasts, you’re not alone. Although they’ve been around since the 1980s, podcasts really took off in the past couple of years and now about 29% of Americans say they listen to them on a regular basis. That may not sound like much, but considering that last year most of them had never even heard of podcasts, that’s an impressive rise. So, if you’re looking for something to make your daily commute a little bit more bearable, you want to listen to something interesting while doing chores around the house, or you just want to discover the surprising stories of the Bay area, you have to add these podcasts on your list. 

Ear Hustle 

There are a lot of misconceptions and urban tales when it comes to life inside a prison and we mostly have pop culture to thank for that. But, if you want to get a glimpse into what the lives of inmates is really like, you should definitely listen to Ear Hustle. Developed inside San Francisco Quentin State Prison, Ear Hustle is the project of Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, a former inmate who wanted to share his experiences through this creative medium and give outsiders a closer look at what happens behind bars. Touching and enlightening at the same time, Ear Hustle tells the stories of San Quentin State Prison from a new perspective, covering everything from what the usual inmate does in a day to sensitive topics such as stigma, mental health, violence, and drugs. 

The Specialist 

Do you ever watch HGTV and wonder whether all those jobs actually exist? Well, they do, and if you listen to The Specialist, you’ll discover their quirky, funny, strange, touching, and fascinating stories. This San Francisco-based podcast is hosted by Casey Miner and consists of interviews with people in the Bay Area who do some truly surprising jobs for a living. From people who do mobile lice removal to those who train the visually impaired, the episodes are truly eye-opening and show that you can turn everything into a career and that, in some fields, no workday is ever boring. 

Porchlight 

San Francisco is one of the best places in the world for people watching and if you’re ever curious to hear the stories of everyday people, look no further than Porchlight. This podcast has actually been around for more than fifteen years and it makes for a fascinating listen if you want to get a glimpse in the lives of ordinary people in the Bay Area. The podcast is hosted by Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte and takes place in front of a live audience at the Verdi Club. Six people are invited on stage one at a time, and they have 10 minutes to tell a random story from their lives, without using any notes. The podcast is unscripted and you never know what you’re going to listen next. It could be the touching experience of a social worker, the wholesome story of a bus driver, or the inspirational tale of a local writer, and that’s exactly what makes it special. Porchlight is a celebration of the diversity of San Francisco residents and one of the best ways you can get to know your fellow neighbors. 

Mortified 

We all have an embarrassing story that randomly keeps us up some nights, but it’s all part of life. Cringy moments happen to everyone and we shouldn’t let them bring us down. Instead, we have to face them and laugh about them together. This is the lesson that Mortified tries to tell, and they’re great at it. Although not specifically based in San Francisco, this podcast deserves a mention because it often hosts shows here and in Oakland. Just like Porchlight, it takes place in front of a live audience and has people come up on stage to relive awkward high school stories, share unflattering photos of themselves, read diary entries, and other not-so-glorious moments. Mortified makes for a hilarious listen, but, more than anything, it’s a healing exercise that teaches you to come to terms with every event in your life, although it didn’t feel pleasant at the time. 

Sparkletack 

If you love history and you want to know more about how San Francisco became the urban center it is today, you’re in for a treat, because Sparkletack is dedicated entirely to the history of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Hosted by blogger and amateur historian Richard Miller, this podcast is a great place to learn amazing historical facts about the city you live in scratches below the surface for interesting oddities. The best part about Sparkletack is that it presents historical facts in a fun, approachable way, so it can even serve as educational material for kids and teens. Sadly, Miller won’t be releasing any new episodes, but the entire archive is available online and it will keep you busy for a while. If you’re a history buff yourself and you want to delve deeper into the history of the Bay Area, you can even pick up the mic and create a podcast yourself! Doing this has never been easier since there’s inspiration and royalty free music for podcasts available everywhere. 

Good Job, Brain!

Did you know that teachers have started to incorporate podcasts into the classroom because they keep students more engaged compared to traditional learning methods? Well, you may not be a student anymore, but it’s never too late to learn something new. Enter Good Job, Brain! afun trivia podcast recorded in San Francisco that teaches you new things without being boring. Besides, the episodes are very diverse and cover a wide variety of fields, including some that you never would have thought of, such as spices, uniforms, espionage, and even…spider fighting? So, whether you want to polish up your knowledge about a familiar field or amaze your friends with crazy fun facts, you’ll love GJB. 

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