A steep decline in the release of new podcasts—and a dry spell with no breakout hit series—has led to rumors that podcasts have peaked. But is the genre really withering out?
The rich variety of Bay Area-themed podcasts proves the genre is not dead. Here are eight great shows to listen to in 2024 as you resolve to keep podcasts alive.
Is there anything more quintessentially San Franciscan than riding Muni? From the bus to the subway, the streetcar to the cable car, a trip on Muni often comes with a serving of history and a potential for unexpected adventures. Muni Diaries is a hilarious and colorful romp through all of this and more. The storytellers range from longtime riders to transit operators and the editors of the show. There’s so much here to adore!
Outside Lands San Francisco
If San Francisco history is your thing, then the Western Neighborhoods Project’s podcast is for you. The organization spotlights, you guessed it, the western neighborhoods of San Francisco—the part of the city that in the 1800s was simply referred to as the “Outside Lands.” The nonprofit’s podcast is full of nerdy delights: everything from the origins of Boudin Bakery to the wonders of the Camera Obscura, from the severe beauty of the Farallon Islands to the storied intrigue of the members-only Olympic Club. You could listen for hours—and hours and hours.
Light Years is all about the Golden State Warriors—the players, the postgame reports, the machinations of the NBA and much, much more. You’re in good hands with hosts Saam Esfandiari and Andy Liu, two experts on the boys in blue and gold. And with more than 670 episodes now available, it’s a great binge for those looking to get caught up on the Bay Area’s beloved basketball team.
Why are street names stamped into the sidewalk in San Francisco? When did San Jose have five Chinatowns? What are the San Francisco origins of Irish coffee? These questions and many, many more are answered with KQED’s delightful Bay Curious, a crowd-sourced podcast that takes on your most quirky questions. For those who already love and know the show well—a companion book inspired by the podcast’s success, Bay Curious: Exploring the Hidden True Stories of the San Francisco Bay Area, came out in May 2023.
Storied: San Francisco
A labor of love, Storied: San Francisco chronicles the everyday stories of our rapidly transforming city. Spotlighting everything from businesses to bars, cemeteries to museums, the podcast thoroughly documents the magically unique facets of our golden city. A joint project between producer Jeff Hunt and photographer Michelle Kilfeather, the podcast offers up audio as well as visuals.
Ear Hustle provides a unique and unfiltered look at life inside the infamous San Quentin prison. Produced and narrated by people who are incarcerated—the podcast brings listeners into one of the most closed off and poorly understood segments of American society. Unlike the sensationalized approach taken by other prison dramas, Ear Hustle highlights everyday life in prison, with topics ranging from roommates to cooking, writing letters and what it’s like to parent from behind bars.
East Bay Yesterday
East Bay Yesterday advertises itself as a show about “history that’s not stuck in the past,” and we agree. The podcast documents everything from the push to save the Paramount Theatre—Oakland’s still-operational Art Deco masterpiece designed by Timothy Pflueger—to the city’s “dysfunctional” police department. Hosted by longtime journalist-turned-historian Liam O’Donoghue, it was hailed as the best podcast about the 510 by the East Bay Express in 2017.
I’ll Go If You Go
Now in its third season, this podcast from the Save the Redwoods League takes listeners on an auditory adventure through the iconic redwood and giant sequoia forests of California. Host Emily Harwitz intentionally highlights underrepresented communities in conservation organizations by having conversations with people of color, including Black and Indigenous people who are blazing trails in environmental stewardship.