It’s become somewhat of a joke: Everyone has a podcast. It’s even the title of a podcast. And while smartphone apps and the proliferation of podcast studios where professionals will do the work for you have made it easier than ever to be a podcaster, it's not as simple as it sounds.
But that hasn't stopped people from trying. Variety magazine reports there are more than 750,000 podcasts on Apple, and the space is getting more and more crowded every day.
“Anyone can start a podcast. You don't need anything special to start a podcast, but you do need some sort of idea or inspiration. And we were able to find that and our daily lives,” says Yasmeen Kadouh, who co-hosts “Dearborn Girl” with Rima Fadlallah. The two recently won WDET’s podcast pitch competition and will be launching a second podcast series called “Typical Dearborn.”
Kadouh and Fadlallah are among the scores of podcast talent in Detroit's growing scene who are doing quality podcasts that are getting noticed.
We last explored local podcasts in this story published three years ago, and while we can't find hard numbers on the actual amount, there are so many more choices now, from DIY podcasters to seasoned pros all getting in on the action. Check out our (non-comprehensive) guide to podcasts in Metro Detroit and see below how to share your favorites with us.
If you want to hear real talk about Detroit
Samara Hill and Renard Monczunski are advocates for transit justice. And while Monczunski had never listened to a podcast, he knew a lot about riding the bus in Detroit. So did Hill, so the two of them teamed up on Do Better DDOT, which is getting ready to drop a second season next month. As the name implies, they call out the Detroit Department of Transportation on a variety of topics, from benches ("Where My Benches At") to crazy transit tales like the time Hill witnessed a passenger smack an older passenger in the face so hard they both fell out of the bus and the bus driver kept on going. You might see Hill and Monczunski around town at coney islands and coffee shops recording their episodes (they use a smartphone app and a microphone they got on Amazon, making for a very portable studio), which makes for a lot of background noise but it's part of the DIY charm.
It’s not just friends getting together behind a mic doing podcasts – organizations and nonprofits are creating their own lane in the podcast world. A production of Eastside Community Network and hosted by CEO Donna Givens and Chief Development Officer Orlando Bailey, Authentically Detroit amplifies unrepresented voices. “The face of revitalization in Detroit is personified through a white millennial. And I know personally that that is just not the case through the work that we've been doing. We wanted to give a platform to that voice and to that perspective of (the resident who has) a master's degree but takes care of their mom on the east side and takes care of lots on their block and started a block club,” Bailey says. “That’s the story we don’t hear (on mainstream media).” The show is also authentically them, i.e. they are pretty happy, optimistic people. Listen for the ringing of the bell when one of them drops some serious knowledge or when they give shoutouts.
If you’re interested in women-focused podcasts
Dearborn Girl started with coffee chats. Rima Fadlallah would post a topic on Instagram, sparking conversation on anything from mental health to relationships that uniquely affected the women of Dearborn. “There is a strong need for this and women want to have these conversations,” says her co-host Yasmeen Kadouh.
Evann Webb launched a podcast called "Damsels in Detroit," which is an extension of her blog.Evann Webb is a digital and social media associate for the city of Detroit by day, and blogger and podcaster by night and weekend. She launched her blog Damsel in Detroit after graduating from college in 2015 and recently launched a podcast as an extension of her blog. The podcast’s tagline is "Detroit girls do it better,” Webb says. “It's really just to showcase women that are in and from the city that are killing it in their industry. So that can be from fashion, all the way to personal assisting to event planning. I just want to show that Detroit girls are amazing. And we work hard.”
At Motor City Woman Studios, President and CEO Robin Kinnie says the core mission is to amplify women's voices. One of their most popular shows is Mother Honestly, a rapidly growing media company catering to working millennial mothers and empowering them to achieve their ambitions. One of their newer podcast hosts is Gwen Jimmere, founder of Naturalicious, a line of natural hair products. Kinnie's love of radio goes way back to the days of listening to Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg on the radio while sitting in the back of her mother's red Ford Tempo.
If you like daily news and commentary
Shows like "The Daily" by "The New York Times" have helped increase podcasts' popularity. In Detroit, we have several versions of our own "Daily." Public radio veteran Craig Fahle, formerly of WDET and now with Deadline Detroit, discusses the day’s top political, business, and cultural stories in the city and state on his podcast. Daily Detroit also has its own daily news and culture show covering Metro Detroit, tackling everything from the new Oakland County executive to downtown Detroit’s Moet Champagne vending machine.
If you like true crime
Fans of shows like “Serial” Season One and American Public Media’s “In the Dark” will want to binge listen Channel 4’s “Shattered Podcast.” The podcast delves deep into cases you may already be familiar with such as the Skelton brothers, who were last seen with their father on Thanksgiving Day nearly 10 years ago in Morenci, or the Oakland County Child Killer who terrorized the community in the late ‘70s. But with its conversational and empathetic storytelling, “Shattered” presents stories in a fresh, new way with perspectives that haven’t been explored before. Can't get enough of true crime? Nina Innsted's "Already Gone" podcast, which launched in 2016 with the goal to tell stories of unsolved murders and mysterious disappearances that weren't heard before, stories like Nikki Wells who left her westside Detroit home in 2012 and was never seen again. Three years later the podcast has expanded beyond Michigan and the Great Lakes.
If you like comedy
For 25 years, Planet Ant has fostered and cultivated scores of aspiring artists and performers in Hamtramck. It recently introduced the Planet Ant Podcast Network, featuring shows with a humorous bent, including Detroit Strange where hosts Jessica Cooper and Alex Suriano get weird and explore the city’s spookier side and the Michael Duprey Variety Hour, which highlights a variety of artists in a fun interview format. Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle also has a podcast featuring talent gracing the Royal Oak stage.
If you like design
Hosted by Detroit Design Core Executive Director Olga Stella, “Detroit City of Design” podcast sits down with designers and changemakers to discuss investment, mobility, talent, and more. The conversation centers on how Detroit can be and is a global model for sustainable and equitable development.
If you like food and drink
"A Drink With" founder Hillary Sawchuk, Goodwill Industries Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs Jessica McCall, and Shinola President Shannon Washburn. Photo courtesy A Drink With.Hillary Sawchuk’s “A Drink With” expands upon her interview series in which she sits down with celebrities, athletes, and entrepreneurs with a drink (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) with a Detroit-focused podcast. “No matter who we're talking to or where we're doing these interviews, all of our guests’ stories are about grit and perseverance and how they fell down and they got back up when they were told no you can't. And they did it anyway. And that's the story of Detroit,” Sawchuk says. The episode featuring Larry Mongo from Café D’Mongo’s is a highlight, with the well-known bar owner showing off his astrology prowess and sharing stories about a certain rapper named Eminem.
Black Gold: Stories of Urban Farming, Gardening and Beyond, which airs on Operation Rebel, explores food through an urban agriculture lens, from the medicinal properties of growing food to cooperative growing and selling in the city. “Heard! Podcast*,” a collaborative show between the Detroit Optimist Society, The Hungry Dudes, and Nick Drinks, covers the local restaurant and hospitality scene.
If you like history
Hosted by longtime print and radio journalist Tim Kiska, a professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, “Detroit History Podcast” explores the city’s rich history. The second season tackles the Nain Rouge, General Motors’ resurgence after struggling in the 1920s, Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism, and more. A production of the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University, “Tales from the Reuther Library” features interviews with experts and stories about Detroit’s labor history, with the latest episode covering the pioneering women journalists of labor news service the Federated Press, which ran from the 1930s through the 1950s.
If you like stories
Founded by singer, comedian, and storyteller Satori Shakoor, the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers' latest season of the podcast is titled “Coming to America.” The WDET-produced podcast features the compelling stories of seven immigrants experiencing love, loss, redemption, and hope as they arrive in America. The stories were curated from the stage show. The next Twisted Storytellers live stream titled "Rebellion: Latinx Detroit" begins at 8 p.m. Sept. 20. Fellow storyteller Shannon Cason, who is a regular on NPR’s “Snap Judgment” and is a GrandSlam champion of “The Moth,” records his long-running podcast “Homemade Stories” from his Downriver studio.
If you need ideas on what to do this weekend
The "D Brief Podcast" covers food, music, and more in Detroit. Hosted by radio veteran Seth Resler and Feet on the Street tour guide Becky Scarcello, the podcast's central concept is "the new guy" (Resler, who moved to Detroit four years ago for his job with Jacobs Media) and the local (Scarcello) exploring the city through different pop culture lenses. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the podcast gives the lowdown on upcoming events around while Fridays feature an in-depth interview with someone making an impact on arts and entertainment in the city.
*Full disclosure: The author of this article was featured on an episode of Heard.
What are some of your favorite podcasts? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or text PODCAST to 313-327-3530, and we'll share them in a future article. Need more podcast suggestions? Check out our sister publication’s guide Wednesday in Concentrate. And read more about the growing podcast scene in Detroit here.