Welcome to Spoken, highlights from the best in story-driven podcasts.

If you'd like to review an episode or recommend a show for the next digest, email
Sight Unseen
from Radiolab

In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, one night they got the call - a marine was gravely wounded. Lynsey captured what happened next, picture by picture, in excruciating detail. Horrible, difficult, and at times strikingly beautiful, those photos raised some questions: Who should see them and who gets to decide who should see them?
I especially loved the way the story started from the photographer's point of view, and then shifted, halfway through, to the perspective of the family of the soldier in the photographs. It is, in some ways, a quieter story than Radiolab often tells, but there's a quiet dignity in how each character gets to tell their side of the story. By the end, it's hard to disagree with any of them, even though they disagree with each other.

- Rob McMyers, Creator and Host of Anxious Machine 
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Nothing to Lose
from Millennial

Millennial is the self-reflective journey of Megan Tan, finding and pursuing her dream to work in radio through the ambiguity of post-undergrad life. Why do we become our worst enemies when it comes to pursuing the things we actually want? This is the origin story of making Millennial and the nitty gritty mess that led to the first episode.
Megan is a budding superstar — she's brilliant, talented, and ambitious. But the world of public radio is damn near impossible to get into, even for someone like Megan. So how does she respond? By recording hours upon hours of tape, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and making beautifully crafted stories to try to make sense of it all, for herself and everyone else in the same position. If you've ever been frustrated, anxious, or scared about pursuing your dream, this is a show you need to listen to.

- Alex Kapelman, Co-everything of Pitch 
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Completely Clueless and Completely Paranoid
from Anxious Machine

Sara thought she knew her son, but then a medical diagnosis left her questioning everything. This is the story of how she coped when the medical treatment turned him into a completely different child.
I love the episodes of Anxious Machine that deal with parenting. Hearing this woman’s worry and self-doubt was incredibly poignant for me—I feel like most of the parents I know are constantly wondering if we’re doing a good job. And here there are real stakes. By the time she is describing the misshapen Mr. Potato Head her son has built, I had a hard time keeping the tears in.

Tally Abecassis, Creator and Host of First Day Back
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Mama, I'm a Girl
from How to Be a Girl

When he was three years old, Marlo Mack's son informed her that she was actually her daughter. Marlo is now the mother of a happy, confident little transgender girl, but it took her a while to get here.
Wow!  This episode is a great introduction to a unique, refreshing and timely podcast series. This is a well-crafted, sophisticated personal digest, with heart-stopping disclosures such as “ my child… looked me in the eye and said something had gone wrong in my tummy that made him come out as a boy instead of a girl. He wanted me to put him back… to fix this mistake”.  I warn you – if you listen to episode one of How to Be a Girl, you WILL be hooked.

- Vanessa Lowe, Creator and Producer of Nocturne
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The New You... It'll Do
from The Longest Shortest Time

Erin Breen loves singing karaoke. It’s her *thing*. Two years ago, Erin gave birth and something completely unexpected happened: her voice changed.
The transformations you undergo when you become a parent are sometimes tangible and sometimes not. Hearing another mom articulate the difficulty of making a sacrifice she wasn’t ready for made me feel so much less crazy. It’s episodes like this that make me such a huge fan of the Longest Shortest Time. And the conversation with Jane Marie made me want to be her best friend.

Tally Abecassis, Creator and Host of First Day Back
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From Bullets to Balance Sheets
from Radio Diaries

As a teenager, Kamari Ridgle was a drug dealer and drive-by shooter until a near-death experience led him to his true love…accounting.
Kamari's story is enough to throw anyone's sense of right and wrong in to chaos. Here is an earnest guy born into a neighborhood where crime and violence were just part of life. The heart of the story is this idea that there really aren't many degrees of separation between a drug dealer and an accountant. Kamari is so damn likable, I just wish his simple dream of being left alone to do your taxes didn't require nearly dying in a drive by shooting as a prerequisite. 

Amir Shaikh, Co-founder of Spoken
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Marijuana Rules
from Life of the Law

Recreational pot has earned the state of Colorado $53 million dollars in tax revenue. All on a drug that, according to federal law is still illegal. How does a marijuana business navigate all the uncertainty?
Marijuana Rules takes an enlightening, tongue-in-cheek approach to examining the unclear boundaries separating federal and local laws when starting your own marijuana business.  I love how craft imitates reporting in this piece: the stoney persona of reporter Peter Frick Wright (who also runs an awesome podcast of his own, 30 Minutes West) reflects the hazy evolution of marijuana from an illegal narcotic, to a legal and very profitable product. 

- Jonathan Hirsch, Creator and Host of ARRVLS 
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About Spoken
Team Spoken is Amir Shaikh and Michael Evensen. In addition to this email, we're building, a new place to discover and discuss sound-rich, story-driven podcasts. If you're excited about significantly more people listening to these amazing stories, share a link to Spoken with your podcast geek friends (or your geeky friends who really should be into podcasts) or just loudly discuss this email in public settings. 

Warm regards, 
Amir and Mike
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