Podcasts and broadcasts that take Asheville’s pulse

LISTENING ROOM: The hosts of “Slumber Party” on Asheville FM spotlight local news, culture and arts events on a weekly show. Ali McGee, Jake Frankel and Michele Scheve often invite area artists and organizers into the studio to discuss their initiatives in a fun, informal format. Photo by Cindy Kunst

While it might be possible to home in on an Asheville look (yoga-ready, upcycled, self-expressive) or flavor (farm-to-table, fermented, hoppy), it’s more of a challenge to pinpoint a local sound. We’re not necessarily talking about music — though soulful, well-traveled and eclectic fit the bill. This is about the ideas, commentaries and narratives that help to shape local conversation. As podcasts and their on-air partners, broadcasts, gain national and international popularity, plenty of locally produced and focused shows are also winning fans and generating discussion. While there are many to tune into, here’s a starting playlist:

• WordPlay
Local poets Lockie Hunter and Jeff Davis host this weekly, hourlong examination of the the literary scene. The show “features poets and writers of creative prose, sometimes in performance and sometimes in conversation about their craft and ideas,” says the landing page on the Asheville FM website. Guests are not always based in the Asheville area but are usually tied to the local and regional scene (such as recent visitor John Lane, a poet and professor of English and environmental studies at Wofford College).

Sundays, 3-4 p.m. on Asheville FM, 103.3. avl.mx/539

• Waters and Harvey Show
Co-hosts Darin Waters, assistant professor of history, and Marcus Harvey, assistant professor of religious studies — both at UNC Asheville — use their 30-minute program to explore “the experiences of historically marginalized people and their communities, and considers the influence those experiences have within our increasingly diverse society,” according to the show’s webpage.

Local guests include UNCA political science professor Dwight Mullen, discussing his State of Black Asheville report, and filmmakers Diane Tower-Jones and Sekou Coleman talking about their documentary, Beneath the Veneer, which looks at “success, opportunity and equality in America through the eyes of several African-American boys in Asheville.”

Sundays, 3 p.m. on Blue Ridge Public Radio, 107.9. avl.mx/53e

• Slumber Party
Hosts Michele Scheve, Jake Frankel and Ali McGhee invite an array of area guests into the studio to discuss topics including visual and performing arts, festivals, news, local politics and the environment. Frequent return visitors add to the fun, lighthearted feel of the show, and there are often in-studio performances and what can only be described as shenanigans. The two-hour slot flies by, but Scheve, Frankel and McGhee are also active on social media and keep the “Slumber Party” vibe going beyond the broadcast.

Wednesdays, 4-6 p.m. on Asheville FM, 103.3. avl.mx/53d

• Local Hearted
Hosted by WNC-based painter Meredith Adler, the Local Hearted (hint: “Art” is in red in the logo) podcast spotlights area artists “and some of the people who create opportunities for our local artists and help them shine,” as Adler says in her introduction. A recent episode featured watercolor artist Polly Gott, who has been based in Madison County, where she and her husband lived as homesteaders. Other shows include a conversation with Joseph Pearson about guiding the next generation, a talk with Amanda Heinz-Stevenson about her matchbox shrines and two installments with Dawn Chitwood about how artists can use Facebook for their businesses.

New episodes are posted sporadically. Sign up for notifications at the podcast website. localhearted.com

• Busker Broadcast
“It’s not about getting free music for your city … sometimes lawmakers can look at this the wrong way,” Abby “The Spoon Lady” Roach explains on an episode of “Busker Broadcast.” “It’s about community, meaning your neighbors can come out and hang out with you, or listen to you or play music with you.”

On “Busker Broadcast,” Roach plays DJ, spinning recordings by the vast array of musicians who either call Asheville home (and its streets their stage) or who pass through this city.

Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Asheville FM, 103.3. avl.mx/536

• Palimpsest
First the bad news: The locally produced, biweekly audio drama “Palimpsest” is between seasons. The good news is you have from now until Sept. 4, to catch up on previous episodes before the launch of season two. The program, about “memory, identity and the things that haunt us,” according to the website, is written and produced by Jamieson Ridenhour and performed by co-creator Hayley Heninger (aka Maeve from the Asheville-made web series “Transplanting”), with a score by Ian Ridenhour.

Chapters run about 20 minutes each and include a downlandable script for those who want to read along. The gist is that Anneliese is processing feelings about the loss of her sister, Claire, via phone recorder, for her therapist. She’s recently moved into a new apartment from which strange sounds emerge. The story is poetic and searching, instantly friendly, quickly creepy and totally addictive. thepalimpsestpodcast.com

• The Shine Box
Love movies? Travis “T Rex” Kelly and friends host “The Shine Box,” “a show about all things FILM. Reviews, retrospectives and updates on local movies being filmed,” according to the series’ Facebook page. Grail Moviehouse underwrites the program, which celebrated its first anniversary in May.

Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m. on WPVM, 103.7. avl.mx/53a

• The Final Straw Radio
In operation for eight years now, weekly anarchist report “The Final Straw Radio” “gets you the voices of activists struggling on the ground  for the earth, on both sides of the bars against incarceration, on the streets against racism and in the pages of contemporary books troubling a better world,” according to the show’s website. Produced in Asheville, it’s rebroadcast by stations in California, Ohio, Washington and Alaska, and is archived at avl.mx/53b.

A recent episode featured an unnamed interviewee “involved in the occupation of the entryway of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, Ore.” Local topics covered by the show include the Service Workers Assembly in Asheville and the recent May Day rally and march.

Sundays, 2 p.m. on Asheville FM, 103.3

• Living Well
Bob Hanna, an Asheville-based psychologist, hosts the weekly, hourlong show dedicated to exploring “the many ways we can live well in our lives and in our community,” according to the series’ introduction. Hanna interviews guests from around WNC who speak on topics such as tarot readings, doula services, sustainability, relationship therapy and energy healing. Hanna also offers commentary on national and global topics that are impacting the Asheville community. Episodes are archived at bobhannaphd.com/living-well.

Mondays, 11 am. on Asheville FM, 103.3

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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3 thoughts on “Podcasts and broadcasts that take Asheville’s pulse

  1. cecil bothwell

    Philip Bowditch’s show The Horse’s Mouth, on Asheville FM 103.3FM or ashevillefm.org is a pointed political show. Tune in at 7 a.m. Sunday or find the podcast at the Web site. (Note, I participate in the discussions but have no financial stake in the show or the communtiy radio station.)

    • boatrocker

      Podcasts? Ahhh, they soothe the savage beast.
      Listening live at 7am? Hell no, I sleep until 7:45am.

      Consider the prime listening pocket for semi-normal
      humans for the most ‘hears’ for precious
      social media ‘fame’ if you want to be
      the Miranda Sings of a microphone.

  2. Big Al

    Great List! I am a new podcast junkie, already a long-time Slumber Party and Shine Box listener. I miss Jeff Catanese’s “Asheville Theatre Radio” (Use your blinkers!!!) and Dr. Cat Ashe’s “Calling All Species, hoping she will return after her new arrival settles in.

    A few more worthy of mention:

    1) Asheville’s Dramatic Breakdown (Sound Cloud podcast) – Abby Auman interviews the big names in local theatre.

    2) Blaine’s World (103.7 FM with archived podcast on the station’s website, as well as Facebook Live and YouTube) – Blaine Greenfield discusses local theatre and pretty much anything and anyone else that makes WNC a better place to live.

    3) A Better World (103.7 FM and archived podcasts) – McNair Izzard on activism and awareness groups and issues.

    4) Super Happy Radio Hour – (Sound Cloud (among others) podcast) recorded monthly in front of a LIVE audience at Magnetic Theatre (375 Depot Street).

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