PODCAST REVIEW

On voyeurism, closeness and living together

By Neroli Price 14 August 2020

Image design by Leila Dougan for Maverick Life

This week, we peek over the fence to hear stories about our neighbours. From a woman who can’t stop staring into someone else’s bedroom window to a Jerusalem hotel bringing together Israeli and Palestinian Covid-19 patients under one roof, these are podcasts about the sheer joy and frustration of closeness.

Our neighbourhoods are coming into sharp focus as we spend more and more time at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe saying hi to your neighbour has become a treasured ritual in this limited face-to-face time; or maybe you’ve begun to notice how irritating your neighbour’s newfound musical hobbies have become. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the people that surround us influence our daily lives, perhaps now more than ever. This week, we dive into stories about the people who share our space and shape our days.

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The Living Room – Love and Radio

Format: Single episode

Length: 25 minutes

Year: 2015

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or any other podcast app or streaming service

Have you ever been tempted by a clear view into the fish bowl of someone else’s life? Diane Weipert has. When new neighbours move in across the way, Diane finds herself staring through their curtainless window with alarming frequency. Soon she’s wrapped up in the lives of people who don’t know she even exists. Through expert narration and sound design, this award-winning episode takes you inside Diane’s head to see through her eyes. By the end, you’re left wondering if somehow, you’ve been complicit in overstepping an unspoken boundary too.

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From Minneapolis to Mogadishu – AfroQueer (None on Record at AQ Studios)

Format: Single episode

Length: 26 minutes

Year: 2019

Listen on: SoundCloud, Radio Public, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

When your identity is not accepted by your family of origin, chosen families often act as a lifeline. This was the case for K, a queer Somali woman living in Minneapolis, who disappears after travelling to Somalia. With her family involved in her disappearance, it’s up to K’s friends back home to find her and bring her to safety. This is a story about how different parts of ourselves feel at home with different people and how communities can save lives. Host Selly Thiam and the AfroQueer team bring voices to the airwaves that we all need to listen a little closer to.

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The Sunshine Hotel – Sound Portraits Productions (now StoryCorps) for All Things Considered (NPR)

Format: Single episode

Length: 25 minutes

Year: 1998

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Radio Public or any other podcast app or streaming service

This is an award-winning classic radio snapshot of a time and place long gone. The Sunshine Hotel is testament to an era before Manhattan’s Lower East Side was gentrified. Inside, we meet the colourful hotel manager, Nathan Smith, and a cast of characters who call this flophouse home. This non-narrated story is a powerfully poetic homage to a building, a community and a way of life that’s been torn down in the rush to construct glossy high-rises and capitalist fantasies. Take a listen and be transported by some of the finest radio to grace your ears.

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The Endearing Elders of the Eastern Cape – Don’t Shoot The Messenger with Rebecca Davis (The Daily Maverick)*

Format: Single episode

Length: 20 minutes

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Iono.fm or any other podcast app or streaming service

“Many of the things we’re doing, Google doesn’t have the answer to,” says Dave Martin, founder of the Bulugule Lodge. He’s referring to his response to the Covid-19 pandemic: Turning his eco-lodge into a makeshift quarantine space for the elderly. This audio postcard transports us to the rural Eastern Cape where we meet gogos (grannies) who swap stories, smoke their pipes and listen to the radio together. This is the definition of community, neighbours stepping up to help each other out in tough times.

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Hotel Corona – Rough Translation (NPR)

Length: 34 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or any other podcast app or streaming service

One hotel in Jerusalem. 200 Covid-19 patients. Israelis and Palestinians living side by side. This is the setting for Hotel Corona, a gem of a Covid-19 story about the unlikeliest of housemates thrown together by the pandemic. Listen inside the hotel as unlikely connections are forged over shared meals, exercise classes and comedy shows. The episode begs the question: Is this what an alternative to segregation could look like? Or is it a once-off?

If you’re wondering how to listen to these audio gems, local podcast organisation, Sound Africa, has prepared a handy guide to show you how.

Happy listening! DM/ML

*Disclaimer: The author is not involved or affiliated with this podcast.

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