Nov 5, 2023 - Things to Do

Podcasts with Chicago connections to listen to this fall

Smashed red keyboard with the words Rock and Roll around it on a blue background.

Image courtesy of PRX

There are several podcasts out with Chicago connections that are worth adding to your queue this fall.

"Rock That Doesn't Roll"

Chicagoan Andrew Gill — a producer for music podcast "Sound Opinions" and the son of a pastor — joins author Leah Payne to explore the history of Christian rock and the kids who dug it.

What they're saying: So many Christian rock fans "keep that part of their life a little dark secret, but it would be more useful for everyone if we understood what was going on and how it affected us."

The verdict: Gill and Payne empathetically delve into the music against the larger backdrop of Christian youth group culture. As someone who marinated in both, I found this pod insightful and more than a little cathartic.

"Crooked City: Dixon Illinois"

This latest installment in the "Crooked City" series flops down 100 miles west of us to retell the 2012 story of Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, who embezzled millions to feed her horse (yes, the animal) habit.

The verdict: Despite the Crundwell saga being well-documented in the media, everything in this artfully constructed podcast feels fresh and suspenseful.

  • New episodes are still dropping, and I'm dying to know if we'll finally learn how she justified stealing more than $30 million while Dixon ran out of dough for basic services.

"Help This Garden Grow"

This six-part series tells the story of South Side environmental activist Hazel Johnson, who launched People for Community Recovery in 1979 and forced city officials to address asbestos and contaminated water in Altgeld Gardens.

The verdict: I loved the way Johnson's history of fearless activism is interspersed with views of contemporary environmentalists, deftly linking her work to the important fights that continue today.


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