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The Best Podcasts By Women From San Francisco

Picture of Sydney Maynard
Updated: 7 November 2016
With thousands of podcasts about every imaginable subject available on the internet, it can be hard to decide which ones to follow. A plus of the podcast explosion is that female voices have mingled with the once male-dominated arena. These podcasts by women who were born, grew up, lived in or currently reside in San Francisco range from girl talk to history lessons.

Call Your Girlfriend

Call Your Girlfriend’ is the ‘podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.’ Digital strategist Aminatou Sow and journalist Ann Friedman make phone calls to each other and discuss everything that female best friends talk about. Nothing is off limits and expletives are freely used. Topics range from menstruation and Beyoncé to racial politics in Europe versus the United States and faking cultural literacy. The relaxed and informal nature of the phone calls will make you feel as if you have known these women for years.

Call Your Girlfriend
Call Your Girlfriend | Courtesy of Sydney Maynard

#GoodMuslimBadMuslim

In ‘#GoodMuslimBadMuslim,’ two Muslim-American women (San Francisco-based writer, actor and comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh and Los Angeles-based storyteller and activist Tanzila Ahmed) explore how they are seen as bad Muslims in the eye of their religion and good Muslims by outsiders. They also discuss what it means to be Muslim facing the Islamophobia of the post-9/11 world. In the debut episode, Noorbakhsh and Ahmed mention watching Christmas movies – what they call an ‘American’ thing to do – and season one of the popular podcast ‘Serial,’ which focuses on the arrest and trial of Muslim Adnan Syed.

The JV Club with Janet Varney

In ‘The JV Club with Janet Varney,’ actress Janet Varney and guests share their experiences of being a teenager, humiliating moments and all, and discuss how some things remained the same as they aged. Topics include attending a Catholic high school and the concept of religion, wearing Birkenstocks and being influenced by Hollywood. Guests include Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, Kate Flannery of The Office and Yvette Nicole Brown of Community.

Good Job, Brain!

Bone up your trivia game with the weekly quiz show, ‘Good Job, Brain!’ Host Karen Chu quizzes Colin Felton, Dana Nelson and Chris Kohler on random facts. All four drop bits of knowledge about things like the naming of the New York Knicks and the development of high-wheel bicycles. The trivia is interspersed with offbeat news and quick history lessons. Episodes range from 30-90 minutes and will give you a leg up at your next trivia night.

Good Job, Brain!
Good Job, Brain! | Courtesy of Sydney Maynard

Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters

Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, also known as The Kitchen Sisters, have been radio personalities since the 1970s and have produced several podcasts. ‘Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters’ gets its name from Thomas Edison’s phonograph, which captured ‘fugitive sound waves.’ The podcast is composed of history lessons about people like Edison and Tennessee Williams mingled with stories and sound bites from the Sisters’ archives. There are also ‘Hidden Kitchen’ episodes, which explore different kitchen traditions and how people unite through food.

The Cooler

The Cooler’ is a KQED podcast on everything pop culture. Segments include ‘Obligatory News Story of the Week,’ ‘Things We’re Missing From Pop Culture,’ and ‘Pop Culture Face Palm,’ in which the hosts share obvious things about pop culture they never realized until later. The podcast is hosted by Jamedra Brown Fleischman, Carly Severn and Emmanuel Hapsis, three energetic people who play clips of the movies and songs they are talking about to give context to the conversation.

The Leap

The Leap’ is another KQED podcast. Public radio reporters Amy Standen and Judy Campbell tell stories of people that have taken risky chances. One episode tells the story of Bryan Bashin who lost his eyesight at a young age but tried to hide his blindness, only learning to embrace it later in life. Another episode focuses on Shawn Demmons, previously Shawna, who always knew he did not identify as female but lived as a lesbian because he was unfamiliar with the definition of transgender. There are only six episodes, all under half an hour.

The Leap
The Leap | Courtesy of Sydney Maynard

Girl on Guy

Actress Aisha Tyler created ‘Girl on Guy’ to talk to guys (and sometimes girls) about things guys love, including drinking, action movies, sex and family. Her guests are people she admires, and she discusses each person’s career with them. Episodes end with a segment called ‘Self-Inflicted Wounds,’ in which guests share a moment they embarrassed themselves. Guests include LL Cool J and Taye Diggs. Episodes before 2016 are only available through a premium Liberated Syndication podcasting subscription, but you can get three months for free when you sign up for six months.

Girl on Guy
Girl on Guy | Courtesy of Sydney Maynard

Baby Geniuses

Comedian Emily Heller and illustrator and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt describe themselves as ‘Baby Geniuses’ because they ‘know most things but there’s room for growth.’ The purpose of their podcast is to share random bits of knowledge that they have, both with each other and with guests. They also give updates on their lives, predict trends for the current year and talk about trends they miss, share their inspirations and analyze Wikipedia pages in the segment ‘Wiki of the Week.’

Monsters of Talk

Comedians Margaret Cho and Jim Short talk explicitly to playwrights, performers, musicians, artists and comedians in ‘Monsters of Talk.’ They discuss everything including movies, music, Jodie Foster coming out at the 2013 Golden Globes, Lance Armstrong’s drug use, astrology, sex, Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsburg. This podcast is okay to have on in the background while multitasking because it does not need your full attention. The last episode of this podcast aired in May 2015, but its entire archive can be found on iTunes.