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The big list of Pennsylvania podcasts

Plus, the 'dumpster bunny of the day.'


August 19, 2022
Inside this edition: High score, welcome to Cowtown, floating maps, Deadman Hollow, bootleg coal, week in photos, and Pennsylvania pods. 
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS... I love bringing you PA Local each week, because it gives us a break from the heavy news and complex problems facing our state to celebrate its greatness. I know you love it too, which is why I'm asking you to give us a hand before midnight Saturday.

If we raise $15,000 by then as part of our Week of Giving, we'll unlock a $15,000 matching gift from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. That means your gift will be doubled, and we'll have twice as many resources to keep up PA Local and our vital public-service journalism.

So, will you show your appreciation for what we do right now and chip in toward our goal? After all, we can't do this work without you.

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— Colin D., PA Local editor

Wilt Chamberlain set the NBA's single-game scoring record in 1962 in what Pennsylvania locale? Hint: It wasn't Philadelphia, where he was a player. 

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

» One thing worth knowing: The oldest weekly rodeo in America is a 40-minute drive from Center City, Philadelphia. The New York Times went to Cowtown in Pilesgrove, New Jersey, and found its popularity surging.

» One thing worth sharing: Kevin and Megan Langdon of Lewisburg make "floating maps" that interact with your phone to offer interactive tours of small-town Pennsylvania. The Inquirer has the story.

» One place worth trying: The Bay Journal's guide to Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon (move over Arizona) includes a tantalizing reference to Deadman Hollow, named for a very unlucky trapper.

» One thing worth reading: A descendent of Pennsylvania bootleg coal miners — who dug mines illegally and just about anywhere — has written a book about the phenomenon, The Daily Item reports.

» Four things worth seeing: "Dumpster bunny of the day," a crane on the river, Meyersdale from the sky, and hornets on a wire.

» COVID-19 UPDATE: Your guide to finding resources on cases, vaccines, and tests

» Pa. lawmakers are set to get huge raises next year. They can return them, but almost nobody does.

» Pa. lawmakers weigh bill that would allow independents to vote on primary candidates

» Penn State spent half a million dollars on police overtime at football games in 2021

» WATCH: A virtual Q&A with Spotlight PA’s new State College bureau

» The best Spotlight PA investigations of 2022 (so far)
We have just 48 hours left to raise $15,000 and unlock a HUGE $15,000 matching gift from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Don't miss this special chance to have your support of Spotlight PA doubled.

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Ed Bailey and Day Bracey of the Drinking Partners podcast. (Courtesy Barrel & Flow Fest)

Congratulations on your podcasts. Seriously.

As a Pennsylvania taxpayer you are, perhaps unwittingly, a megaproducer. Update your resume accordingly.

Publicly paid legislators are jumping on the mic and firing up the pun machines for shows like state Rep. Frank Ryan’s Frankly Speaking and state Sen. Art Haywood’s Ask Art. (Those are just the tip of the iceberg.) 

But the Pennsylvania pod-scape runs deep — a veritable ocean of content that, much like Pennsylvania TikTok, clearly favors hauntings, crime, and aliens as fodder, with lots of notable exceptions. Here are a few worth checking out before the bubble bursts. Thanks for listening. 

Editor's note: Some of the episodes linked below include profanity.

1. Atlas Obscura 

What to expect: This American Life meets a tour of Pennsylvania’s roadside oddities.

Where to start: This episode on Pennsylvania’s Firefly Festival, a gathering of mating fireflies in the Allegheny National Forest that’s become one of the most sought-after tickets in the state. Included in the episode: how the winged stars of the annual light show almost got “burnt out.”

2. Black Tribbles


What to expect: Philly’s favorite geeks geeking out about comics, pop culture, and the future. The show signed off in 2021, but not without first attempting to set the world record for longest-ever podcast — 60 hours straight with no more than five consecutive seconds of silence.

Where to start: This episode on everything that went wrong with the bid.


3. Drinking Partners 


What to expect: Pittsburgh funnymen Day Bracey (you may recognize that name) and Ed Bailey talking about beer, art, and diversity; crowdsourcing shots of Henny; and riffing endlessly.

Where to start: This interview from last month with Necromancer’s head brewer, Lauren Hughes. It’s a dive into “dead styles” of beer with laugh-out-loud detours on student-made wine, motorcycles, and more.


4. Fresh Air 


What to expect: You’re probably familiar with this Philly-born institution already. It’s arguably the mother sauce that launched a billion podcasts. But have you ever scanned the archive

Where to start: This interview with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) in which Sendak, months before his death, reflects on everything. “Live your life, live your life, live your life,” he implored.


5. Ghoul on Ghoul 


What to expect: A “supernatural sex-positive, horror-comedy podcast featuring first-person encounters with the paranormal." It’s funny and clever because it’s helmed by Pittsburgh City Paper editor Amanda Waltz and “writer, baker, and trouble-maker” Sarah Cadence Hamm.

Where to start: This episode covering the “yassification of rocks,” “earth farts,” and Cary Grant.




What to expect: Hour-long conversations with authors of books “on Pennsylvania people, history, sports, business, nature, and politics.” The subjects are interesting and the atmosphere of the show is soft-spoken, minimalist, and C-SPAN-like — aka relaxing. 

Where to start: This episode with author Jennifer Lin discussing her book Beethoven in Beijing on the Philadelphia Orchestra’s groundbreaking 1973 tour of closed-off China. 


7. Small Town Murder 


What to expect: Two bro-ey comedians talking about true crime. While that may seem incongruous, there is this disclaimer: Jokes aren’t made at the expense of victims but rather bumbling police, old newspaper headlines, local governments, and small-town eccentricities. 

Where to start: This episode about a case out of Daugherty Township, Beaver County, that begins with hosts James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman riffing on the audacity of Pennsylvania’s width (around the 6:40-mark). 


8. The Dollop

What to expect: Two more comics, this time talking about history. The show, helmed by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, isn’t always Pennsylvania-centric, but it has covered the forever fire in Centralia and the other side of Pittsburgh magnate Henry Clay Frick.  

Where to start: The Frick episode, recorded in front of a live Pittsburgh audience, includes lots of stuff that wasn’t covered on my recent guided tour of Frick’s Pittsburgh mansion. 


9. What I Learned From The Amish


What to expect: Anabaptist expert and researcher Donald Kraybill discusses lessons gleaned from his decades spent researching and writing about Pennsylvania’s Plain communities. 

Where to start: This episode on “Amish Hackers” explores the “fascinating ways that Amish adapt technology to fit Amish values and practices.”

Colin Deppen, PA Local editor

What did we miss? Let us know.

This one's from me: The Little League World Series has returned to Williamsport for its 75th year of competition.

I was there for more than a few of them. 

As a child on summer loan to my grandparents, I spent the dog days of August sitting on (and sticking to) the bleachers at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, a pile of concessions at my feet, the light slowly draining from the big Lycoming Valley sky above, and John Fogerty's "Centerfield" playing on a punishing and seemingly endless loop. Those were the days. 

It's the only place I ever saw my grandfather — a warm-but-stoic veteran of World War II's Pacific theater — shed a tear. If I recall correctly, it was over a moment like this one from a qualifier in Texas last week. 

The event has grown larger and larger over time, and I haven't been back in years. But I might make it a point to go this round. Cue the Fogerty.

Tell us about a Pennsylvania business, event, place — anything really — that deserves a turn in the spotlight and we'll share your suggestion here.

Recognize this intersection? That's right, it's North 3rd and Verbeke Streets in Harrisburg, the giveaway being the shadow cast by the Broad Street Market sign. Thanks for sharing, @yatskoSend us your photos and art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.

Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points in a March 2, 1962 game against the New York Knicks in ... Hershey, Pennsylvania. 

A state plaque marks the spot at Hersheypark Arena, which was called the Hershey Sports Arena back then.

There's no footage of the game, but here's the next best thing.

WHYY also has a fun lookback at the achievement, why it still matters, what (or who) Wilt was doing the night before, and why Hershey.

Thanks for reading PA Local! We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? What do you want to see more of? 

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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