Dig Into Eastern Europe With These 8 Podcast Episodes

Image courtesy of “Taxi Taxi.”

By: Smith Freeman

Eastern Europe is often cast as the mysterious other to The West. And true, for the better part of the 20th century Eastern European art, music, literature, and politics were partially obscured by the Iron Curtain. But, in actuality, there is a good deal of media from and about Eastern Europe, it’s just a matter of looking around.

Here I have collected some podcast episodes that address stories and topics from Eastern European countries.

Snap Judgement
Host: Glynn Washington
Release: Weekly

From WNYC, Snap Judgement is a storytelling podcast and radio show.

In this episode, Joe Rosenberg talks to journalist Michael Idov about the making of the movie Dau, a Soviet period-piece seemingly endlessly in production on the outskirts of Kharkov, Ukraine. The director of Dau makes an environment where the edge of reality and the movie are unclear: barbers on set are real life barbers, movie sets turn out to be fully functioning buildings, sometimes the crew doesn’t film for months. In 2017, the film was still being edited.

She’s In Russia
Hosts: Olivia Capozzalo and Smith Freeman
Release: Weekly

She’s In Russia (co-hosted by me) is a podcast that aims to push back against the current Cold War revival we’re having by talking about Russia in a way that is rigorous, joyful, and nuanced. Each week, I call my best friend Olivia Capozzalo, and we discuss some Russian topic. We’ve done everything from interview St. Petersburg activist Olya Polyakova to talking about cryptocurrency and blockchain to laying out some good Russian rap.

In this episode, Olivia and I interview Igor Belkin about the glory days of Russian LiveJournal, how memes can upset the Orthodox church, and how the alleged Russian “hacking” of the 2016 election gives Belkin some conversational fodder as a Russian living in America.

Taxi Taxi
Hosts: Vladic Ravich and Billie Jean Stirewalt
Release: one season

Okay, while not strictly about Eastern Europe, Taxi Taxi is a really lovely podcast about Georgia (the country) and other South Caucasus. The show ran for only one season.

This episode profiles Shota Adamashvili, “Georgia’s only country singer.”  From a small country town in Georgia, Adamashvili said he grew up dreaming of being a cowboy and taught himself English by listening to American country: “He didn’t want to just speak English, he wanted to speak Nashville English.”

Sean’s Russia Blog Podcast
Host: Sean Guillory
Release: Weekly

As the host of the foremost Russia podcast, Sean is the Terry Gross of Russian podcasters. The weekly podcast features interviews with journalists, academics, artists, and policy-makers.

In this episode, Sean interviews Brooklyn-based Russian filmmaker Evgenia Kovda about her short Girlfriends (below), which was a New Orleans Film Festival official selection in 2017.

My Perfect Country
Hosts: Henrietta Moore, Fi Glover, Martha Lane Fox
Release: Weekly

From the BBC’s World Service, My Perfect Country is a series presented by the show The Compass. My Perfect Country showcases policies across the globe that have been truly successful in working towards this notion of a “perfect” country.

On this episode, Estonia – Digital Society, the hosts take a look at Estonia’s hyper networked society and its implications. Estonia has the fastest broadband speeds in the world, was the first country to allow online voting, and has more startups per capita than Silicon Valley.

The Russia Guy
Host: Kevin Rothrock
Release: semi-weekly, whenever he feels like it

Kevin Rothrock is the senior translator and editor of Meduza in English, the English version of the popular liberal Russian language digital newspaper. In his semi-weekly podcast, The Russia Guy, Kevin picks and discusses a handful of Russian news stories: “He likes to keep it short and sweet, but time and tastes are relative, so maybe it will be long and bitter to you.”

In this episode, Kevin talks about “Going Vertical,” a recent Russian movie about the USSR’s 1972 Olympic basketball victory over the USA. It also has some nice clips, both from the movie and the game itself.

Rough Translation
Host: Gregory Warner
Release: Seasonal, Weekly

From NPR, Rough Translation aims to take (often sensationalized) international stories and take a more nuanced look. Specifically, Rough Translation covers the reactions and realities of people actually living in the places these stories are about.

In this episode, Gregory tells the story of “fake news” produced by the Russian Government that successfully shifted reality in the lead-up to the Ukrainian crisis and the Ukrainian journalists who resisted the onslaught of false information.

The Eastern Border
Host: Kristaps Andrejsons
Release: Weekly

Produced by a wife and husband team in Riga, Latvia, The Eastern Border is the podcast for Soviet history junkies. The podcast is extremely thorough while remaining engaging and peppered with Kristaps’s subtle sarcasm.

On this episode, producer Alice takes over as host to dissect Soviet propaganda in Latvian Soviet Women magazines.

About the author: Smith Freeman is the co-host and producer of She’s In Russia. Follow her on Twitter.

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