Recording "City Cast Chicago"

Chicago Podcasts

Curated by Akwe McDaniels (AB '23), our sampler of Chicago podcasts contains everything you need for dozens of brief introductions to diverse communities that make up the Windy City. Ranging from "It's All Good," a vignette based podcast about the people that make the many neighborhoods of the city great, to "The City," a podcast which seeks to examine and interrogate sources of power in American cities, you will find lots to learn about Chicago from each of these podcasts.

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Primary Feature List

It’s All Good - A Block Club Chicago Podcast

This featured podcast comes from Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit newsroom that prioritizes local journalism around the city of Chicago. With media often prioritizing stories that cast a negative light on the city, the mission of It’s All Good is right there in the title: to highlight all that is good in and about Chicago! From community leaders to local chefs, there is plenty of good to go around with this podcast.

Vanished Chicagoland Stories

Narrated by Pete Kastanes, “Vanished Chicagoland Stories” aims to create a memory map of Chicago by recounting stories from long ago. Focusing on his past experiences with businesses and events, Kastanes uses his memories to weave together a comprehensive image of what it was like to grow up in one of the country’s largest cities.

City Cast Chicago

In this acclaimed podcast, host Jacoby Cochran brings listeners news hot off the press every weekday at 6 A.M. Although this news podcast is only 15 minutes each day, listeners will hear from a wide variety of people, from artists and activists to bus drivers. As much as we love Chicago, City Cast Chicago also sees the value in conversing with guests who are not quite as fond of this city. Overall, CCC aims to give listeners a comprehensive overview of current news and all that Chicago has to offer.

Curious City

In a city as vast as Chicago, it is only natural that the people within it—residents and visitors alike—will have questions about how to best navigate the city. Curious City uses an interactive model, incorporating listener questions into the podcast’s varied episodes. From managing the intensity of Chicago’s winter to questioning the term “Midwest nice,” Curious City is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about the details that make up life in Chicago.

South Side Stories

Connected to Comedy Central’s show of the same name, South Side Stories takes a deeper look by speaking with the people and discussing the places who inspired the hit series. In celebrating these people and places, the podcast aims to highlight the fact that what is shown on television is only a small part of the puzzle.

Some of My Best Friends Are

This podcast follows hosts Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Ben Austen, two best friends who grew up together on Chicago’s South Side in the 1980s. Although the two have gone in different directions since childhood—with Muhammad becoming a Harvard professor and Austen, an accomplished journalist—they still talk to each other about the complexities of race in America. The two discuss what it was like to grow up together in such a divided country and how those divides persist to this day.

Da Chicago 60

With a lighthearted tone, Da Chicago 60 aims to give residents and tourists alike the inside scoop on the best parts of Chicago. The show features a variety of guests, including local musicians, actors, comics, business owners, and more. While promoting people and places, Da Chicago 60 does not neglect current news and politics. This podcast defends its claim that Chicago is “the greatest city in da world” by presenting a truly comprehensive view of the city.

SSW Radio

From South Side Weekly, this podcast highlights the residents of Chicago’s South Side. Through stories and featured interviews, SSW Radio aims to showcase the vibrant life in these communities. One of the unique features of this podcast is its thematic organization of topics—including “SSW People’s Radio,” “Envisioning New Futures,” and “Essential Work.” Whether or not you live on the South Side, this podcast’s rich conversations are worth hearing!

Windy City Historians

Launched in 2019, the Windy City Historians podcast (WCH) is hosted by Christopher Lynch & Patrick McBriarty. Highlighting different aspects of Chicago history, WCH features a variety of engaging stories that would entice even the staunchest podcast skeptic. In fact, WCH even claims that they are “not your Grandad’s podcast.” Tune into WCH to learn more about all things related to the Windy City.

The City

The City is a critically acclaimed investigative podcast that focuses on how power functions in American cities. Each season features a different city, with the first season featuring Chicago. Season one of The City looks into a rather contentious and mysterious case: in one of Chicago’s predominantly Black neighborhoods, a man connected to the mob builds an illegal dump right across the street from an elementary school. In their efforts to fight back against this outrageous act, residents encounter a series of frustrating obstacles and even unearth an undercover FBI investigation. If you love investigative podcasts, be sure to check out The City.

Chicago Related Special Interest Podcasts


Curated by the Third Coast Festival, Re:sound features a series of creative and forward-thinking audio documentaries that have been produced around the globe. From concrete topics like artist and producer profiles to experimental abstract episodes, this podcast provides a wide range of audio content for its listeners. Re:sound has a robust archive of episodes, accessible both on podcast streaming services as well as on the Third Coat Festival’s website.

If the Walls Could Talk

This exciting yet hair-raising true crime series explores the fall of Edgewater Hospital in Chicago. What began as one of the city’s best hospitals eventually became the site of many dark crimes. Hear from former employees, FBI agents, lawyers, patients, and explorers to learn more about the events that unfolded within the walls of this once-esteemed hospital.

The Madigan Rule

Hosted by Justin Kaufmann, The Madigan Rule looks into the story of Mike Madigan, the former Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Madigan was the longest-serving politician in any state or federal legislative body, serving from 1983 to 2021. The Madigan rule converses with those who knew Madigan well during his time as Speaker, from lawyers to journalists. Madigan’s exercise of power was nearly absolute, and those who knew and worked with him both feared and revered him. Tune in to learn more about one of Illinois’ most powerful politicians.

Hoge and Jahns: a show about the Chicago Bears

For all of the die-hard Bears fans out there, this podcast promises not to disappoint. Hosts Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns take the idea of sports analysis to heart, providing an in-depth and always interesting examination of the Chicago Bears. With frequent episode releases, this podcast is sure to pique the interest of anyone who wants to know more about one of Chicago’s great sports teams.

Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane

Chicago is one of the country’s largest centers for improv and comedy. With such a robust scene, it makes sense that there would be a podcast or two covering the topic! Join host Jimmy Carrane, one of Chicago’s well-known improv teachers, as he does a deep dive into the creative processes behind improv and comedy acting. Alongside Carrane’s helpful insight are countless interviews with highly-acclaimed improv actors and comics.


Somebody is a podcast that emerged from personal tragedy. When Shapearl Wells' son Courtney was found dead outside of a Chicago police station, Wells distrusted the story given to her by law enforcement. Eager to uncover the truth and solve the mystery of her son’s death, Wells teamed up with journalists from the Invisible Institute to confront the police. Throughout its episodes, Somebody aims to uncover the truth behind Courtney’s death and explores the racial disparities that exist in terms of community relations with law enforcement in Chicago.

National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) Podcasts

A unique and forward-thinking podcast, NPHM Podcasts gives a voice to those who live in public housing, highlighting their stories and the intricacies of interacting with the country’s public housing system. With stories from residents across the country (including Chicago, of course), this podcast aims to redefine the mainstream conception of public housing. Tune in to hear from current and past public housing residents as they discuss their unique and eye-opening experiences.

Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing

Join host Eve Ewing—an acclaimed sociologist and an assistant professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice—as she revisits pivotal moments in the development of this country’s culture. Fusing the past with the present, each episode of Bughouse Square pairs archival audio from 20th-century broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel with the insights of a contemporary thinker. This is the perfect podcast for those interested in history from multiple perspectives.

Our Fair City

For those who are interested in the intersection between entertainment and podcasting, look no further than Our Fair City. One of the most innovative shows of its kind, Our Fair City features episodes with post-apocalyptic and dramatic themes. The show is produced by a handful of Chicago theatre veterans, science educators, and sound designers. The skillful writing, acting, and production make it difficult not to listen to Our Fair City for hours on end.

Chicago Acoustic Underground

With the Chicago Acoustic Underground Podcast, listeners are not only introduced to local musicians but given the opportunity to hear them play their music. Think NPRs’ “Tiny Desk” concert series meets the classic podcast interview approach. Every week, host Michael Teach brings on a talented songwriter or musician from the Chicago area. If you still have not fully committed to the idea of listening to podcasts, Chicago Acoustic Underground is a great place to begin, blending interviews with music.

Art Break

Art Break Podcast combines interviews, discussions, and performance to create a dynamic and multi-dimensional show. Featuring Chicago community members and artists, this podcast aims to explore how art impacts the city at large. While Art Break Podcast only has a couple of episodes, the rich conversations that take place make it worth taking a listen to (plus, you can brag to friends and colleagues that you have listened to an entire podcast series).

Chicago's Bravest Stories

An aptly-named podcast, Chicago’s Bravest Stories Podcast highlights the stories of first responders from the Chicagoland area (and other parts of the country). With each true story, listeners get a bit more insight into the often difficult and high-stakes decisions that first responders make on a daily basis. This podcast does a fantastic job of showcasing the complexity of first responders in the context of an unscripted and thoroughly heartfelt podcast.


One of WBEZ’s podcasts, Nerdette Podcast with Greta Johnsen is a great choice if you are looking for a Chicago-based podcast by women. Each week, Nerdette interviews a different guest speaker, bringing listeners entertaining conversations, great recommendations, and many inspiring ideas. Tune in to access your inner nerd(ette)!

The Archives Podcast

Produced by the Old Town School of Folk Music, this podcast gives listeners access to archives of past performances and field recordings. Additionally, The Archived Podcast highlights stories about the Old Town School, providing context for the rich community that revolves around it. The Old Town School of Folk Music is known for its multifaceted approach to community building through music. From music lessons to intimate concerts, The Old Town School strives to celebrate music in all its diversity.

Strange Brews Beer Podcast

This unique podcast highlights a drink that is popular around the world and in many cultures: beer. Hosted by Alison Cuddy, Tim Akimoff, and Andrew Gill, Strange Brews episodes are recorded at the location of the episode’s featured beer. By taking production outside of the studio, listeners are able to fully immerse themselves as they learn about craft beers. The podcast includes conversations with brewers artists, and people passionate about craft beers.

Other Chicago based podcasts

    One of the most popular podcasts out there, This American Life has been described as an experiment of sorts, with the theme of the episodes changing every week. The show often highlights the stories of people from all walks of life, each with a compelling story to tell. One of the podcast’s episodes, “Harper High School,” is a two-part saga that follows the stories of students at Chicago’s Harper High School. Part One looks at how gun violence has affected the school’s students.

    Harper High School - Part 1

    One of the most popular podcasts out there, This American Life has been described as an experiment of sorts, with the theme of the episodes changing every week. The show often highlights the stories of people from all walks of life, each with a compelling story to tell. One of the podcast’s episodes, “Harper High School,” is a two-part saga that follows the stories of students at Chicago’s Harper High School. Part Two narrows in by exploring how one specific instance of gun violence might throw off the school’s Homecoming dance and football game.

    Harper High School - Part 2

    Ghetto Life 101 was recorded in 1993 when public radio producer David Isay collaborated with two teenagers from Chicago’s South Side, LeAlan Jones, and Lloyd Newman. The two young boys take listeners through their daily lives, shedding light on some of the harsher aspects of their reality. Ghetto Life 101 gives listeners a heartfelt yet honest look at life impacted by poverty. The stories told by Jones and Newman introduce complexity and humanity into neighborhoods that are often reduced to a definitive news headline. After its release, Ghetto Life 101 went on to win almost every major award in American broadcasting and remains one of the most acclaimed public radio episodes to date.

    Ghetto Life 101

    Chicago’s Red Summer comes from NPR’s Code Switch, a podcast that features in-depth conversations about race and its impacts on the societies we live in. In their episode on the Chicago Red Summer—also referred to as the Chicago race riot of 1919—the hosts interview various historians to get a sense of what happened and why. One of the episode’s guests, Juanita Mitchell, was 107 at the time the interview took place (Mitchell had her 110th birthday this past December). Tune in to this episode of Code Switch to learn more about one of Chicago’s most historical race riots.

    Chicago's Red Summer

    The Open Stacks podcast comes from one of Chicago Studies’ partners, the Seminary Co-op. Open Stacks aims to give listeners access to lively discussions that are primarily about literature, and larger social issues. When tuning in to this podcast, you can expect to hear the hosts converse with scholars, novelists, poets, and activists. With relatively frequent releases, there are plenty of conversations to dive into. To complete your Seminary Co-op experience, be sure to stop by their store or check out their website for upcoming events.

    Open Stacks


    A podcast from Chicago’s Newberry Library, Shelf Life features a series of conversations centered around the humanities. However, instead of talking about the humanities from a theoretical standpoint, Shelf Life aims to focus on the people relevant to the humanities. Conversations feature a variety of guest speakers, from curators to researchers. When listening to this podcast, you can expect to learn more about the lives of famous authors to the history of fake news.

    Shelf Life