I would not consider myself a podcast person. I feel like if you ask someone’s opinion on podcasts, they either listen to 20 a week or basically none at all. I think I’m at an interesting middle point — I have two or three podcasts that I listen to faithfully, but I go in and out of podcast-listening phases. I’ll binge a bunch of episodes in a week, catch up, and then go a month before listening again. However, despite my lack of podcast proficiency, I immediately fell in love with Greater Boston.
Greater Boston is a full-cast audio drama set in an alternate universe Boston. Many of the features of the city are the same, but with an added fantastical, slightly surreal quality. Personally, based on every part of this description, I was skeptical. I’ve never been good at getting into audio dramas. Despite trying many first episodes, nothing ever hooked me enough to listen again. The genre was also definitely outside of my usual reading/listening material. However, the importance of the setting and the emphasis on community convinced me to give Greater Boston a listen. Best. Decision. Ever.
Greater Boston is one hell of a podcast. Created by Emerson College alumni and current Cambridge residents Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason, this podcast perfectly captures the spirit of real-life Boston while adding intriguing twists such as a search for Atlantis, pneumatic tubes used to transport tuna subs, and a movement to make the Red Line of the MBTA its own city. This wonderfully heartwarming podcast is a must-listen whether or not you live in Boston. Even someone who’s never visited will be able to find comfort and enjoyment in this intricately woven story. If you’re interested and want to know more, here are 7 reasons why I think everyone should listen to Greater Boston.
- It’s Got the Perfect Amount of Boston References
The “Wonderland” stop at the end of the Blue Line? In Greater Boston, it’s the location of an amusement park (just as it was in real life from 1906-1911). They have the obligatory Great Molasses Flood mention, and of course the Red Line of the T is basically a central character. While you don’t have to know your way around the city to understand what’s going on in the story, the very Bostonian references make the podcast even more enjoyable if you do.
- The Importance of Community
Community is a strong theme throughout Greater Boston. My favorite way that they weave in this theme is through interviews with real Bostonians, usually asking questions about the city or something that connects to the topic of the episode. I particularly enjoyed listening to interviewees recount the strangest things they had ever seen on the T.
- Incredible Representation
Greater Boston is amazing at focusing on having a diverse cast of characters in its show. The main group of characters includes a married lesbian couple who are dynamic characters with a complex relationship and storyline. (Plus, they’re expecting a child! So cute!) The writers also tackle political issues such as gentrification and racial discrimination as the show progresses.
- Impressive Storytelling
The way that the writers manage to connect different characters’ storylines leaves me astounded. They build on the main theme of community by demonstrating how one action can lead to a domino effect of consequences. As you continue listening, the writers slowly reveal more and more connections between the characters that keep listeners on their toes. One of my favorite things about this podcast is that it always leaves me wanting more.
- Supporting Local Creators Is Cool
As I mentioned in the intro, the creators of this show are Emerson College alumni and currently work and live in and around Boston. The voice actors for the show are also from the area, and the podcast is written in part at The Writer’s Room of Boston. As someone living in Boston, it’s great to know that listening to the podcast (and maybe even donating to the Patreon, which can be found here) supports local creators who are making important (and really good) content.
- Extinction Event Poletti
This might not be an actual reason to listen to Greater Boston, but on the other hand… it definitely is. There is an actual, honest-to-God character named Extinction Even Poletti (formerly Pandabear Poletti, formerly Earthman Poletti, formerly Gerald Poletti). Goofy details like this are what make this podcast such an enjoyable listen.
- You’ll Definitely Get Emotionally Invested
This podcast has made me laugh and cry and experience all of the emotions in between. If you become a regular listener, the numbers one through twelve will suddenly lead to a very visceral emotional response when recited in a certain order. The characters are so well-written that it’s easy to become invested in the decisions they make and what happens to them. If you’re looking for a podcast that you can really get into, Greater Boston may be the one.