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8 shows you should check out at the Chicago Podcast Festival

8 shows you should check out at the Chicago Podcast Festival
Photograph: Tim Klein

Love getting lost in your headphones on your morning commute? It’s time to take off the earbuds and hear your favorite podcasters record in front of your very eyes. The second annual Chicago Podcast Festival is back again October 2–8 at venues across town, including Beat Kitchen, the Athenaeum Theatre and Old Town School of Folk Music. The 2017 lineup features folks of all backgrounds—comedians, chefs, journalists and comic book nerds—geeking out over their passions for your entertainment. Not sure which shows are worth your time? We rounded up our favorites options to make it easy for you.

1. Blurry Photos

This Chicago-based podcast blends paranormal phenomena, conspiracy theories and humorous chit-chat. Even if the metaphysical isn’t your jam, you’ll still learn something from listening to David Flora and Dave Stecco nerd out. (The Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont Ave, Oct 2 at 7pm. $15)

2. The Feed

Witness Chicago’s golden boy Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Leña Brava and more) in conversation with food journalist Steve Dolinsky (“The Hungry Hound”). Each episode zeroes in on a different culinary subject—be it kugel, Louisville bourbon or fermentation. (The Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont Ave, Oct 3 at 7pm. $10–$15)

3. The Potterotica Podcast

Podcasters Allie LeFevere, Lyndsay Rush and Danny Chapman explore the ins and outs of Harry Potter erotic fan fiction (yep) in this local comedy podcast. Each episode features a Potterotica read-aloud accompanied by the hosts’ cheeky banter. (Chicago Theater Works, 1113 W Belmont Ave, Oct 5 at 7pm. $15)

4. Cinema Jaw/Alcohollywood

Cinephiles should check out this double-header of movie podcasts: Cinema Jaw features reviews, trivia and top-five lists; Alcohollywood, as its name suggests, creates drinking games and signature cocktails based on one movie each episode. (Chicago Theater Works, Oct 5 8:30pm. $15)

5. improv4humans with Matt Besser

Improv legend and cofounder of the Upright Citizens Brigade Matt Besser brings his “yes and” skills to the airwaves with this weekly podcast. (Laugh Factory, 3175 N Broadway, Oct 6 at 8 and 10pm. $20)

6. Up and Vanished

Documentarian Payne Lindsey digs into the mysterious disappearance of Georgia beauty queen Tara Grinstead in this popular true crime podcast. (Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N Southport Ave, Oct 7 at 7pm. $32–$42)

7. Crybabies

Writer Susan Orlean, actor Sarah Thyre and guest host Andy Richter want to know what makes their guests cry. This live show will feature SNL alum Tim Meadows and journalist/anchor Bill Kurtis, with musical guests the Lawrence Peters Outfit. (Apollo Theater, 2540 N Lincoln Ave, Oct 7 at 8pm. $30–$35)

8. UnLearned/Race Bait/I Need an Adult

These three podcasts all explore race and womanhood in different ways. In UnLearned, hosts Katherine Thornton Best and Mesha Arant strive to unlearn harmful narratives and relearn productive ones. In Race Bait, Tania Richardson (who is black) and Paul Traynor (who is white), have honest conversations about race and prejudice. And in I Need an Adult, Cher Vincent discusses navigating life as a woman of color. (Chicago Theater Works, 1113 W Belmont Ave, Oct 8 at 7:30pm. $15)

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Another cheap option: $15 to see the Curiosity Podcast and Siblings Peculiar at the Beat Kitchen on Tuesday, October 3! Hosts Cody Gough and Ashley Hamer welcome special guest Lilly Allison, a comedian and improviser who will help us explore what we don't know about the art and science of comedy (because Curiosity makes you smarter).

The Curiosity Podcast follows the hilarious Siblings Peculiar podcast, so it will be a high-energy night of laughs. Don't miss your chance to see our first ever live podcast recording! Tickets: