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TPR's top podcasts of 2021

TPR studios
Dallas Williams
Texas Public Radio

Texas Public Radio introduced several new podcasts this year, on top of producing new episodes for other programs. These are the top episodes for each of TPR's podcasts. Check out our top 10 stories here.

Petrie Dish

Texas students went back to school this fall just as the delta variant started to surge nationwide. Delta, more transmissible than the previous variants, was beginning to have a larger effect on children, in part because children under 12 were not yet eligible for vaccination.

Dr. Tess Barton of UT Health San Antonio answered questions about COVID-19 from students and parents.

Fire Triangle

In the first episode of this four-part series, Fire Triangle explores a toxic explosion that rocked northwest Houston in 2020. The series examines local chemical safety policies in Houston — the petrochemical capital of the world — as well as the State of Texas' lack of transparency when it comes to hazardous chemicals.

Worth Repeating

Lockdowns early on in the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard to do a lot of things: catch up with friends, go grocery shopping, even fall in love. In this episode, storytellers dive into their love lives — romantic and otherwise — during the height of the pandemic.

The Shakeout

In this episode of The Shakeout, we look toward the rollout of a long-awaited vaccine and the prospect of returning to normal. Since the spring, the vaccine has been heralded as the only sure solution to the economic woes brought by COVID-19, but now that it's here, one particular hurdle has become clear: A growing number of Americans are hesitant toward the vaccine or downright refuse to take it. The roots of that fear trace right back here to Texas, where the anti-vaccine movement has been blossoming for years.

Twenty-Four Seven

Kitty asks her dad what he thinks about death and the afterlife, then turns to a hospice chaplain who has discussions like that for a living.

No Hill for a Climber

Working at the outer limits of our physical capacity is a goal Dan Kachtik sets for himself and his fitness customers. Working at the outer limits of his entrepreneurial endurance is something Dan has been forced to do, to build his gym from the ground up since 2013. We talk about those struggles, whether he ever wanted to quit along the way, and how that struggle interacts with his personal philosophy. Dan's biggest supporter on this journey is his wife Janelle, with whom he owns King William District Crossfit.

Texas Matters

Despite the efforts of Democrats, the Texas House moves forward a voter restriction bill.  As new laws go into effect on September 1 - the George Floyd Act won’t be one of them.  What are we missing?  And a livestock dewormer is the quack medicine of choice for anti-vaxers and it’s making people sick.  And billionaire Elon Musk wants to sell Texans electricity.

The Source

Los Angeles-based, award-winning photographer Mark Laita is the creator of a popular, sometimes controversial video YouTube series that spotlights people who are frequently invisible in society — the unhoused, the sex worker, the chronic drug user, the runaway, the gang member, the poor and the sick.

Through conversations prompted by Laita, we hear firsthand about where these people are from and how they ended up where they are in their life's journey.

What happens when we stop to listen to their stories? What can we learn from them about life and America by listening without judging?


A devastating flood 100 years ago marked a critical turning point for San Antonio’s development.  But the response efforts by local leaders at the same time were largely driven by protecting economic interests of business elites while neglecting the barrios of the city’s West Side.  A new book details what happened on that fatal night and the West Side community organizers who fought to protect their neighborhoods after city leadership failed them.

Book Public

Katie Crouch’s new novel is set in Namibia where two central characters, American women, are “embassy wives” who have transplanted their lives to follow their husbands to their diplomatic roles.

The women strike up fraught friendships of convenience — but they’re also forged on something more to do with their complicated relationships with their husbands and children and with their understanding that diplomacy is never a free and easy negotiation.

Compiled by Beth Mati-Losee, Kathleen Creedon and Bri Kirkham

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