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The Spot: Briny Shanties

The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
"Humpback Whales Disporting." 1800 - 1899.

This week on KALW's showcase for the best stories from public radio podcasts and independent radio producers...

Whales of New York” from podcast The Briny, produced by Matt Frassica, August 2017.


The sounds of every bay area are unique. In ours, we have a healthy mix of cormorant squawks, traffic on from the bridges, ferries cutting the waves, and, of course, all the frickin’ seagulls. In the bay and seashores off of New York City, a rare sound has returned as a particular population of New Yorkers are making a comeback.

The podcast The Briny trawls aquatic communities for stories about the science and culture of our seas. Journalist Matt Frassica launched the show with an investigation into how the whale populations decreased in the New York Bight, and why they’ve returned. You can find The Briny anywhere you listen to podcasts, like iTunes, Stitcher, or RadioPublic. You can also find all of their episodes at thebriny.net.

Fisherman Friends and Sea Shanties,” produced by Dmae Roberts, June 2012.

Off of another coast, in Port Isaac, England, a seaside community has marked themselves by a distinctive sound, but as the fishing industry continues its decline, they wonder what will happen to the musical traditions that have formed around it. 

In 2012, Peabody Award-winning writer and producer Dmae Roberts talked with the Fisherman’s Friends singing group at their “headquarters”, the local pub, about what makes their style of singing so special to them. Find out more about the Fisherman's Friend at thefishermansfriends.com, and listen to more Dmae’s work at her website.

This week's episode featured music from: Black Moth Super Rainbow, Django Reinhardt, and The Decemberists.

If you have a suggestion for a podcast or an audio project we should feature, please drop us a line at thespot@kalw.org.

Tune in next week for another episode of The Spot, only on KALW San Francisco.