Nate DiMeo's "The Memory Palace" is an addictive, quizzical historical podcast that features the host relating odd (bat bombs, which is as hare-brained as it sounds), fascinating (Franklin J. Pierce framed as 'the saddest president"), creepy (five instances of newspapers using the phrase "horrible death" in relation to a person's passing), and sad (the extinction of the passenger pigeon) historical anecdotes.
For the most recent episode, "Amok," DiMeo spends about ten minutes relating an outrageous story that the New York Herald reported ("A Shocking Sabbath Carnival of Death!") on one morning in 1874. According to the story, a pestered rhinoceros broke out of his cage at the Central Park Zoo, trampled the zookeeper who was needling him, then proceeded through the zoo bashing open every cage he (or she?) could. From there, madness descended on New York City. A woman kneeling in prayer was killed by a bear; a gaggle of seamstresses watched one of their own be split in two by the aforementioned revolutionary rhino; a young nanny's four charges were taken off by a lion, never to be seen again.
And more! A lion and tiger brawled in the middle of 59th street. Exotic prey was devoured on every corner by exotic predators. Swedish big-game hunters and the city's heroic 80-year-old governor (a Civil War vet!) took to the streets to shoot down the attacking beasts, but even so... the night had fallen with anacondas and panthers on the prowl somewhere in the city, still unaccounted for, still hungry.
The editor of the New York Times was outraged that his paper had failed to run anything about "the biggest story in the history of the city." People bought guns, locked doors, and held their children close.
Sharp-eyed readers of the Herald, however, would have noticed something a bit odd in the last paragraph of that "Shocking Sabbath" story. I'll leave it to DiMeo, as I couldn't possibly do it justice. Needless to say, it's quite a story even if all is not as it seems. And it certainly can't miss relating to many issues the press faces today.
(The individual episodes of "The Memory Palace" are fairly short at about 15 minutes, so one can easily devour 3-4 in a sitting. Beware, though, as new episodes are slow to arrive, so you don't wanna burn through them all at once.)
Title: "The Memory Palace"
Episodes Available: 105
Episode Length: 10-15 minutes
Where to Download: Radiotopia; iTunes
Host: Nate DiMeo