Podcasts – Talk Shows For the Rest Of Us
I grew up listening to talk radio. I’d listen with my dad to hours of KOA-AM out of Denver, first in the family car then in my room and eventually in my own car. In the 80s and into the 90s talk radio was very different than what we have today. It wasn’t a political echo chamber dominated by shouting. People would talk about stuff. Sure politics and news, but there was more information and less junk. There were strong personalities with something to say, interesting people talking to other interesting people trying to expand and connect. It was a joy to have that friend on the radio and to be part of a community.
But, those days of talk radio glory have faded. Art Bell was a saving grace for awhile, then he was gone, but he did just came back to satellite radio. I thought fun and interesting shows to listen to were gone, and then I discovered podcasts.
About 2007 I was searching online for interviews with comedians, because that’s the sort of nerd I am, and I found an interview with Maria Bamford. The interview was great! The host knew what he was talking about; he was a fan of the artist but not a sycophantic goofball. They talked about comedy, the work, and silly stuff. It was fun and interesting. That show was The Sound of Young America hosted by Jesse Thorn (the show recently changed its name to Bullseye). I was hooked! This was the talk radio I had been searching for. Jesse and his online group Maximum Fun then led me to connect with more shows and today I am immersed in the podcast world. I tend to skew towards comedy podcasts, but there are so many different types of shows that I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stuff to listen to. But, to start I want to tell you about some of my favorites.
Maybe I should first say what a podcast is; it’s a radio show that you download from the internet and listen to on demand. You can listen on your computer or on a digital player like your phone. You could even burn the show to a CD and listen on your hi-fi if that’s how you want to roll.
This is a comedy podcast hosted by Jesse Thorn from Maximum Fun and comedian/actor Jordan Morris. The premise of the show is straight forward: Jordan and Jesse get together once a week with a guest and talk about stuff. And they are incredibly funny. They tell stories about what happened to them and go off on tangents about everything. It’s hanging out with friends; they have similar tastes and outlooks as I do. They live and work in LA, so there is also some interesting discussions about the entertainment business, not celebrity stuff, but the day to day workings of the industry. Oh, and some talk about bunnies.
Like Jordan Jesse Go!, Never Not Funny’s premise is straight forward. The center of the show is comedian Jimmy Pardo. He is joined by co-host Matt Belknap, cameraman Elliot, researcher/intern Garon and a guest for a fun weekly hangout. It’s funny people having fun, and you get to be there. As a listener you become part of an intimate, worldwide family. You get to know the cast and the regulars as they become a part of your life.
I really enjoy a good film discussion. As a movie guy I tend to lean towards the artsy side of things. But I like mainstream movies too. I want to enjoy a film as much as I like to be challenged by one. And Chris Mancini and Graham Elwood the hosts of Comedy Film Nerds are my kind of critics. They love movies and know the history of film. But they also work in the industry, so they know what it takes to make a good production and how hard that can be. Each week they discuss the new movies in theaters and on DVD and make recommendations. I want to know if a movie is worth my time and these guys tell me and make it fun.
Some Other Podcasts That I Like
It’s a weekly discussion of science and current events from a skeptical point of view.
Another science show hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. On each show Neil and his guests, often comedians and experts, discuss a topic. It’s fun and informative.
We’re Alive is a zombie radio play. It is the story about a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombie-like creatures. Each episode of the podcast is like a chapter in a book. It’s a full production with actors, sound effects and music.
The original anti-anti-talk show. Silly and awesome.
It’s all about movies that didn’t quite work out, cult classic and flops. Also silly and awesome.