In case you’re new to Medium Cool, BGinCHI is here once a week to offer a thread on culture, mainly film & books, with some TV thrown in.
In this week’s MC, let’s talk about podcasts. Do you listen to them?
What are some of the ones you’ve most enjoyed, and why?
Nope. I just haven’t been able to get into them.
I do not do podcasts. Despite this, someone keeps recommending them to me.
ETA: This might be a short thread.
I don’t listen to them anymore, work has been a beast and when I’m home I watch Twitch streams mostly, as I’ve been moving back into my gaming interests.
I am IN a podcast, though, The Old Ways Podcast (shameless plug here), where we play a variety of role playing games with an emphasis on horror, mostly Call of Cthulthu. We just recently dropped out 100th episode, which still seems surreal to me to think of.
EDIT – most of the podcasts I listened to were of that bent of odd fiction and horror and role playing games. Among the non gaming podcasts I recommend is Welcome to Nightvale, a wonderful small community.
I don’t do them either, and suggested this topic because I’m hoping to get some suggestions. Seems like I’m the only one of my friends/social circle who doesn’t listen to them all the time.
Interested to hear what people like.
Really like the new one with Obama and Springsteen – Renegades:born in the USA. Thoughtful and honest- and fun -conversations.
I listened to ‘The New Abnormal’ for a while, but it got uninteresting for me after Jan. 20. And I got (more) tired of Rick Wilson.
Not really my thing. I do like The Dollop. Dave Alexander researches a story from history. Gareth Reynolds listens and they comment as they go through the story. Some are brilliant. The Errol Flynn episode is a real standout. Also a story of a 1910ish auto race from NY to Paris by going west, then across Russia and Europe to Paris. Hilarious and informative.
No. Are podcasts more or less like self hosted radio shows?
@MattF: This is always my problem when I do listen: they start out interesting, but then don’t keep my interest. Probably if I was trapped in the car commuting I would be more into it.
Usually a series on a topic, sometimes branching out, or taking on a new subject across several seasons.
That’s a time for music.
I listen to tons of podcasts: history, pop culture, music, comedy, cooking, and more. 13 Minutes to the Moon is long form about Apollo 11 and then Apollo 13.
I like 99% Invisible. Good stories about architecture and design. Roman Mars is a great host, plus he’s got a genius name.
Mark Maron’s is supposed to be terrific but I’ve never listened.
Great title, too.
@Princess Leia: I am also enjoying that one. I like Hillary Clinton’s podcast, although it still makes me alternatively mad and sad that we missed out on having such a thoughtful and intelligent person as President.
I’m not really big into the format, but I have found myself listening to a few during boring work tasks lately.
@Omnes Omnibus: Yep.
And thankfully my commute is about 3 miles. And currently 0 miles.
Also really like Brene Brown’s “Unlocking us.” She is smart, has interesting guests, and is super real- maybe she’s an acquired taste, but I love her podcast.
@BGinCHI: There’s also a ‘podcast tone’ that starts out engaging, but gets grating after a while.
ETA: Most recent one I listened to was about the NYT Spelling Bee…
My local NPR station plays the NYT’s podcast The Daily. The host reporter absolutely sucks, but depending on the subject, it can be very interesting, like a two-day podcast detailing police misbehavior connected with Breonna Taylor’s murder.
Also no interest whatever in the format. If the subject seems interesting, then I’ll look for a transcript and read that. Without a transcript, it’s just people running their mouths, of which there is already a sufficiency.
@MattF: YES. And too many cutesy jokes and off-subject talk.
@BGinCHI: Thanks. I prefer music to hearing other people talk while driving.
@Princess Leia: I gotta check that one. I worked with her once, and yeah she’s super real, totally great person. Our second meeting she brought me brownies because she was concerned that I wasn’t taking enough breaks. Thanks.
Unless I am trapped in a car and am tired of listening to music and books on tape, I am a hard ‘no’ on podcasts. For those that are informative, it’s much easier to get that information from a book, and for those that are a group of comedians saying inane things together, sticking needles under my fingernails is much quicker.
Count me in the no podcast pile. I just can’t seem to focus on a disembodied voice droning on and on trying to make 10 minutes seem like something that couldn’t have been accomplished in two. It’s not just podcasts. YouTube hosts can have this problem as well.
What’s a podcast? Actually, no I do not listen to podcasts. Tried for a while. Retired so I don’t commute and if I have time to listen to a podcast, I’d rather spend it doing something else like commenting on blogs.
Seconded. Reading seems easier for me to process. I agree that podcasts seem like just words. But my sister enjoys them.
Oh, also Aria Code hosted by the exquisite Rhiannon Giddens and diverse guests.
@TomatoQueen: This. I can read a transcript in a fraction of the time it takes to listen to a whole show, or a debate or an interview for that matter.
@Yutsano: I will turn to YouTube to figure out how to do some basic task I was never taught, or whether it’s worth buying some expensive piece of equipment, and the amount of time most of these hosts spend on not getting to the point is maddening. But I suppose they get more ad dollars the longer they babble on.
In some ways, with YouTube and podcasts, it’s like reality TV – there’s so much padding because there isn’t that much real information (or drama, in the case of reality TV) to fill the time slot.
James E Powell
Rewatchables on the Ringer network. Talk about movies.
The Play’s the Thing is an enjoyable Shakespeare podcast.
Close Reads is some of the same people as The Play’s the Thing talking about novels.
There are quite a few college course lectures on the podcast networks. I’m listening to a Chaucer one now because I decided to read Canterbury Tales and Troilus.
My guess when I proposed this topic was that I’d be the odd person out (not a podcast listener, but kind of curious if I ever had the time….which I don’t).
Looks like the Jackalariat is pretty cold on the podcast medium.
If you can find a transcript of a program. I’ve read transcripts for some NPR programs, but usually go back to the programs themselves, because I want to hear human beings speak. I want to know what points the speaker emphasized. I want to hear the conversation.
As always, your mileage may vary.
Another person who hasn’t been able to get into podcasts. The inside jokes and giggling on the couple I’ve tried were annoying, I don’t have great hearing and can’t tell what’s being said when people talk fast, and reading has been my jam ever since my mom spent a lot of her pregnancy reading library books to me in the womb. She was always telling me to “get your nose out of that book” and I would blame her.
@John Revolta: Podcasts are for commuters and joggers. I don’t have the patience to listen when I could be reading at three times the speed, but I really should consider them for the hour long drive to work when I am perpetually annoyed by mid-day NPR.
one that I enjoy but unsure its been retired or not is Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show. Granted its mostly insider talk about the entertainment/Comedy genre but he has a pretty decent cross-section of character actors, stand-ups, directors and the vast majority of it is real conversation. His guests run the gamut of Rob Reiner to Allison Janney and he has roughly 300+ conversations on file via You Tube. If you enjoy some behind the scenes info on how the entertainment sausage is made, I would recommend. Kevin’s biggest limitation is the circle of who he can reach and coerce onto his show, but considering his start as a stand-up impressionist and then as a character actor, he does snag that odd really interesting real interview, say like Tom Hanks. Often abbreviated as KPCS.
I’m a podcast listener.
I love Futility Closet (forgotten stories from the pages of history).
The Other Half started as the Queens of England Podcast. Once he ran through the Queens of England he moved on to other notable women in history. So far it’s been the first Roman Empresses, the Mothers and Grandmothers of WW1 and now he is looking at female Folk Heroines, be they real or myth. This has given him a chance to look at other non-white cultures.
Profiling Criminal Minds is about the TV show Criminal Minds, but they also look at policing, mental health, criminal justice. The hosts are from Canada, so they aren’t real thrilled with our justice system.
@BGinCHI: Either that or the pro-podcast Jackals are listening rather than reading right now.
J R in WV
Listening to someone talk sounds OK, but in reality, I only enjoy listening to people I already know and respect. My neighbors are people I’ve known for decades, trained and educated professionals, scientists, organizers and editors with a broad scope of interests and abilities. One is an expert stringed instrument mechanic and musician, one a biologist/hydrologist/brewer/cook/network manager, actually several are biologists.
Podcasts are just a creation of people too lazy to write articles and have them edited by other experts, and then post them online. A waste of time, mostly, because I can read 8 times as fast as anyone can talk intelligently. I read and comment on blogs, because it happens so much more quickly than listening to people bloviate.
James E Powell
When I first started my longer commutes, 90-120 minutes, I listened to sports talk radio because I wanted something mindless that I didn’t have to pay attention to. Then I moved to music and re-discovered whole album listening.
@BGinCHI: I know some millennials who listen a lot to podcasts. Given that this blog commentariat tends towards the senior side of things, it’s not a surprise that podcasts are not that popular.
The best ones I have heard are all folks over 50.
The Professional Left.
Well There’s Your Problem, an engineering podcasts with slides (if you see it on YouTube).
God Awful Movies.
The Flop House.
Behind the Bastards.
Musicals with Cheese.
Fall of Civilizations.
Also dig My Dad Wrote a Porno. A guys dad wrote a porno novel, he reads excerpts to his friends and they react. All three are British and hilarious. His dad’s penname is Rocky Flintstone.
My feeling exactly. I’m starting to suspect that my friends who are always talking about them have too much time on their hands, or maybe their jobs are just really easy.
@Omnes Omnibus: Diabolical.
This makes sense. I usually listen to NPR when I’m driving by default but they’re not that good really.
@James E Powell: I have discovered that the distance from my place to my parents’ place is almost exactly Beethoven’s 9th and the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons long.
I listen to the Professional Left with Driftglass and Bluegal…typically when I’m doing my weekly housecleaning. It’s a view from the heartland (Springfield) chock full of politics, culture, literature, religion, etc.
The only other podcast I listen to…it’s my favorite and I simply cannot recommend it enough…is EarHustle. It is about life in San Quentin and in recent seasons, out of San Quentin. It is produced by a volunteer at the prison as well as a former inmate whose sentence was commuted by Jerry Brown and a few current inmates. The stories are compelling and varied, make you laugh and cry and scream. Good music too.
While I like these two podcasts so much, I can hardly listen to a book on tape. I just get lost and often have to go back so the book loses all of its rhythm. I’m not sure why one audio medium works for me and the other does not.
Add me to the list of podcast non-listeners. I’m not really sure why because I will listen to people talking on the radio if the topic is interesting and the people know how to speak in public. It might be because I am at the saturation point of material that I consume digitally. My total time/day online has decreased drastically since last November.
Yeah, same for me with audiobooks.
James E Powell
Is that anything like the ‘public radio’ tone? Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon totally nailed it in skits on Saturday Night Live.
@Craig: OK, this is probably revealing, but that sounds funny as hell.
On Point? Gah, she makes me crazy. ??
On the Media, This American Life, Freakonomics, The Moth, How I Built This + a couple more. Makes the hour walk, same route, every day, much more interesting. Now I have a couple more to check out – thanks.
Thinking Outside Pandora’s Box
How did a multi-hour long show that consists of nothing more than a host talking about history ever become wildly popular? It’s got something to do with Dan Carlin.
He’s been called the king of long-form podcasting and “one of the greatest storytellers in the world”. His distinctive voice and style is one of the most instantly recognizable in the medium and with hundreds of millions of downloads, his shows are some of the most listened to podcasts of all time.
Carlin’s work weaves historical information with deep questions and Twilight Zone-style twists to help illustrate the power and continuing relevance of the past. Drama, extremes, empathy and vivid examples of both the highs and lows of humanity dominate the narrative. It’s a trademark mix of elements that has been entertaining listeners since 2005.
Some I like:
Pod Save America. Three guys, all former Obama staffers, I think. Very well informed, witty guys discuss politics and culture.
Best of the Left: Excerpts from other news and podcasts on a particular subject. Great place to find out about other left leaning news and discussions.
David Pakman. Interviews, discussion of news and politics.
Unfucking the Republic. Slightly sarcastic, humorous semi-deep dives into contemporary issues. Look it up as “UNFTR”.
The professional left
Sisters in Law
I guess I like more podcasts than I thought. I only usually listen in airports and planes, so none for the last year.
Cocaine and Rhinestones is some good stories about old Country and Western music told by David Allan Coe’s son.
@BGinCHI: it is. Kind of dangerous for driving, closing your eyes cause you’re laughing is less than desirable behind the wheel.
I’ll try not to turn this into yet another one of my huge lists of podcasts I enjoy. I listen as I go about my morning routine, as I’m commuting, as I’m gaming, as I’m cooking, etc. so at minimum, I listen to 40 minutes per day, definitely way more on the weekends.
The Korean Drama podcast has recently begun season 3, where they’re watching an actually good drama this time (Itaewon Class).
A relatively new podcast with a pretty small audience is The Historyogi Podcast, focusing on all sorts of Singaporean history and politics. Previous episodes have ranged from a discussion with the author of “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye” to Stamford Raffles’ place in Singaporean history, to today’s episodes about the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the history of treating HIV/AIDS in Singapore. I’ve had a little correspondence with the podcaster, Dhevarajan Devadas, and he was so flipping nice that he trawled through government databases just to try and answer my question. So I’m trying my best to get this guy’s podcast out there as much as I can.
Dorothy A. Winsor
I listen to Pod Save America at the gym. It’s a 90 minute broadcast twice a week, which is enough to cover my time on the step machine.
I used to listen to them while cutting the grass from my phone via bluetooth to noise cancelling headphones. I’ve listened to audio books the last few mowing seasons. I can’t listen to spoken word audio while reading, and I would much rather read.
Since COVID means I no longer spend an hour each way walking to and from work, I’ve had a lot of difficulty keeping up with podcasts, but I seem to be keeping up with these when I walk for exercise:
Ghibliotheque — three BBC film critics discuss the films from Studio Ghibli, and once finished with those, the films of Satoshi Kon. Currently they are working on the films from Cartoon Saloon (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner, …). One of the critics is new to these films, and I’m a big fan of all of them, so this is like comfort food.
Stay Tuned with Preet — Preet Bharara interviews people. There’s a members-only supplementary podcast, Cafe Insider, in which he and another Justice Warrior (Ann Milgram, former AG of New Jersey) discuss current events.
Pod save America — former Obama/Clinton speechwriters discuss political news and organize. They have numerous sibling podcasts, one of which, Pod Save the World, focuses on foreign policy.
The Weeds from Vox — policy nerds from Vox talk policy. Each episode ends with a review of a paper. Lately, each week Matt Yglesias does an in-depth interview on one of the episodes.
Worldly from Vox — foreign policy nerds from Vox talk foreign policy.
The Joy of X — Mathematician Steven Strogatz interviews scientists and mathematicians. He’s an excellent interviewer, and his guests are frequently very interesting.
Quanta Magazine has a weekly podcast highlighting an article of theirs.
Lately, I’ve been listening to Unexplainable, from Vox. The most recent episode was about the Mohorovicic Discontinuity (what happens between the Earth’s crust and the Earth’s mantle? A weird change in density. What’s that all about?)
I’ll occasionally do Ezra Klein’s interview show, if the guest sounds interesting, but I have trouble finding time for him.
I used to listen to a lot of podcasts during a very long commute. Sometimes these podcasts were recordings of radio or TV programs, but by listening to the podcast I could control when I listened to the show. Some of these programs are not available on US tv or radio.
I rarely watch regular tv or listen to many conventional radio programs.
Most recently, I have absolutely loved selected episodes of the Culturally Relevant podcast. David Chen, who regularly hosts the excellent Slash Filmcast movie review podcast, and his wife recently did one of the best, sometimes heartbreaking episodes reacting to the recent shootings of Asian Americans, and the problem of racism against Asian Americans. Earlier they did some wonderful shows about the vaccine, the election and the assault on the Capitol.
Random favorites: I love British comedy panel shows, often find they are better than official news programs. Topping the list is The News Quiz, followed by The Now Show and sometimes Dead Ringers. I will go to YouTube and watch QI: Quite Interesting, formerly hosted by Stephen Fry, and now helmed by Sandi Toksvsig.
The Black Guy Who Tips has moved to Spotify, but is still free and is essential listening.
On YouTube, I love clips of Amber Ruffin’s tv show, and also Trevor Noah.
I think that the Los Angeles based public radio program Air Talk, hosted by Larry Mantle, is one of the best general news programs anywhere. Locally it is on radio station KPPC, 89.3, but is also available as a podcast.
Occasionally, I will listen to the Random Trek podcast, where host Scott McNulty and a guest will talk about a randomly chosen episode of one of the Star Trek shows. This program is part of The Incomparable podcast network, which has a number of interesting shows about SF and tech.
I also enjoy the Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo BBC Radio 5 (I think) film review podcast.
More or Less, the BBC Radio program about statistics in the media is also essential listening, and recently helped me understand the Covid virus more. A recent program blasted a false connection between Covid cases and obesity.
I will queue up some NPR economic podcasts like Make Me Smart, Marketplace, Planet Money. Yes, these are available on the radio, but by downloading or even just streaming the podcast, I can get the shows when I want them.
I will listen to the BBC News Hour and their headline service in preference to CNN or other US media.
Every now and then I will listen to NerdORama, a podcast hosted by Mo Kelly about all things geek.
@raven: I have heard some of Carlin’s podcasts. He is good but I am not a huge fan of the genre.
Huh. I need another podcast on my list like I need another anime or another webcomic, but I’ll give this a go.
So many have terrible production values. The hosts are either shrieking with laughter or whispering, swallowing their words, or go off on weird tangents. The only one I’ve really enjoyed is Mo Rocca’s Mobituaries, but I don’t think there are any new episodes. His ‘mobituary’ of Billy Carter was amazing.
@schrodingers_cat: People keep recommending them to me. Personally I can’t hack them but I thought it might be worth a mention.
@schrodingers_cat: Some of them are, but some of them are more professional these days.
The original podcasts were long and meandering. Some of the better produced ones can stick to a time limit and are closer to public radio. “How I Built This” is an NPR podcast with Guy Raz and various people on how they started their companies.
I only listen to them on car rides.
I like “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “The Moth Radio Hour,” and “The Infinite Monkey Cage” which is two scientists and a comic.
I have listened to an episode of Larry Wilmore’s podcast and Michelle Obama’s podcast.
Some people like the murder ones like “Serial,” but I have never listened to that one. I try to keep it family friendly in the car.
I’ve tried to listen to recommended podcasts several times. They just don’t hold my attention, but I can see why many like them. My son often suggests one, but I know I disappoint him when I give him a meh response.
@Brachiator: Thanks. Informative.
@Percysowner: Yes! I like Futility Closet too.
Hey y’all long time no see but a couple of historical podcasts from the BBC
Intrigue on the building of one of the tunnels between east & west berlin at the height of the coldwar
Intrigue on The Ratline
And always: In Our Time
The Moth Radio Hour never ceases to be excellent.
@BGinCHI: I’m still not comfortable with Talkies. Back later, gotta freshen my onion belt.
@dexwood: They make sense for commutes, especially in the time of “NPR is going to have Republicans on to spout nonsense.”
In the Before Times, I listened to podcasts twice a week at the gym. I can easily enjoy StarTalk or Naked Scientists or some random thing on ancient history or scifi, when I’m engaged in mindless physical activity.
But I don’t have the bandwidth in my head to listen to a podcast and bake. Or drive in Boston traffic. Or keep 6 feet away from rando crazies at Stop-n-Shop, let alone Mahty the Robot.
@Emma: I thought the point of this post was for jackals who like podcasts to point those out to jackals who don’t.
Got my Covid. Doing tax prep, with long commute. Elderly inherited dog. All he does is sniff. Walks take forever, but hate to rush him since sniffing in the park is his whole life and only interest.
I need to start podcast listening, because NPR and watching the old dog just aren’t doing it for me. Can’t read while I drive.
@Starfish: I can see that, but, not to gloat, I’ve been retired for five years and worked at home for ten years before that. My son has a long commute and that’s when he listens. Too, this thread makes me think a generational difference is going on.
@sab: This is what this post is about
@FlyingToaster: Forgot about gyms, since responsible govs don’t allow them yet.
Broad new world of podcasts opening to me. I am excited.
I spend about 75-90 min a day walking the lab, party because he needs it, and party for my cardiac rehab from heart surgery. So lots of podcasts.
My mainstream ones have mostly already been covered upstream. Some of my more obscure ones that you may not have all heard of:
Tides of History. The recent stuff on the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and rise of agriculture have been fascinating. But the host bounces all over to interesting historical topics.
Wild Things: Season 1 was a deep dive into Bigfoot lore and science and was fascinating. Season 2 is a deep dive into UFO and extraterrestrial science. The female host gets some amazing interviews with interesting scientists.
Hang up and Listen: This is Slate Magazine’s podcast on the intersection between sports and politics. I don’t catch every episode, but just the ones that look especially interesting.
Revisionist History: This is Malcom Gladwell’s podcast. You have to pick and choose to find interesting stuff but there is some of truly interesting topics.
Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History. He’s kind of an acquired taste. Very military focused. But does some very interesting stuff. His series on ancient Rome and WW2 on the eastern front were pretty good. As was his series on WW1.
Not my bag. They do not click with me.
Before the pandemic I listened to only one: CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, which is focused on science. The host asks really good questions. That’s one thing I am looking for. It’s sort of like Science Friday but “in Canadian”.
I now subscribe to Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast. It has introduced me to several areas I wanted to read in but didn’t know the way in, etc. He is interested in many things and, like above, is a host who asks good questions and tries to make connections. Before Carroll, I did not know about Daniel Dennett, Alison Dreger, Joseph Henrich, David Stasavage. Now I recognize their names and work.
I recently discovered the In Our Time podcast, which is the BBC single topic show that is now also packaged as a podcast. Forty-five minutes on one subject with the host and 3 experts. The things I have learned! Doggerland. Mary Astell. Valladolid Debate. Gordon Riots.
And Duolingo now offers podcasts. I get to hear intermediate French spoken by native speakers with little snippets of English interspersed. A written transcript is provided at the Duolingo website. I imagine the same thing is available in at least some of their other languages.
I have been audiobook obsessed for about two years. When I listen to something that mentions a book/author/topic that piques my interest, I go immediately to my Libby reader and see if either of my two regional library systems has the (audio) book or anything by the author. So my pandemic reading/listening has been intellectually stimulating and very enjoyable. I am someone who gets a little crazy when I am bored but that hasn’t really happened because of all the FREE listening.
Regarding podcasts, it’s like listening to radio. Some programs are great, others, less so. It’s another way to get audible info. I tried a bunch of podcasts that sounded interesting but turned out to be boring. Yes, silly little jokes and inside remarks. Poor speaking skills. Stupid ideas. But then you just stop listening.
Things I like to do while listening: housework, washing the dishes, needle-pointing, watching hockey, playing games on my phone, riding the bus, working in the yard.
James E Powell
A lot of the classic rock era albums are well under an hour and I can get two in on one trip. My switch to music started when David Bowie died and I downloaded six or seven albums to my phone. Found out I needed a different data plan.
I also make playlists of songs that I’m learning. Get the nuances.
I would also recommend Radio Ambulante, about Latin America
Orange is the New Red
@raven: I thought I was saying that, ineptly. I used to listen to radio a lot while doing other stuff. But the radio I used to listen to has become either increasingly offensive, or less and less interesting. So I stopped listening.
@NotMax: Not my bag. Showing your age, hippie. Me too.
@Valdivia: Valdivia! So nice to see you here.
@sab: Our Fucking Moron is kinda allowing them, but my gym is at Harvard, which will not reopen to alumni* until at least next fall.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
*In my case, spouse of the Harvard alum.
@Valdivia: Hey! You mentioned IOT. Yes, ALWAYS.
@sab: I’m aqua jogging for 35-40 minutes and I just make playlists and broadcast from my iPhone to my Bluetooth earbuds.
I don’t do very many but I do like “All the presidents’ lawyers” with Ken White (popehat). I’ve been slowly doing “The Good Place” but am dragging it out. I only do them when I’m cooking or walking (music when running). Oh—and Quinn Cumming Gives Bad Advice
Planet Money is wonderful. About 20 min each, varied often humorous stories about little bits of our world.
When Subaru Came Out: why Subaru embraced marketing to lesbians.
Kid Rock Vs: How music artists are trying to cope with ticket scalpers. (Kid Rock is garbage, but on this he’s doing something interesting)
The Free Food Market: how food banks exchange surplus goods.
The Risk Farmers: why farmers in poor countries don’t grow more food
When Women Stopped Coding: women were more commonly programmers decades ago than they are now. Why did that happen?
Eagles vs. Chickens: a chicken farmer is trying to do the right things environmentally, but eagles keep eating his chickens. How did he deal with it?
The Miracle Apple: how new apple varieties come about and change our eating habits
The Bees Go To California: how every year a huge fraction of the nations honeybees get shipped to California, and then shipped back, and how that happens.
They’re mostly little insights into why the world works the way it does, and parts of the world that you might not have known existed. If you like gardening/food, lots of episodes tell interesting little stories about that. Or music, or whatever.
They’re well edited, short, and nice to listen to on the drive home or whatever. Lots of different reporters, so there’s variety in tone, etc.
@Orange is the New Red: I like that one, too. I see that you have moved the apostrophe to its new position. :-)
OT. Any chance of a Zoom sometime over the upcoming holiday weekend?
@WaterGirl: hello! :)
had to come and drop some podcast recs since I listen to them all the time
@EthylEster: yes, such a great show
and one more rec: the wind of change podcast on the story behind the Winds of Change song, very worth it
@NotMax: It’s very sad that I have to ask this, but what upcoming holiday weekend?
Kara Swisher has some interesting guests on her new podcast Sway. She is an interesting interviewer because she is generally not deferential to her guests.
The Fall of Rome was a well-done, interesting podcast.
There are also some sports podcasts about my favorite teams I listen to. I prefer podcasts to sports radio because the podcasts get rid of most of the commercials and all of the callers. They are also a much better medium for women hosts. I listen to one about the Longhorns that has three women hosts that is under the Everybody Gets a Trophy umbrella. It’s fun to hear women talk intelligently and passionately about sports without any testosterone present.
You Must Remember This is a storytelling podcast exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. It’s the brainchild and passion project of Karina Longworth (founder of Cinematical.com, former film critic for LA Weekly), who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode.
This is on hiatus, but had some absolutely fascinating episodes about Marilyn Monroe, Jean Seberg, Howard Hughes, early Hollywood Scandals, Lena Horne, the surprising tough minded liberalism of Bette Davis, Walt Disney’s insistence on doing the movie “Song of the South,” despite warnings that he could not really make the incipient racism palatable. And of course more Hollywood scandals. You might still be able to download programs. I recommend this podcast because I have read a lot of Hollywood history, and this program often surprised me with its facts and insights.
Rex Factor. A fun historical program which has ranked kings (and queens) of England, Scotland and Wales. Humor mixed in with a fair amount of actual scholarship.
You’re Dead to Me. The history podcast for people who don’t like history, and those who do. Greg Jenner brings together the best names in comedy and history to learn and laugh about the past. Very good on the history. Corrects a lot of misconceptions.
BBC History Extra Podcast. Associated with BBC History Magazine. Highlights stories carried in the magazine.
This Week in Science. Formally associated with Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech (TWIT) network. This Week in Science is a science talk radio broadcast from KDVS on the University of California, Davis campus. Each week, TWIS founder/host Kiki Sanford and co-host Justin Jackson review current research in technology. The hosts know their stuff and, more importantly, communicate about it well to the lay person.
I would love to sample a good podcast about the history of India or Japan.
@Baud: @Omnes Omnibus:
Me either. I have no patience for them.
@Valdivia: I love podcasts. I listen to them as I am falling asleep, and if/when I wake in the night, i put them on again or pick up where I left off when I fell asleep.
These days, I would so much rather listen than read something long.
But just like audio books, they need to have good voices and be interesting. :-)
So great to see you here again!
Passover/Easter, I assume, although they’re different weekends, I guess.
Passover next weekend, and/or Easter first weekend in April.
Not on podcasts but I just found out that my favorite Egyptian writer, Nawal El Saadawi died at 89. She was a medical doctor and an outspoken feminist; much of her fiction was drawn from her experiences treating the downtrodden. I remember being shocked by Woman at Point Zero (I was just twelve and snuck it from my mom’s book collection), which gives an accounting of the life of a Cairo prostitute on death row for killing her pimp.
El Sadaawi was jailed many times, married a few times as well, and I believe some Muslim clerics tried to force her third and final husband to divorce her on the grounds that she wasn’t a good Muslim.
The BBC has a write up about her here.
@WaterGirl: They put me to sleep ain’t a great recommendation, but it is practical.
@Brachiator: I love Dead to Me, always fun and interesting look at historical figures.
@WaterGirl: I too love them. I started listening when I lived in nyc (RadioLab is still a favorite) on my commute before they were cool, and never really stopped. Best way to listen to a wide variety of historians on their expertise or just fabulous storytelling on the go.
I will say one of my favorite ‘podcasts’ though it has a beneficial visual component (slides) so it’s better background on Youtube is ‘Well There’s Your Problem’.
It’s about engineering disasters, hosted by three individuals – two americans and one brit, who is also transgender, and they’re catholic, jewish, and muslim. Also, they’re all socialists. I think it’s hilarious. Lots of off color jokes. They bring on a variety of guests. It’s all comically amateurly produced.
@WaterGirl: I adore audiobooks! I listen to them while driving, doing housework, and when falling asleep (depending on the genre…no mystery or I’d never fall asleep).
Podcasts are strictly non-political for me. I liked Pod Save America well enough but couldn’t do it for more than a week. Like many here, I process politics better by reading.
True crime and weird history podcasts are my jam: My Favorite Murder, Disgraceland, and Noble Blood are my favorites. The current serial I’m listening to is Welcome to Your Fantasy. It’s about the Chippendales and, well, I was an 80s teenager.
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris. Good way to learn about meditation.
@ThresherK: Ah, fellow WTYP listener! Didn’t expect to find any here.
@raven: Your point eludes me. Not surprising since I ain’t so bright.
Went to work yesterday during lickdown. Couldn’t get into the office. Key didn’t work. Huh.
Key on lock with everything on left side, where lock meets the door jamb.
My house is the opposite. Doorknob, lock on right. Everything backwords from work. Mechanics, physis, whete stuff was.
Have I said yet how embarassed I am? Basic mechanics, and I couldn’t figure it out. All of my pet guinea pigs over the years could have figured this out.
Lock/ door jam. Which way to turn ain’ t rocket science.It’s not even physics. Just very very very basic mechanics.
@sab: Disqus deleted one of my lists before because of the sheer length, but if you trust WP more… >:) I counted 84 podcasts that I subscribe to, so this won’t even be a complete list…
ALAB (a little too dudebro-ish at times, but very interesting discussions)
At Liberty (The ACLU’s podcast)
Boom! Lawyered (ABL’s and Jessica Pieklo’s show about repro justice)
Burn It All Down (feminist podcast about global sports)
Connections with Evan Dawson (Even though I live on the opposite, I started listening when DougJ posted about having been on it before)
Defender Radio (non-human rights podcast. No, not PETA)
Earth to Humans! (ditto)
Farm to Taber (has been on hiatus for a while sadly, but great look into food-ag policy)
Frangela: The Final Word (2 Black women being awesome)
Gravy (food history and politics)
Hyperallergic (intersection of art and politics)
I Don’t Speak German (Daniel Harper has an annoying habit of asking his guests leading questions to insult “liberals,” but can’t deny that he’s doing good anti-fascist work that no one else wants to)
In Moscow’s Shadows (Russian politics)
NuVoices (can’t be bothered to do the umlaut, but it’s a bilingual pun on new and nu, the Mandarin word for women)
Tech Won’t Save Us (self-explanatory, I think)
The Little Red Podcast (discussions on current PRC policies and their domestic and international impacts)
The Racist Sandwich Podcast (food and politics)
The Washington State Indivisible Podcast (since I live here)
Uncivil (still sad that they chose not to go beyond 1 season)
If you really want, I can give a whole other list of history/educational podcasts, and then one on fun podcasts, hahaha.
@dexwood: It’s more that they occupy my brain enough to turn off everything else. And my favorite thing is to be read to sleep, so it works for me. :-) And I go back until I have heard the whole thing.
I listen to Tommy Vitor and Ben Rhodes – Pod Save the World – for my foreign policy info. That one is very good, so knowledgable, and great voices!
@Brachiator: You’re Dead to Me is hands down, my favorite podcast ever. It beats out even The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. Greg Jenner is a really good follow on Twitter as well.
@Starfish: @sab: Do your car stereos not play music?
@WaterGirl wrote: These days, I would so much rather listen than read something long. But just like audio books, they need to have good voices and be interesting. :-)
With all my audio book listening, I have become very sensitive the voices AND the pronunciation of words. Recently I heard one where the voice (who was not the author) pronounced bristle (as in “bristlecone pine”) as if it were Bristol. She must have repeated it 30 times.
Also I absolutely hate it when the speaker quotes someone in a work of non-fiction and does it in accented English if the person quoted is not the same nationality as the author. All the French readings sound like bad parodies of French people speaking English.
I got into podcasts over corona and mostly those about corona. I can’t wait to get out of them. The ones I listen to are mostly corona-related: In the bubble with Andy Slavitt (now Bob Wachter), the UCSF corona grand rounds with Bob Wachter and corona virus update from the North German Radio with Christian Drosten being on every second week. The last is in German. Lastly, This week in virology from the American Society of Microbiology.
All of these really take the time to understand a topic. This gets me out of the breathless and mostly brainless coverage on social and traditional media. I am a blissfully retired chemist/biochemist, so I can hack the science, mostly and I do have the time.
I will now disappear in canyon country for a couple of weeks. Hopefully, when I return, they will all have folded because there is nothing to report any longer.
Nah, I don’t think so either, but a guy can dream.
Podcasts are good when I have to do something using my hands but not brain: I particularly like them for doing my PT exercises, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen.
Gastropod: Food, science, and history–three things I like, with two very engaging hosts. Recent episodes cover the concept of snacking, apples, and hangover remedies.
Hidden Brain: The NPR show, about odd bits of neuroscience. An episode that stayed with me was about how we don’t actually like having endless open-ended options–that people are happier when they decide and that’s it, no endless do-overs. The scientist doing the study was asked “So if that’s your finding why don’t you marry your longtime girlfriend?” and he took that to heart and did and was very happy.
@WaterGirl: Before your reply, I thought it sounds like a throwback to bedtime stories. As someone who wakes at 2 or 3, ready to sleep again about six, but dogs wake me about 6:30, your strategy makes sense.
Witness History (BBC; repurposed from a radio program, I think)
In our time (same)
Fully Charged Plus Podcast – news program on renewable energy, hosted/written/produced by a former Red Dwarf star (pun intended)
The Land of Desire – for francophiles
A plug for All the Presidents’ Lawyers, with Popehat who sometimes get quoted in twitter threads here. Explains the legal ramifications of whatever legal issues are most evident around presidents. (After Biden was inaugurated they moved the apostrophe.)
Recent topics include the logistics of trying all those insurrectionists–it will take double the court capacity, compared to a normal year of DC crime.
“lickdown” sounds like fun
@EthylEster: Same here. I’m currently listening to the recent Cary Grant biography and the narrator’s mispronunciations are driving me mad. He’s at least consistent-saying DeHallivand instead of DeHavilland every.damn.time. Where he almost lost me was referring to MI6 as Msixteen.
I thought MI6 was pronunced 1016.
Hey can I share a song? It’s called St. Endo and it’s about endometriosis but with a disco beat. She is a really good friend of my son and her partner is a cousin. I like the way they did this video.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=se6M225Cxls St. Endo
You are so groovy.
At first, I didn’t like podcasts at all. Now, I love them in the car and on walks. A few I really enjoy (some have already been mentioned).
In Our Time, the BBC weekly show on a wide range of topics. Love Melvin Bragg, the host, and the 3 weekly guests. I’ve learned tons about topics I might not think to study.
Marketplace and Make Me Smart, NPR shows but in podcast form, about economics and the lives of people as they navigate the world.
The Modern West, fromWyoming Public Radio…about the changing west. This season is all about ghost towns, and what causes small towns to fade away.
Cooking shows, like The Splendid Table and Milk Street
NPR’s Fresh Air with Terri Gross. The show, but when I want to listen. I probably delete at least two episodes a week that don’t excite me.
Just discovered a WWII podcast by a couple of British historians called We Have Ways (of Making You Talk). Not linear at all, they bounce around, tell stories, argue about generals, battles, etc.
yes, I’m a nerd.
I have many in my lineup, but I don’t listen to every episode. I pick and choose based on that episode’s guest/topic, or time available.
Marc Maron’s “WTF with Marc Maron” is one of the original podcasts. In the beginning, it was mostly interviews with other comics but later branched out to authors, musicians, filmmakers and celebrities. Episodes drop Monday and Thursday mornings, about 75 minutes each.
Conan O’Brien’s “Conan O’Brien needs a Friend” is long form celebrity interviews that would only be six minutes on his TBS show. Episodes drop Monday mornings. 60 – 75 minutes.
“Pod Save America” is a politics podcast by four former Obama aides. The first 2/3 of each episode is a review and preview of current news and legislation. The last third is an interview with someone with unique political insight. Episodes drop Monday and Thursday evenings. 60 – 75 minutes.
Literally! with Rob Lowe is another long form celebrity interview podcast. Episodes drop on Wednesdays. 75 minutes.
Do you like pro-wrestling? There are hundreds of wrestling podcasts, so somebody must. Two of best are by former booker/manager/mouthpiece James E. Cornette. He has a long history in the business and lots of great stories. “Jim Cornette’s Drive Thru” answers listener questions with history and great stories. “The Jim Cornette Experience” reviews current week wrestling shows with wit and disdain. The Drive Thru drops on Tuesdays. 3 hours. The Experience drops on Fridays. 3 to 4 hours. These are verrry long podcasts, so listen until you get bored or run out of time.
There are millions of podcasts on every topic imaginable, most are not too good. Not everyone can be entertaining for more than five minutes. Pick a subject and give an episode a try. Keep trying until you find something/someone you like.
I like In the Groove which is basically a rebroadcast of a jazz show from a radio station in Connecticut. Although I haven’t listened to it in a while – I spend much more time on the mobile devices instead of the desktop computer and I tend to use the Hearts of Space app instead.
I worked for a Union that would strike on the regular and walking a picket line for 6 to 10 hour shifts on a 24/7 line leaves a barren wasteland of time to occupy. I started listening to free stuff -books and radio and such like. I liked the New Yorker Radio Hour, fresh air, and then the Professional Left. My current favorite is Smartless with Sean Hayes, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman. I miss Two Dope Queens.
More votes for In Our Time, The Infinite Monkey Cage and a miscellanea of comedy ones at the BBC. There were a lot of on demand radio drama, documentaries, etc there at the Beeb that could keep me quite amused.
@SiubhanDuinne: Mellow, too.
Oh and one more thing. Most players can play podcasts at higher speeds without changing pitch. I set mine to 1.2 times real speed. You can clearly hear what’s said without wasting so much time.
@Omnes Omnibus: music doesn’t hold my attention. I get bored with it.
i love podcasts. Favorites include political:
Pod Save America
Lovett or Leave It
Pantsuit Politics a progressive and a conservative woman
History Chicks – women in history by very conversational, informal hosts.
A Way to Garden
Gravy by the Southern Foodways Alliance – southern food history
@Gretchen: It takes all kinds, I guess.
Ian Masters’ Background Briefing is always good. It’s a radio show, but also available as sort of a podcast, (and what’s the diff, anyway?)
But today, Sunday, he proved there’s always an exception to the rule by interviewing Thomas fucking Frank, who, for some godawful reason, remains in Masters’ good graces, which is a major sore spot between Masters and myself. Maybe I’ll listen to it, but if it’s anything at all like Frank’s recent post at the Guardian, well… hard pass.
Not a podcast, but with great voicing: the audiobooks of the In Death series of murder mysteries. They are set in New York 50 years in the future after the Urban Wars. They center around a homicide detective married to a fabulously handsome and wealthy Irishman who adores her. There are about 50 books in the series, most read by Susan Erickson. She is amazing in that there are 10 or more recurring characters, and she has a distinct, easily recognizable voice for each of them.
@Omnes Omnibus: yes, my husband is a music collector who had thousands of records, and then thousands of cds until streaming took over. He loves nothing more than having music playing All The Time. I’ve probably heard more than my lifetime allotment.
Steve in the ATL
Shitty management or shitty union? I’ve seen both.
@dexwood: It’s true. I am late Gen-X. My sister is an early Millennial, and she is the person who is always giving me podcasts to listen to. (I rarely do though.)
@Steve in the ATL: Short attention spans?
@Omnes Omnibus: How do people do music right now? I had a hard time figuring it out. They don’t buy CDs anymore so the music has to come from somewhere. I went the lazy path of buying a Spotify subscription, but I would like to have the music after I cancel the subscription so I should figure out how music is acquired these days.
Well crap. After reading through the comments, I saw some podcasts that are actually programs I enjoy on Sirius PRX, Roman Mars, Ear Hustle, the Moth, This American Life, etc. Now I gotta seriously rethink how I feel about podcasts and look into some of those recommended above.
Thank you commentariat, for enlightening me
@Starfish: I have everything from vinyl to spotify.
I AM A PODCAST FIEND.
Here are only a few:
Comedy Bang Bang: the venerable character-driven show with Scott Aukerman
Food Safety Talk: self-explanatory and guardrails for Cole’s home canning
Why Won’t You Date Me?: Nicole Byer’s podcast now supported by Team Coco (Conan O’Brien)
Scam Goddess: Laci Mosley’s podcast about scams and cons, now also Team Coco
This Week in Virology: Great resource for up-to-date coronavirus news these days, including a Sunday clinical update with Daniel Griffin (they’ll talk you off the “scariant” ledge)
ANYTHING WITH PAUL F. TOMPKINS…
including Stay F. Homekins, the pandemical podcast Tompkins does with spouse Janie Haddad Tompkins
Add to Cart: Kulap Vilaysack and SuChin Pak on consumerism, but the most recent episode is their sadness and rage about the Atlanta mass murders
I can list so many more, including Hollywood Handbook, Doughboys, Best Friends, Lawfare, etc.
@Omnes Omnibus: Well, the Big Ten sucks.
Steve in the ATL
@Starfish: Spotify, and the cost is negligible so who cares?
@Omnes Omnibus: that’s why god planted Adderall all over the earth
@JWR: Okay, I’m listening to the show I linked above, and I stand by my opinion of Thomas Frank. (He’s a first class concern troll.) Fortunately, Ian Masters doesn’t seem all that taken in by Frank’s idiotic, unspoken argument, which is that 2016 = 2021, and he demands that it be so!
Steve in the ATL
@raven: that’s hardly breaking news! Assuming you’re not talking about just March Madness.
@raven: @Steve in the ATL: I have never attended a Big 10 school.
@Starfish: You can buy download songs and albums from ITunes or Amazon if you want to keep the music. Just remember you are technically licensing, not buying the material and they CAN take it back. They don’t, usually. Although I haven’t heard about it happening with music, there was one case involving a book where there was a copyright dispute and the service pulled the entire book. If I really want something forever, I still buy the CD for music if available or DVD for movies TV and keep it, just in case. THOSE I own.
Steve in the ATL
@Omnes Omnibus: I know that this is rare for me, but my post wasn’t a shot at you!
My greatest disdain for the conference is the always overrated anOSU football team.
@JWR: Frank is just another of the economic populists who see everything in terms of the WWC and are willing to jettison anything and everything else to bring back the ’50 and early ’60s. See also, Mark Lilla.
I am … distraught.
Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant)
The Evening Jones – Bomani Jones hosts podcast where he speaks out on topics other than sports. Also takes questions and passes on anecdotes from his own life. He’s really sharp and very funny.
The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz – Having recently left his perch at ESPN, Dan and the crew continue to answer the question “What happens when somebody takes your run of the mill sports radio show, drags it out back, and beats the hell out of it?” Complete and utter irreverence is the order of the day.
Not a podcast listener, but I did appreciate your recommendations. Will try to check a few of them out.
And it was exciting to see Valdivia here.
@Valdivia: Waving at Valdivia.
@Elizabelle: HI! love saying hi back
I try to drop in from time to time and say hi to you all
today I had to, cause podcasts needed some love :)
I might have to come back and torture you all with eurovision
@Valdivia: Torture away.
Another vote for Fresh Air: I also skip interviews on people or subjects I’m less interested in, but I think Terry Gross and Dan Davies are good interviewers, and they book a nice range of topics and guests. I like listening to favorite radio shows as podcasts on my own schedule.
This American Life (new episodes, skip the reruns), Radio Lab, Invisabilia. I followed a couple of political podcasts during The Former term, but I’m glad to take a break from that stuff for a while. I like history, and have been listening to Throughline for a few months. But I think I’m ready to try some of the suggestions offered above as alternatives.
I’ve been getting more selective. Not enough time to listen to everything. But I find it a great thing to do while exercising or driving on our rural roads.
@Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant): Agree. The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is great.
@Elizabelle: it is at some point in May by then I will be more or less done w my semester and able to share the contest gems :)
I will apologize ahead of time for the musical torture to @Omnes Omnibus
@Valdivia: I am already looking for ways to bribe the elves.
More podcasts, since it looks like at least a few people are enjoying suggestions :) This is my history/educational list:
Byzantium and Friends (academics discussing things like Byzantine erotic epigrams)
Criminal Records Podcast (historical crimes and “crimes”)
Footnoting History (grad students talking about historical tidbits)
Hall of Shame (2 women who like sports talking about sports scandals. Really funny!)
HERstory: Southeast Asia (biographies of badass women of SE Asia)
History is Sexy (Overviews of a mish-mash of topics. One of the hosts, Dr. Emma Southon, did the really funny Agrippina the Younger episode on You’re Dead to Me)
History of Aotearoa New Zealand
History of Japan
History of Persia
Inclusive Education Podcast (hosted by 2 special ed lawyers. Some episodes are really useful if you are having trouble advocating for yourself or your kids, or meeting with resistance)
Iroquois History and Legends
Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby (Medusa was not a monster and acted in self-defense [insert clap emoji between each word])
Marine Conservation Happy Hour
Soul Music (deep dives into famous and not-so-famous songs that have captured people’s imaginations. I like the episodes best that have the original musicians/writers, and also the ones where the musicologist gets to talk more about how a song’s music theory affects us)
Swindled (if you can get past the host’s monotone voice, he puts a lot of effort into researching white collar crimes)
The AskHistorians Podcast (stems from the Reddit group, which thankfully is extremely well-moderated)
The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? (I’m guessing its run is over, but pretty fun BBC science show while it lasted)
The British History Podcast (I assume the podcaster will rectify this as things progress to periods with better record-keeping, but it’s been the English History Podcast for quite a long time. On the plus side, he’s done 368 episodes and is still only at Edward the Confessor)
The Catch and Kill Podcast (for those who can’t/don’t want to read the book. He gets some of his sources to sit down with him, too, which I think is a touching show of trust)
The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry (really fun BBC science podcast. I know without a doubt that there are creepy fanfics shipping the hosts, because they have such good chemistry with each other)
The Delicious Legacy (food topics and interviews)
The Food Programme (BBC again)
The History of Ancient Greece (another podcaster I’ve had a little correspondence with, also very nice. Sadly hasn’t updated since last October)
The History of Byzantium
The History of China
The History of Egypt
The History of India
The Historyogi Podcast (the Singapore-centric podcast I mentioned in my first comment)
The Kitchen Cabinet (Jay Rayner and friends answering food questions in funny ways)
The Medieval Podcast
The Partial Historians (2 classicists taking us from the very start of Rome to the very end, using Livy and one other Roman writer I can’t remember right now as their base reading)
This Podcast Will Kill You (started off as a show about infectious diseases, but has branched out a lot more since then)
You’re Dead to Me (favorite podcast ever, Greg Jenner should be knighted. Last Friday’s episode was about Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and I learned quite a lot while laughing)
Plain old fun podcasts (a lot of the history/educational ones could go here too, but I won’t repeat them):
Korean Drama Podcast (each season features one drama, and each episode is a discussion about the show’s episode. The first 2 shows were classic, but hilariously crappy shows, while this season’s show is actually supposed to be good)
Jimquisition (well, OK, a lot of the games industry news is infuriating, but the discussions are always fun)
Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster (they run a dream restaurant for each week’s guest, James Acaster is a genie)
Taskmaster the Podcast (another show for Taskmaster fans. To be enjoyed alongside the show, which you can watch for free on Youtube, where they should be uploading series 9 any day now)
I’m a fall asleep to podcasts. I require a soothing voice and an interesting topic, preferably something I’m interested in, but not fascinated by. I do sometimes listen to podcasts while cleaning the house or knitting (usually if it is something to complex to watch TV).
Recommend: You Must Remember This (Hollywood history (trivia – host is Rian Johnson’s wife)); early episodes of Welcome to Night Vale (before they started having lots of voice actors), The Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes podcast (yep, an episode by episode trip through the series, which I’ve been watching. Very respectful, goes into the careers of all the actors who were in an episode. Not surprisingly, they thus also show up as guests.), Tides of History and The Fall of Rome (great voice, interesting, had just listened to the War of the Roses episodes before the Harry & Meghan interview. Felt relevant.) Lore (I like the piano, but if I know about a topic, I find I disagree with what the guy is saying about it.). CraftLit (basically annotated audiobooks by a former high school English teacher. She was also an actress, so voice and reading quality very high. Recently did The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, read by an actor from Yorkshire. Hearing a Bronte novel in the original accent was amazing.)
A newer podcast, recommended for non-podcast folks who like classic mystery novels. Shedunnit. A young Englishwoman talks about mystery novels of the 20s and 30s, as well as the cases that inspired them. The episodes are very well researched and run a tight 20 minutes or so. No fluff and her excellent reading is worth a coffee break listening.
I see that Brachiator has already mentioned “BBC History Extra” and “You’re Dead to Me,” both of which I enjoy. They don’t suffer from the problems some people have mentioned of meandering, time-wasting presentation. The guests know their material and convey it efficiently and the interviewers are good and concise.
Backstory, with the American History Guys: three distinguished historians, one each specializing in 18th, 19th and 20th/21st century. They follow a topic through all three centuries. While some topics are limited to current centuries (U.S. relations with the Kremlin, Billy Graham’s influence), all three will have something to say about it relevant to their own periods of expertise. Topics include things like sports, political satire, the Irish in America, the history of political protests, censorship, the history of labor relations, policing, relations with Cuba, American food habits. The podcast officially stopped putting out new episodes in July 2020, but there’s an extensive backlist available online.
The Guardian Books Podcast: what it says on the tin–interviews with authors and commentary on books put out by The Guardian.
Opening Arguments: “the legal podcast that helps you make sense of the news.”
The Why Factor: a BBC podcast that explores various topics.
I commute something like 8 hours a week. Here’s a selection of podcasts I really enjoy:
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff: The titular Ken and Robin talk about 4 topics every week for 15 minutes per topic. They cover a wide variety of stuff, including RPG design, writing, history, and the occult.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour: a bunch of actors and comedians perform very silly radio shows in the style (loosely) of old time radio. Somewhat serialized across a bunch of different settings.
Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men: A walk through X-men comics history. As of episode 325 they are up to the mid-90s.
Qwerpline: The morning radio station of a fictional and extremely silly town.
The History of England: What it sounds like. Episode 311 currently is covering Elizabeth I.
Be the Serpent: Three female fantasy authors discuss and analyze fantasy novels and fanfic.
No Such Thing as a Fish: Writers/researchers from the British trivia/comedy show QI discuss the very weird facts they have unearthed in the last week.
Magic: the Gathering Drive to Work: The lead designer of Magic: the Gathering discusses game design and Magic history during his drive to work. Surprisingly informative.
Switched on Pop: Analysis of music currently at the top of the pop charts.
The Food Program: A selection of BBC radio pieces all about food in various ways.
Revolutions: Deep history dives on various revolutions. Currently covering the Russian Revolution.
The History of Rome: Completed, does what it says on the tin. Starts a little rough but gets better.
Basically, whatever your interests there are probably podcasts about it, and some will probably be good.
I have one podcast that I’m absolutely addicted to, as in I rip through the episodes as soon as they come out, then count down the days until the next week’s episode comes out. It is called “A History of Rock Music in 500 Episodes“. It is one host, a man from Manchester, England who does EXHAUSTIVE research on his subject. The premise is, this is a pod that covers the entire history of rock, from the pre-cursers as far back as the 1930’s up to the end of the 20th century. Each weekly episode covers one song in about 30 minutes. IF you can get past the pod host’s Mancunian accent and his slightly monotone delivery and if you are a rock n roll fanatic like I am, it’s amazing. One episode per week, unless life intrudes on the pod host, which it sometimes does, 50 episodes a year over a planned ten years. The latest offering is Episode 117: “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys. Two bits of trivia that I have learned from this pod, of the many that I’ve learned: Cher is actually one of the singers on “Da Do Run Run”; and Ronnie James Dio (!) played TRUMPET on “My Boyfriend’s Back”.
The other podcast I absolutely loved was a nine-episode pod called “Dolly Parton’s America“, that came out two years ago. Part biographical sketch, part examination of Dolly Parton’s impact on people of all walks of life, hosted by the son of a doctor who often treats Ms. Parton, a Tennessee resident who’s family is from Lebanon. Just fantastic and, as I said, only nine episodes.
I love podcasts for when I am driving or doing something boring like dishes.
I listen to You’re Wrong About, This Podcast Will Kill You, Philosophize This, and quite a few others.
One that deeply disappointed me was Dahlia Lithwick’s, because her voice is unexpectedly terrible.
I can’t resist adding a mention of The Bitter Southerner podcast, associated with The Bitter Southerner newsletter. There are only a couple dozen episodes at best, but they explore the world of the new South, and I like the host’s laid-back style. He’s also an excellent interviewer. The podcast covers “the culture of the South–outside the lines of Southern stereotypes.”
Bowery Boys is an entertaining New York history podcast by two men who love their subject.
Good podcasts are like good radio–interesting, and something to listen to when you’re doing tasks that require visual but not mental attention.
I do enjoy You’re Wrong About, loved Maddow’s podcast about Agnew, and like listening to a few NPR programs offered as podcasts (Wait, Wait……).
I didn’t think Radiolab counts as a podcast, but it’s usually excellent. Glad to see it mentioned.
Another old who likes podcasts. As many of you have said, they work well for walking and household stuff that doesn’t need much focus. I started listening to books on tape in the 90s — used to clean my house with my walkman in a fanny pack, earphones in my ears, and a baseball hat on backwards to keep the earphones secure. The local library had collections of cassette tapes in big plastic holders, but the selection wasn’t great. I like to be read to, which might be because I wasn’t as a kid. I wasn’t even allowed to read in bed.
Back when podcasts were rare, the big three were Dan Carlin, Teri Gross, and This American Life, all of which hold up to this day. We found In Our Time about ten years ago, and that’s been good. I’m subscribed to so many now but don’t usually play them much, especially the politics ones that sustained me during the former guy time.
Lately podcasts are how I listen to talking head tv. Nicole Wallace & Rachel Maddow shows are all recorded and available in my phone same day, and I don’t feel like I really lose anything by not seeing the video. Maddow’s series called Bagman is excellent. It really matters that the people producing these things know what the hell they’re doing, and of course that the talent (writing and speaking) is high quality. I like the podcasts that go with tv shows, (like the one for Chernobyl,) and if I’m watching something I really want to hear more about I’ll go find a podcast just to hear people discussing it.
I also use audible to go to sleep, or go back to sleep if I wake up in the night. Best for that purpose is something I’ve already read and liked, preferably voiced by a low-pitched British dude. I set the playback for 0.9 speed and put a 30 minute timer on, but usually I only hear a few sentences.
@Brachiator: HUGE fan of Rod & Karen. Full-on subscriber for many years, and if you ever listen to their feedback episodes, you will often hear Rod respond to my lengthy emails. We even get their Xmas/Kwanza cards every year. Love them and their show so much.
Hacks on Tap – David Axelrod and Mike Murphy with experienced insiders’ views on politics, always funny.
Hysteria – Comedy writer Erin Ryan and former Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and an all-woman guest cast on a slew of current topics, mostly cultural.
Politics War Room – Al Hunt and James Carville. A bit stiff at times, but Carville is free to drop F-bombs. And he enjoys his freedom.
The Secret Podcast – from the Bulwark’s Sarah Longwell and Jonathan V Last – really funny commentary from never Trumpers who’ve nearly given up on the GOP, but aren’t Democrats. They do realize that Trumpism isn’t going away, and are working against his domination of the right.
I’m always late to these threads but:
The Black Guy Who Tips– Simply the best podcast in the game
The Body Serve– Tennis podcast hosted by a fabulous gay couple in Montreal
Racquet Magazine Podcast– Tennis podcast
Three Guys On: 3 (sometimes more) comedians talking about whatever. Very funny.
You In Danger Gurl: Comedienne Janelle James and guest review erotic thrillers and point out the Red Flags that everyone should recognize before you date someone sketchy.
SwingLeft Podcast: Political activism. EVERYONE here should listen to this.
Sunday Civics: Political strategist L. Joy Williams teaches us all how to become more engaged in local politics
Jemele Hill Is Unbothered: Free from ESPN, Hill can speak about whatever the F she wants. And she does.
Tom & Lorenzo’s PopStyle Opinionfest: Fashion bloggers discuss fashion, films, tv, current events etc.
You And Me Both: The one and only Sec. Hillary Clinton sharing her amazing insights and doing some kick-ass interviews.
Medium Popcorn: Two Black comedians reviewing and spoiling movies.
You’re Wrong About: Especially in the beginning, the focus was to take a historical event that was misreported at a time and correct the record. Memorable ones include The Beltway Snipers, Human Trafficking, Tonya Harding, Kitty Genovese, and the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Good One: a Podcast about Jokes Most usually, the host plays a particular standup bit, then talks with the comic about how the joke was constructed and “what they’re trying to do with their comedy”. If you’re interested in how people do their jobs, a few episodes will be interesting. I recommend the two Roy Wood Jr. episodes.