Podcasts have taken over my listening habits. In fact, as I’m writing this post right now, I’m listening to a podcast (Sklarbro Country, to be specific). Doug Loves Movies was my gateway drug. I started with just one, but then began itching for more. I couldn’t stop. I just needed one more episode, one more subscription.
Now, I’ve given up the fight. I’m a podcast junkie. It’s time to just accept my fate.
Here are the podcasts I listen to, presented in alphabetical order so as not to give the impression I favor one over the other. Although, I make it pretty clear which ones are my favorites. They are podcasts, not my children.
I know this seems weird to be in my listening repertoire. And it definitely feels weird listing it first, but basically, a female comedian and a professional wing girl get together every week and answer questions that come in from listeners, which are basically male, and offer their female opinions. They usually have a man come in as the “voice of man” and he’ll give his input.
How many times do you hear men and women say, “I have no idea what he or she is thinking?” Well, this question is often addressed in a very straightforward fashion on the show. It also just has great bits of advice. On one episode they said it is a good exercise to just think about the qualities you appreciate in another human being, whether romantic or friendly. I know it seems obvious and that is something you should already know, but I never really put a lot of thought into that idea.
Cashing in with TJ Miller
This is a podcast where I have a weirdly emotional attachment to it. The premise is that Cash Levy, a comedian, has a podcast where he has a hard time finding guests so he has his buddy TJ Miller come on repeatedly. Most episodes start off with Cash explaining why he can’t find a guest and then TJ Miller will come on, explaining that he was in the area or he delayed the guest himself so he could be on the show.
The show has its own catchphrases, known as “cash phrases,” and has inspired fans to even create their own dictionary. Miller and Levy frequently say that they have 12.5 fans, and encourage fans to come up to them at shows and say they are one of the 12.5. Miller has also been open about a lot of his personal life, recounting stories about working with Michael Bay, filming Yogi Bear 3D, and proposing to his girlfriend.
About a year ago, Miller recounted how he broke up with his girlfriend and had to move out. He told stories about having to find a mattress, eating dozens of Starbursts to ease the pain, and then moving on with his now fiancée. When Miller came to town for standup, I saw him and after the show he welcomed fans to come get a picture with him. I barreled over to him, wrapped him in a hug, and told him I was one of the 12.5. I have to give him credit, he didn’t flinch and he thanked me.
Comedy Film Nerds
Two comedians, Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini, sit down and discuss movies along with a guest, who is usually a comedian of some sort. It’s a pretty straightforward premise, just some guys discussing and analyzing film with a humorous touch. Elwood and Mancini also know their stuff, both went to school for film so they have some knowledge behind their opinions. Just don’t ever ask Elwood about Michael Bay. He might have a conniption fit.
On a side note, the duo are making a documentary about podcasts called “Earbuds.” I actually donated to the Kickstarter for the doc. I believe I’m entitled to a free download of the movie when it comes out.
Dining with Doug and Karen
The premise of this podcast is Doug Benson and Karen Anderson get together with a guest and have a chef cook for them and they talk about the food and just chat. This is a podcast I do not listen to on a very regular basis. I started listening because I like Doug Benson and his podcast Doug Loves Movies. I’ll listen depending on the guest and the food featured. I don’t particularly like hearing people chewing, so that can get on my nerves listening to it.
Doug Loves Movies
Remember your first love? How you tried to find seconds in the day to see them, talk to them. They consumed your mind. Oh, good times…
Well, Doug Love Movies is my first love (of podcasts). I really enjoy stand up comedy and I was listening to Doug Benson and he mentioned his podcast. I thought I would give it a try and I was hooked. He has a panel of guests each week, usually comedians, and they discuss movies and plays games like the Leonard Maltin Game. I have legitimately had to stop the podcast and slap a hand over my mouth to stop myself from laughing too loud.
This podcast is actually how I got to know a lot of other podcasts because a lot of his guests, who I thought were funny, plugged their own podcasts. It’s also how I’ve discovered new comedians, such as Paul F. Tompkins. I really recommend this one. I always make sure to tune in. In fact, I have never missed an episode.
Yikes, maybe I’m a little sad.
How Did This Get Made?
This podcast has a very simple premise: three comedians and a guest get together and discuss a terrible movie. On a Tuesday, Paul Scheer will do a minisode explaining what the next movie will be. I never listen to those. It’s very rare that I’ve actually watched the movie they are discussing. It’s still hilarious even without knowing exactly what they are talking about.
If you want to get a sampling of how the podcast works, I would recommend starting with one of their discussions about the Fast and Furious movies. Doesn’t matter which exact movie they are talking about (let’s be honest, they all sort of run into each other), they are all hilarious. Also, their live episodes are particularly funny as well. The most recent episode is live at the Largo Theater and they discuss LOL, the Miley Cyrus epic. Enough said.
The Marketing Companion
This is a podcast that is pretty recent addition to my podcasting habit. I figured I should try incorporating some work-related audio as to help my addled brain not feel so obtuse, i.e., I’m beginning to feel bad about how the majority of my podcasts are comedians sitting around talking.
March Schaefer and Tom Webster host this podcast. They each have a pretty good sense of humor, and spend the time discussion a new occurrence in the world of marketing, usually revolving around something in the digital marketing realm (no shocker—they are doing a podcast). I’m still pretty new to it, so I’m not sure if it’s going to become a steady addition.
But, really, who am I kidding? I’ll probably never give it up.
Marketing Smarts from MarketingProfs
Another work podcast. Because MarketingProfs is a pretty big name in the marketing world, they get some pretty good guests on the show. If you’re into marketing, then this is a really good podcast for listening pleasure.
This is a podcast where I originally listened to every episode. In more recent times, I’ve been more selective in which ones I listen to, and it ultimately comes down to the guest. Christ Hardwick hosts with his pals Matt Mira and Jonah Ray. The podcast has roped in some impressive guests like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Willem Dafoe.
There was one particular episode featuring Mike Birbiglia (who is my all-time favorite comic) where he was discussing his movie that was coming out. They spent a long time talking about break ups, which is a big part of his movie, and discussed how it’s not the end of your life. Basically, it’s a break up, not death. Their honesty and openness about how to handle that difficult time in your life actually brought me to tears. It’s episodes like those that are the reason I listen to it.
Never Not Funny
Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap host this podcast, which they argue is the original comedy podcast (don’t let Marc Maron tell you differently!). Originally, you had to pay to get the full podcast, but this past year they joined forces with the podcast network Earwolf, and now you can get the podcast for free. This is when I started listening to it.
The podcast comes out every Thursday and it’s quite long, usually coming out to around two hours. Once again, I pick and choose with this podcast depending on the guest. But even if there isn’t a really intriguing guest I’ll still give it a listen sometimes and undoubtedly Jimmy Pardo will make me laugh.
NPR: Fresh Air
Ready for an onslaught of NPR podcasts? Because that’s what is about to happen. Fresh Air is a classic, and I listen to almost every interview with one exception: if she is doing an interview with a fiction writer (unless I really know and love the writer). I feel bad having this exception, but undoubtedly Terry Gross, the host, will have the writer read from their novel and that irks me. I prefer free-flowing conversations and I find the interruption of a reading tiresome.
I have to credit this podcast with my knowledge of current events and newsworthy topics. The people Gross interviews are some of the best journalists working today and getting to hear them have their brain picked for 45 minutes is fantastic.
NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour
I believe that this is only available as a podcast, which is unusual for NPR because most of their podcasts are also radio shows. Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson (a Wisconsinite like myself), Glen Weldon, and a guest host from some other realm of the NPR world talk about…pop culture! No surprise there.
I have learned about books and movies I never would have heard of if it weren’t for this podcast. And surprisingly, it’s not only uppity books and films they talk about. They once spent a good length of time discussing the Kardashians
Once in a while they’ll go off about opera or obscure New York theater that I couldn’t care less about, and I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes at the NPR-ness of it all. But those times are few and far between.
NPR: Snap Judgment
I have to preface this one with saying that I cannot stand Glynn Washington. He opens the show with some story that seems to drone on, so I always fast forward through him to the meat of the podcast. Snap Judgment usually features three stories around a theme, like “detour,” “the B team,” or “unrequited.” Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a lot like This American Life, but Glynn Washington is a poor man’s Ira Glass.
NPR: Story Corps
Interested in a podcast that is only about 10 minutes long? This is the podcast for you. I don’t know how Story Corps does it, but this has to be the most emotional podcast I have ever read. In such a short amount of time this podcast will have me in near tears. Be warned: most aren’t happy stories, but they are stories worth telling.
PNR: This Old Marketing
This was the original work podcast to which I subscribed. Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose discuss all things content marketing. Seeing as they run the Content Marketing Institute, they know what they are talking about. They start off the show with Robert Rose trying to convince us that Cleveland is a fun place (sorry, not changing my mind), and then the two of them discuss an article pertaining to content marketing.
They end the show with a rant or a rave. I think the duo sometimes come off a little pretentious when they are ranting about something. I’d prefer for them to be a little bit more positive and go with more raves, but I can’t control them. They then pick a piece of marketing for the namesake of the show (“This Old Marketing”) that they feel is well done.
Sometimes the guys can be a little much. Joe Pulizzi seemed to take it personally that he was not invited to speak at the Inbound conference in Boston and then proceeded to talk smack about the conference and said he heard negative things about it from attendees. I was there and was using social media pretty heavily throughout the conference and have to totally disagree with him on that.
Either way, if you’re into content marketing, you should listen this to this podcast. Even if the hosts can be a tad annoying.
Radiolab from WYNC
Probably the best produced podcast in my podcast playlist. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, who host the podcast, are some of the best storytellers out there. They do one longer episode and one shorter episode a month. They pick amazing stories, people, and, sometimes, things to profile and research.
I’ve never listened to one that I didn’t enjoy. If you like storytelling, then you’ll like this podcast, and you’ll also like this next one too…
We can all thank Serial for bringing podcasts into the limelight. This podcast is getting written about all over the place. If you’re one of the seemingly three people not currently listening to this podcast, here’s the gist: Sarah Koenig and the creators of This American Life spend a whole season dissecting a story from every possible angle. In their inaugural season they are focusing on Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend.
Did he do it? Is he a sociopath? Has Syed been wrongly convicted and just sitting in prison as an innocent man? The show is very fair, looking at the case from multiple points of views, and really leaves it up to the listener to decide. Me, my coworkers, and friends have analyzed and discussed the podcast. It has become the new water cooler subject for us.
I donated $10 to the podcast because, well, they asked me to. I want to see the show continue for another season so I wanted to chip in. It has raised enough to continue on for another season and it makes me a little proud to know I had something to do with it.
It’s insane to me how much the show has pervaded pop culture world. Even the opening ad for Mail Chimp has created a meme. People have created parodies, there is a subreddit set up just for the show, and there are podcasts about the podcast (Pop Culture Happy Hour also did a minisode about the podcasts about the podcast, so in fact there is even a podcast about the podcasts about the podcast).
If you want my totally unsolicited opinion on Syed’s guilt, I think he is innocent. And it seems to me that the podcast has really provided the evidence for this. It will be interesting to see how it plays out after the podcast is over, and if Syed can get an appeal.
And I think most of us who listen to the podcast will share my sentiment about Jay: who the hell is this kid?!
The Sklar twins host this podcast. It comes on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, it’s Sklarbro County, where funny news stories about inept individuals are shared. Fans submit stories through Twitter to Daniel Van Kirk, who also hosts the County show. I actually submitted a story and got on. Pretty exciting moment for me. On Fridays, it’s Sklarbro Country, where they talk about the more humorous stories in sports over the past week.
On both Fridays and Tuesdays there is a guest who gives their thought on the stories they are talking about. They’ve gotten some big names like Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Ray Romano. It’s a pretty hilarious show and I’ve known people who don’t listen because they are not into sports. Don’t be like these people! It’s funny whether or not you’re into sports.
Now, this podcast you may have to be into sports to enjoy. I root for the Badgers, Packers, Brewers, and Celtics (in that order), I watch SportsCenter every day, and have been in the top three for my March Madness bracket the past three years. Yes, I am into sports, and it gets very irritating for me to listen to nothing but men talk about and analyze sports.
So thank God for Erin Foley, a very funny comedian who rivals me in her sports dedication. She only has women on the podcast, hence the title of the podcast. It’s so refreshing to me as a female sports fan to listen to other women who are passionate and knowledgeable about sports talk about their favorite teams. The podcast covers it all, hockey, football, baseball, soccer, everything. If you’re a sports fan, no matter what gender, you should add this podcast to your listening repertoire.
This American Life
Three acts centered around a theme and hosted by Ira Glass. That is This American Life. Very fine storytelling with great production skills behind it. Usually, what is broadcast on the radio is what is posted as the podcast, but occasionally there are some differences. The podcast recently stopped bleeping swearwords and sometimes there is a little bit of added information.
If somehow you’re listening to Serial, and not listening to This American Life, you need to change that right now. This American Life deserves your ears.
Walking the Room
This is a definite NSFW podcast. Frequent swearing, lewd subject matters, and crude jokes fill this podcast. But guess what? It’s freaking hilarious. Greg Behrendt (you might recognize that name from his pretty famous book, He’s Just Not That Into You) and Dave Anthony host this podcast. They have a guest every once in a while and they do the podcast from Behrendt’s closet.
Both comedians had fallen on hard times when they started the podcast. They were having difficulty getting people to come to their shows and had lost a lot of faith in show business. The podcast has helped change that a bit for them and they have found more work.
Though the podcast is funny, it also has its serious subject matter as well. Behrendt had been sober for over a decade, but had a relapse. He started taking his dog’s pain medication and was contemplating suicide. All of this came to light when there was a long hiatus from posting the podcast. Anthony and Behrendt injected humor into the situation (he was taking dog pills after all) and Behrendt has been sober since coming back to do the podcast.
The show is currently in hiatus because Behrendt is in New York working for a prolonged period of time. I’m glad he’s working, but I do miss the podcast.
The Web Psychologist
This is a newer podcast for me. Nathalie Nahai hosts and the podcast focuses on optimizing your website so you can have the best online engagement. She has a different guest each week, and they range from business men and women to psychologists.
WTF with Marc Maron
Consistently in the top 10 on iTunes, this podcast has also received positive press. Marc Maron hosts and he started off with just interviewing comedians, but has moved on to actors, actresses, writers, and musicians. Maron started the podcast because he was depressed about his career and wanted to try something to jumpstart it. Maron said he was ready to hang himself in his garage because he was so depressed about his life. Since the podcast started, it has revitalized his career and he has seen a resurgence in attendance at his stand up shows.
At first, I listened to every episode, but I’ve scaled back and now only listen to the ones with guests that interest me. Maron is an incredibly honest person and is very upfront with his emotions and insecurities. A great interview he did was with Louis CK, where he expressed his jealously about Louis’s success. Another great interview was with Carlos Mencia and questioning him about allegations of stealing jokes.
For my Critical Internet Studies class back in college, I wrote a paper on Maron’s podcast. I got a B+ and when I went to go see Maron live, I caught him after the show and showed him the paper. He crossed off the grade, gave it an A+, and signed it for me.
You Made It Weird
Pete Holmes gets a lot of flak from Maron for basically copying his podcast formula. He started off interviewing comedians, and then moved on to authors, pastors, and actors and actresses. I listen to this one when I see a guest who is interesting because his episodes are pretty long so I have to be dedicated to it.
Holmes likes to ask awkward questions. He covers topics like sex and religion with guests, and is open about his therapy. Get why he titled the podcast the way he did? Yep, he likes to make things weird.