Saturday, December 27, 2014

Now That You’re Done With Serial…

… Here are some other podcasts you might want to check out. Not because they necessarily have anything to do with true crime stories, but just because I like and listen to them. I might write about Serial at a future date, but I’m he
sitating so far because everyone else on the Internet has seemingly weighed in, plus, I’m still formulating my own thoughts on it.

Amazingly, I think I’ve only really written about podcasts once before, and that post is horribly out of date. Adam Carolla’s podcast has been horrible since the first year, and Dave Dameshek is now on (and still worth listening to, if you like the NFL). An updated list:

- Planet Money on NPR. While this is allegedly an economics podcast, it’s more like economics mixed with general interest, since they typically tackle specific issues instead of diving deep on wonky policy stuff. If you want a good recent episode to jump into, I’d recommend 591, “War? What War?” It’s about Ukrainian investors trying to get money from Western folk like… now, despite that little war issue. And since gyms and fitness are popular subjects around the holidays, “The Planet Money Workout” is also excellent.

- It’s on a bit of a holiday break right now, but 99 Percent Invisible is the other podcast that I typically listen to “first day.” One benefit to it and Planet Money vs. some of the other shows on this list is that they’re usually about 15 to 30 minutes, making them the perfect length for a short drive. 99 Percent Invisible focuses on how architecture entwines with and shapes modern life. Good recent shows have been about a light in a California fire station that has been running for almost 100 years, and about the fascination people have with trophies.

Raw. Is. Jericho.
- I’m not sure why exactly, but wrestling podcasts are huge. If you like pro wrestling at all, there are a ton of niche and popular shows for you to check out. We’re talking shows by Jim Ross, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and about two dozen others that I don’t have the time to listen to. Of those three, Jericho is the one I listen to the most, since he’s a bit more general entertainment than the other two. Austin and Ross can get really bogged down in the old school wrasslin’ talk at times, and my mind checks out when they’re talking about seeing Haystacks Calhoun at the old Iowa Coliseum.

- The Grantland family of podcasts is pretty solid when it comes to entertainment, less so when it comes to sports, which is odd, considering that they’re owned by ESPN and run by Bill Simmons. (Then again…) As a journalist, my favorite is definitely The Moment, which is just a simple one-on-one interview between American filmmaker Brian Koppelman and a guest each week. Since he made Rounders, there are quite a few poker guests, along with businesspeople, stand-up comedians and (oddly) self-help gurus. Even these episodes tend to be good though.

Other highlights from the Grantland Network are The Lowe Post, which is a super nerdy basketball show, and Hollywood Prospectus, which is a general look at TV, movies and music for the week. The original podcast, The BS Report with Bill Simmons, is still high in my queue, but the quality can really vary depending on the guest and Bill’s focus. The ones I enjoy the most are usually shows with other Grantland people – Andy Greenwald, Lowe. Some of the celebrity interviews, like a recent episode with Chris Rock, were clearly tough goin’.

- And finally, The Nerdist. I’m positive it has been written about a million times, but like The Moment, I’m a sucker for an hour-long sitdown conversation. The shows that feature just Chris Hardwick and a guest are better, but even some with the peanut gallery of Matt Mira and Jonah Ray are still OK. Skip the hostfuls (the shows with just the three of them) at all costs.

Honorable mentions: Gilbert Gottfried (excellent but sooooo profane and very hit or miss depending on the guest and Gilbert’s interest level), Norm MacDonald (profane and funny and wonderful, but it goes on break all the time), Dave Dameshek’s podcast (previously wrote about him), The Dime For Scale Movie Club (previously wrote about it and uh, I’m on it).

The Planet Money logo is a common one on their page. The Jericho image is one I cobbled together in Paint years ago.

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