Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2014

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Ever since I started using Doggcatcher on my cellphone I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts because, even without the pitch distortion my sandisk had, it plays the content a lot faster. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “Emails”.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky. I miss Ryan since his untimely death last year – the guys do well enough without him, but he brought something very special to the podcast that isn’t there anymore. I felt like I actually knew him after about 200 weekly episodes where I spent almost 3 hours with him each time. (Approx 2.5 hours long)

Public Radio

This American Life –  This is an AWESOME podcast and is often my favorite one to listen to each week.  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Raidolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendent of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

The Moth – Also heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Participants go before an audience and tell a personal story. It can, therefore, cover essentially every human emotion. They all frequently have at least some element of humor, but are usually either really funny or really sad. (Approx 1 hr)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)

History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast –  This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

Comedy

WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  Clearly the reason people are tuning is is to hear the interviews or they’d take up a minority of the show instead of the bulk of the show.  So I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Movies

How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to Amazon.com to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but sometimes I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

Not Playing with Lex and Dan – Lex and Dan watch a movie that is a pop culture classic (Back to the Future, Karate Kid, Beverly Hills Cop) that at least one of them has never seen before. How you experience this show depends on which episode you listen to. One episode is like a commentary track where you’re supposed to watch the movie along with them. The other is just their thoughts about the movie. I listen to the latter because I don’t have time to watch these movies along with them. (Varies: either Approx 1.5 hrs or Approx 30 min)

Misc

You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min)

The Bugle – Jon Oliver (from The Daily Show) and some other guy talk about the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Fatman on Batman – Kevin Smith chats with someone involved with Batman creatively. Examples include Paul Dini, Neal Adams, and Scott Snyder. Can be pretty insightful and pretty entertaining. Also love the intro song. (Approx 1 hr)

Sword and Laser – A fantasy and sci-fi book club. They interview up-and-coming authors and discuss the book club’s monthly book. Also cover news and upcoming new releases. (Varies. Approx 30 min)

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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