Listen Up!

Podcasts! Everyone loves podcasts, especially YOU, even if you don’t! I’m planning to make this blog a bit more regularly scheduled. Topics. Lists. That kind of thing. I’ll probably eventually theme them, you know, Music Mondays, Writing Wednesdays, Sporting…Fridays. Something like that.

In the meantime, let’s talk podcasts! I got into podcasts specifically because I hate top 40 pop music, and Los Angeles radio shifted so quickly away from interesting talk/indie music formats to all JackFM style pop that it snapped many a neck. So began my quest to find interesting things to listen to, unfettered by censorship and playing in a wide open field.

Really though, I’m a fan of Adam Carolla’s acerbic humor (even when he tells the same story fifty times), and when they blew up LA’s last talk station, I followed him to podcasting. Some people do it daily, others weekly, others… whenever, but here are my top five good listens:

1. The Adam Carolla Show – an acquired taste, maybe. Not for everyone, I get it. He has enough of a balance for me between times I think he’s spot on and times I couldn’t disagree more, but for unscripted free-association banter, he’s the king. His Podcasting empire grows quickly (hear also: Penn’s Sunday School and Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend – which is my favorite name for a podcast and I’m eternally jealous I didn’t think of making that the name of my blog so long ago). Here’s a quick hit, technically from when he was still on radio, I think, but still… Adam discussing a swimming pool project with Joel McHale. Right around the 2 minute mark this turns into the greatest anti-LA rage ever…

2. The Film Vault – Anderson and Bald Bryan, two guys who like movies but aren’t necessarily in LOVE with movies, talk about…movies. This show somehow broke away from the Carolla network (though Bryan’s still there on Ace’s show) but they’re thriving and doing their own thing. Every show is a creative top five list (Top Five Badass Bitches, Top Five Credit Sequences, or as of this writing – Top Films Films to NOT to Watch While High). If you like hanging out with your friends and casually discussing movies, you’ll feel right at home here. If you love film theory and dissecting the finer points of a director’s oeuvre (or if you actually know the definition of oeuvre) this probably isn’t for you.

3. Booked! – I don’t think there’s actually an exclamation point in the show’s name. There should be. Rob and Livius talk about books. I think one of my running themes in listening is letting people watch and read things so I don’t have to. Take that great Film Vault formula and set it in a bookstore. You get the idea. Head to their site now if you want some good suggestions on things to put into your eyeballs.

4. The Dana Gould Hour – Holy crap is this show funny/interesting/amazing. It’s a fairly new podcast, and thus far only comes out once a week, but it sits so firmly in my wheelhouse that I don’t think I’ll be able to live without it. Gould (famous as a stand-up as well as his stint writing for The Simpsons) riffs about a different topic each week (prison, the apocalypse) with his fellow comedians. He peppers in hilarious bits throughout the show (Letters to Penthouse as read by Don Knotts) and also likes to talk about quirky news stories and oddments from the past. Also, everyone should hear Adam West’s Batman Has Diarrhea.

5. This American Life – technically this is just the radio show packaged as a podcast, but man do these guys know how to tell stories. I’ve wasted more time in parked cars and outside of offices simply because I could not move until I heard the resolution of whatever was being discussed. And it’s a wide range of things here – prison stories, art stories, news, entertainment… If “real news” is the highway, these guys are the roadside attractions, but beyond being more entertaining than the news, they’re often more informative. Here, Shakespeare as performed at a maximum security correctional facility.

Too many to list. The Joe Rogan Experience, Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Nerdist (which has one of the best theme songs ever), WTF with Marc Maron, The Bill Show, and on and on and on. Stop listening to your radio. There are better things out there than whatever the music industry is trying to force feed you. Get into podcasts now before They do. You know. They. Them.

For the most part, everything you’ll find is free, and with fewer (or no) commercials. And best of all, a much higher quality of product, because things aren’t being filtered through multiple layers of network censorship, focus groups, and producers and executives who have no idea what they’re doing. Get to listening! If you have suggestions, throw them my way. What’s on your iPod?

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