Podcast Recommendations Thread
I just picked up a new podcast I quite enjoy and wanted to recommend it to ya'll. We don't seem to have a thread for that yet, so I figure I'll start one.
The podcast I came to recommend is called Song Exploder, but as it's part of my second-favorite podcast network, I figure I'll plug the whole family. The network is called Radiotopia, and if you like to learn things, it's a great place to start. These shows tend to be on the shorter side (30 minutes tops) and each seems to be themed around digging deeper into some fun, interesting topic. They're all very well produced on a technical level, since they seem to have roots in radio, and so far I've not found a show that didn't have a sense of charm and fun to it. It's like having a conversation with a really charismatic geek about their favorite topic.
- I think the most famous of their shows is also the one I started with: 99% Invisible, which is about design and engineering in the modern world. The topic is so broad, every week you learn something new. Roman Mars (the host) has a lovely voice, too; turns out he's the guy who founded the whole network, so TIL.
- The Allusionist is about words and language. It's hosted by a sexy British lady with a wicked sense of humor. Even if I wasn't a language junkie, I'd be all over that.
- Showcase is their newest project: a series of mini-series that are interesting topics but would run dry long before taking off financially if given their own show. They're still on the first series, "Ways Of Hearing", but if this is a taste of what's to come I'm on board for the long haul.
- The one I discovered most recently is Song Exploder. In this show, the host takes the "stems" (or single tracks of the raw data that got mixed into a song) of songs and combines them with an interview with the artists to create a compelling narrative of how the song was created. Each episode ends with the final track, so you can fall in love with the song from an artist's point of view and then hear it.
While I'm talking about it, my favorite podcast network is Nightvale Presents; if you're into serial fiction, this is the place you want to be. If you haven't heard Welcome to Nightvale, most if not all of the episodes are on YouTube, it's worth a listen. It's sometimes billed as horror, but it's really not. It's weirdness with a horror veneer, a sort of celebration of being quirky and strange. In Nightvale, you come to love the things that ought to be scaring the piss out of you, like the infamous Dog Park, or the Glow Cloud (All Hail!) that rains dead animals down when it doesn't get its way.
With the success of Nightvale, they started a network to showcase other fiction stories (and one non-fiction):
- Alice Isn't Dead tells the story of a female trucker driving across America in search of her missing wife, Alice. This is actually horror. There were a couple episodes I was clinging to my husband's hand, but most of the time I can stomach it without nightmares, maybe due to the non-visual nature of the medium. It's really good for road trips. There are currently two seasons.
- Within The Wires is not body horror, like I expected from the previews. It's actually not very horrific at all, it's mostly suspense and mystery. It comes in the form of a series of relaxation tapes that start to spell out an unusual picture as you listen.
- The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air) I have to confess I haven't listened to much of. I didn't care for the preview, I've been meaning to give it another listen.
- Conversations With People Who Hate Me is their first nonfiction podcast. It's put on by one of the voice actors for Nightvale, and it's basically the floof thread done in podcast form. It's pretty new but so far so good.
HowStuffWorks have some good podcasts. I like Stuff to Blow Your Mind and Food Stuff.
STBYM is a general sciency show that tackles a different topic each episode: 2 per week. The hosts are pretty geeky so it often centres around their interests. They don't always come to a full conclusion on the more controversial topics, it's more presenting the different sides, trying to be as balanced as possible. It usually runs somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half
Food Stuff is, unsurprisingly, about food. They've done episodes on champagne, butter (a two parter) and the history of French cuisine among others. I think the hosts are a bit new to podcasting so they're still finding their feet a bit, but it's pretty interesting. Episodes are 30-45 minutes.
Friday Night Comedy from Radio 4 is probably not too relevant to non British listeners, as it's usually topical news shows or impressionists focusing on UK politics. If you're following British news it's usually quite funny
More Or Less is another Radio 4 podcast. It's a show dissecting the numbers and statistics behind news stories and is very interesting.
The No Sleep Podcast is horror fiction. A bit variable in quality, and some of the voice actors are trying a bit hard, which draws me out of the stories, but some are very good. This one is 1-1.5 hours, split between 2-4 stories, with a premium version that has extra stories
The skeptics guide to the universe is all about analysing the world with a scientific/skeptical lens. There's good chemistry between the hosts, games to play along with and analysis of news stories by people who have read and understood the actual studies behind them
I like talky intellectual podcasts. I am also not into fancy produced, radio-y shows, like Radiolab or 99% invisible. I like them raw.
These are my current top 5-6, in order of preference.
Genre is "2 dudes talking". Basically, just a conversation between two youtubers about various topics. It's hard to describe why it's great, you have to hear an episode or two.
Hardcore History and Common Sense by Dan Carlin
The first one are audiobook-length stories from history. This is absolutely essential if you are even a little bit into history (Prophets of doom is a good intro episode).
The second one is his political show. Dan Carlin is kind of libertarianish centrist, so I agree with a lot of what he says (always helps with politics shows). Unfortunately, Trump's election seems to have completely knocked him off his game, there haven't been many episodes since.
Skeptic's guide to Universe
Science and skepticism. The main lead, Steven Novella, is IMO (next to Dan Carlin) one of the wisest people alive today (who are willing to share their thoughts in podcast form, of course).
Passenger Seat Radio
A guy ranting in his car on his way from/to work. This one is the most obscure of the bunch. Sometimes you laugh with him, sometimes you laugh at him, but it's usually pretty interesting (an occasional white trash drama episode about his family is also great).
Startups for the rest of us
Two guys discussing tips and tricks for building SASS-like products on small budget. I like to listen to them talk in my underwear with a bucket of icecream, and dream what would it be like if I was self-motivating.
Accidental Tech Podcast
Apple nerds talking tech. It's an ok podcast with a great theme song.
- My Brother, My Brother, and Me. Podcast run by three brothers. Comedy, 60-75min. They read requests for advice from listeners (kind of like dear Abby) and try to answer them (but usually get sidetracked while coming up with goofs and jokes). Also they read really strange or funny Yahoo answers. They're a really good comedy trio and they constantly play off of each other, and sometimes actually give some good life advice. I especially like this show because, while the episodes are usually a little over an hour long, you can jump in and out of it whenever.
- The Adventure Zone. Run by the same three brothers plus their dad. Comedy/serial fiction, 75-90min. Two of the brothers (+dad) play a D&D campaign while the other DMs. They don't always follow the rules to the letter, and instead focus on the storytelling, with background music, sound effects, and narration added by the DM. The result is an epic 3 year long campaign and story with numerous characters, voices, subplots, and a pretty compelling drama (plus some out of character comedy from the trio). The production is a bit sparse at the start of the series but it picks up.
- Comedy Bang Bang. Comedy (duh), 90min. Two comedians bring in guest comedians every week. They do regular interviews, skits, and one of the hallmarks of the show is that people can bring their own characters into the show. I suggest checking out the best of 2016 episodes. The start is kind of slow with a lot of bullshitting so you can skip past it to get into the clips.
- Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast: Gilbert Gottfried and co-host Frank Santopadre talk to celebrity guests, mostly skewing older, and talk about stuff. It's usually hilariously funny, and Gilbert somehow always finds a way to bring up some off-colour anecdotes about Paul Lynde and Cesar Romero.
- The F-Plus: A rotating cast of internet people dramatically read weird things on the internet and riff on them. Sometimes extremely NSFW.
- Downloadable Content: Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade record themselves talking about whatever until they randomly hit on an idea for a comic and figure out how to execute it in three panels.
The basic format is more or less a standard interview podcast: British author Emma Newman talking with authors and other creative people, usually in the fantasy or sci-fi area, while taking tea with them because she's a very polite British lady. Except that the interview takes place in her secret tea lair, whose location varies with each new episode. And everything is set up by her very polite British butler, Latimer, who is actually evil and actively plots the demise of each of her guests, (which Emma is oblivious to,) and may or may not actually be a demon disguised as a human. At the end of each episode, the guest ends up in mortal peril in some form, and has to figure out a way to escape with their life. Very silly, very geeky, and very fun to listen to.
Well now I have a place to link the assorted podcasts I appear on from time to time (many of my friends are Z list podcasters and as such a microphone occasionally ends up in my face).
I wouldn't subject you guys to the regular rotation of such classics as Brad and Rick Also Have a Podcast.
When I start co-hosting Brinker's Looking For Love (concept: Brinker is a 30 year old virgin Sasquatch of a man. I try to teach him how to play the online dating game.) I'll have to reassess that.
I like either humor, or learning new things. I followed Welcome To Night Vale for a while, but it slowly escalated from wacky-with-a-little-horror to getting-rather-creepy to I'm-not-going-to-listen-to-this-at-night, so I unsubscribed. I listen to podcasts while I commute (~45 min each way), so I toss in a few programming podcasts occasionally, to remind me what I'm supposed to be doing at work.
Thrilling Adventure Hour, funny pulp fiction radio plays. I've only heard one so far, but it was good solid fun and I'm going to go back through the archives. (Alas, it has ended.)
Fear the Boot, a round-table discussion about tabletop RPGs, with an intro of random banter topics. The "bonus" episodes are occasionally NSFW. Usually has 4 people on any given episode, and they talk about various RPG topics like "when are you falling into My Guy Syndrome" and "campaign endings". All of the hosts have been both GMs and players, so it's a nicely balanced discussion.
Flip the Table, a funny board-game-review podcast for horrible board games. They take "cheesy, weird, and obscure" games, usually licensed, and play them. A few of the games are surprisingly good, like the McDonald's board game. A few of the games are funny if approached with the right mindset, like Heartthrob (guess which dreamy WASP 80's boy your friends will like!). A great many of the games are just plain bad, like Trump: The Game. They finish every episode with a silly gameshow about IMDB ratings, or Ebay prices, or some other odd thing. (Alas, it has ended, but there are 111 episodes.)
Tell Me Something I Don't Know, a game show where the contestants lecture about some topic that's 1) largely unknown, 2) useful, and 3) verifiably true (with real-time fact checker!). Hosted by one of the hosts of the Freakonomics podcast, which is also good. The subjects range all over the place, by design.
Sawbones, historical medicine with humorous commentary. Hosted by one of the guys from My Brother, My Brother, And Me, plus his doctor wife. (I never really got into MBMBAM; it's a little too rambly.) Takes a medical subject, and looks at how it was approached at various points in history. (For example: teething in children, which used to be regularly listed as a cause of death!)