I listen to a lot of podcasts as I walk hither and thither, so I’ll probably do a few blog posts of podcast recommendations (hence the Roman numeral in the title). Here’s three recommendations for starters…
STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW
Josh and Chuck from HowStuffWorks.com separately research a given subject, then they get together and explain it to each other and the listeners. In their laid back style, they tease out the interesting details behind a varied range of broad and specific topics, from history, science, sociology, psychology, culture, and more. They recently topped a thousand episodes, they’ve got quite the back catalogue. Have a browse and you’ll probably find a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about. Let Josh and Chuck get you up to speed.
LE SHOW with Harry Shearer
Harry Shearer sits on the mic and sorts through the news of the last week. There are certain topics he constantly returns to with an array of recurring segments, pointing out the corruption rife in the International Olympic Committee and the Catholic Church, reporting on Bad Banks, a character skit on a Baghdad talk radio show, Smart Houses (not so smart after all), The Appresidentice, reading the Apologies of The Week, there are too many to mention. I am unendingly impressed that every time he is forced to utter the phrase ‘President Trump’, he consciously makes a weird disbelieving half-laugh half-gasp. I think he’s imitating the first time he had to say it on air (when that seemed to be his genuine reaction). It’s so smart because it reminds us all that we knew this presidency was a farce from the beginning. I see Harry perpetuating this derisive vocal tic for ‘President Trump’ as a refusal to normalise the idiocy of the current administration. He makes a lot of smart choices about how to parse and package language, even when he’s just making comments out the side of his mouth while he reads the trades for us.
Andy Zaltzman hosts the audio newspaper for a visual world. With a revolving cast of returning guests, they report on the most important and hilarious stories of the week. This is the only news source you can really trust… to be completely ludicrous. You will remember where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard one of Andy’s exquisitely crafted… sorry, I meant excruciatingly cobbled-together… pun-runs. I am genuinely impressed with how bad they are, which I think is the desired effect. It’s also worth dipping into the archives for the John Oliver years, when Andy and John co-hosted the show. It was sad when John left, but now we get great guests like Nish Kumar and Alice Fraser, so who needs that smurf?