Podcasts Are Cool — Here Are Some You Should Listen To

Podcasts Are Cool — Here Are Some You Should Listen To

Some days it feels like I subsist solely on podcasts and coffee. Gwyneth Paltrow should try peddling podcasts because, unlike her nonsensical gobbledygook[1], they really do make you happier. Anyway, podcasts are the best. I have a fairly active revolving door when it comes to which ones I listen to; here are the ones that never get removed.

(Disclaimer: most of these podcasts contain foul language, which, I mean, grow up Peter Pan.)

The Dollop (w/ Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds)

This one gets my vote as the funniest podcast on Earth. Hosted by two comedians, one of them – Dave Anthony – reads a crazy-ass story from American History to the other one – Gareth “don’t call me Gary” Reynolds – who knows nothing about it. And, oh boy, are the results hilarious. The chemistry the comedians have built allows the show to have a great flow. Their synchronicity is so complete that they can assume the identity of two different characters from the topic they are covering and run out an imaginary dialog between the two.

Most topics come from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, although the duo have covered a few more recent happenings including a sobering episode re: Ferguson. You can really start anywhere within their catalog and get a good feel for how things work. Some older must-listens, however, include “The Rube” (episode 12) and “The Stomach Men” (episode 33). If you don’t laugh at The Dollop then we can’t be friends.

Fresh Air – NPR/WHYY Philadelphia (Hosted by Terry Gross)

“Terry Gross on the mic, I’m the talk of the nation” – Childish Gambino

Terry Gross is probably the best interviewer in the world. Over all the hours I have listened to her ask questions I can’t recall her ever putting a foot wrong. She has an uncanny ability to ask personal and probing questions while at the same time making the guest feel like they are in a warm bubble bath, at least that’s how her voice makes me feel.

Terry can get anyone she wants on the show I’d guess (she’s been hosting Fresh Air since 1975(!)), which means that most of her guests are interesting and/or have something relevant going on to to talk about. An added bonus – due to, again, her being around for so long – is that each time a famous person dies – and we have had plenty of that lately – Fresh Air usually has an old interview stored in their back catalog (the DFW interview is one of my personal favs) which they can que up for the listeners. The show is smart, relevant, entertaining, and important. And although you won’t want to listen to everyone that makes an appearance, Ms. Gross has reeled me into many an interview I didn’t think I would enjoy.

WTF with Marc Maron

President Obama made an appearance on this podcast so I guess you could say this podcast is a pretty big deal.

Most Powerful Man In The Free World visits aside, Maron is probably the second best interviewer in the world. In fact, he interviewed Terry Gross for both Fresh Air and WTF and it was fantastic. Maron is a stand up comedian, and he has his own show – Maron – on IFC. What separates Maron from others, in my opinion of course, is his willingness to open up about himself – specifically his problems – which, in turn, encourages the same behavior in his guests. Multiple times an unsuspecting interviewee will say something along the lines of “I shouldn’t be telling you this” and then proceeds to tell anyway.

Maron has on a lot of people from the stand up comedy world, with which he is very familiar. But he also draws in a wide range of non-comedians, from Crispin Glover to Cindy Crawford to David Simon. Maron is obviously funny, but he is very astute and insightful as well. He is also very good at empathizing and drawing out things we didn’t know about famous people we thought we knew everything about. My favorite episodes are when Louis CK drops by. The two had a falling out years back and managed to talk through it and come out the other side as friends, all on the podcast.

WTF recently uploaded its 700th episode.


You Must Remember This: Charles Manson’s Hollywood (hosted by Karina Longworth)

This one right here?? This one will grab you by the little bits and not let go. You Must Remember This covers interesting and potentially forgotten stories from Hollywood’s past. That being said, I have only listened to the 12-part series profiling Charles Manson and his crazy acolytes (I tried a few other episodes but it was too soon after this masterpiece and I couldn’t stay with it).

Ms. Longworth slowly unravels the story of the world’s most famous psychopath. And slowly, here, is not a negative. Every episode is packed with unbelievable details and info that I bet you probably didn’t know about Manson. It is so insane and so great to listen to. You will be drawn in, potentially against your will, but you will be glad it happened.

Also, it led me to the discovery of what is now one of my favorite albums of all time:



That would be Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson, the only album released by the drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys. Due to weird circumstances – which included Wilson being too nice to tell Manson to piss off – Manson and his brain-dead followers took up residence in Dennis Wilson’s house for a spell. There are plenty of more insane stories within this series, so check it out.

Now, off to podcast land you go.

[1] I mean, look at this description of something called Sex Dust, which you are supposed to add to water or milk or whatever: “This warming elixir is designed to stimulate and cultivate sexual flow in both men and women. Ancient ingredients from ho shou wu to cacao and maca send sensitivity and power to all the right places, supporting primordial energy and vital essence. Bonus: As it nourishes sexual vigor, it also enhances creativity.” FOH Gwyn.


by Michael H.


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