EOY List: Podcasts

Well, now that we've gotten through that holiday, our attention can turn to the end of the year. To me, EOY means it's time for retrospection and review, but I have to admit that this year is still too raw for me to look back on with any objectivity or in any way that I can see ever doing in public, so I'm going to finish the year with lists and statistics.

This post is about podcasts. I'm a big fan of podcasts, in a way that I was never excited about radio, really. Music, for me, is too highly personal to really mesh with any given DJ, so it's difficult to find new tunes. On the other hand, I also quickly grow tired of the music I already know about. I like to listen to people talk with some level of intelligence or humor or, ideally, both.

Of course, I also host a podcast, though I have trouble getting a critical mass of folks together to do it often enough. Here are two lists: My 9 Favorite Podcasts and 3 Podcasts I Wish Existed.

The Abbot's Nine Favorite Podcasts


These are the nine podcasts that throughout 2012 I would go to first if there was an episode in the catcher. They are in alphabetical order. Obviously, this list is limited to podcasts I have heard of, that I listened to this year, and that are still (as far as I know) in production. (I would list The Thumbcast and Nancy Pearl's book review show, for example, but they're gone.) I purposely made this 9, so you don't think of it as a Ten Best list.

  • BackStory with the American History Guys. I like the way these Virginia history professors walk through a topic by dividing it into the centuries of the US experiment.
  • The Dead Authors Podcast. Paul F. Tompkins plays an HG Wells who uses his time machine to bring authors to be interviewed for a modern audience. This is a literate and funny improvisation show that doesn't release often enough.
  • Double Feature. I hardly ever watch the movies these guys (much younger than I) watch and discuss, but I very much enjoy the way they pair two films and then pick the movies apart. Plus, they are extraordinarily punctual and regular in their releases.
  • Doug Loves Movies. Comedian Doug Benson hosts various other comedians as they play the Leonard Maltin game, a movie-based variation on Name That Tune, and other movie-related games. Generally, half the time is spent on pre-game banter and half on the game itself. I particularly like the Build-a-Title game.
  • How Did This Get Made? Three hosts and a guest watch and discuss a very bad movie. It's always negative, but somehow it's never mean.
  • Nerdist Writers Panel. This is a panel discussion with various television writers. I don't have a TV, but I'm always fascinated by the way that writers rooms seem to work. I'm coming to the conclusion that software development is neither straight engineering nor simple art; the collaborative and contentious environment of television writing might be the closest other profession.
  • The Next Chapter. This is a very literate podcast from the CBC. Shelagh Rogers is a delight to listen to as she speaks with poets and authors with respect.
  • Thrilling Adventure Hour. This is old-time serial radio written and performed in front of a modern audience. The show rotates episodes of several different series. My favorites are: Sparks Nevada is an Old-West-Style marshal stationed on Mars, Captain Laserbeam is a superhero show for kids, and Beyond Belief is a sophisticated drinking couple (a la The Thin Man) who reluctantly investigate the supernatural.
  • 99% Invisible. This is a really short podcast that purports to examine the architectural world around us, but is always full of fascinating little bits of information and "ah-hah" descriptions. Every other episode has something that works its way into my coaching.

Which podcasts do you listen to regularly? Why doesn't my spell check recognize "podcasts"?

The Abbot's Podcast Wishlist


There are so many podcasts that it is often difficult to locate new ones. On the other hand, when you do find them, they often don't update very often (or have stopped without notice), or they offer a lot of repeats, or they just aren't quite what I'm looking for. So, here's my list of podcasts that I think ought to exist, but don't (as far as I know).

  • Do Over. For each episode, we watch two movies back-to-back: the second movie is a remake of the first. The episode is recorded partly after the first and partly after the second. We'll compare them to each other both from a structural and execution perspective, but also from cultural and personal perspectives.
  • The Abbot Loves Novels. So, there are a lot of movie discussion and game shows, why can't we have one focused on books? I like the format of Doug Loves Movies, so we'll play a series of games but with book contents and titles as the main ingredient. (Also known as Double Sleepy Naptime.)
  • Person In The Street. Everybody should get a shot at a good NPR-style biographical interview. With the right questions and good listening, I think everybody's life can be presented in an interesting way. This podcast takes "normal" people and helps them tell their fascinating stories.

I pitched a show to NPR once that involved bringing people from unrelated disciplines together to talk about solutions to problems they have no direct experience with. I was so disappointed when it didn't get taken up. Now that podcasts are so easy and cheap to make, there's really no reason that any show you wanted to make should have to get approval before you try. The world truly is different than it was just a decade ago (not different enough, of course, but that's another podcast: read a science fiction story from the Golden Age (30s-50s) and compare the vision of the future to our current state. We complain a lot about how we don't all have personal jet packs, but I'll be there are a lot of things we do have (or have better).)

What would you like to have a show about? Would you like to help create these?

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