I can’t release my “Faves of Oh-Ten” movie list until I see Black Swan (which could be a while, seeing as it’s inexplicably only playing at the faraway industrial park, and not at the lovely, convenient downtown theater) and my music list still needs some work (as in, it’s kind of embarrassing and might not get posted) so here’s a list of my favorite podcasts of the year.
Don’t know what a podcast is? Well, you are really missing out. I listen to podcasts on my iPod more than I listen to music nowadays. A podcast is a radio show, or a recording that is somewhat like a radio show, that you download to your iPod and listen to at your own convenience. And here are my five favorites:
1. This American Life
“This is This American Life and I’m Ira Glass. Each week we choose a theme and bring you three or four stories about that theme…”
Every time I hear those words, I know I’m in for something good. This American Life is a very popular podcast from NPR, and I look forward to listening to the show every week the same way I look forward to my favorite TV shows.
- #403 NUMMI: The story of one car plant in Fremont, California that could have saved the U.S. car industry. Doesn’t sound interesting, right? That’s the thing – you’ll be amazed at what This American Life can interest you in.
- #407 The Bridge: Three stories of three bridges. One in China that has an infamously high suicide rate, and the man who took it upon himself to patrol it. A story of tunnels in the Middle East that allow supplies to move from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. And one bridge in Miami that because of strict laws became the only place that sex offenders could legally reside.
- #418 Toxie: A story by reporters from NPR’s Planet Money who bought and tracked a toxic asset. The most fascinating reporting on the American economy I’ve ever heard.
- #418 Petty Tyrant: The bizarre story of a New York school maintenance man who worked his way up the ranks to torment his every employee.
- #422 Comedians of Christmas Comedy Special: This one is just funny. (This American Life is often funny – it’s how I realized I love David Sedaris.)
2. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
The Pop Culture Happy Hour began in July of this year and quickly became one of my Most Favoritest Things EVER. I should be on the Pop Culture Happy Hour. Hopefully, one day I will be. It features Linda Holmes of NPR’s Monkey See blog, as well as Stephen Thompson (NPR music), Glen Weldon (who covers books and comics for NPR) and Trey Graham, the NPR arts editor. They are all very, very funny and discuss things that I very, very much enjoy.
- The fact that when they discuss TV, it reminds me that you can be both intelligent and a fan of television.
- “What’s making me happy this week”, when they each share something they enjoyed from the week. It can, and often is, absolutely anything.
- “The Regrettable Television Pop (make a popping sound) Quiz”.
- “Stephen Reads a Book”, in which Stephen Thompson took requests for a book he should read, as someone who never ever reads.
3. EW.com’s TV Insiders Podcast
This is another podcast that just began in 2010, and much like PCHH, it’s basically people who I would like to be friends with discussing things I love to discuss. It’s lead by Dalton Ross (the guy who covers Survivor and does a whole lot of other stuff for Entertainment Weekly, aka my idol) and seeing as both Michael Ausiello and Michael Slezak have moved on from EW, I think perhaps there might be some room for me on that panel…?
4. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
Wait Wait is NPR’s weekly news quiz, but it is also absolutely hilarious. Peter Sagal and Carl Kassell are so funny, and the guests are always great. A particular favorite of mine is Paula Poundstone – I had no idea she was so funny! Other great and frequent panelists are Roy Blount Jr., Tom Bodett, Kyrie O’Conner, Roxanne Roberts and Mo Rocca.
5. Rob Has a Podcast
Rob Cesternino (of Survivor: Amazon…and All-Stars, but we won’t talk about that one) and his wife Nicole do a great Survivor podcast every week. This is for the hardcore Survivor fan, since the shows run anywhere from one to two hours, but Rob and Nicole are very funny and Rob has great insights to the show as a former player.
- When Stephen Fishbach is a guest
- Comments from readers
- The episode where they spoke to Cirie (I only have patience for former Survivors who want to talk about the current season…the others should just be saved for bonus podcasts)
- The interviews with ousted players