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5.08.2017

Podcast Reviews

I go in and out with a lot of podcasts.  Here's a few meandering thoughts on them.

It's real catch-22 with regards to the extremely well produced podcasts--great sound quality, highly edited to the point that 'ums' are omitted and the interviews are almost scripted.  Many of these are NPR based or derivatives, which means that at the same time that they're entertaining and listenable, the content is predictably left leaning, trendy, and pretty banal.  That being said, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour has been a staple for me since its inception quite some time ago now (in fact, one of the first movies they reviewed was Inception, lol).  More recently (recently because they haven't been around long) I've been listening to Gimlet's Start-Up, which looks in depth at various business start-ups.

Vocal Fry (also rampant amongst these NPR-ey podcasts) can be a real deterrent in an otherwise good podcast.
A friend recently recommended the podcast Pop Fashion, and I find that it's great in the respect that the hosts cover the news from a fashion perspective, and so give updates on what retail business are closing, which CEOs are getting fired, how changes in trade agreements will affect the fashion industry.  But these women!  Zomg.  They sound so fucking brainless.  And I suppose it's deliberately so.

Tangentially, that's the thing about vocal fry--I sense it's similar to the way some gay men will talk in a certain way and make certain very effeminate gestures in order to signal to others they're gay.  These women and their fry are a call out to their own to say--"hey girls!  I'm with you! I'm a hip upper middle class millennial!"  Since I think that it's a pretty specific strata of women who are speaking like this, in terms of age and class.  So Pop Fashion will probably be getting unsubscribed and deleted soon--good content but unfortunately unlistenable.

And the bro-ey podcasts.  There was a time when this was essentially all that existed in the podcast universe--guys shooting the shit in their garage and assessing whatever it was their podcast focused on from a very male perspective.  I recently started listening to Gravity Beard Podcast when the creator followed me on Twitter.  And although I really like it in the sense that it seems to be what makes the best podcasts so good--a nameless nobody putting out unedited content that you can't find elsewhere--in he past six episodes his only contact with women has been to listen to their embarrassing dating stories.  Whereas with the men he's talking, well, about a lot more substantive stuff--such as theories about the real D. B Cooper.

I wonder what's the equivalent of the Bechdel test for a podcast?  I don't think that Gravity Beard would pass.  In fact I half expect him to interview his next female guests on household cleaners.

However some of the podcasts that sound like they'd fall under that 'white guys in their garage' classification (definitely a pejorative) are really good.  The Comedy Film Nerds, hosted by Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini, is by far the podcast that I enjoy the most and have listened to for the longest period of time.  They've been consistent, which is perhaps key to a good podcast--regularity and consistency.  I just listened to their episode with Henry Phillips from way back in 2010, and they were doing the exact same thing then that they do now; profiling indie movies and providing honest critique of Blockbusters.

....And that dumbfuck Alec Baldwin.  Just couldn't do it anymore--listen to his podcast,  Here's the Thing, that is.  He doesn't really deserve my analysis however so I'll just leave it at that.

Well that's about it.  What are your favorite podcasts?  What qualities do you look for (length, sound of voice, originality of perspective, content, etc.) in a podcast?

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