Adam Carolla is perhaps most famous for his work on television in the late 1990s and early 2000s with both The Man Show and Loveline airing on Comedy Central. During that time his profile increased and he eventually went into radio doing morning work in his native Los Angeles. After his station switched from talk to pop music, he started his own podcast to keep his talk radio vibe active and his comedy sharp. He does a live podcast at least once a week with streaming video and public call ins, but his signature features are still his rants and raves about life’s daily observations. He has an untrained background in psychoanalysis allowing for him to have insightful thoughts on why people behave in certain ways, but he also enjoys making base humorous jokes that never fail to amuse. Carolla’s ability to keep up an always intriguing stream of thoughts is one of his most impressive qualities, and even though this sometimes means he’s talking over his guests, he also knows when to shut up and let them shine as well.
Billing itself as “The World’s Only Rock & Roll Talk Show,” Sound Opinions does for music what Siskel & Ebert did for movies. Chicago Tribune music columnist Greg Kot and Vocolo.com blogger Jim DeRogatis host the program, which features a wide variety of guests (recent live performances include Weezer, K’Naan, Vivian Girls, and the XX), in-depth looks at classic albums, news, reviews, and interviews (whew!). Sound Opinions aims to be a one-stop shop for everything music.
This weekly podcast is truly one of the hidden gems on the Internet. Scharpling’s call-in radio show has featured on-air guests like Patton Oswalt, Ted Leo, Aimee Mann, and Zach Galifianakis. Scharpling is also a huge music fan. I love how he interweaves bands into conversations with callers (often times with epic sarcasm). Since The Best Show podcast is taken straight from the WFMU program (Tuesday nights 8-11 PM EST at wfmu.org), some might find it a bit long at over 2.5 hours, but I think if you’re a fan of comedy and great music, you won’t even notice how quickly time goes by.
Bill Simmons is perhaps ESPN.com’s premier writer and personality, with a column that gets its own box on the front page of the website. Thus, his work is by no means a secret and small-time. Since the podcast began in May 2007 he’s proven over and over again that he is an excellent conversationalist and a fantastic interviewer on his chosen topics. Generally his work revolves around either sports or pop culture, and he often has guests that are either a notable name or one of his buddies. Simmons does a fantastic job with the interview phase – he asks interesting questions yet makes lots of jokes along the way. The mere fact that I will listen to his podcast even when he’s discussing something I’ve never watched (any Reality TV) is telling about how enjoyable his podcast is. He is funny, poignant, and fascinating – elements to which all podcasts should aspire.
Just when you thought there was an endless flood of new music to filter through, our neighbors to the north serve up the weekly CBC Radio 3 Podcast. The podcast showcases Canadian indie artists hosted by veteran CBC radio personality Grant Lawrence. Lawrence obviously loves his job and talks through each week’s playlist with gusto and an impressive knowledge of the scene that goes back to the early 90s. One of the most popular Canadian-based podcasts of all time, it kind of makes you sad that very little of it’s kind exists for American indie music. A must for music fans always hungry for something new.
Daves of Thunder is a podcast hosted by a friend of both Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla, a Mr. David Dameshek. Dameshek also invited along his former show’s “humorist” David Feeney and together they have started a podcast that does little more than provide for a once-a-week hour of humor and entertainment. Only 11 episodes in, they are still figuring out their podcast’s purpose, but that does not mean they haven’t had some of the most hilarious moments of these three shows. Dameshek goes overboard with his love of Pittsburgh sports and 1980s movies, but any form of absurdity that he brings to the table allows for Feeney to create some sort of ingenious mocking and hilarious rant. Feeney is a brilliant writer and the perfect foil for Dameshek, while Dameshek has the honed radio voice and public speaking skills. Clearly these are two friends who know how to mock one another without taking it too far – a skill too few have mastered.
In his own words, Ed says: “I think what makes it unique is the different perspectives and life experiences of the hosts, based on our backgrounds. Hilary is female, married, Canadian, a PhD scientist, an agnostic, fairly liberal, introverted and bi-sexual. I am single, American, Bachelor’s degree educated, spiritual but not religious, moderate-to-conservative, extroverted and heterosexual. The differences between us are enormous. And it’s all done with a sense of humor.
You should visit because our show is not like the others out there. Most are topic or date specific – for example, ‘beer’, ‘pets’ or ‘computer lovers’ specific, and/or topical. Our show is about issues of the brain, the heart and the soul, and how to navigate in an increasingly complex society. These are timeless issues and our show could be heard 20 years from now and still be relevant.”
Weekly commentary from music Industry veteran Celia Hirschman, where she discusses trends and changes happening in the music business. It runs anywhere from three to five minutes, so it’s a nice length for people to focus. I think her opinions are spot on, and this is also a nice way to keep track of what’s happening in the Industry.
Arguably the best radio station in the country gives us a new song to hear each day, often rare or live performances. “Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local (Seattle) artists.” A nice bonus is that they usually give a pretty in-depth description about each artist along with some news on what the artist is up to at the moment. Recent podcasts include Citizen Cope, Miike Snow, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
Lost fans are known for their animated watercooler frustrations with a show that always seems to ask more questions than it answers. One might think that a weekly podcast hosted by the show’s producers would shed some light on the subject at hand, and in a small way that is a correct assumption. However, what mostly occurs during The Lost Podcast (which varies in length, structure and frequency) is that Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse make the most of a public forum to have a lot of fun with their devoted followers. Rarely is anything earth shattering revealed during the show; instead what the hosts (collectively known as Darlton by fans of the podcast) offer is perspective on what the listener should be thinking as they watch the show and clues as to how information revealed on the show might be processed, a guided tour of sorts for the complex labyrinth of six seasons of one of the most complicated and compelling dramas on TV. Quite possibly the only negative aspect of this podcast is that it’s nearly over.
This American Life has been a popular staple on NPR since its 1995 debut. Most NPR shows are based on the news, current events or are topical discussions relevant to the headlines of the day. This American Life on the other hand is a vehicle for great story telling, tales of the American experiences that engage and delight listeners with their humor, humanity and their ability to connect with the listener and resonate with their American life. Recent stories have told the story of a California GM plant that had the chance to learn to make great cars from Toyota in the 80s and largely passed on the lesson, a trio of stories on babysitters including one about a made-up family that become almost too real for the wrong person and a thought provoking mystery of an abandoned home found by a tourist and his journey to find someone in the family who cares what happened to the former occupants. Add in the occasional fan favorite contributor such as David Sedaris, Sara Vowel, or Mike Burbiglia and there is something for everyone.