With the influence of radio dwindling, podcasts now cater to virtually any interest and taste. There are literally thousands of different programs from which to choose, from podcasts that teach you how to speak different languages to those offering the latest economic information. Still, finding that perfect podcast can be daunting. To help you make an educated decision, here are our 10 favorite podcasts available right now.
10. The Q & A with Jeff Goldsmith
Jeff Goldsmith has already proven himself with the great Creative Screenwriting podcast. Now with his relatively new Q & A, he’s more open to talking about all different kinds of filmmakers from all different time periods. His in-depth interviews always bring new insight and give a second life to whatever film is being discussed.
Episode To Check Out: David Wain/Wet Hot American Summer: Wain was a consistent guest on Creative Screenwriting, but he made his first appearance for the 10th anniversary showing of his directorial debut Wet Hot American Summer. The humorous anecdotes are actually more informative than the film’s commentary and the fandom of Goldsmith shows why he is such a great interviewer.
9. All Songs Considered
NPR hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are two friends that love to share their musical tastes with each other and the world. Talking about their favorite songs of the week, as well as occasionally recording live concerts from the DC area (which have recently included Bon Iver, Best Coast and Wavves), the pair always give great suggestions for what next to download.
Episode To Check Out: Discussion, The Year in Music 2010: In choosing their favorites from last year, Boilen and Hilton show the diversity that can be expected from ASC. Everything from Sleigh Bells to Joanna Newsom to Kanye West are represented, which shows how different their shows can be from week to week.
8. KCRW’s The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell
In under a half-hour, Elvis Mitchell dissects films and filmmakers better than most shows twice its length.
Episode To Check Out: Harvey Pekar. Just after the release of American Splendor (based on the life of file clerk/comic-book writer), Pekar talked to Mitchell about his comic, visits with David Letterman and what it’s like for a normal guy to have a film about his life. After his death, the episode is a great look back into his interesting life.
7. Comedy Bang Bang
Scott Aukerman, former writer of Mr. Show, created one of LA’s greatest comedy shows with Comedy Death Ray. By adapting it to the podcast medium, Comedy Bang Bang (formerly known as Comedy Death Ray Radio) has lost nothing is the process. With hilarious guests and odd games like Would You Rather?, Aukerman has created a great comedy podcast that can go anywhere, and usually does.
Episode To Check Out: Episode 51: One Year Anniversary Party works as a primer for newcomers who need to be thrown into the mix of odd characters that are prevalent in CBB. This includes frequent guest Paul F. Tompkins calling in from a hot air balloon as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ice-T and John C. Reilly.
6. The Nerdist
When comedian Chris Hardwick created The Nerdist podcast, he did so as a way to create something that reflected his interests in a way that the entertainment medium hadn’t fulfilled him. With friends and fellow comedians Jonah Ray and Matt Moira, and many guests, Hardwick has created a podcast about whatever nerdy things they want to discuss (usually Doctor Who) that has spawned a book and a TV pilot.
Episode To Check Out: Nathan Fillion: Hardwick captured the nerd Holy Grail by getting Fillion to talk about everything from how he wants to bring back “Firefly,” his thinly veiled desire to be in the Uncharted movie and his love for protecting other’s Apple products by giving the three hosts iPhones cases.
5. Mike & Tom Eat Snacks
Actor/Comedian Michael Ian Black and actor Tom Cavanaugh became great friends on the set of the underrated NBC comedy “Ed” and looked for a project to work together again on for years. So the idea of them creating a podcast based on eating and rating snacks may seem surprising. But this odd combination works surprisingly well and lets their viewers (they know they’re not viewers) always wondering what they will tackle next.
Episode To Check Out: Episode #2: Keebler Fudge Stripes. In only their second episode, Mike and Tom found their first enemies: The Keebler Elves. When their Fudge Stripe cookies aren’t up to snuff, they compare the tree-dwelling cookie makers to evil, pantsless hooligans.
4. Doug Loves Movies
Comedian and consistent pot smoker Doug Benson focuses on his other love, movies. Benson’s wealth of movie knowledge and guests who usually lack such knowledge go great together, especially when playing The Leonard Maltin Game, a sort of Name That Tune, but with movies.
Episode To Check Out: Ethan Suplee, TJ Miller and Jen Kirkman. One of the favorites on DLM, TJ Miller is prone to interrupting Benson and making his show go longer than he wants. This episode has Miller insulting his own films, including the ad campaign for Yogi Bear and the inaccurate title of Unstoppable.
An entire list of great podcasts could be made solely based on Kevin Smith’s podcast network. The SModcast network features Hollywood Babble-On, where Smith and Ralph Garman take on the weekly entertainment news, Plus One with Kevin and his wife Jen as they playfully pick on each other and Tell Em Steve Dave, which features two of Smith’s hometown friends. But the original SModcast is still the finest of them all. Smith and producer Scott Mosier discuss anything and everything. The more depraved the better. While they’re usually busy talking about Nazis, Mosier’s disbelief in any afterlife or whatever weird news stories they’ve found that day, the friendship between Smith and Mosier make SModcast a great listen every week, no matter what the topic.
Episode To Check Out: Episode #90: Forgeticus!: When the guys who made Dogma discuss Harry Potter, of course it’s worth listening to. Kevin and super-fan Scott (aka Harry Scotter), discuss the spells that they believe J.K. Rowling should have created and what the adolescence of a wizarding school is probably really like.
Adam Kempenaar and Matty “Ballgame” Robinson are the kind of film nerds you want to get your movie choices from. With almost 400 episodes, the two critique films in deep, thought-provoking ways that most won’t. Marathons that have included silent movies, film noir and Ingmar Bergman help them cover past films they may have missed out on and their weekly Top 5 lists are worth the download by itself.
Episode To Check Out: Episode #317: The episode starts with a fight between the two, which seems odd given the pair’s normally great balance. However it only takes a few minutes to figure out the staged move is in reference to the Joaquin Phoenix film they are reviewing that week, I’m Still Here.
1. This American Life
Host Ira Glass and his lineup of correspondents have always been great at finding the interesting aspects of even the most banal and unusual ideas. From a man who wants to clone a bull to people waiting in line overnight at a Chic-Fil-A, Glass and co. make every American life and story worth listening to.
Episode To Check Out: 396: #1 Party School: The entire crew goes to Penn State, which was voted the number one party school by The Princeton Review in 2009. The group is instantly bombarded by drunks and tries to take on every aspect of what makes them the ultimate, from the police of the town to the drunk students themselves.