A List Of Your Favorite Podcasters' Favorite Podcast
Take a sip with your lips and your ears. (Illustration by Brittany Metz for LAist)
Like a young teen with a loose heart at sleepaway camp, I fall in love often and I fall hard — but with podcasts. How long do my crushes last? That depends on how deep the back catalog goes when I discover a show.
I binge-listened to 51 episodes of The Bright Sessions in just 11 days. Eleven. Days.
Podcasts are someone whispering sweet nothings into my ear — and I can pause them! Without guilt! What more could you ask for?
After a recent road trip I found myself juggling multiple loves at once as I switched from The Paris Review podcast to Nancy to Code Switch to Song Exploder, and I couldn’t help but wonder, what podcasts do the people who make the podcasts I love, love? So I asked them, “What are you listening to and loving right now, and what do you like about it?”
Reply All's Alex Goldman: Do You Know Who Jason Segel Is?
One of the drawbacks of working on a narrative podcast is that it has, in a way, ruined listening to narrative podcasts for me. Rather than enjoying them, I find myself either editing them as I listen, or comparing myself (unfavorably) to them.
It's much easier to just listen to two idiots make prank phone calls for an hour, which is why I have really been enjoying the Do You Know Who Jason Segel Is podcast. Every episode, comedians Brendon Walsh and Nick Thune call a different state and ask people if they know who How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel is.
They also do things like try to rent a bounce house for a grandparent's birthday, see if the pet store has sharks you can put in waterbeds, order spaghetti sandwiches from the pizza place, and try to find the best go-kart place in Tennessee to bring a date. It is juvenile and crass and dumb and definitely not for all tastes, but the day a new episode drops it's always the first thing I listen to.
Song Exploder & West Wing Weekly's Hrishikesh Hirway: Planet Money
I love Planet Money. They consistently manage to tell stories that involve complex, potentially dry topics from the world of business and economics and somehow make them easy to understand, interesting, and fun. It’s a podcast I often turn to for inspiration.
Repeat's Annie Gilbertson: The Bay
Like The Daily, KQED's The Bay tackles a single story each episode. Timely interviews, conversational tone, unexpected stories — The Bay speaks to me even though I’m nearly 400 miles south. And it should have local member stations rethinking what’s possible in their own newsrooms.
Dinner Party Download & The Paris Review's Brendan Francis Newnam: Short Cuts
I'm way into Short Cuts. For one, I love having Josie Long in my ears. I love her voice, her accent, her intelligence, and her wit, which veers toward precious but never crashes into cute.
Years ago she did a short series for BBC called All the Planet's Wonders that expanded my notion of what audio could be. It was produced by the brilliant Colin Anderson who is now at Earwolf. When I went to London that summer, I interviewed her for The Dinner Party Download, and she remained, after 400 episodes, the ONLY podcast host we ever featured as our Guest of Honor.
But my Josie fandom is only part of it. Each episode, producer Eleanor McDowall creates and/or curates short docs and audio pieces around a theme. Things that have stayed in my head from recent episodes: meditations on the color blue, ambient recording of Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, a tear-tickler of an audio diary that a mother kept of her son growing up.
If podcasts were sold in a bookstore, this would be in the arts and literature section. And I love that section. It feeds my soul.
Jonah Raydio & Mystery Science Theater 3000's Jonah Ray: Suicide Buddies
My favorite new podcast is Suicide Buddies with Hampton Yount and Dave Ross. I'm just such a huge fan of theirs and I love starting with something as dark and depressing as suicide and using it as a lead into comedy. The way they deal with the darkness of it is similar to how I do in my own life.
Still Processing's Jenna Wortham: Food 4 Thot and The Thick
Food 4 Thot: It's refreshing, timely, and funny — wicked banter that keeps you company on warm, or hot, nights.
The Thick: I enjoy the dynamic between these women and just hearing them explore life and their friendship in a casual way.
Code Switch's Shereen Marisol Meraji: On The Media
I hate to say this, but I’ve been falling behind in my personal podcast listening. Making a weekly podcast has taken over my life! Now, I binge on long car rides and cross-country flights.
But, the podcast I probably listen to most consistently is WNYC’s On The Media hosted by Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield. Brooke and Bob are public radio hosts that have always brought their personal style and voice to the medium. ALWAYS. They did this on their broadcast show long before podcasts were the “it” thing. I really respect the work they do and the smarts they bring to media analysis.
Also, I’m a journalist. I want to know what’s going on in my industry, and On The Media is not only a trade publication in podcast form, but it’s a damned entertaining one! And, don’t get me wrong, it’s not just for journalist nerds like — the media shapes so much of how we think and act! On The Media is a podcast is for everyone.
Nancy's Kathy Tu: Death, Sex, and Money
I have been, and continue to be, into Death, Sex, and Money. I seriously cannot get enough of the folks who bare their souls to the amazing Anna Sale. This show just keeps pushing the boundaries of what we're comfortable talking about in this country, and I so appreciate that. The recent episode — "A Son, A Mother, and Two Gun Crimes" — was so, so good. I will recommend this show forever.
Strangers' Lea Thau: The Daily, Pod Save America
I've been on a steady diet of political/news podcasts lately and am veritably addicted to The Daily and Pod Save America. The former because it is news in the form you (or at least I) always dreamed of — one that deepens your understanding of the issues and the complexity without ever losing touch with the human angle. And the storytelling is so good that it hardly feels fair to label it as a news show. I'm in the deepest awe of that show and the fact that they can churn it out daily is flabbergasting. It's near-perfect radio to me.
Pod Save America is more uneven as a show, and the criticism I hear that these are all white dudes is 100% valid, and yes, they add to the echo chamber, and sometimes they defend the Democratic establishment too much, but listening to these political insiders is nevertheless super instructive, I find. It can be an emotional lifesaver when I'm depressed about the news, which is often these days.
Love + Radio's Nick van der Kolk: Ear Hustle
I love Ear Hustle. It's intense and exquisitely produced. It could easily fall into pitfalls of patronization or sensationalism, but it deftly avoids those without ever sounding clinical.
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