November 2, 2012

A podcast-obsessed podcaster’s guide to podcasts

I've always loved talk radio. As a kid I stayed up late listening to nationally syndicated sports talk and as a teenager I was so obsessed with Howard Stern that I recorded his shows on cassette while at school, later paying a New Yorker to send me tapes when he went off the air locally. As an adult I've been lucky enough to do quite a bit of radio, including co-hosting a show on KFAN, but sitting in a studio with a mic in front of me never ceases being a thrill.

Podcasts have taken that to another level, as both a listener and a talker. I do a weekly podcast of my own with co-host John Bonnes called "Gleeman and The Geek" that's been an amazing experience for 65 episodes and averages 7,500-10,000 listeners per show. Podcasts also provide the daily soundtrack to my work life, as I subscribe to more than 40 of them and listen non-stop while writing about baseball for NBCSports.com.

All of which is a long way of saying that I listen to an absurd, perhaps even unhealthy number of podcasts on a regular basis and people who read this blog or follow me on Twitter know that I also talk about podcasts constantly, recommending good episodes and pointing out new shows I've discovered. With that in mind I thought it would be worthwhile to create a guide to my favorite podcasts, so I've highlighted 15 that are absolutely worth checking out.


"WTF With Marc Maron"

I'm not sure if "WTF" is the most downloaded podcast, but it's definitely among the leaders and can probably lay claim to being the most influential podcast. Marc Maron started the show in 2009 after being fired from radio and it has turned into a 300-plus episode collection of long-form, probing, occasionally confrontational interviews with the biggest names in comedy. And in the process Maron has found the following his emotional, honest stand-up comedy deserves.

In a relatively short time Maron has become so synonymous with interesting, revealing chats that he's constantly referenced on other podcasts and many comedians seem to view going on his show as a career achievement. If you have a favorite comedian and want to know their story or what they're like in real life, there's no better place than the "WTF" archives. And along the way Maron will probably become one of your favorite comedians too.


"The Best Show On WFMU"

Tom Scharpling predates podcasting by hosting his radio show on an independent New Jersey station since 2000, but like many listeners I know "The Best Show on WFMU" as a podcast. It's hard to explain Scharpling's brilliance because his weekly three-hour show is unlike any other. He interacts with callers, monologues about music and pop culture, has comedians and musicians as guests, and does lengthy sketches with an always in-character Jon Wurster.

Scharpling's tag line for the show is "three hours of mirth, music, and mayhem" and that's just about right. It took me a while to get into the show initially, because the world he's created is often so absurd and the lines separating people from characters isn't always so clear, but now it might be my favorite podcast. Wurster's characters are great, the callers are great, the guests are great, the music is great, and Scharpling is a spectacular puppet-master and comedic genius.


"Stop Podcasting Yourself"

Here's how good "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka is: I didn't discover it until March and yet have already plowed through their 240-episode archive. Friends and comedians from Vancouver who make for a perfect odd couple, Clark and Shumka come across as effortlessly hilarious and endearingly silly. And they do it largely without big-name guests, relying on friends from the Canadian comedy scene who're inevitably great.


"My Brother, My Brother, And Me"

My latest "consume their entire archive like a crazy person" discovery, "My Brother, My Brother, And Me" is an advice show hosted by brothers Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy, and Justin McElroy. They field questions from listeners, some serious and some not, and dispense mostly ridiculous and silly advice as a conduit for comedy. As you'd expect from three brothers their rapport is pretty amazing and few podcasts get me actually laughing out loud like MBMBAM.


"Doug Loves Movies"

One of the first podcasts I stumbled upon and still a weekly listen, Doug Benson brings on three guests each episode to chat (ostensibly about movies) and then play a name-that-movie contest called "The Leonard Maltin Game" in front of a live audience. I often enjoy the pre-game chatter more than the game itself, but Benson is always great and books tons of well known comedians, actors, and directors on what's basically the world's most laid back game show.


"Throwing Shade"

Erin Gibson was consistently one of my favorite guests on other people's podcasts, so I was thrilled when she started a podcast of her own called "Throwing Shade" about a year ago. Along with co-host Bryan Safi they discuss pop culture, politics, and their personal lives, going from farcical to serious and back again without missing a beat. My crush on Gibson has reached epic proportions at this point--she's a must-follow on Twitter--and Safi is a fantastic foil.


"Fan Graphs Audio"

Along with Bill Simmons' show "Fan Graphs Audio" is one of two sports podcasts to which I'm subscribed, although I listen solely for Carson Cistulli's weekly chat with Dayn Perry that has nothing to do with sports. I was once a guest on Cistulli's show and loved it, but my mom listened and offered this review: "I don't understand what's funny about it." That's probably the perfect tag line for the Cistulli-Perry chats and I find them to be more or less perfection.


"Jordan, Jesse, Go!"

"Stop Podcasting Yourself," "Throwing Shade," and "My Brother, My Brother, And Me" are all part of the Maximum Fun network run by Jesse Thorn, who hosts an interview show called "Bullseye" that can be heard on public radio. I discovered Thorn by way of "Jordan, Jesse, Go!," his other, far less formal podcast with co-host Jordan Morris. Thorn's radio polish and podcast goofiness is a wonderful mix, Morris is an excellent running mate, and their guests are top notch.


"Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast"

Bill Burr is an incredible, well-respected stand-up comedian and in addition to being really funny his podcast is also unique in that it's just him. He occasionally has guests, including his hilarious girlfriend, but 95 percent of the episodes are simply Burr talking/ranting for an hour. I realize that doesn't sound particularly appealing and in most cases it wouldn't be, but Burr makes it work and the more podcasts I listen to the more impressed I am by his ability to entertain solo.


"How Was Your Week"

I could not possibly be more charmed by a woman than I am by Julie Klausner. Her book was a great read, her tweets are 140-character gold, and "How Was Your Week" is a must-listen. She opens each episode with a monologue that somehow manages to seem off the cuff while being way too amusing to actually be improvised, and then welcomes one or two guests, often from totally different walks of life, for half-hour chats that would best be described as delightful.


"The Long Shot"

Sean Conroy is the capable, sarcastically funny host, Eddie Pepitone is the grizzled comedy veteran who's equal parts lovable and bitter, Amber Kenny is the fresh-faced, sharp-witted optimist, and Jamie Flam is the awkwardly amusing punching bag. Together they form an unlikely but incredibly likeable quartet, sharing tales of complaints and triumphs in the Los Angeles comedy world before welcoming a guest to what is, if nothing else, the most crowded podcast.


"Who Charted?"

"Who Charted?" is a rare podcast with a truly unique format, as co-hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack use charts as a jumping off point for hour-long chats with guests. They often stray from the format, sometimes hilariously so, but the ability to come back to a discussion about the No. 1 song in the country or the week's highest-grossing movie keeps things rolling smoothly along with their great chemistry and playful humor. Oh, and Vilaysack is a Minnesotan.


"Totally Laime"

Hosted by Elizabeth Laime and her husband/sidekick "psychic" Andy Rosen, the mix of silliness, sweetness, and occasionally raunchy humor found in "Totally Laime" is hard to resist. Each show features a guest, usually a comedian or actor, but the hour-long episodes definitely seem more like chats among friends than traditional interviews. Laime is consistently funny and charming while encouraging the guests to go as far down the silliness path as they want.


"The Joe Rogan Experience"

Joe Rogan is a stand-up comedian, actor, reality television host, and UFC analyst, but his best work might be as a podcaster. Multiple times per week he and sidekick/podcast network kingpin Brian Redban welcome a guest for the longest of long-form conversation, often lasting 2-3 hours. Rogan is never short on interesting stories or weird theories and seems to genuinely love digging deep with people, which makes for consistently entertaining episodes.


"Comedy Bang Bang"

Scott Aukerman is runs Earwolf, which is home to "Who Charted?" and "Totally Laime," among other podcasts. Before all that he hosted his own show, which features interviews with comedians, actors, and musicians mixed with crazy, improvised sketches in which characters interact with those same (real) guests. It's so good and so weird that it became a television show on IFC, but the "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast remains as fun as when I started listening a few years ago.


Just missed the cut: "Your Mom's House" - "Fitzdog Radio" - "The J.V. Club" - "The B.S. Report" - "You Had To Be There" - "The Todd Glass Show" - "Professor Blastoff" - "The Champs" - "Weird Adults" - "Nerdist" - "This Feels Terrible" - "You Made It Weird" - "Bullseye" - "Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend" - "The Adam Carolla Show" - "Dave Hill's Podcasting Incident" - "Making It With Riki Lindhome" - "Call Chelsea Peretti" - "Pop My Culture" - "Fixing Joe" - "You Know What Dude" - "Mental Illness Happy Hour" - "Sklarbro Country"

And if you haven't already, please check out my podcast: "Gleeman and The Geek"


May 25, 2012

Link-O-Rama

Dmitri Young sold his baseball card collection for $2.5 million. And here's my favorite part of the story: "Only seven cards in the entire collection received no bids and all were rookie cards of his brother, current Tigers outfielder Delmon Young."

• Anyone know if this team needs a blogger?

• Oddly both brilliant and creepy: The evolution of a family, one picture per year.

Joe Mauer and Snoop Dogg, together again at Thursday night's White Sox-Twins game.

• Financing the remake of a Pauly Shore movie is a sure sign that you have too much money.

• Thing that made me feel elderly: This week is the 20th anniversary of The Real World on MTV.

• Friend of AG.com and former Gleeman and The Geek guest Lindsay Guentzel beat out 22,000 applicants for a spot in the MLB Fan Cave, but now they're voting out residents, Survivor-style, and she needs your help to stick around and keep living in New York all season. Go vote.

LeBron James reads The Hunger Games in the locker room, obviously.

Michael Cuddyer is in a new league and on a new bad team, but the newspaper articles about him and "clubhouse chemistry" predictably live on.

Curt Schilling: Great pitcher, not-so-great businessman.

• Saying this will inevitably lead to ridicule, but whatever: John Mayer's new album is really good and also quite a bit different than most of his previous stuff.

• If you're interested in becoming an AG.com "sponsor of the week" click here for details.

• Fat-O-Meter update: I wrote on March 7 about losing 153 pounds in one year. Since then I've dropped another 23 pounds and now weigh 179 pounds, compared to 176 pounds lost.

• My weekly appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen was fun and you can listen to us talk about the Twins and the MLB draft and my life as a robot by clicking here.

• On a related note, I showed up at the radio station immediately after this took place:

 Not so long ago I'd have been excited about the fact that there were still donuts around.

• I'd like this cake for my next birthday, please. But definitely not the blond version.

Aroldis Chapman was arrested for driving significantly slower than he throws.

Jim Thome is single-handedly trying to prop up the housing market by selling his old place for $3.8 million and buying a new place for $4.6 million.

• Someone bought Babe Ruth's old jersey for $4.4 million.

Torii Hunter has yet to rejoin the Angels two weeks after his 17-year-old son's arrest on sexual assault charges.

• My former Sunday school classmate Leora Itman writes about how my old temple in St. Paul has a new, supposedly "cool" rabbi. And he has a sports blog called The Great Rabbino.

Chris Brown and his fans truly deserve each other.

Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated wrote a lengthy profile of Georgia high school center fielder Byron Buxton, who might end up being the Twins' choice with the No. 2 pick next month.

• I've never tuned in specifically to watch this show, yet cancellation is probably the only way to stop me from watching five episodes in a row every time I stumble across a marathon.

• NBC renewed Community for another season, but creator and show-runner Dan Harmon got fired and it's tough imagine the quality and creativity not suffering without him.

• Who is Cole De Vries and what is he doing in the Twins' rotation? I'm glad you asked.

• In similar news, I'm taking myself out of consideration for People's sexiest man of the year.

Jesse Thorn's long-form interview show Bullseye is always a must-listen, but that's especially true this week with Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as his guest.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the studio version of the title track from Mayer's new album, "Born and Raised":

This week's blog content is sponsored by Curt's Salsa, a locally owned salsa company that believes in fresh ingredients and rooting for the little guy. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 4, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• What an incredibly sad way for one of the greatest baseball careers of all time to end. Damn.

Jered Weaver's no-hitter against the Twins involved an added degree of difficulty.

• SABR announced that Terry Ryan, Dave St. Peter, Roy Smalley, and Ron Coomer will be among the speakers at this year's convention in Minneapolis, which begins June 27. It'll be my ninth consecutive SABR convention and I'm hoping to see a ton of AG.com readers there.

Kate Upton may not be much to look at, but she's a great dancer.

• It'll be tough to top Tim Welke for worst umpire call of the 2012 season. Or the decade.

• I had a great time talking Twins and blogging/media with Paul Allen on KFAN earlier this week and the full appearance is available online. And as always you can hear Gleeman and The Geek live on KFAN at 4:00 on Sunday.

• My podcast co-host says I look like Richard Lewis and there's never been violence, yet Vikings running back Caleb King nearly killed a man who said he looks like Eddie Murphy.

• This story explains why I don't date or go to the dentist. Better to play it safe.

Shaquille O'Neal has single-handedly made "Shaquille" into an actual name people use.

Happy birthday to Jessica Alba, who was 22 years old when she captured the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title, 24 years old when she lost it to Elisa Cuthbert, and is now 31.

• On last week's Gleeman and The Geek episode we discussed dipping Francisco Liriano in chocolate and inviting Delmon Young to a Hanukkah party. And also some baseball.

• As someone who once had a conversation with his grandmother about the origins of Kim Kardashian's fame this video of three grandmothers reacting to her sex tape is amazing:

Ray J has to feel pretty good about their review of his performance too.

• Last night Bryce Harper became just the fourth teenager since 1980 to bat third in a major-league game. And he drove in the game-winning run with an opposite-field double.

• I'm not sure if this is ironic, exactly, but it's definitely something.

• Imagine the amount of shit being talked in the fire extinguisher community this week.

• Who is the fastest man in baseball? If you don't know him yet you soon will.

• Minor leaguers are frequently suspended for marijuana usage, but players on 40-man rosters aren't even tested for it.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com and original Dodgers blogger Jon Weisman for his promotion at Variety magazine.

• Podcast recommendation: Jesse Thorn's lengthy chat with Michael Ian Black on Bullseye was a great mix of funny, serious, and interesting.

• For now they're both in the "very good but not great" category, but I'm glad to see that HBO has renewed Girls and Veep for second seasons. I'm still bitter about Luck, though.

• At the risk of going against blogger stereotypes I've been working outside on my balcony now that the weather is so nice, but the fact that laptop screens become nearly unreadable in sunlight makes it tough. Does anyone have a suggested easy fix that doesn't look ridiculous?

• Netflix recommendation: Bill Cunningham New York, which is a documentary about a weird and talented and loveable and obsessed man who found a job he truly loves.

• To preview the Twins-Mariners series I did a Q&A with Jon Shields of Pro Ball NW.

• I've linked to him before, but as always Edward Thoma of the Mankato Free Press is doing some very good Twins blogging.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Ingrid Michaelson doing a one-woman band cover version of "We Found Love" by Rihanna without using any instruments:

This week's blog content is sponsored by One Stop Insurance, which helps Minnesotans find the best value and protection in an insurance company. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

December 23, 2010

Link-O-Rama

• In honor of Festivus, this week's Link-O-Rama is a day early and super-sized ...

And here's a little more about my favorite holiday:

On a related note: The Economics of Seinfeld.

• Be honest, you'd walk around all day with your hand there too if you could.

• I picked the right profession, apparently.

• On the other hand, suddenly "thief" is looking like a pretty easy gig for me.

• In fairness to Natalie Portman, it's tough to look that good next to the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com.

• And as the Notorious B.I.G. once said: If you don't know, now you know.

• On a related note I almost don't want to see Black Swan because it can't possibly be as good as it is in my mind.

• One-liner of the week, from SI.com media writer Richard Dietsch about NFL pregame shows: "Outside of Michael Irvin, most NFL pregame analysts will eventually provide some interesting insight and analysis."

• Hopefully his new career will provide a better platform for showing people how we do it.

• How to go from being a Baseball Think Factory and The Hardball Times writer to international scouting director for an MLB team.

• I sometimes can't help but wonder if there's a marketing department somewhere inventing food specifically for me to buy.

• Sure, it seems like a lot of money, but $12,000 is really only $3,000 per inch.

• Here are highlights from Kevin Love's recent 43-point, 17-rebound game versus the Nuggets set to "God is Love" by Marvin Gaye:

If you didn't like that, we probably can't be friends.

Jose Canseco wants to show you his bat speed.

David Simon, the Washington Post, and how one little word can change everything.

• Next time someone makes that old joke about the book of famous Jewish athletes being just a pamphlet, I'll send them here. And then wait patiently for them to make a different joke.

• My latest podcast discovery: "Comedy and Everything Else" with Jimmy Dore and Stefane Zamorano (and for the first 60 episodes Todd Glass). They mix silly and serious as well as any podcast I've heard (albeit with a bit more politics and a bit less comedy than I'd prefer), and often have on great guests too.

• Speaking of good podcasts, here's a worlds colliding moment: One of my favorite podcasters, Jesse Thorn, talked baseball with Carson Cistulli of Fan Graphs. Not only is he a big baseball (and specifically Giants) fan, Thorn was nice enough to comment here after I wrote about liking his podcasts in a previous Link-O-Rama.

• And speaking of Fan Graphs interviews, Eno Sarris chatted with my main co-worker.

• IFC has rapidly become one of my favorite channels by resurrecting several of the best and most underrated shows of the 1990s and 2000s.

• I really, really wanted to like The Walking Dead on AMC, but throughout the first season I was bothered by the cheesy dialogue, over-acting, paper-thin characters, and silly decision-making needed to push certain plot lines along. Suffice it to say I wasn't surprised to read this.

Karl Pilkington is coming to the Science Channel, so hopefully they'll now study why he has "a head like a f***ing orange."

Miley Cyrus seems like fun.

• French bulldog puppy versus doorstop, who ya got?

Winner of that matchup takes on the winner of shadow versus light from flashlight in Round 2.

• They may not be quite as amazing as expected yet, but this photo is pretty badass. And the story behind it is interesting too.

• Speaking of LeBron James, this article about his longtime relationship with former Cavs and current Heat reporter Brian Windhorst is very interesting.

• I like to think of myself as the white, talentless version of Cee-Lo Green. Or in other words, just fat and weird.

• Hall of Fame or not, Ron Santo ranks among the all-time great third basemen.

• I'm probably a 5.5 on a 1-10 scale of Bruce Springsteen fandom, but I absolutely loved the recent HBO documentary on the making of his 1978 album "Darkness on the Edge of Town." If you like Springsteen even a little bit, try to catch a replay or rent it. Incredibly compelling.

• Speaking of documentaries, ESPN's film about Marcus Dupree was incredible. It was so good that I randomly spent 10 minutes recapping the whole story for my mom despite her having no interest. In fact, after I was finished her only response was to ask, "Is he married now?"

Joe Posnanski's latest bit of awesomeness was about Zack Greinke.

• The most underrated performer in radio history talks to my second-favorite radio personality of all time, largely about my favorite radio personality of all time. I liked it, shockingly.

According to the Pew Research Center eight percent of "online Americans" use Twitter, which makes me think I should have way more followers.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys:

September 17, 2010

Link-O-Rama

• R.I.P., White Sox (April 5, 2010 - September 16, 2010)

• Her control and velocity weren't quite as good as the last time she threw out a first pitch, but Marisa Miller still looked great on the mound at AT&T Park.

• I'm willing to undersell any and all pay-to-follow Twitter offerings. I'll even toss in a Facebook friendship.

David Brown of Yahoo! Sports is one of my favorite interviewers and Vin Scully is the best announcer of all time, so when they get together for a chat I link to it.

• Believe it or not this is what an Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate looks like after hours of makeup.

• Baseball has proven really difficult for the Royals, so they're giving another sport a try.

• I let my nerd flag fly and brought my laptop to the 1500-ESPN studio for the past two nights. Thanks to Darren Wolfson and Joe Schmit for having me on "Twins Wrap." It was lots of fun.

• My never-ending quest for new podcasts to devour recently led me to discover Jesse Thorn and his pair of great shows. One is a relatively formal, NPR-style interview series called "The Sound of Young America" and the other is a more laid back comedy show with co-host Jordan Morris called "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" Both are excellent podcasts, in large part because of Thorn's incredibly dry yet goofy sense of humor and easy going yet intelligent conversational style.

Plus, he's a big baseball fan and even interviewed Bill James on an episode of "The Sound of Young America." If you're into smart, lengthy interviews listen to Thorn's chats with Louis C.K., Nick Hornby, Adam Carolla, Martin Starr, and Paul Rust. And if you're into funny stuff, check out basically anything in the "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" archives. Thorn is great, Thorn and Morris are a great duo, and both podcasts have quickly become part of my daily listening routine.

• Friend of AG.com Jay Jaffe wrote a nice tribute on the 40th anniversary of my favorite book.

• If you see Kevin Mitchell on a golf course don't ask the former MVP if you can play through.

Torii Hunter is $5,000 poorer because Hideki Matsui hit a triple.

• My fellow Friday Night Lights fans will really enjoy Diablo Cody interviewing Kyle Chandler:

Coach Taylor couldn't possibly have been more charming.

• There are two extraordinarily promising 20-year-old rookie hitters in the National League this season. One is showing historic power and the other is showing historic on-base skills.

• I could definitely see paying a la cart prices for long-form writing online, but unfortunately I suspect I'm in the minority.

• Speaking of good long-form writing, Nicholas Dawidoff's profile of Rex Ryan in the New York Times is a must-read for anyone who enjoyed Hard Knocks on HBO.

• And speaking of the Jets, a female sports reporter told a story about why Orel Hershiser's good-guy reputation is deserved.

• Apparently sometimes "saddest" can be just a synonym for "greatest." After all, she's "up 22 percent in popularity this week."

• I blame Brooklyn Decker for this.

• My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.com, gave one-sentence reviews for all the new network shows this season and sadly not one of them struck me as particularly worth checking out. Thank god for the other 500 channels.

• I'm moving further and further down the list of the best writers in my family.

• NBCSports.com unveiled a re-design this week and it looks pretty sweet.

• I'm really hoping this becomes the new Rick-rolled.

• As if I needed any help getting fatter, a restaurant called Yo Yo Donuts just opened up about a block from my house. So far I've been too scared to even check it out, because obviously no good can come of this.

• I'm addicted to WhatIfSports.com's Hardball Dynasty game and my league has one franchise open with a new season set to begin next week. Hardball Dynasty is not fantasy baseball, but rather an incredibly detailed simulation of running a fictional MLB organization from rookie-ball to the majors, so due to the steep learning curve and time commitment required we're looking for an owner with previous Hardball Dynasty experience. If you're interested, let me know.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Clayton Kershaw is 22 years old and really, really good
- Joe Morgan's opinion about the Cy Young debate is exactly what you'd expect
- Carlos Marmol has the highest strikeout rate in MLB history
- Mariners to fire professional scouting director over Josh Lueke controversy
- Manny Ramirez comes up empty as White Sox's playoff hopes slip away
- Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma said to be eyeing MLB
- Fredi Gonzalez turns down interview for Cubs' manager job
- After 10 seasons and 1,500 games Michael Young is finally playoff bound
- Livan Hernandez was a one-man gang in Atlanta

• Finally, in honor of the White Sox this week's AG.com-approved music video is "All Over Now" by Eric Hutchinson: