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"


September 21, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• If they ever discover something like this in Chinese food I'm going to be a billionaire.

Headline of the week/weak: "Man killed by truck after allegedly running from Waffle House without paying."

• On second thought, maybe this is actually the headline of the week/weak: "Woman finds out late husband was also her father."

• I'm pretty sure they're just taunting me now.

• Forget the fact that this happened in a Yankee Stadium bathroom, the bigger story is that it happened despite the guy wearing a CC Sabathia shirsey.

• I hadn't watched Survivor since the first season back in 2000, but Jeff Kent being on the show got me tune in for the new season premiere and I recapped the former MVP's debut.

• As part of this season's hazing Twins rookies dressed up like they were in a chain gang:

All things (and potential outfits) considered, the rookies got off pretty easy this year.

• Some things are too far-fetched even for science fiction.

Vince Young really knew how to party.

• If you're wondering how the Twins can fix their starting rotation this offseason, we broke down all the free agent pitching options for 45 minutes on this week's Gleeman and The Geek.

• And if you're wondering what a Gleeman and The Geek recording looks like, here's a picture of us in "action."

• One of the original baseball bloggers, Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts, called it quits after 10 years of great work. He was willing to keep going, but couldn't justify taking so much time away from his family and day job without getting paid to write about the Dodgers. Hmm.

• I love Google and I love DMX, so DMX's reaction to learning about Google was great:

Reminds me of my grandparents' reaction when we bought them a computer a few years ago.

• Not only did the great Tom Scharpling direct Aimee Mann's new video, he got Jon Hamm to play him in the video.

Ted Williams writes pretty well for a 95-year-old who's been dead since 2002.

• I sometimes write posts on HardballTalk just for the accompanying picture choice.

• Kansas City police went undercover to stop underage binge drinking at Royals games and then made some jokes at the Royals' expense.

• Who is Chris Herrmann? I'm glad you asked.

• One of my favorite basketball writers, Sebastian Pruiti, has left Grantland to take a job as the Oklahoma City Thunder's video analyst. I'll miss his Twitter ramblings most.

• I'm starting to like the White Sox more and more.

• This week in Chelsea Peretti being awesome involves Bobby Lee and lots of weirdness:

I suppose at this point I should just make her an Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate.

• Good on former MLB Network host and current CSN New England reporter Trenni Kusnierek for publicly sharing her struggles with depression.

• My modest contribution to sabermetrics is still (sort of) breathing despite me.

Spoiler alert!

• Back by popular demand, this week's most amusing, weird, and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "How to make chicken wings like Pizza Hut"
- "320 pounds and want to conceive a baby"
- "Bryce Harper fan fiction"
- "Ron Mahay wife"
- "Yuengling in Minneapolis"
- "Picture of old man asleep in a meeting"
- "Kevin Slowey engaged"
- "Boof Bonser tramp stamp"
- "Ricky Rubio my husband"

• I'm hoping everyone checked out the AG.com sponsor of the week, Emily Meier, a fiction author with a very compelling story. Here's part of a Minneapolis Star Tribune profile of her:

For years, there had been nibbles from publishers in New York, but no bites. Now, with breast cancer metastasizing through her bones, she decided she didn't have time to wait; she would publish them herself. But because she was Emily Meier--driven, focused, hardworking--she didn't do this halfway. Instead, she started her own publishing company.

Sky Spinner Press of St. Paul, incorporated as a for-profit business and co-owned by Meier's son and daughter, has published all six of her books in record time. ... The books are done, but Meier continues to write daily---her website (www.emilymeier.com) is an orderly maze of drop-down menus and essays and suggestions for book clubs and links to reviews and interviews. There's even a page of quotes from rejection letters she received over the years.

As someone whose entire writing career has been shaped and fueled by rejection I view Meier as a kindred spirit and it would make me incredibly happy if everyone who visited AG.com this week would take some time to visit her website as well. Poke around Meier's site, look at the rejection letters, get familiar with her collection of writing, and help fulfill someone's dream.

• Finally, in honor of the Twins' rookie hazing outfits this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Chain Gang" by Sam Cooke from 1960:

June 15, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• It turns out that Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis apparently doesn't own a mirror.

Pete Campbell has established himself as the Chuck Wepner of Mad Men.

• It got my hopes up, but "Cougars move to reclaim Midwest" was just a misleading headline.

• My weekly appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen included the usual Twins talk but was mostly about my never-ending supply of beautiful female groupies. And for anyone who listens to the appearance, know that I played this in the car while driving home from the studio (alone).

Aubrey Huff was on the bench for Matt Cain's perfect game and then injured his knee tripping over the dugout railing in an attempt to celebrate.

• Sad news about one of the best pitchers in Twins history, as Dave Boswell passed away this week at age 67. Boswell, who debuted with the Twins as a teenager in 1964 and spent seven seasons in Minnesota, ranked 36th on my list of the best players in team history.

• Was last night's season-worst outing against the Phillies the start of Scott Diamond coming crashing back down to earth? I'm glad you asked.

• So far at least Bryce Harper looks like the best 19-year-old hitter in baseball history. He's also the leader in the clubhouse for best quote of the year: "That's a clown question, bro."

• In less than two weeks the annual Society for American Baseball Research convention will be in downtown Minneapolis at the Marriott City Center from June 27-July 1. I've attended every SABR convention since 2004 and obviously won't miss this one. Some parts of the convention require registering, but as my annual convention recaps show I go mostly to talk baseball, hang out, and drink beer. And you certainly don't need to be a SABR member for that.

• This week Tom Scharpling did his 500th episode of The Best Show On WFMU, which gets my vote for the most underrated consistently hilarious thing ever. It'll change your life.

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

Minka Kelly seems nice.

• I finally convinced my brain it was safe to empty my closet of clothes I wore at 355 pounds and buy new clothes to wear at 175 pounds. I'm still trying to decide what to do with dozens of XXXL shirts, but for now this is what a fatboy's entire wardrobe looks like piled on a couch:

Donating to charity is a good idea, except my brain remains convinced I'll need it all again.

• People: Still the worst.

• Deadspin gave Jay Mariotti the attention he deserves.

Stephen Strasburg made his 30th career start this week--with a 12-month break for Tommy John surgery included--and his overall numbers are pretty crazy.

• It took long enough, but Mark Wahlberg can finally make something of his life now.

• I wish I could get as excited about anything in life as my mom and aunt were to watch TNT's reboot of Dallas on Wednesday night. And apparently they weren't alone.

Henry Hill, who was portrayed by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas and often called Howard Stern's radio show to promote public appearances while in witness protection, died of natural causes.

• Suffice it to say that mixed martial arts and Anderson Silva are a bigger deal in Brazil.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Lizzy Caplan starring in a new Showtime series called Masters of Sex is probably the greatest idea in the history of television.

In which Nick Blackburn is Jodie Foster and Kyle Kendrick is Matthew McConaughey.

Preach, brother Patrick!

• I realize year-old movie reviews are sort of pointless, but they're also kind of my specialty here and I finally saw 21 Jump Street. It exceeded expectations more than any movie I can remember, with tons of big laughs. And not only that, on the way to the movie theater I saw a car pull over and a woman get out to puke on the sidewalk. One of the highlights of my life.

• I also saw a rare new release in Bernie, which was more weird and interesting than actually good but did feature Jack Black doing a nice job stepping way outside of his comfort zone.

• One of my favorite podcasts, You Had To Be There with Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer, is coming to MTV as a late-night talk show.

• Reminder: Gleeman and The Geek is live on KFAN this Sunday at 4:00, right after the Twins-Brewers game. My co-host John Bonnes is on vacation, so we'll have a couple special guests.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the longest song in my iTunes library, David Gray's cover version of "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" by Soft Cell:

This week's blog content is sponsored by PickPointz, where you can make predictions, pick games, and win prizes for free. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

February 24, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• There was some big news in the Twins blogosphere this week, as John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, and Parker Hageman launched a new site called TwinsDaily.com that combines their four blogs into one mega-blog and offers a platform for other writers to find an audience. I'm not involved with the site, but it's a great project and I'd encourage everyone to go hang out there (after you're done reading everything here, of course). Check out TwinsDaily.com.

• In which Craig Calcaterra reveals our private conversations and says Ronald Belisario bought drugs from my mother.

Raquel Welch has to be the best-looking 71-year-old person ever, right?

• Seems like Elijah Dukes misunderstood the whole concept of edibles.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis is beautiful and talented.

• Two great tastes that taste great together: Tom Scharpling and Marc Maron teamed up for a fantastic podcast that was about five hours too short.

• Twins beat writers aren't afraid to show plenty of leg at spring training.

• Sometimes perception and reality are a perfect match.

Nobody puts Niese-y in a corner.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was taped at Smalley's 87 Club in downtown Minneapolis, which closed up shop literally a day later. And if you've listened to the episode, that probably seems fitting.

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and the Wolves sing (sort of) "Tearin Up My Heart" by NSYNC:

If you can make it to the end Nikola Pekovic steals the show, as usual.

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland broke down some video for a very detailed, interesting analysis of Love's low-post game.

"Googly oogly oogly baby!"

David Price taped a commercial with Kate Upton, but his Rays teammate Evan Longoria is dating an actual Playboy playmate, Jaime Edmondson.

• Speaking of the Rays, this is the first ballpark giveaway guaranteed to cause nightmares.

• Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Novak in the same photo.

Bob Wickman's sexiness did not come naturally.

• Hell hath no fury like a baseball writer scorned.

• Friend of AG.com and Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Phil Miller was named one of the top 10 beat reporters in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Daniel Von Bargen, the actor who brilliantly played George Costanza's boss on Seinfeld and was also good in the highly underrated movie Super Troopers, attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.

• As if Louis C.K. writing and producing a sitcom for CBS wasn't confusing enough, apparently Ashley Tisdale has been cast as the star.

• One of my favorite shows, Community, is coming back on the air next month after a long layoff and threat of cancellation.

• Fear not: Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Kate Beckinsale is still great looking.

• I hope Greg Oden can find some happiness after basketball, because otherwise life isn't fair.

• And speaking of Oden's latest setback, Joel Przybilla is back in the NBA.

• Congrats to former "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for making the MLB Fan Cave's final 30 candidates. She's now headed to Arizona for spring training.

• Bonnes and I are planning a get-together for March 5 to watch the Twins-Red Sox spring training game on television. We'll have all the details next week on the podcast and our blogs, but in the meantime mark your calendar and start preparing your liver.

• Finally, in honor of Dukes' latest brush with the law this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Young, Wild, and Free" by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa:

October 21, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• As a kid Razor Ramon was one of my favorite wrestlers and a chest hair inspiration, so this ESPN segment about his post-wrestling life is extra depressing. And apparently it got worse.

Ryan Howard isn't going to let a pesky torn Achilles' tendon keep him from Whole Foods.

Ozzie Guillen quote of the week: "We want to f*** you, but we don't want to marry you."

• This list of the best television show title sequences is a good way to waste an afternoon.

• Between these Community outtakes and her Late Night With Jimmy Fallon appearance Alison Brie shattered all sorts of adorability records. She's in the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com mix.

• If you watched Game 2 of the World Series last night you probably recognized this guy.

Tony La Russa's wind-blown mohawk was pretty spectacular.

• How can one man be responsible for unleashing all that internet nudity?

• Thanks to Jason Collette of Baseball Prospectus and DRaysBay for being an excellent guest on this week's podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here.

A.J. Pierzynski has successfully introduced "rally beer" into the baseball lexicon.

• The first two comments on the last Link-O-Rama entry sum up the internet perfectly.

Kate Beckinsale is having one of the best age-38 seasons of all time.

• It turns out "poo-poo and pee-pee cards" are the keys to managing a World Series team.

• Fat-O-Meter update: I'm down 110 pounds since March 7. No special gimmicks or weird diets, just fewer calories and more exercise. By now the weight loss has slowed down considerably, but I've gone from obese to fat and am dangerously close to husky. Still lots of work left.

Kimbo Slice's boxing career is going slightly better than his mixed martial arts career.

Don't blink.

Jake Fogelnest of Spin magazine wrote a great and lengthy article about the comedic genius of Tom Scharpling (and Jon Wurster).

Sad news about one of the OG baseball bloggers, Mac Thomason, who had a big impact on my blog-mate Craig Calcaterra.

• Before he became a playoff hero Nelson Cruz was passed over by every team in baseball, including the Rangers.

Michael Beasley hired a public relations firm to help his image, but last night they did him no favors by sending out literally a dozen unsolicited e-mails promoting the same charity game.

• She'll always be Lindsay Weir to me, but Linda Cardellini is 36 years old and pregnant.

• I'm a devoted Dasani drinker, but mostly because the bottle looks nice and clean.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe wrote a really good, rational take on the Red Sox's beer and chicken controversy.

• I'm not religious ... or am I?

Maria Bello's hat made me snark on the show initially, but Prime Suspect has grown on me.

• On a related note the original, British version of Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren (plus a pre-fame Ralph Fiennes and Tom Wilkinson) is available on YouTube. Fewer hats, though.

• I've reached the saturation point with Jonah Hill, but anything that makes Hannibal Buress more famous is a good thing.

• I sent this link to my mom and she replied: "Thank you for George Clooney!"

• And speaking of great-looking couples that seem just about right, there's this news too.

Norm Macdonald on Marc Maron's podcast was pretty much the best thing ever.

• I saw The Tree of Life and decided it's either bad or I'm too dumb to appreciate its greatness.

• I've been posting a running commentary during the World Series games, so if you're into that sort of thing follow me on Twitter.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is The White Stripes doing a live version of "Ball and Biscuit":

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