In 2007, I listened to my first podcast while commuting to work, and I haven’t gone back to radio since. Podcasts have introduced me to people and books and ideas I never would have discovered otherwise. But more than being another thought provoking medium, a good podcast is flat-out entertaining.
You can find podcasts on almost any topic. For those on my must listen list, I’ve stumbled upon them in a variety of ways. Sometimes, I’ll search through iTunes, other times I’ll hear about one on Twitter or in a blog post, or after reading an author’s book I’ll search to see if they’ve been interviewed on a podcast. As with my reading habits, my must listen podcast list is wide and varied.
1. The BS Report with Bill Simmons – Bill Simmons got me hooked on podcasts. Long a fan of his column on ESPN, when he started a podcast, I decided to give it a try as well. I loved it from the very beginning. His interviews range from the famous to his friends, and from sports to entertainment and beyond. My favorite interviews have been Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck Klostermann, and Alan Sepinwall.
2. The Cycling Podcast – For people interested in professional cycling, this is THE podcast to get. Available weekly, except during the Tour de France when they record every day, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie, and Daniel Friebe offer their insights on the sport of professional cycling. In addition to disagreeing with one another, they also interview cyclists, directors, and owners in the sport. All three are established writers on cycling, and last year I had the opportunity to interview Richard Moore on writing, and we spoke a bit about podcasting. (Here’s the link.)
3. The Nerdist Writer’s Panel– Ben Blacker, the host, interviews TV writers and showrunners about writing for television. Not only does he delve into how they got started in the business, he asks about their respective shows, decisions they made about characters, story, plot development, and more. Although my focus is writing novels, I’ve learned a great deal about writing from this podcast. Some of my favorites have been with Vince Gilligan, Damon Lindelof, Jane Campion, and most recently, Noah Hawley.
4. The Moment With Brian Koppelman– Koppelman, a movie writer and producer, is a newcomer to podcasting, and new to my list. His podcast focuses on the moment, or moments, when a person’s life has changed direction. Koppelman is already expert at pushing and prodding the guest to go beyond the surface answers. His interviews with Baron Davis, Michael McDermott, and Jenny Hutt, although you might not have heard of one or all of them, are outstanding. Each time I listen to another person discuss the inflection points in their lives, it gets me thinking about my own. (Note: Koppelman was recently interviewed by Tim Ferriss on his podcast, and that hour long interview is worth a listen as well.)
5. mysterypod– I discovered this podcast by Steve Usery when I was searching for interviews of a writer whose book I’d recently read. When I stumbled on this treasure trove, I must’ve downloaded ten or twelve from the archive. It’s fascinating to hear mystery writers talk about their books and their process. From this podcast, I’ve found a whole new set of writers to read, such as Jed Ayres, Jake Hinkson, and Jon Bassoff, as if I didn’t already have enough.
6. WTF with Marc Maron – Let’s just say you never know where Marc Maron is going to go on an interview. He might interview a comedian, or an actor, or musician, and the interview will not go as you expect.
7. The Andy Greenwald Podcast – Andy Greenwald writes about TV for Grantland, and he interviews actors, show runners, and TV executives. Recent favorites include Noah Emerich, Antony Bourdain, and Noah Fawley.
I download other podcasts, but depending on the guest, I may not listen to the episode. These are the mainstays on my must listen podcast list.