Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Helga Recommends: Podcasts

This blog features my opinions, but I don't talk too much about individual things that I like beyond rating and reviewing the books I read and occasionally other things as well. I spend a lot of time in the car, so in addition to my dependency on audiobooks to help pass the time (and actually cross books off the TBR list), I have developed a rotation of podcasts that I listen to every week. Podcasts are more portable than audiobooks, which I listen to on CD, and I listen to them while doing chores, or at the grocery store, or any time I want to tune out reality. This requires subscribing to many podcasts.

My podcast rotation includes:

Pop Culture Happy Hour: All of the credit/blame for this weekly NPR offering goes to PCHH evangelist and my dear friend Margaret (@MrsFridayNext), who repeatedly referenced it until I had to listen in order to make sense of her effusions. I didn't start at the beginning, and it wasn't until later that I finally figured out Linda Holmes was also the Television Without Pity recapper Miss Alli, whom I had diligently followed through many TARcon and other recaps. It was truly a moment of squee. The show is a minefield of music, book, comic, and movie recommendations that you will want to follow through on (AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY).

Extra Hot Great: Tara Ariano and Joe Reid are also ex-TWoP gurus. EHG is a forum in which they--and designer Glark (David T. Cole)--weigh in on pop culture with a variety of delightful (usually TWoP-related) guests. They have several regular segments, but my favorite is inevitably Game Time, in which Tara and Joe face off and answer pop culture trivia questions. They often talk about shows I don't know or care for, and despite this I find myself listening attentively.

Slate's Culture Gabfest: This podcast is hosted by Slate talking heads (usually Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner) and features three segments each week, followed by a round of endorsements. As with PCHH, the endorsements usually lead directly to interlibrary loan requests. Unlike the first two podcasts I listed, the Gabfest emphasizes "culture" rather than "pop culture," and the subject matter ranges from insanely popular to rarefied. One of my favorite recent moments was when they went to see the Justin Bieber movie and dissected it as seriously as possible.

Only a Game: Every time I listen to this WBUR show, which features interesting, journalistic stories about different sports, I end up wishing it were twice as long. Bill Littlefield is a knowledgeable and gracious host, and I often ending up purchasing the featured books for the library. I also enjoy the weekly review of sports news that Littlefield does with the always-gregarious Charlie Pierce, derailed as it often is by Charlie laughing at his own jokes. Also known as: The Sports Show for People Who Don't Really Care About Sports.

Hang Up and Listen: Another Slate offering, this time with a sports angle. Hosted by

3 comments:

Dejah said...

New Yorker fiction podcast is really good for short stories read by famous authors the magazine publishes. They also discuss how that author and story inspired them. The Moth is also really good, like a short This American Life with an audience. (Dreaming of getting on someday.)

Thanks for posting your reviews. Will have to check out the judge one. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there! (Patrick from Denison and Wisconsin here) I too listen to the Slate podcasts each week (usually while cleaning or mowing the lawn), but I think the best of the bunch is the Political Gabfest (the original).

Helgagrace said...

Thanks! I appreciate the recommendations.