Hey, Jesse! What Podcasts Do You Listen To?

March 18, 2013

Hey, Jesse! What Podcasts Do You Listen To?

As many of you know, when I’m not writing Put This On, I host an NPR show called Bullseye, and run a podcasting network. If you’re not already a podcast listener, you should be. Choosing what you listen to will make your life at least as much better as choosing what you watch did back when you got a DVR. Here’s some shows I love, besides the amazing shows I help produce and distribute at MaximumFun.org.


Since folks ask me all the time, I thought I’d share a list of the non-MaxFun podcasts I listen to regularly. And let’s be clear first: I listen to the MaxFun shows all the time. I hang out with Dave & Graham, laugh with the McElroys, find out about Biz and Theresa’s mom problems, catch up with Bryan and Erin, cringe to the crazy stories on Risk, visit with Dave Hill and marvel at the Memory Palace. But I do listen to a few shows in which I’ve got no vested interest.

They are:

  • On the Media – I think that this is the best news show in public radio. It’s theoretically focused on media, and towards that end you will find many stories about journalism, but it’s also a critical, long-view look at the news. Something I wish there was more of in the world.
  • The Best Show on WFMU – My friend Tom Scharpling hosts this ineffable show. It’s sort of like a regular radio talk show, sort of like a heightened, parodic version of a regular radio talk show, is full of amazing comedy bits featuring Tom’s writing partner Jon Wurster, and generally lives up to its billing as “three hours of mirth, music and mayhem.” It’s my go-to on long car trips, because it’s so easy to slip into this alternate world. Here’s an outshot I wrote about it on Bullseye.
  • Answer Me This – My pal Helen Zaltzman hosts this show with her best college buddy Olly Mann. It’s a Q&A show, with questions about sticky social situations, history, language and everything else. And Helen and Olly are hilarious.
  • 99% Invisible – I think this might be the best show on public radio, even though it’s barely on public radio. A look at architecture and design from superproducer and megahost Roman Mars. Absolutely fascinating every single week.
  • Fresh Air – You know what Fresh Air is, right? Terry Gross is my hero, and Dave Davies is like a Terry Gross that likes sports.
  • Never Not Funny – I’ve been listening to Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap every week since episode one of their hilarious, hilarious show. Like JJGo, it isn’t really about anything, but Jimmy and Matt are wonderful, hilarious guys. The full show’s $20 every six months, and worth every penny.
  • The Dana Gould Hour – Dana Gould has more funniness inside him than maybe any other person on earth. His monthly show is a discussion of a given topic, but it always veers into Dana’s particular pop culture obsessions (Planet of the Apes, Universal horror movies) and his genuinely strange font of knowledge on every topic. Also: hilarious.
  • Good Food – This is a classic public radio food show from KCRW in Santa Monica. It’s good-hearted, well-produced and exceedingly pleasant.
  • Shields & Brooks – I grew up watching the Newshour with my dad, and seeing him get excited every Friday for Shields & Gigot. The Newshour’s still the only place you can find such a concentrated blast of intelligent, balanced and respectful political analysis.
  • This American Life – If it weren’t for This American Life, I wouldn’t be a public radio host. Which, thinking about it, might have been for the better, but you gotta pick your battles. Fifteen-ish years in, they’re still the best thing going.
  • Radiolab – I am so inspired by Jad and Robert’s brilliant show, brilliant production and brilliant minds. Never not fascinating, and a signficantly lower chance than TAL of leaving me unexpectedly in a puddle of tears.

So, there you have it. Just don’t forget to listen to MY SHOWS, Bullseye (arts & culture interviews and recommendations), Jordan Jesse Go (silly comedy talk), International Waters (comedy game show) and Judge John Hodgman (people’s court, but funny).