The next installment of my podcast blog series (HA) is going to be about podcasts that have come and gone, and podcasts I’ve just never gotten into. I’ve mentioned before two podcasts that I really enjoyed but are no longer in production – What’s the Point and Surprisingly Awesome. They only had 75 and 22 episodes, respectively, and in both cases, the hosts went on to do different podcasts. Once again, I must say What’s the Point is one of my favorite podcasts of all time!
Another one worth mentioning is Making Oprah, which was always meant to be a short series. Over three episodes and three shorter, bonus episodes, the show looks at how the Oprah Winfrey show came into development and the work that went into producing the show. And yes, there are interviews with Oprah herself!
I also got swept into S-Town, which I mainly listened to during a red eye flight to NY that I wasn’t able to fall asleep on. S-Town, the first season of Serial and Missing Richard Simmons falls in the “trendy podcasts that didn’t impact my life in any meaningful way” category.
Here’s what I have tried and didn’t love
- This American Life: I gave this podcast several tries but I eventually realized I didn’t love any of the stories I had listened to. Which is why I don’t usually listen to storytelling podcasts like this or the Moth – it just seems like such a gamble that you’ll have any interest in what someone has to say for 45 minutes. Also, I don’t love starting podcasts that have been in production for a very long time but don’t keep a (free) catalog of prior episodes. I feel incomplete if I haven’t gone through the entire archive of a thing I love.
- Candidate Confessional: Every episode is an interview with a political candidate (or someone who worked on the campaign) who lost. I listened to a few, really liked some, but generally couldn’t get invested in most of the interviews. For one, I know so little about politics prior to 2016 so a lot of things are like “who? what?” and for another, I hate listening to interviews with politicians, business executives, or well-established celebrities because you’re basically just listening to a long winded sales pitch. Other examples of this: How I Built This and David Axelrod’s the Axe Files.
- The Room Where It’s Happening: OK I certainly played the Hamilton soundtrack non-stop and I did listen to a ton of episodes of this Hamilton podcast, but after a certain point, I can’t listen to this much dissection on any one topic. This did introduce me to Travon Free, the host of this podcast, who also works on The Daily Show. Most importantly, by following him on Twitter, I was able to get a small peek into Black Twitter which everyone knows is the best part of Twitter.
- Radio Lab: I have discovered with Radio Lab the one thing I really can’t stand in podcasts and that’s the overuse of kooky sound effects. I guess part of the supposed appeal of Radio Lab is that it’s an “unconventional approach to the medium and message of radio” (per NY Times) but I find sound effects generally unnecessary and distracting. Sometimes I just stop listening because I hate a long-winded, overly produced intro. This and Ted Talks are good examples of podcasts with introductions that immediately turn me off.
- The Champs: I do not listen to any podcasts that are only hosted by solely straight white men. I didn’t plan this, but only realized this after I was like ten podcast subscriptions in. For some reason I kept hearing “podcasting is dominated by straight white men” and then I looked at everything I listened to and was like “how can this possibly be true?” So this is the podcast where I finally listened to the silenced minority of our nation, the straight white man. The first episode was recorded in 2011 and they went all the way to early 2016 before calling it quits. I found this while trying to find any interview I could of Tiffany Haddish (star of Girls Trip). It was a great, very personal interview (that I think was the basis for many future interviews/magazine articles that would feature her two years later). The podcast has a Howard Stern vibe, meaning they ask pretty outlandish and personal questions but for whatever reason, the interviewee answers. Just from this one podcast and from the Howard Stern interviews I’ve listened to, I am going to generalize all men and say they have an obnoxious habit of playing the most random, unnecessary sound effects. Sometimes they don’t even have ANYTHING to do with the conversation. I think it’s because men have short attention spans and need BEEP BEEPS and BOOP BOOPS to keep them entertained. Anyway, I would recommend taking a look at their archive and listen to any episode with a name you recognize, because they definitely have interviewed SOMEONE you know.
- 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy: a BBC podcast with 10 minute episodes that tell the history of things like plastic, tax havens, clocks, and the shipping container, and their impact on the modern day. In theory, I’d love this. In practice, this is the type of podcast where you really have to focus for the entire episode because it’s so condensed, and I discovered it’s harder to concentrate 100% for 10 minutes as opposed to listening at 75% for 30 minutes. I’d constantly miss something and a ten minute episode would take thirty minutes to get through. It eventually started to feel like a drag to have all the episodes piling up so I deleted it. Sorry, British man with a very soothing voice.
- Anna Faris is Unqualified: This is consistently at the top of comedy podcasts and I was really excited to listen to this because I used to LOVE Anna Faris (The House Bunny is one of my favorite movies of all time!). Listening to an episode completely derailed my love for her, AND it also made me not like Chris Pratt. I listened to one with Jenny Slate and Chris Evans and they did an advice column section and at the end of it, I found myself agreeing with CHRIS EVANS of all people. She gives horrible, cringeworthy advice, the kind that’s like “I believe the best in everyone and everyone is probably good inside!” as opposed to the straightforward “you’re being an idiot, stop doing this” advice of Dan Savage.
- Serial: I wouldn’t say I disliked the podcast, it was more that I couldn’t hear it while I was commuting, and at a certain point I had no idea who was who. I have found that I generally don’t like these serialized mystery podcasts. So I never finished the first season and I never bothered with the second. By choosing not to listen to any murder mystery podcasts, I’ve cut out a significant chunk of the podcast population!