When you’re a geek, or even in the geeky fringe, certain conversations take place all the time. The old standby discussion about what your favorite movie is has almost become passé. Favorite music? Whatever. We have Spotify to tell us that. For me, the two conversations that currently seem to be a constant are, “What are you binge-watching right now?” and “What podcasts are you listening to?” The binge-watching conversation is for another day (but right now it’s Daredevil, and it’s amazing.) Today we’re going to focus on the podcast question.
The podcast question has now pretty much become the geek equivalent of “What are you wearing?” It seems to define who you are and what you stand for. Although, to me it’s WAY more important than that silly fashion question (unless you’re an actual designer, then it completely makes sense — sorry to my friends Claire, Toni, amongst others.) The reason it’s more important to me is because podcasts themselves have gotten SO specific. There are so many out there that you can find practically anything you’re interested in and listen to others talk about it. There are professional ones, or sometimes just a few lonely dudes in a basement whispering so their mom doesn’t get mad. Podcasts are a level playing field of insane specificity. Hey, if you’re into Norwegian kitten sculptures that wind up and curse at you in Swahili, you’re probably in luck. Sven and Ed and their “Vulgar Kitties of the World” podcast is just for you. What you listen to actually CAN define you and what you stand for. Simply because the choices are there.
I figured I’d answer this question I get asked a lot, and give you my current favorite podcasts. I have to throw in the word “current”, because it does change from time to time. But when I’m exercising, hiking, or just procrastinating from work (aka being a writer), these are my current go-to’s. They’re not really in any order.
#1 – Killer POV
I love this podcast. To me this is my “inside baseball” podcast. I’m a horror writer, obsessed with horror movies since birth, so obviously I’m going to seek out a like-minded podcast about all things in the horror movie realm. You really can’t beat Killer POV. The three hosts are insanely knowledgable, likable, and best of all have slightly different leanings in their horror tastes. Whether it’s Rob talking about Psycho movies or AJ Bowen, Rebekah speaking about all things Fangoria or her nun obsession, or Elric never shutting up about goddamn Possession (a bonkers film if you’ve never seen it), they definitely dip their toes into every gamut of horror. They speak about new releases, old classics, and tons of shit most people have never even heard of. They always have great guests and a lot of insight into the current horror universe. Sometimes it is a little insider baseball, but one thing is for sure, if you love horror films of all kinds, look no further.
#2 – Crypt of the Macabre
This is a perfect example of why I love podcasts. Compared to Killer POV, which is pretty professional, has a lot of high-profile guests, and is very insider-y, Crypt of the Macabre is… the complete opposite. And that’s why it’s a GOOD THING. Ryan and Jim are not professional, nor do they ever claim to be. They ramble. They screw up. They sometimes even review the wrong movie. But that’s kind of the charm of the whole thing. They are simply super duper fanboys. They are just two guys who have a very specific hobby, and then ramble on about a bunch of tangential shit in the meantime. It’s kind of like hanging out with old pals. This podcast focuses mainly on 60’s and 70’s British horror films, namely Hammer and Amicus. I know, pretty specific right? What did I tell you above? And since this just happens to be a sweet spot of mine as well, I’m a big fan. They’re also a few buddies of mine from high school so I know them to be completely likable and entertaining fellas (which is one of the most important parts of a podcast if you ask me).
#3 – Radiolab
Honestly, if you aren’t listening to Radiolab, you’re less of a person. Radiolab is one of the single most interesting pieces of media on Earth. It also just happens to be pretty much the only podcast that I listen to that has no swearing, so I can listen to it in the car with my kids. And that’s a big point. Kids love it too. Radiolab manages to find certain stories relating to science that everyone is fascinated by. Whether it’s learning something benign about elevators you didn’t know (the Door Close button usually isn’t even connected!) to fascinating stories about medical discoveries (Patient Zero episode is amazing), they manage to make you think and rethink on a level you sometimes forget human beings are capable of. Trust me, download and listen. This podcast is truly for everyone.
#4 – Scriptnotes
Again, here is another podcast that is purely connected to my interests. It’s a podcast completely dedicated to the craft of screenwriting. John August and Craig Mazin are longtime hollywood screenwriters that definitely know the craft and the business. They give quite a bit of insight into a sometimes overlooked craft (if you’re not in Hollywood, that is.) Yes, sometimes it too can be a little “insider baseball”, but other times it’s very broadly geared toward the beginner. Regardless, it’s always filled with a few nuggets here and there that I never would have thought of. If you’re a novice or a pro, there is definitely something of worth for any screenwriter out there. I highly recommend it.
#5 – Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
Bill Burr just makes me laugh. End of story. He’s opinionated. He’s vulgar. He’s curses like a sailor constantly stubbing his toe. And he’s a genius. You will never always agree with him (did that make sense?), but you’ll always understand where he’s coming from. The fact that he is consistently funny and has a seemingly never-ending wealth of material is just amazing to me. In addition, his stand up comedy specials are amongst my favorite ever. If you like funny opinionated people that will honestly get you to think about certain things, while making you uncomfortable, Bill Burr is the king. Goddammit, I love Bill Burr. Just listen. And laugh. His anger just makes the day better.
Honorable Mention – Serial
Everyone knows about Serial by now, so there’s really nothing more I can say. I couldn’t officially put this on the list because I’ve already listened to Season 1. When they put up Season 2, you can guarantee it’ll be back on there. Serial is in a league of its own.
I should also mention a few that barely didn’t make the current Top 5:
Adam Carolla Podcast
KCRW’s The Business
The Bloodcast (RIP)
This American Life
Anyway, there you go. There are a lot more I listen to off and on, but these are probably the tops of my list right now. I’d love to hear who else I should be listening to. Send me a message. I’m always looking for new podcasts to procrastinate to.