Podcasts of Note

Podcasts of Note:

Pop Culture, Comedy, and Good Advice

By: Jen Richards

I started listening to podcasts when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. My village did not have electricity, let alone television. Podcasts became one of my only sources of entertainment and direct links to what was going on in the US.  They are a nice alternative to music, and pair well with long car rides, cooking, and other household tasks.


The first podcast I fell for was the Savage Lovecast, with Seattle’s guru of leftist, pro-sex advice, Dan Savage. Ilistened to nearly 200 episodes during the two years I spent living in a hut.  Some of the calls Dan answers are absolutely fascinating, and others involve pretty standard relationship problems. Every episode features calls dealing with a wide array of topics, a passionate monologue pertaining to current political events, and occasionally special guests. I am always entertained and have learned a lot about fringe behaviors and sub-cultures. Mr. Savage keeps it real, interesting and relevant. After devouring so many episodes, I must admit I no longer listen every single week. But I think, just like in love, your first podcast always holds a special place in your heart.

The second podcast to steal my heart was the Slate Culture Gabfest. Each week Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, and Stephen Metcalf (all writers for Slate) discuss three topics. A recent episode discussed the film Gravity, Showtime’s Masters of Sex series and the future of cool. The Gabfest can be a bit more on the intellectual side than a lot of podcasts, but that is one of the things that set it apart. I’ve checked out movies, books, music and other podcasts recommended on the Culture Gabfest with much success. My other Slate go-to is the Double X gabfest, which deals with women’s issues both from a cultural standpoint and a political/ breaking news angle.


Julie Klausner’s How Was Your Week? (HWYW) is a podcast I often find myself quoting and recommending to other people.  Her comedic, kooky round up of pop culture always makes me laugh. Each episode includes an in-depth, personal interview with comedians, actors, writers and other people Julie is smitten with. Stand out interviews have included Patton Oswalt, Billy Eichner, and Bridgette Everette. I typically listen to it the day it drops, soaking up her off beat take on TV shows, celebrity culture and life in general.  Like the Culture Gabfest, HWYW is a consistent source of great recommendations.


As a total comedy nerd, I often find myself listening to podcasts on the Earwolf network. Founded by funny-men Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich, Earwolf aims to create the funniest digital content in the world.  I am hooked on several of their casts and am slowly working my way through the many podcasts they offer.

My favorite Earwolf podcast is the hilarious How Did This Get Made? (HDTGM). Hosted by Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael, this show examines ridiculous movies. Films that have been featured include The Room, Sharknado, Jaws 4 and Congo. They give you a week notice of the next film so you can do your homework in time for the group discussion/ laugh fest. This podcast is perfect for anyone with a penchant for bad movies and good comedy.

A couple other Earwolf joints I regularly listen to are Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts, and Matt Besser’s Improv for Humans. Both feature quirky comedy, a lot of improv and hilarious guests like Amy Poehler and Bob Odenkirk.

A more recent find on the Earwolf network for me is Who Charted. Each week Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack interview a guest, using a variety of charts for movies (box office sales) and music (various billboardcharts) to spark conversation and comedy. Their method makes for fantastic, comical interviews.

nerds at nerdist

I’ve recently started listening to Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist. The episodes featuring Neko Case and Katie Sackhoff are incredible.

It seems every topic of interest has at least a couple podcasts on the audio market. These are just a few of the gems I have discovered, and I suspect there are more out there than I will ever be able to get to.

If you have a favorite podcast suggestion please send it my way.

Happy listening.

About the Author: Jen nerds out about many things, particularly: travel, pop culture, and wine. Jen grew up in Seattle in a family of all boys. Her early obsessions included The Labyrinth, The Go-go’s, NW masterpiece Twin Peaks, and all things French. In her teen years music became her primary focus- especially the Riot grrrl scene, alternative, and Brit pop. College was filled with the likes of zine writing, feminist activism, The X-files, Tori Amos, and the novels of Tom Robbins. World travel started as a hobby and evolved into a way of life after university. After more than eight years at sea working for a major cruise line, two years in the Peace Corps in Senegal, and numerous backpacking trips, Jen has travelled to all 7 continents and over 125 countries. Jen has a BS in Psychology and a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of Utah.