By ELIZABETH SCHAFER, Associate Editor
There’s really no way I can rate these podcasts. I love them equally, like my children. Wink face. However, I can recommend these 10 for your reading and listening pleasure.
1. Mike and Tom Eat Snacks! (MATES)
OK, if I had to pick just one podcast, this would be the ONE, number ONE. Some of the other podcasts are pretty explicit—not family podcasts at all. This one recently got picked up at http://www.nerdist.com, which has made them tone it down a bit. Or, the wives of the hosts made them tone it down because, now, hosts Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanaugh have a new “platform”: Respect For Women. The guys are two of the funniest men ever to have walked the planet. They improvise about who-knows-what, and then they eat a snack. They use the PER system when picking their snack: Pick a Snack, Eat a Snack, Rate a Snack. At the beginning of the podcast, the men each take turns stopping and getting the snack. Now that they are at #60 and “viewers” are sending in so many packages to MATES World Wide Headquarters, the men don’t have to get their own snacks because they are so rich and famous. Michael Ian Black (Magic) and Tom have eaten a cornucopia of snacks — such as hummus, Smarties, and yogurt. Some episodes include a Wacko Snacko skit in which they just pick a package, then they usually verbally assault the viewer, then eat the provided snack. Snickers is the only snack to ever achieve a 10 on the rating scale. The rating scale being the usual from 1 to 10, 1 being terrible and rancid, and 10 being VICTORY GOODNESS. Also introducing new verbs into the snack world, MATES has coined the term, GANELI, which is when you pair a snack with a beverage and take a bite and a drink at the same time. Just listen to it already. Find them on iTunes, they have a Tumblr, and also you can find them at http://www.nerdist.com.
2. The Moth with host Dan Kennedy
The Moth is a story-telling program where random people, celebrities, comedians, and authors tell their stories on stage in front of a live audience. There is a variety of topics and stories. I listen on Sticher Radio, but The Moth can be heard on NPR; it has its own app and you can find everything and archived episodes at
Let me pause here and say that Sticher Radio is incredible. If you have an iphone or ipad or droid phone, you can download the app. Website http://www.sticherradio.com downloads the podcasts weekly, as frequently as they are recorded, all into one place where you can then create different channels. For example, a How Stuff Works channel.
3. How Stuff Works
Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are the two hosts and also two of the many writers at How Stuff Works, in which they do the main title podcast. Using articles from the database and website, http://www.howstuffworks.com, these guys have covered everything from how crime scenes work to how blood vessels work. They also cover history and subjects such as the recent state of the economy. Friends on and off the show, they have been advertising and have become part of the Discovery Channel itself. You can find them on Facebook, Sticher Radio and, of course, http://www.howstuffworks.com.
4. True Murder with Journalist and Author Dan Zupansky
This podcast covers true crime. Zupansky interviews authors every week who have written books about true murders that have occurred around the world. Based in Canada, Zupansky himself wrote a book entitled Trophy Kill documenting a horrific crime that took place on the set of a movie being filmed in Vancouver with Jennifer Lopez called Shall We Dance. Using Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood true crime novel as an influence, the podcast is not for the weak stomach folk. Zupansky interviews the people closest to the crimes. My favorite is the one abut John Wayne Gacy in which Zupansky interviews his two lawyers. Downloadable at iTunes, or you can like Dan Zupansky on Facebook.
5. Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, from NPR
Making a point to listen to this show should be part of your daily routine. This show basically takes happenings from the weekly news around the world and turns it into trivia. They incorporate callers and weekly panelists like Paula Poundstone, and Mo Rocca. Host Peter Sagel is a real hoot and announcer and judge Carl Kasell is the prize to callers who win. They receive legendary Kasell’s voice doing their voicemail message. How historic would this prize be? You have to know your news, but the connection between everyone is really energetic. It’s also recorded in front of a live studio audience in Chicago, which would also be epic to attend. You can listen to the show locally Saturdays at 2 p.m. on 89.5 WCMU and also on Sticher Radio, downloadable at iTunes, and http://www.npr.org.
6. Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin
There’s something about Alec Baldwin’s voice that makes me want him to leave my voicemail greeting like Carl Kasell from, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” Imagine Baldwin’s voice … wait for it … now imagine him interviewing iconic people. Iconic people like Peter Frampton, Lorne Michaels, and David Letterman. Just Alec Baldwin and these celebrities chatting it up like old friends, which many of them are. The one with Lorne Michaels is particularly fascinating. To learn where Lorne started and what he is responsible for today is true success. Michaels still has the same office furniture from when he began in the early ’70s. Little holes into the lives of real people, with a host that wants to know as much as the listener does. Baldwin, being so famous himself, I am sure these people jump at the chance to be a part of it. I wonder who he’ll do next … oh, Billy Joel. Baldwin also has ridiculously lavish sponsors like Lincoln, and LegalZoom. You can listen to Here’s the Thing on Sticher Radio or download it on iTunes. Also, at http://www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething/
7. How Stuff Works; Stuff You Missed In History Class
Words cannot express how much knowledge these two ladies, Deblina Charkraborty and Sarah Dowdey, have given me. The subjects they cover in history are endless, and I consider them very credible sources. Their podcasts are done from articles written on http://www.howstuffworks.com. I’ve learned everything from the first summit at the top of Mt. Everest, to the most recent podcast discussing the mystery surrounding the death of Amelia Earhart. Many new findings have been uncovered and the possibility of finding her lost plane is becoming more of a reality than a national unsolved mystery. How Stuff Works is also a very good website for all subjects, also offering podcasts like Stuff You Shouldn’t Know, which is about conspiracy theories, and Stuff To Blow Your Mind—the title speaks for itself. All of these podcasts offer very good sound quality. You know a podcast is legit when the sound quality is foolproof. You can find Stuff You Missed In History Class at http://www.howstuffworks.com and on Sticher Radio.
8. This American Life with Ira Glass
This show is amazing and I’ve been listening to it way longer than it’s been called a podcast. With hundreds of episodes under their belt, they never cease to amaze me. Ira and a slew of producers and contributors document everyday life in America. Several episodes have gone international but they generally like to stay in the U.S. With contributors like David Sedaris, Nancy Updike, and comedian Mike Birbiglia, the stories vary from hilarious to extremely emotional. I have too many favorites to just pick one. Recently TAL has had a television show on HBO which brought the radio show to life. They also do a live show every year packed with celebrities. This American Life can be listened to locally Saturdays on 89.5 WCMU at 7 p.m., on iTunes, there is an app for iPhone and droids and also on Sticher Radio and http://www.thisamericanlife.org.
9 and 10. Radio Lab/Radio Diaries, WNYC
I listen to Radio Lab on Sticher Radio; you can download episodes on iTunes and like them on Facebook, or go to www.radiolab.org. Hosts Jad Abumrad, and Robert Krulwich are two really intellectual men who approach scientific and philosophical issues. Recently they did a show on these ants from Argentina that have migrated to California on ocean liners and are starting a colony take over. Random facts and interesting stories, Radio Lab and Radio Diaries are similar in listening pleasure and are from the same provider. Available from the same sources, Radio Diaries goes with the TAL feel, in which they document Americans citizens, often handing the mic directly over to the people.