Chapter 10: Rise of the Podcast

Commuting sucks. This is a fact which I believe is hard to refute. Each day I drive for 30-45 minutes (depending on traffic) to and from work. This is a process which if done more than once rapidly becomes tedious. As I sit in my car waiting for the traffic lights to change I have two ways to break the monotony. Firstly, listen to my radio, which has terrible reception and sounds like a Dalek doing unspeakable things to a blender, or listen to one of the greatest media formats developed in the last two decades- podcasts.

If you can’t tell from my tone I am a big fan of podcasts. I feel like the idea of podcasts started to slowly grow from the early 2010’s but over the last few years podcasts have become wildly popular and grown beyond what could have been predicted. The level of choice that we are now offered is incredible, the internet is a veritable smorgasbord in terms of podcasts. To help narrow down that choice, below I’ve listed some of my favourites which I listen to almost every week. I’ve chosen to talk only about none-science podcasts and have given a brief description of why they are worth listening to. In a future post I’ll mention the science focused podcasts which I listen to. If you’re truly desperate for science podcasts I recommend you check out Lewis MacKenzie’s big list of science podcasts.

My Brother, My brother, and me

This is the first of a few podcasts in this post which are hosted on the Maximum Fun network. Maximum Fun is collaborative network which brings together some incredible podcasts, the ones which I mention here are just some of my favourite- they have many more which I recommend you check out. Back to point the point at hand, My brother, My brother and Me, MBMBAM for short, is a comedy podcast featuring 3 bothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. The podcast is an “advice” podcast; the brothers answer question submitted to them or found on Yahoo answers (yes it still exists). In actual fact advice is rarely given as they usually end up down a hilarious tangent. Semi-regular segments include such gems as Haunted doll watch, Munch squad and Celebrity wine? Why not! If I am being totally honest this podcast has me laughing so hard I have cried on at least two occasions.

Art of manliness

Some may be sceptical based on the name but trust me the Art of Manliness podcast is well worth your time. Brett Mckay, responsible for the Art of Manliness website, interviews guests based on their area of expertise, recent work or life experience. The topics cover everything from philosophy and politics and and featured guests range from psychologists to members of the military. The two greatest things about this podcast are 1) its regularity (usually around two episodes a week) and 2) the range of topics covered. The podcast also strikes a brilliant balance between interview and discussion, I’ve managed to learn things from fields I would never have considered. If you’re looking to hear some interesting conversation about some engaging topics I recommend checking out their archive.

The Adventure Zone

The idea of listening to other people play table-top games may sound weird, I was doubtful when I first heard the idea, but you would be surprised. Another McElroy production The Adventure Zone started as the 3 brothers and their father, Clint, playing Dungeons & Dragons the role-playing table-top game. It may sound like a strange concept but D&D podcasts are very popular now and The Adventure Zone threads the needle between gameplay and narrative story telling making it one of the best out there. The podcast is now entering what could be consider “season 2” and they have moved on and are trying out a different style of table-top game, and it remains just as entertaining. I realise some people will have reservations about listening to a podcast like this but it is worth taking a chance and seeing what you think.

Dude soup

The Dude Soup podcast is brought to you by Funhaus, who are a division of the entertainment/ production company Rooster Teeth. The Dude Soup podcast is mainly a video podcast (they have audio only but my preference is video). As such this is the one exception on the list; I don’t listen to this on my commute- I find it perfect to put on my phone while I’m doing house work or cooking. Because they have origins in the Rooster Teeth family of content they focus on discussing video games, films and TV and general “nerd culture.” 

Bubble

Once again another Maximum Fun Production, and most recent addition to my regular podcast schedule, Bubble is a Sci-Fi narrative podcast. It is currently on episode 7 and since the first episode it has shot up to the top of my all time favourites list. The story follows residents of Fairhaven, a giant corporate run Bubble surrounded by violent wasteland. It features incredible voice acting from a long list of actors and consistently has me grinning like a fool. If you only listen to one podcast from this list please listen to this one, you won’t regret it.

Honorary mentions:

Wonderful- another maximum fun podcast, featuring Rachel and Griffin McElroy, youngest of aforementioned McElroy trio, the pair take turns to describe what they find wonderful and why. This makes for lovely lighthearted listening, fantastic for a mid-week pick me up.

Limetown- another fictional Sci-Fi narrative podcast, this was released in 2015 and follows a radio reporter as she investigates the mysterious disappearance of every inhabitant of a small town in Tennessee. While only 6 episodes long this will have you on the edge of your seats the whole time.

Those are my favourite podcasts, if you have any more recommendations I'm always on the look out for more so be sure to let me know on twitter. This has been Steve, and don’t forget to keep being awesome.