10 Must-Listen Podcasts You Don’t Know About
Okay, so you’ve wrapped up the first season of “Serial” and now there’s a big gap in your podcast schedule. What will you do with all this free time and all these questions about whether Adnan murdered Hae or not? Never fear, dear reader — we’re going to serve you up a steaming platter of the best Internet audio you’re not listening to.
The Big 3
If you’re looking for a podcast with a “high concept,” this one’s for you. The creators of The Big 3 have been playing what might be the world’s longest practical joke on an aspiring actor named Perry Caravello. In 2003, comedians Don Barris and Tony Barbieri set Perry up in an elaborate ruse to make him think he was starring in an action movie called “Windy City Heat” that was actually an excuse to humiliate him in dozens of on-camera ways, and since then the trio have become inseparable. If you enjoy listening to a guy totally lose his marbles, cue this one up.
James O’Brien’s Mystery Hour
One of the coolest things about podcasts is the ability to expand your knowledge and be entertained at the same time. Every episode of James O’Brien’s Mystery Hour, which first airs on British radio before being packaged for podcast, features a simple formula. O’Brien asks a question – ranging all through the vast spectrum of human knowledge – and then opens the phone lines up for answers. Somebody out there always knows, and it’s a fascinating listen.
Uncensored History of the Blues
Many podcasts are dedicated to seriously niche interests, and they’re kind of dull listens if you’re not into the material. Mike Rugel’s astounding Uncensored History of the Blues, however, transcends that restriction to deliver something truly fascinating. Over the past six years, Rugel’s been digging deep into his collection of pre-war blues, some of the earliest recorded examples of American popular song, and unearthing the incredible tales behind the songs.
Ronna & Beverly
Talk show podcasts are a dime a dozen, but one awesome one that you’re probably not listening to is “Ronna & Beverly,” hosted by Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo in character as a pair of fifty-something Jewish romance experts from Boston. The interview segments are hilarious and draw a wide range of comedy talent, but what really sells “Ronna & Beverly” is the intense level of detail they put into the lead characters. If you miss the cringe factor of shows like “Absolutely Fabulous,” you’ll love this one.
We all eat food, so culinary podcasts are totally relatable. Probably the best is Spilled Milk, which pairs Seattle pizzeria owner Molly Wizenberg and food writer Matthew Amster-Burton as they chew and talk their way through the world’s edibles in grand style. Each episode tackles a different ingredient, from bok choy to sour cream, with occasional detours into the fascinating world of foreign junk food. Episodes are short and compulsively listenable, and many come with recipes that you can try at home.
Aubrey Sitterson worked both inside the WWE and for THQ making the pro-graps video games, so he’s an insider in every sense of the word. His “Straight Shoot” podcast treats the squared circle with exactly the level of respect it deserves. The guests are one of the best things about the program, drawn from the worlds of wrestling, MMA, comics and heavy metal in equal proportion, and they always have interesting perspectives on the week’s grappling action. Whether you’re a smart or a mark, you’ll enjoy “Straight Shoot.”
Flip The Table
Gaming is a popular topic for podcasts, but we’re not just talking vidya. There are actually a bunch of podcasts about, of all things, board gaming. One of the best is Flip The Table, which takes some of the most bizarre cultural detritus in the industry (like the Vanilla Ice Electronic Rap Game) and assembles a crew of experts to play them with all of the seriousness that these quality entertainments demand. Sure, it’s incredibly geeky, but it’s also bizarrely entertaining.
Sword and Scale
If the true crime nature of Serial is what hooked you in, you’ll dig Sword and Scale. It’s not for the faint of heart, though – the crimes discussed in these episodes are some of the most gruesome murders of all time, and they don’t skimp on the details. The audio production of Sword and Scale is some of the best in the business, weaving together multiple disparate sources to create a tapestry of terror that will have you transfixed. Start with Episode 11, the Morgan Ingram story, and if you’re not hooked I don’t know what to tell you.
Sleep With Me
Most podcasts do their best to hook you in and make you pay attention, but Drew Ackerman has other ideas. Sleep With Me is designed for one purpose only: to lull you into unconsciousness. The stories and anecdotes that Ackerman spins get increasingly boring as the show goes on, inducing a sopoforic sensation that’ll have you putting down your iPad and catching forty winks whether you want to or not. With nearly 200 episodes available, you’re guaranteed almost a year of pleasant – if weird – dreams.
The F Plus
The Internet is full of all kinds of awful things, but who has time to click on it all? The producers of The F Plus do the hard work for you, excavating deposits of crack and reading them out loud for your listening pleasure. A massive archive of over 200 episodes awaits you, covering topics ranging from real-life vampires to sneeze fetish forums (yes, those exist) to the worst of Yahoo! Answers. Each installment is chaotic, hilarious and typically not safe for work unless you have a massive pair of headphones.