A summing up of pop culture happenings from the past week followed up with an indepth discussion on one or two specific topics. Funny and smart host Cassie McCullagh invites one or two guests per episode to discuss trends across music, books, movies, tv, fashion and wider impacts on Australian and global culture.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
A round-table take on pop culture from a regular gang of US National Public Radio writers and specialists on film, theatre, books and music. Extended discussions around themes (pop culture punching bags, rites of passage, the rise of subtitled film and tv) are fun. Sometimes a bit too much focus on US television for me but the regular team riff together well no matter the subject.
WTF with Marc Maron
American standup conducts extended interviews with actors, comedians, actors and musicians in his garage. Maron’s style is rambling and slightly manic ; his openness with his guests is often reciprocated and along with the longer format results in some of the most honest and insightful interviews I’ve heard from his subjects. I cherrypick through his episodes and focus mostly on the musicians as I don’t know many of the comedians he has on.
A similar extended interview format to WTF but with younger and zanier hosts, Chris Hardwick and buddies. At time of writing I’ve only listened to a couple of these, drawn in by the recent Neko Case interview.
This American Life
This long-running podcast deserves all the accolades it’s received – it really is extraordinary both in style and the range and depth of subjects covered. The house style puts the voices of its subjects to the forefront.
Stuff You Should Know
Well-established, the rockstar of How Stuff Works podcasts. Hosts Josh and Chuck have a relaxed style and cover a huge range of scientific, historical and social topics of with insight and humour.
Of late an increasing number of ads is starting to disrupt the flow of the episodes.
Stuff You Missed In History Class
Another How Stuff Works podcast covering a range of historical subjects. The show has had a number of hosts in its history – current hosts are Tracy Wilson and Holly Frey.
In Our Time
Serious, no messing around here. Host Melvyn Bragg guides specialist academics – usually from Oxbridge – through indepth discussions of their specialty areas.
The History of Rome
A comprehensive and epic 179-episode series that took creator Mike Duncan five years to research and create. Covers more than 1,000 years of Roman history, from the founding of Rome to the fall of the Roman Empire in 476. Impeccably researched and presented in a easygoing episodic narrative style.
The History of World War Two
Similar in approach and style to The History of Rome, an indepth account of the politics and events of World War Two.
A word and language geek’s delight, hosted by linguist Mike Vuolo and writer and commentator Bob Garfield
Judge John Hodgman
A very funny fake internet courtroom in which the very witty John Hodgman passes judgement on petty disputes between couples or friends. Full of pop-culture references and judgements with genuine wisdom beneath the jokes.