We’re living in a golden age of podcasts. Whether you’re a history buff, a comedy nerd, or just looking to keep up on politics without staying glued to the 24-hour news cycle, chances are, we can recommend a podcast you’ll want to download ASAP. Here are five of our favorites.
I Was There Too
Matt Gourley is probably best known for his work on the Comedy Central show Drunk History, and his talent for making truth as engaging as fiction is fully on display in “I Was There Too.” The podcast takes a unique approach to discussing TV and movies, bringing on bit part actors to reminiscence about shooting iconic scenes from Star Wars: Episode I, Aladdin, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more (Get it? They were there, too). If you’re looking for a good place to start, you can’t go wrong with any of the show’s Collected Stories episodes. Vol 2. is packed with anecdotes about everything from Poltergeist’s on-set maggot handlers to filming The Big Lebowski.
Keepin’ It 1600
American politics seem to get wilder by the second, and the 24-hour news cycle makes it difficult to understand everything that’s going on. Luckily, President Barack Obama’s former chief speechwriter Jon Favreau and former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer are here to help. The two political insiders and their frequent guest stars discuss everything you need to know before the November election on their podcast “Keepin’ It 1600.” We’d recommend you start by tuning in ASAP to unpack this week’s Republican National Convention and next week’s Democratic National Convention.
You Must Remember This
History geeks and cinephiles both love this podcast, which focuses on the juicy scandals of early Hollywood. Movie industry figures like Dana Carvey and Wil Wheaton frequently appear as guest stars, but the show primarily relies on the talents of film historian and former critic Karina Longworth, who acts as writer, host, and creator. “You Must Remember This” boasts two years of great episodes, but we’d recommend newbies start out with the show’s 12-part exploration of Charles Manson’s movie industry connections. Wholly engrossing — and more than a little bizarre — it’s good enough to make you look forward to the drive home.
NPR’s “Code Switch” began as a popular blog, but its evolution into a podcast seems natural. Created by a team of seven journalists of color, it explores issues of race, culture, and politics in a personal way that flourishes in an audio format. “Code Switch” is posted almost daily, and the frequency allows it to be very topical. Recent episodes have included interviews with the African American trauma surgeon who treated police officers wounded in the Dallas shooting to exploring how race influenced the Brexit campaign.
“Song Exploder” features the creators of well-known songs to break down how their big hit got made. Each song is stripped down and built up, layer by layer, as the musician narrates the sonic evolution. The show is produced and edited by L.A.-based musician Hrishikesh Hirway, but his side of the conversation is edited out so that the final product is narrated by the guest musician alone. The podcast ends with the final version of the song, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the process and product. Episodes have covered everything from GRIMES’ “Kill V. Maim” and Iggy Pop’s “American Valhalla” to the Game of Thrones theme song. Most episodes are brief, clocking in around 15 minutes, making it easy to listen to several in a row.