I started listening to podcasts a few years ago. They are especially nice for long trips out of town.
I always ask my friends what their favorite podcasts are because now, like our various TV viewing options, we have a lot of content, but not so much quality.
Most surprising to me is how many times I get puzzled looks as to what I’m talking about. A podcast is basically talk radio. Or perhaps more relevant to some of you, podcasts are like books on tape. And there are a lot of them.
I started listening to a sports radio show, which used to be an ESPN show. If you look at this network, “Pardon the Interruption” has been one of the highest-rated daily sports shows for two decades.
The hosts, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, have been colleagues since the late 1970s or early 1980s, and the relationship they have is what drives this show.
But the podcast is all Tony. He’s a grumpy guy in his sixties, born on Long Island but transplanted to the Washington Post in DC, almost 50 years ago.
He wrote a sports column, but also for the lifestyle section of this newspaper for more than 20 years.
When he and Wilbon were successful on ESPN, he quit writing.
It was a shame, because the two books published with his past chronicles are hilarious. And the same goes for his radio – uh, I mean, his podcast.
That’s why I don’t understand how it’s only ranked 69 in the top 100 sports podcasts.
“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” is ranked #1, and it’s okay. OK, Le Batard was also a former ESPN radio guy, and he’s a journalist colleague with the Miami Herald. And he’s funny.
In fact, he replaced Tony and Wilbon on their show. It is good.
But here’s one I don’t understand, the “Bill Simmons” podcast is #3. And despite my best efforts, it’s not entertaining. And now Simmons has another podcast, “Book of Basketball 2.0,” joining him in the Top 5!
Simmons has boring stuff. When I try to listen, I find myself falling asleep. This is a problem when cruising 80 on I-40.
I need entertainment; I need jokes.
“Smartless” is full of jokes. It has nothing to do with sports. And of all podcasts, not just sports, as noted above, it’s ranked somewhere around 30. That’s pretty good.
But here’s the thing, you have three friends, who happen to be famous actors, sitting down once a week, over Zoom, and having a chat for about an hour with a guest.
Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) and Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) are downright hilarious. They’re constantly tearing each other apart in raw, brutal ways, and that’s while they’re interviewing Cate Blanchett or America’s Surgeon General.
The conversations on this podcast are so intimate, you feel like you’re sitting by the fire listening to your friends talk about random events in their lives.
Finally, my latest podcast adoption was “Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” It’s very similar to the “Smartless” podcast, except they don’t have guests and they don’t need them. It’s just non-stop jokes as they go back and analyze individual episodes of the TV show.
The three hosts of this podcast are also the show’s three male leads and writers, Rob McElhennye, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton. And while the jokes don’t stop, you really get how organic they are.
The TV show is a natural extension of these guys’ conversations. And now you understand how they had 15 seasons of completely hilarious nonsense. The well simply does not dry up.
Speaking of empty racing: “Pat McAfee Show 2.0”, “Bussin’ with the Boys” and all things Joe Rogan.
Speaking of what the rest of America would prefer to my tastes: “Marbid, A True Crime Podcast”, “Crime Junkie” and yes, “Dateline NBC”. You can’t escape murderous porn even while driving your car.