I am far from the first podcast listener. In fact, for many years, I was absolutely clueless about what a podcast was. I'm still not sure if it ever had anything to do with a way for servicemen in the military to communicate with their loved ones at home. I heard at one time that's what podcasting was. I believed it, and never looked any further into it. Until I noticed some of my favorite comedians being mentioned in the same breath as podcasts in or around 2011 or so...it was also the same time that I got my first smart phone. It was a Windows phone, and Verizon gave away Halo: Reach as a promotion with Microsoft...so, yeah 2011 or so. Well now that the timeline is verified, let's take a peek into my first 5 years as a podcast listener and my journey so far.
The year was 2011 (oh yeah, we already established that). Long before Dan Aykroyd gave up on his longtime dream of a third Ghostbusters film, Melissa McCarthy, Paul Feig, and Kristen Wiig were teaming up to make the most hilarious movie of the year, Bridesmaids. The Human Torch became Captain America: The First Avenger. Limitless was a movie and not a cancelled TV show. And, Tom Cruise taught Doug Benson all about Ghost Protocol.
That is correct. The first podcast I listened to was Doug Loves Movies. To this day, I continue listening to Doug. He loves movies. I love some genres of movies. He's high. I think stoners are funny. We're pretty much best friends that never communicate with each other. So, we're the bestest of friends, right? RIGHT?!?!?
In all truthfulness, Doug has one of my favorite weekly podcasts. He invites guests onto his program. Usually, these guests are other comedians. They talk about movies recently watched in theaters, on Netflix, and sometimes on an airplane. They describe their "prizes" which is code for random swag or junk from their car. After this segment, Bert Kreischer turns the podcast off, and the guests choose name-tags from the live audience. The games begin, and quickly Doug proceeds to berate the crowd for blurting out answers to meaningless movie trivia that the guests are failing at. Someone wins. A random crowd member gets some junk. Doug calls people shitheads. It is a fantastic show. It's even better as a live show. I recommend listening and going to one of his live podcast events. He'll plug an upcoming appearance at some point during a broadcast.
Doug's podcast led to me enjoying the disembodied voices of comedians, some of which I saw with Doug on VH1's Best Week Ever, and others who I did not know. Almost every comedian used the final segment to plug their own podcast. With this knowledge, I discovered a plethora of comedic podcasts. Some of them I stuck with. Others I avoided and later returned to. And some, I just didn't enjoy. I found myself in a comedic vortex of podcast glory.
T.J Miller, Pete Holmes, Jimmy Pardo, Scott Aukerman (or Hot Saucerman?), PFT (AKA Paul F. Thompkins), Greg Proops, Tig, and Graham Elwood were some of the guests that I followed over to their podcasts. I wasn't a fan of the format of PFT's first podcast, but later I joined in on the ground floor of his new improv podcast that started about a year ago. But, I'll get to that later. I never got into Tig's podcast. I wasn't sure what was going on, but it turned out that Tig went through some issues that I learned about on other podcasts while she promoted her Netflix series. All of that was going down as I started listening to her podcast, so it is no wonder why I didn't understand what her podcast was all about. Pardo had a pay wall. I wanted nothing to do with paying while there was so much free content.
Pete Holmes has such interesting one on one conversations with his guests on You Made it Weird. The problem is that I don't have the 3 to 4 hours of time to waste listening to a riff machine talking about laughing and asking what soap the guest uses...right before delving in to the God talk and the shrink advice. I enjoyed this one for a while, but soon enough the amount of un-listened to episodes built up to an alarmingly high number so I deleted the feed. Graham Elwood led me to the Comedy Film Nerds where he and Chris Mancini rant and rave about movies and then proceed to plug their podcast festival or a Kickstarter campaign for their Earbuds documentary. Well, that's about when I stopped tuning in. I'm pretty sure that film has been made, so maybe I should give it another listen, but that would require me to re-add the podcast feed. And honestly, who has time for that?
Speaking of the Earbuds documentary, let's quickly discuss the technology involved in listening to these wondrous shows. I began with a Window's phone using the headphone jack with a pair of regular, old, over-the-ear, corded speakers. Like the style people used in the 80s with their Sony Walkman! Due to the sweat factor alone and to a lesser extent, my desire not to look like I was on tacky trek from a bygone era, I quickly upgraded to earbuds with a cord. Ah, the cord. I had to replace that corded calamity on multiple occasions due to misfortune and bad luck from the jack pulling out of the wire and leading to crackling. AH THE CRACKLING! The crackling is an event in my life that will not be tolerated.
So, by this time, I'd already switched from the Windows OS to the Android OS. I've also switched Verizon to Sprint by this point, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is the proper pod-catching app. I found one that fit my needs, and I'm sure you will too. I bought mine after using the free trial for a year or so. Since it is on GooglePlay/Android store/whatever this shit is called, it transfers from phone to phone. I do not have to purchase it again. Now I'm rocking a new cellphone provider, a new phone, and the same pod-catching app, it was time to take the leap into Bluetooth technology. Again, I went with the over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones because I didn't think the little earbuds could be any good. Turns out, after a year, I broke those headphones, so I tried out the Bluetooth earbuds. I've had them over a year so far and love them. My only complaint is that the over-the-ear ones had the capability for use at a further distance away from the phone. At the gym, I could set my phone in a cubby while running the track. Now, I have to hold my phone. I've learned to live with this because the sweat factor of using over-the-ear headphones is so great. I also have the Bluetooth FM transmitter in my vehicle since my pickup doesn't have that tech as a standard feature. I still use the headphone jack at work to attach to my computer speakers. The tech is important for listening to these shows.
So Doug lead me to other comedians and these other comedians lead me to their podcasts and some of these podcasts lead me to discovering podcast networks like Earwolf. Scott Aukerman has a podcast called Comedy Bang Bang on the Earwolf network. CBB is another pod I listen to weekly. The show has an "open door" policy where different characters can wander in to speak with Scott and his guests. Paul F. Thompkins has some of the most memorable guests. That's why I followed him over to his brand new podcast on the Earwolf network, Sponteanation. PFT combine interviews with improv. Each week a new story is spun and it is all scored on piano. Earwolf has a plethora of shows including the CBB spin-off, Womp it Up and the movie podcast that asks How Did This Get Made? and the podcast that counts down the charts, Who Charted?, but most importantly, the Earwolf network tore down that wall.
Jimmy Pardo was by far my favorite guest on Doug Loves Movies, but his podcast, Never Not Funny had a pay wall. I'm a cheap, sad sack who tried listening to the free segment, but always wanted to pay for the full episodes. So I stopped listening before I gave in, and I lived in a world without Jimmy Pardo. I don't like using the word "hero," but it applies to Scott Aukerman. Scott said verbatim "Pardo, stop charging people for your podcast. That is a dumb concept. Join my network and get free Nature Box snacks." I may have paraphrased a little...or perhaps I do not know what happened at all. But who cares, I get one free episode of Jimmy Pardo a week. I could pay for a bonus episode, but as of now, I'm not.
The discovery of podcast networks lead to Smodco and Nerdist...among others. Kevin Smith's Smodco has a bunch of different shows, but I only listen to two. Hollywood Babble-On is a 6 year-old podcast taking on the entertainment industry one impression at a time. The other is a network crossover called FEAB. It only shows up a few times a year when audible requests it. Nerdist has the T.J. Miller podcast, Cashing in with T.J. Miller. A funny concept where host Cash Levy cannot find a guest other than T.J. Miller. Today We Learned had random facts sprinkled through the episode, but has recently ended. Bizarre States is all about cats and the paranormal.
Finding a paranormal show on the Nerdist network lead my podcast listening away from comedy. At this point, I had categories of comedy and movies on my playlist. Most of podcasts crossed over with comedians speaking about movies or television, but after I discovered the amount of paranormal podcasts available, my listening habits changed dramatically. It was at this point that the feeds for You Made it Weird, Comedy Film Nerds, and even the Nerdist podcast were deleted. Jim Harold, Micah Hanks, Mysterious Universe, and other podcast feeds were added to my playlist. Paranormal led to science podcasts, science led to mysteries, mysteries led to news, news led to sports. Podcasts weren't just for comedy anymore!
Like the comedy podcasts before, I added a whole bunch of paranormal ones. I whittled them down and basically only listen to Mysterious Universe, Bizarre States, Lore, and the Black Tapes (which is more like an X-Files radio play). I discovered another podcast network, Gimlet Media, and found three of my favorite shows: Mystery Show, Science Vs, and Surprisingly Awesome. Each of these are well produced podcasts with hosts using interview clips to continue their narrative. I'm including the feed for the season one of Mystery Show. Six episodes that I binged listened with my wife during the drive on a family vacation.
So, seek out podcasts based on your interests. I'm a WWE fan. There are 10,000 podcasts dedicated to that subject. I listen to two. One of them, I skip the interview portion unless it is someone who really piques my interest. The other I've listened to as it matured into an entity on Fox Sports. That's right. Sports entertainment claimed by an actual sports network. The Wrestling Compadres podcast began on the Nerdist network. I think the hosts had a prior gig together, but I downloaded the debut episode of the Wrestling Compadres on Nerdist and have been hooked ever since. Booker T delivered his fab 5 on a weekly segment. That portion of the program did not survive long because Booker is a busy guy. Hosts have moved. Some left the show. A few new hosts joined up. One of the original hosts invites his neighbor to stop by. The show left Nerdist and joined Afterbuzz. Then, it left there to join Fox Sports. If you like all things wrestling related, then this is the show for you.
Yet, my favorite interest is movies and television. Like Doug, I love movies...and more importantly, I love podcasts about movies. So, I figured why not listen to a podcast about movies and TV that is produced from an entertainment website that you frequent. Enter the Screen Rant Underground from the editors of Screenrant.com. For years, I listened to this weekly podcast that summed up the top entertainment stories of the week and reviewed a movie. It was a fantastic media that crossed over platforms. Then, Screen Rant was sold, and the Underground was no more. But wait! Phase 2 began with a new podcast with no strict format...they called it the unofficial podcast of the Screen Rant Editors, Total Geekall. That version didn't last a year. We haven't seen new episodes in months.
Because I was missing a podcast about movies and television, I began trying new ones. The first one was the Now Playing Podcast. I started one of their retrospectives. Then another. I moved through 5 or 6 franchises before the overt sexism got to me. I no longer could listen. That's when I discovered the Mad About Movies podcast. The calmness of the hosts coupled with their low-key humor, well so far...this is my favorite new (to me) podcast of the last year.
However, I have one final interest. An online game called Fantasy Football. I am currently a 3 time champion in one league, and the champion four out of five years in my other. However, in 2016, I decided to try out fantasy football podcasts. They all were the worse. I found one diamond in the rough. A blend of comedy and football insight. The Fantasy Footballers podcast is by far the best podcast if you're interested in that sort of thing.
So many podcasts, and I've barely scratched the surface. It's like that never-ending Netflix queue and the incessant amount of continual content being provided. So go out and give one a whirl. Find your favorites and create a playlist. Then, prepare yourself for that playlist to never end.
Professor Procrastination/Legit Idjit/Perfect Slacker
is a self-proclaimed, semi-professional procrastinator that doubles as an pop-culture guru. Is he completely renarded? Perhaps. Is renarded a word that he invented on urban dictionary? It is. He is also the Legit Idjit on Facebook and a Perfect Slacker on reddit and Twitter.