Welcome to installment three of Pick of the Podcasts, where we explore different podcasts grouped around a central theme. For each series, I’ll provide a brief synopsis of the podcast and I’ll also give my pick of one favourite episode, which may help ease you in if you’re a new listener or highlight an episode to revisit for regulars.
Today’s theme: Podcasts for great conversations
Hosted by American stand-up comedians Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, The Nerdist mixes interview shows with celebrities and “hostfuls”, where the three just get together to chat and catch up. These shows are much more than a standard interview stop on a press tour though. Usually, they can get to the end of the show and only then remember to plug whatever the guest might be working on at that point in time, sometimes, they don’t even do that. It’s a nice change to just hear a free-flowing conversation which gives you as a listener a much better insight into the personality of whoever you are listening to.
My pick: This is a tough one as it will depend on who you find most interesting/if you enjoy the hostful format, as well as for the fact that I have enjoyed so many of the episodes! But, if I had to pick, my favourite might just be a tie between Anna Kendrick and San Francisco Sketchfest with Nathan Fillion.
This American Life
A mash-up of essays, memoirs, interviews and found footage, each episode of This American Life takes a common theme and presents different acts that explore stories around that theme. One act may be a piece of investigative journalism, the next a story told by one producer and finally, one a fictional story submitted by a contributing writer. Or something completely different. Each episode is an adventure wonderfully told. It’s easy to understand how This American Life (and its sister podcasts Serial and S-Town) dominate the charts.
My pick: Doppelgangers – The introduction will always make me laugh. The first story has horrified me from the day I heard it 4 years ago and I still haven’t recovered. Instead, I tell people about this episode all the time purely for that revelation which changed my life.
Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review
Originally a radio programme on BBC Radio 5 Live, this podcast features film reviews and interviews with celebrity guests. Each episode is 2 hours long, split into two halves. The first half is focused on Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo discussing the currently released films and answering listeners’ letters, the second half is focused on the interview with the celebrity guest. It’s all very interesting, but it becomes great fun when the two dislike the films they are reviewing and then the fast-paced witty quips will make you laugh out loud.
My pick: Best of 2016 – It’s a nice introduction if you haven’t listened to this podcast before and it’s a fun little trip down memory lane if you’re a regular listener. It’s a little confusing as there is no obvious change from one interview to the next, so you need to be paying attention otherwise you might be a bit surprised by the sudden switch in focus!
Ctrl Alt Delete with Emma Gannon
In comparison to the others, this podcast is a new offering. Continuing on from her book of the same name, Emma Gannon interviews a whole host of people who have also lived their lives and made their careers online. It’s a little rough and ready, you can tell most of the interviews are conducted via Skype rather than the two being in the same room, but that doesn’t take away from the interesting stories and great chatting between Emma and her guests. She doesn’t need all the fancy equipment to get the job done.
My pick: Zanna Van Dijk – Now this is purely my personal favourite. Like all interview shows, you’re going to like the ones with people who you like. And I love Zanna, her ethos, her vibe, I’m a major fan girl so her episode is the obvious pick!