When my walking-only commute began in London about a year ago, I rediscovered the joy of using my iPod. More specifically, I finally got on board with the podcast phenomenon. After a period of oversubscription to many podcasts, I’ve winnowed through the mess, and come up with the ones I’ve followed for a while and look forward to every week.
The Sound Of Young America – http://maximumfun.org/
The first podcast I recommend to people if they ask, and often even if they don’t. Other people have told me this show is like NPR, but I’ve never been able to make it through more than a few minutes of anything on NPR without becoming bored to tears. Instead, TSOYA’s Jesse Thorn has the gravitas of an old-time radio interviewer, but the youthful energy of an idealistic recent college grad. Produced from his living room, this show has that honest indie feel while simultaneously maintaining highly professional quality. There’s a very good companion blog as well.
Never Not Funny – http://podcast.jimmypardo.com
This is the most consistently funny podcast out there for my tastes. Never Not Funny is the first thing I listen to on Monday’s commute (new episodes come over the wire on Friday evening).
Air Out My Shorts – http://www.theitspot.com
Sophomoric humor with a contagious manic drunken energy. The two hosts — “Preston Buttons & The Word Whore” — read listener-submitted short stories while progressively getting drunker and drunker. There have been some disappointingly frequent stumbles lately with scheduling, and the show suffers greatly when they’re not co-located and instead record over the phone (using skype, judging by the sound quality?). The “let’s call a friend” sketches are hit or miss, but I did find myself missing them when they stopped for a while.
AST Radio – http://podcast.aspecialthing.com/
The production quality and focus of this conversational podcast have skyrocketed since its stumbling debut a year or two back. AST Radio is the only source I’ve encountered where you get to delve deep into the motivations and opinions of a slew of (usually west coast) comedians. Unfortunately, new episodes are few and far between.
The Sound Of Young America: The College Years – http://feeds.feedburner.com/collegeyears
With the format of a morning show (regardless of actual time of day of original broadcast), TSOYA: The College Years is an exceptionally entertaining broadcast done by intelligent college students. It’s intriguing to see the origins of the current incarnation, with sketches and banter which often entertain me more than the new episodes.
Jordan, Jesse, Go! – http://feeds.feedburner.com/thornmorris
Pretty much the same as TSOYA: The College Years, although down to two hosts from the original trio, and recorded now instead of years ago. This also has comedy-celebrity guests like Judge John Hodgman.
PopSci Podcasts – http://www.popsci.com/podcasts/
Eight to nine minutes of Jonathan Coulton interviewing people involved with stories in Popular Science. A framing device claiming that he’s doing all the interviews in an empty office on the moon provides an excuse for the low quality of the audio (it’s recorded via Skype)
Escape Pod – http://escape.extraneous.org/
When commutes and local travel cause me to burn through all of the new episodes of the above, it’s time to hit the well of Escape Pod, the best short-story podcast I’ve found. Focusing on science fiction short stories, this usually runs in the 20-30 minute range. They actually pay their authors as well, which is excellent.