Three Podcasts You Need To Listen To

So it’s about 10:30 as I’m writing this and I’ve had one Guinness, I’m listening to some White Stripes on my Sonos, and I thought I would write about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart:


I’ve talked about this before, but I thought I’d do something a little different this time. I’d like to go over three radio drama podcasts that are totally worth your time.  Now radio dramas are something that’s been with us for about as long as radio has, but these three are something a little different.  They were created specifically for the Internet and they are independently produced, which is, I think, a big part of the Internet spirt. “Get up there and do something weird.”

These three shows breath new life into the form and give it a strange veracity that I don’t think they would have if they weren’t produced directly for an Internet audience.

Tales From The AfterNow

This one is kind of a cheat because it isn’t technically a podcast.  It predates the form by about three years, but it shows what you can create when you simply just want something to exist.  It’s a great precursor to the army of podcasters who were just going to put up experimental content and see what stuck.  It was, however, produced directly for the web and available for download directly from Rantmedia – the production company’s site.

The AfterNow takes place in a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk world where the dead are made into fuel, corporations rule whats left of the world, and even time is copy written. So yeah, it’s up beat.

When I first stumbled backwards onto this show back in 2003, it was like finding punk rock for the first time.  The show’s format is a single voice telling stories with a few background songs thrown in for flavor.  It is a raw nerve of a show, that you will be begging to continue past its 17 episode run.

We’re Alive

I never really got into The Walking Dead TV show.  Primarily because I’d already “seen” it on We’re Alive.  It’s a zombie apocalypse themed drama with a full cast and a great, survivalist undertone that I never really got from the Walking Dead.

Each episode of We’re Alive presents the characters with a problem that if they don’t solve right now they are all going to die.  Right now.  Be it finding shelter, building a water filtration system, or housing more survivors.  The show really shines when it’s shows it’s many characters problem solving.  And yes, there is a lot of humans-are-the-real-monsters style story telling, so if you really like Walking Dead and want to see how the survivors go from A to B in their efforts to survive, then it’s totally worth checking out.

Welcome To Night Vale

This was the podcast that everyone tried to get me to listen to because they knew that I loved podcasts and new school radio dramas.  I held off listening to it longer than I’m proud of for reasons I can’t even fathom now.

If you haven’t listened to this show yet, stop reading this and listen to it.  It’s as good as your friends are telling you it is.

It has some of the sharpest writing I’ve seen in a long time, and some of a darkest humor that I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s a community radio show taking place in a town where every conspiracy theory is true.  The government is out to get you, aliens are real, and there’s a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home.

The people who put the show together get almost every decision they could make right and it’s so great to watch this show blow up in the way that it is.

Image via flickr

5 Podcasts Worth Checking Out

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time will tell you that I love podcasts.  I’ve been listening to them since 2005 when Ron D. Moore was doing one for Battlestar Galatica.  And before that I was listening to home-grown talk radio shows on Shoutcast internet radio.

So it would be safe to say that I’ve seen a lot of shows come and go.  I’ve gotten really intense about some show, and then I’ve just fallen out of love with them.  Currently, I have 21 feeds in my podcatcher.  Here are some of my current favorites that I think are worth checking out:

  1. This Week in Tech.  The granddaddy of podcasts.  Leo Leport has been podcasting longer than most, and it shows in this slickly produced two hours-or-so, roundtable, tech show.  In fact, Leo is so good, I didn’t like the show or the TWiT network at first because I liked the grungier, hacker shows of the early internet radio days.  But you can’t argue with the fact that by just listening to this show, you will be caught up with all the most important goings on in the technology world.  The commentary is never dry and it is done in such a way that you don’t have to have a degree in computer science to understand what’s going on.
  2. Fat Man on Batman. I make no mystery of the fact that I love Batman.  I also love Kevin Smith, the director of some of my favorite movies (Dogma, Clerks, Chasing Amy.)  So my love of this show should come as no surprise. Every week, Kevin interviews someone connected to Batman.  He’s done writers of the comic, voices on the Animated Series, Adam West, hell there’s even an episode where he interviews Stan Lee.  Don’t know what Stan Lee has to do with Batman, but I’m not going to argue with Stan the Man.  I’m always surprised by how thought-provoking, funny, and emotional the interviews are as Kevin doesn’t just focus on this person’s involvement with Batman but what in their life brought them to the bat.  It’s one of the best comic book podcasts I’ve ever heard, even if they aren’t always the main topic of conversation.
  3. AutoPilot! Each week, a different pilot episode of a long running television series is reviewed, and contrasted against the series as a whole.  The hosts do a good job of making each episode interesting even if you haven’t seen the show they are talking about (Who the hell remembers Airwolf?) What I like about the show is that each episode is kept tight.  The hosts never stray from the topic at hand, and move from point to point deftly and with little effort.  Given how many podcast can seem like a self-indulgent ramble, it’s a refreshing change of pace.
  4. The Linux Action Show! With as fractionalised as Linux is, it’s a miracle that this show is as focused as it is.  If you want to get a sense of what is going on with Linux and Open Source technology, this is the only show to listen to.  The hosts do a good job at picking the right stories to talk about, the right projects to review, and make a very dry subject matter interesting with humor but without losing any depth.
  5. Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project.  In college, Mythbusters was like a religion.  Everything used to shut down for a new episode or a marithon on Discovery. The show always reminded me of how me and my father were when we would be on a job together trying to figure something out.  He’d be looking at it logically, I’d be making jokes.  Adam Savage is one of the more interesting people on still allowed to be on television, and it’s great to have these twenty minute podcasts were he talks about building things or his favorite movies.  Each episode has something I’d never thought about before in it.

That should be enough to get you started.