What I Am Listening To: Interviews

I started posting some lists on an earlier version of this blog That was called Evenings in Paradelle) about programs that I enjoy listening to on the radio, online, back then on my mp3 player or phone. “Podcast” was not the common term then. (The term appears in 2004.)

On this blog, I have done podcast lists. I think there may be more podcasts that I classify as interviews than any other category.  I have done other posts about What I Am Listening podcast lists on music, film and TV, poetry, books, and news. Some of those earlier shows are interviews around a topic, such as movies, but today’s list is shows that have a range of guests interviewed.

  • WTF with Marc Maron – is one of the best-known interview podcasts. Marc is very good at interviewing and has a variety of guests (including President Barack Obama). I will confess that I sometimes fast-forward through his intros when he’s updating standup gigs he has upcoming and listen for his guitar riff intro to the actual interview. But it’s all good and get gets unusual guest and gets to unusual places with them. He started this show in his garage and even now in a new place it has a garage band feel to it.
  • Here’s the Thing – Hosted by Alec Baldwin, these interviews go wide with authors, actors, musicians, journalists, and anyone that interests him. He is a very good interviewer.
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – Conan interviews a variety of celebrities assisted by Sona Movsesian, and producer, Matt Gourley.
  • The Treatment – began as film interviews but also guests from other fields like art, entertainment and pop culture. It is hosted by Elvis Mitchell.
  • In Our Time – comes from the BBC and host Melvyn Bragg gathers a few experts (often academics) to discuss a wide range of topics in the history of ideas.  It goes from Shakespeare’s Sonnets, to Longitude, the Late Devonian extinction, or the Rosetta Stone. Sound lofty but it is quite accessible.
  • ID1OT – The name looks like “idiot” but it’s not. Host Chris Hardwick started this show under the title Nerdist. He does long-form interviews with all kinds of folks, though entertainment is the broad label for the guests. Examples: Matt Damon, Billy Crystal, John Cleese, Molly Tuttle, Dr. Jane Goodall and Linda and Drew Scott.
  • Armchair Expert – This weekly podcast is hosted by actors Dax Shepard and Monica Padman and they interview celebrities, journalists, and academics. Even if the guest is known for one thing – like acting – the interview almost always goes in unlikely places. Dax started in 2018 with his wife, actress Kristen Bell, as the first guest.
  • Clear and Vivid – Hosted by actor Alan Alda but more in the area that comes from his 14 years as host of Scientific American Frontiers. Alda is also a visiting professor at Stony Brook University in NY and the founder of the University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The show focuses on how to communicate in many fields from science to acting.
  • The Movies That Made Me – is a movies podcast but the interviews led by film encyclopedias Josh Olson and Joe Dante are ith a variety of filmmakers and entertainers but often go beyond movies.
  • The similarly titled podcast Movies That Changed My Life is hosted by IMDN guy Ian de Borja also interviews folks in the biz but about other people’s films that had an impact on their life and work.
  • Bad to the Dad – interviews dads about being dads from all their different life experiences. Coach Randy and Adam Shandler are the hosts.
  • Literally! with Rob Lowe – Rob surprised me as a really good interviewer who gets some unusual answers from guests in sports, music, culture, TV and movies, like John Fogerty, Jimmy Kimmel, Mark Cuban, Charles Barkley and Demi Moore.
  • The Three Questions with Andy Richter is supposedly based on three questions he has for guests but it goes far from those three (sometimes Andy almost forgets to ask them!)
  • Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist is an audio version of interviews he does with a very wide variety of guests on TV’s Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist.
  • Radiolab has been around in some form and with several hosts since 2002. It is dee-dive journalism. The topics are so wide-ranging that I can’t think of a label for them.
  • I started listening to Open Source with Christopher Lydon for his conversations on arts and ideas. Like most of these shows, I pick and choose episodes that interest me and download them for later. It is now impossible to keep up with all the episodes of almost any podcast.
  • The Carson Podcast – is definitely around a topic – The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – and host Mark Malkoff knows a lot about Johnny and learns more by interviewing people who worked on the show and appeared on the show.
  • Next Question with Katie Couric – is hosted by this very likeable, seasoned interviewer and the guests are not just celebrities. So you’ll hear Dr. Fauci, Hillary Clinton and a variety of journalists and authors, along with entertainers.
  • In Bed with Nick and Megan – as in married couple Offerman and Mullally. They supposedly conduct their interviews from bed, though it may be figurative bed intimacy. The show seems to have ended or paused in September 2020, but like almost all the shows listed here there are deep archives to sift through and download.

What I Am Listening To: Film and TV

I have posted a few times about What I Am Listening To and the posts are not about music. They are podcast lists. At this point, I have so many podcasts in my app that I have started to do separate posts occasionally about podcasts around a genre or topic.

Here are the movie podcasts I am currently listening to and would recommend if you are a film fan. Since streaming has made the line between films and TV in more of a soft focus, buth appear in these programs. You should be able to find them on any podcast app (I use Stitcher) and some are available on websites if you’re not a mobile listener.

I don’t listen to every episode of most podcasts and I pick and choose people or films that I most interest me.

  1. THE BUSINESS – weekly about the business of show business; news and interviews, hosted by Kim Masters from The Hollywood Reporter.
  2. THE TREATMENT – the very well informed Elvis Mitchell does in-depth interviews with film and TV folks and sometimes with art and pop culture figures.
  3. MALTIN ON MOVIES   “Maltin” is film critic Leonard Maltin, well-known critic, accompanied by his daughter Jessie talking movies with very well known and not so well known people passionate about movies.
  4. UNSPOOLED – this series started with looking at each of the American Film Institute’s 100 Best American films. Hosted by critic Amy Nicholson and actor Paul Scheer, they have moved through those 100 and continue with a variety of others, including ones they would have put on the list given the chance.
  5. YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS – a storytelling series about the first hundred years of the movies created and hosted by Karina Longworth. Each “season” takes on a theme about some aspect of Hollywood history and is carefully researched with voice actors often taking on the roles of some of the story’s characters.
  6. FLASHBACK FLICKS: RETRO MOVIE PODCAST – Ricky and Grayson dig deep and goofily into movie they grew up with, like The Shining, Harry and the Hendersons, King of Comedy, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters.
  7. SLATE’S SPOILER SPECIALS  – the hosts (regularly Dana Stevens) spoil movies – or at least review them with no qualms about giving away spoilers. They cover movies with an occasional TV show or series.
  8. THE MOVIES THAT MADE ME – filmmakers and entertainers talk about movies that inspired them with hosts Josh Olson and director Joe Dante who (like many hosts of these podcasts) know a lot more about movies than most of us ever will know.  You can get the podcasts on their interesting website Trailers from Hell that looks at some B (and a few A) movie trailers. I put two of those on this post.
  9. MOVIE THERAPY – I followed Kristen Meinzer and Rafer Guzman ever since their first movie podcast, MOVIE DATE. In this latest incarnation, they take on problems from listeners and give movie/TV recommendations for what ails folks. Fun and funny and good recommendations.

You can also find many actors and directors talking films on general interview podcasts which I will describe in another post.

What I Am Listening To: Poetry

podcast iconIn this “What I Am Listening To,” I focus on poetry podcasts. I listen to all of these on the Stitcher app but I suspect that they are also available on other apps.

The Writer’s Almanac – I have been starting my day with The Writer’s Almanac daily podcast of poetry and historical interest pieces, usually of literary significance. Each day’s offering is five minutes long and contains “on this day in history” information as well as host Garrison Keillor reading an accessible poem. Disclaimer: Several of my poems have been featured on the show.

Poetry Unbound  – An immersive reading of a single poem, guided by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Unhurried, contemplative, and energizing. New episodes on Monday and Friday, about 15 minutes each. Anchor your life with poetry.

The New Yorker: Poetry – Readings and conversation with The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young. Guest poets select a favorite poem from the magazine by another poet and one of their own.

Poetry Spoken Here – An almost weekly poetry podcast that features interviews with poets, reviews of poetry books, examinations of individual poems, and investigations of themes in poetry.

Poetry from Studio 47 – a weekly radio broadcast that airs on NPR affiliate, South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The show highlights poetry from the Midwest, the Great Plains, and beyond. Each episode is roughly five minutes long.

Bookworm – This is an intellectual, accessible, and provocative collection of literary conversations. The host, Michael Silverblatt, is superb. He’s the reader any author would love to have. The show mostly features novelists but the huge archive contains poets too.

The Slowdown – This podcast seems to have ended but the archive is full shows with poet Tracy K. Smith delivering a different way to see the world with a close, personal reading of a poem.

Writing the Day – Personal plug. I have been writing poems on my website Writing the Day since 2014. I started recently adding a podcast version of poems – my reading and sometimes some explication. These are short (under two minutes) episodes. Currently available online on Anchor and with or without an app on Spotify. and on Google PodcastsPocket Casts, and RadioPublic.

What I Am Listening To: Books

podcast iconI guess I am an aural learner because I do listen to a lot of podcasts and listen rather than read books. It is also part of my multi-tasking life – perhaps not always a good thing – as I often listen while doing something else. That’s particularly true on my walks, in the car, and while working in the garden.

There are many podcast apps for your phone, but you can listen to them on a tablet or computer too. Apple Podcasts lost the top spot in 2020 in the United States to Spotify, which has 25 percent of podcast listeners aged 18 or above. I still use Stitcher which I have been using for years.

I have listened to audiobooks for a very long time and listened to them on audiocassettes, then CDs and used Audible for a year. Those cassettes and CDs were borrowed from the library but Audible was a subscription and it got pricey. Then I discovered that my town library participates in Hoopla, Overdrive and Libby which allows me to borrow things for free as I had done physically from my library earlier. I use Hoopla the most and from it, I can borrow books as audiobooks and as print for my screen and also movies and music. It is a great service. Like my library, those free library services allow you to borrow/download items for a period (typically 2 weeks) after which they are returned and disappear from your device.

You can search for all these apps in your app store or online. And once you’re using the app, you can search for podcast programs related to books.

Here are a few on my devices:

By the Book – Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg follow the rules of a self-help book and review their success or failure.

The Book Review – Pamela Paul and the editors at The New York Times Book Review talk about the top books of the time and things literary.

I also listen to a lot of author interviews. You can find them by searching for the author’s name. They often appear on shows that interview a range of people including actors, directors, experts, and authors. I’ll be posting a rather long list of the interview programs I listen to in a future post.

stitcher screen

What I Am Listening To: News

stitcherThe top podcasts on my favorites list (using Stitcher) are not my favorite podcasts. They are the shorter news podcasts where I start the day of listening. My news podcasts increase in length as I listen (in order) to ones that delve deeper into stories.

Here are the titles of what I’m listening to these days as “news.”

You can find them in Stitcher, iTunes or whatever you use to subscribe to podcasts.

You can find many of these on the web too, but subscribing is the much better way to listen since they just appear automatically. If you’re new to podcasts, just think of these apps and subscribing as the audio version of a DVR.

NPR News – NPR has lots of podcasts, but I start with this short hourly one that gets you updated in about 4 minutes.

Up First – also NPR but with more details. Their suggested news stories to start the day.

The Writer’s Almanac – You might not think of this one from Garrison Keillor as news, but the items from the past are often oddly relevant to today. Plus starting my day with having a poem read to me is a balm to the harsh news that makes up the standard news broadcasts. Okay, full disclosure: though I was already listening to this for years (including when it was a radio program that I had to catch at just the right time), Garrison did read three of my poems earlier this year. (see bottom of post)

The Slowdown with poet and former Poet Laureate of the U.S. is another slice of poetry on my breakfast plate. She introduces a poem with a brief personal connection to the pom or its content.

If you don’t have 5 minutes for some poetry, then you probably won’t understand why William Carlos Williams wrote that “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.”

The Newsworthy is hosted by a remarkably upbeat Erica Mandy who posts at 4a.m while I’m dreaming about the day to come. In 10 minutes, she gives you the big stories of the day and I really like that on her website, thenewsworthy.com,  she gives you the sources if you want to dig deeper into a story. Even the NY Times or Washington Post doesn’t give you links to sources.

The longest podcast on my news slate is The Daily from The New York Times which is a very popular podcast that goes deep on one story using the resources of the newspaper.

I still live a bit in the tech world, but I don’t have the patience for most tech podcasts that run 30, 60, 90+ minutes.

I have an interest in some aspects of the business world, but it’s not my world, so my choices are ones that are understandable to the outsider.

Tech News Briefing is from the Wall Street Journal and is typically about one current issue of tech. Though it has a business slant, the news applies to all of us.

Marketplace Tech is hosted by Molly Wood and this daily show looks at how tech influences our lives. Tech + business + the digital world.

Numbers by Barrons is about 2 minutes long and focuses on some numbers that relate to what’s happening in economics and finance and “navigate the markets.”

Business Story of the Day – is another NPR podcast short that selects one story from their business coverage.

NPR also has its own podcast app – NPR One where you select from their content and then some algorithm picks additional content you should enjoy.

Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood is one of the longer ones on this list but it’s a weekly podcast so it comes out to less than 10 minutes a day.  They have good chemistry and nice engagement with their audience and focus more on a theme than a story. It’s business (each of them does other business podcasts) but not “of the day” – more of “of the times.”

Environment is another NPR short podcast taking one story from the current news that relates to environmental issues.

My final recommendation is not really news, but, like the almanac, it’s a good short daily listen.  Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is like a podcast version of those calendars people used to have on their desk. It gives you the meanings and more importantly the etymology and uses of a word that you may not be familiar with – or have been misusing.

Three of my poems were featured on The Writer’s Almanac earlier this year. A text version of each poem is also posted online. One is a serious poem, “Shame,” and two have the tongue in the cheek, at least partially – “Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” and “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes.”

What I’m Listening To: Self-Promotional Edition

I post here occasionally about what I am listening to in the podcast/online/radio world.  I still listen to many podcasts (too many, my wife would say) and I will update the list at some point, but this brief edition certainly falls under the category of self-promotion.

I have listened to the daily podcast of The Writer’s Almanac since 1993. It began as a public radio show that was harder for me to catch every day. I was glad when it became a podcasts that I could subscribe to and have waiting on my phone. It ran on public radio through 2017 and episodes are archived online. Now, the show is available as a podcast and online on the host’s, Garrison Keillor, website.

I had listened to Garrison Keillor starting in 1974 on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion. I loved that voice and his ad-libbed weekly stories of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon.  I went on to read his short stories and novels. You can label him as author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor and radio personality. He hosted that show through 2016 when he retired and passed the reins over to others.

I was lucky to have three of my poems featured on the Almanac this month. I really enjoy hearing other people read my poems and that is not something I get to experience very often. The links are below and you can read the poems there online, but I strongly recommend that you listen to him read the poems. The poems are at the end of the program, so you could fast-forward through the news, but I enjoy the news of the day every morning as much, sometimes even more, as the poem.

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. This Gothic beauty was the original setting of my poem, “Shame.”
“Shame” is a serious poem that came from an experience I had as a young man in a beautiful cathedral.
The other two are less serious, though not totally meant to be funny.
“Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” portrays the kinds of people I actually have had show up at readings. The poem often gets laughs when I read it, though fellow poets may be more likely to just nod in recognition.
My poem, “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes,” came from reading an actual horoscope column online. The short-form horoscopes tend to be pretty positive, though you might get a warning prediction once in a while. What I thought was missing was ones that were somewhere in-between.