The Podcasts I Can't Live Without

Photo (for blog post): Podcast setup

As a podcast host, I think it's important to constantly pay attention to the exciting things that other talented people are doing in this space. I listen to dozens of podcasts, so many that it's impossible to get to an episode of every single podcast I subscribe to on a weekly basis. Usually I save up a bunch of episodes, then take them all in with one fell swoop (i.e. when I'm waiting for a plane, or taking a very long drive).

There are a few podcast out there, however, that I must have a weekly dose of, lest I become moody and unpleasant. These are the conversations I feel I must be privy to, whose hosts I want to get to know more each week. These are the podcasts that I can't wait to download, load onto my iPhone, and listen to on my way to/from work. These are the podcasts with whom I am most grateful to regularly share my time with.

I wouldn't necessarily say these are my "favorite" or "the best" on my playlist. For example, you won't find This American Life, Filmspotting, The Bugle, Weekend Confirmed, Giant Bombcast, or tons of others that I listen to, even though I love these podcasts and find them all superlative. Those will have to wait for a separate post.

But there's something about the following podcasts...The comforting way their hosts interact. The creativity and gusto with which they execute their premises. The kismet that brought them to the place they are today. Anyway, without further ado, here are the podcasts I can't live without:


The IFC News Podcast - Matt Singer and Alison Willmore analyze a movie trope and then discuss how it's been deployed in movies throughout history. In my opinion, this podcast is a movie geek's dream come true, with tons of thoughtful references to movies past and present. But while the show's premise is great, I live for the moments when Matt will break into some bizarre, hilarious impression, or Alison will drop some obscure film knowledge that leaves me in awe of her wisdom. Add in some of the best listener feedback I've ever heard, plus a clever IMDB keyword game (with weekly prizes!), and this podcast becomes an absolute must-listen. Also, I'm pretty sure I have a crush on Alison Willmore. [iTunes] [Website]


KCRW's The Business - Kim Masters takes the most important entertainment news and talks to the people involved to get an inside perspective. I don't think this podcast gets enough credit for creativity with which it addresses its topics. For example, a recent episode was devoted to what behavior is acceptable in the writer's room, vs. what constitutes sexual harassment. To tackle this issue, Masters invited on a lawyer who has filed lawsuits against studios, and had him duke things out with a lawyer who has defended studios in the past. It was as informative a discussion as you could get on the topic, while still being entertaining.

Other recent episodes have included an inside look at how the Oscars were produced, and how the script for Battlefield Earth went wrong. For those interested in the industry (and for those like myself who cover it), The Business also features a short "Hollywood news banter" at the top of the show, which is a really good way to stay on top of the latest developments. At a scant 30 minutes long, you have to search hard to find a good reason NOT to listen to The Business. [iTunes] [Website]


On The Media - This is less a podcast about the stuff the media covers, and more a podcast about how the media covers it. For a news junkie like me, it's a goldmine of interesting factoids and fascinating reflections on the nature and the state of journalism in the U.S. and around the world. Recent episodes have included coverage of the history of the term "baby-killer" and how Google plans on creating a universal translator. Fascinating stuff. [iTunes] [Website]

Battleship Pretension - Each week, the Battleship Pretension podcast chooses a theme and tries to explore it to its logical conclusion, often with a fascinating and/or humorous guest. Tyler Smith and David Bax, two film school graduates, aren't necessarily the most dynamic podcast personalities out there, but what this podcasts lacks in bombast, it makes up for in intelligent discussion. Both hosts are incredibly articulate and careful in their locution, in a way that people who listen to my inane ramblings will probably find refreshing. But more than any of that, sometimes it's just fun to hear people who are good friends banter back and forth about random topics in a way that is not obnoxious. Also, I find both of their voices incredibly soothing. I think you will too. [iTunes] [Website]

Thanks for reading! Feel free to check out my two podcasts: The /Filmcast and The Tobolowsky Files

7 comments :: The Podcasts I Can't Live Without

  1. For what it's worth (nothing at all), I despise the Battleship Pretension podcast. While I certainly agree with your other three picks, I've experienced the BP podcast to be guilty of meandering, and reveling in it's own cynical, bitter tone. Just a matter of taste, I suppose. It's the same reason I can no longer listen to the Hatecast that Gillette produces for the A/V Club. This current trend of snark wrapped in more snark is pathetic, especially given the hosts' unquestionable knowledge and talent. They could spend their time more effectively by showcasing pieces of culture that they love and are passionate about, but instead they focus on the negative (Hatecast is obviously a far greater example than BP). It's made even worse when the hosts of BP continue to laugh at their own jokes, which are often 'inside' and irrelevant to the show's content, as well as to the valuable (?) listener.

    The /Filmcast will always succeed where BP fails. There is a level of professionalism within your show--you'll disagree, but don't be modest--that seems to elude the BP fellows. Regardless, keep up the great work Dave!

    David Kyle Trowsdale

    May 6, 2010 at 9:41 PM

  2. "aren't necessarily the most dynamic podcast personalities out there", and that why have a hard time listening BP. I find that some times they stutter, and I think it's David who loses his thread sometimes and forgets what he had to say, it's annoying.

    And whenever they have a guest on it's from comedy and they rarely get movie talk going (as for when they don't have a guest on it takes them 20-30 minutes).
    But they really know their stuff which is why I semi-listening to it.

    Since I can't get IFC on Android (with the listen app), I've stopped lisetning to it.

    Thanks for the other tips ;)

  3. Unlike the other commenters, I actually enjoy the BP podcast, because over the last year and a half or so that I've been listening, I kind of feel like I know David and Tyler (or at least know people like them).

    I, too, listen to the IFC podcast every week, but I don't know what, if anything, I really get out of it. Their choices of topics are interesting, but then they seem to run through as many examples as they can in one hour, without really getting into any in any real depth.

    I think The Business, Filmspotting, and /Filmcast are the movie podcast trifecta (even if the /Filmcast often spends lots of time discussing TV shows), with BP coming in just behind those, and IFC behind that.

    I also like Elvis Mitchell's The Treatment, but only listen if I'm interested in the guest (which, as of late, hasn't been often).

    And then there are others I've tried (Cinebanter, FilmCouch, Hollywood Saloon, etc) which lag (or lagged, since FilmCouch is no more) behind the rest.

  4. If you love "The Business," check out KCRW's "The Treatment." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times delivers the best interviews with filmmakers and actors I have ever heard. He knows just the right questions to ask and gets them to open up about their personal style and influences.

  5. I'm a big fan of BP. I don't find a hint of snark whatsoever there. I think their inside jokes are a part of their charm. They also have great chemistry which is very apparent when listening to their side podcasts (Tyler goes solo, David teams up with another friend who I'm sorry to say is exceptionally boring).

    I do however tend to dislike their guest episodes but that's mostly because I don't give a slick shit about 80% of who they have on. BP is on my essential list along with /filmcast and filmspotting. I really need to check out more stuff tho.

  6. I disagree with all you peeps who diss on the BP.

    It's the most insightful of all the film podcasts that I've listened to, and the hosts are really knowledgeable. Where else will you hear an episode dedicated to neo noir or John Turturro? I like how they refrain from talking about box office numbers and boring Hollywood crap; they focus on the art itself.

  7. Have you heard of "A Life Well Wasted"? It's basically the This American Life, but for video game podcasts. It's incredibly well done. It doesn't come out very often, since it's done by one guy, but it's amazing. It's done by Robert Ashley, who also has an incredible band: I Come to Shanghai.

    Jordan K. Parmenter

    May 20, 2010 at 11:44 PM

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