Arts & Culture

Jewcy’s Top 10 Podcasts Of 2010

We think that when historians look back at 2010, they will remember it as the beginning of a podcast renaissance. Here were the ten best. Read More

By / December 31, 2010

The Top 10 Podcasts of 2010

There’s so much potential in the still nascent world of podcasting. We’ve seen successful podcasts sprout from the roots of pre-established media outlets as well as scrappy amateur talk shows make it through sheer ingenuity and wit.  For those of us who grew up with the movie Pump Up The Volume, with dreams of being a fleet foot radio radio sex rebel, podacsting has made those dreams easily realizable. Podcasts have the power to become the common thread that organizes and empowers the scattered, sometimes Escher-like world of information that the internet has produced.  2010 was a year where more than ever, the potential of the podcast was realized.

1. Slate Culture Gabfest

Three articulate and seasoned writers from Slate’s roster discuss news stories, TV/films, and books with enough wit to keep it entertaining, while holding back enough on the pretension just enough to keep it palatable.  At the end of every episode, each host, “endorses” a cultural artifact about which they are enthusiastic, be it a book about a TV series, article, or perhaps, an apple pie.  Whether or not you read Slate, The Gabfest hosts make for great company during your walk to work and Dana Steven’s tastes in film and TV tend to be right on the money.  The Slate Culture Gabfest is the perfect podcast for the modern discerning culture-phile.

2. This American Life

During an interview in the book Eating the Dinoasur by Chuck Klosterman, Ira Glass admits that doing his radio show as well as the TV version of TAL made him feel overwhelmed and unfulfilled.  Now, the TV show has been cancelled and Ira is back to focusing solely on the radio version, which seems apparent in the quality of recent episodes of This American Life.  Frankly, TAL is as good as it gets in the world of audio programming.  It isn’t number one on this list, because it’s as much a radio show as it is a podcast.  However, podcast listeners get the show sans commercials, which is, of course, a plus. But don’t let the numbers fool you, we like it so much, we feel the need to review it every week.

3. The New Yorker Fiction Podcast

More than any other media/art experience, when we finish a piece of literature we want to discuss. The New Yorker fiction Podcast gives contemporary fiction writers the opportunity to read some of their favorite short stories that have been published in The New Yorker and then discuss them with the magazines fiction editor.  This year has featured guests like Jennifer Egan, Cynthia Ozick and Joshua Ferris as well as stories by the likes of Donald Barthelme  and Leonard Michaels. Technology has offered few rewards to those of us who still choose to read.  The New Yorker Fiction podcast is one definitely one worth cherishing.

4. The Bugle

Think The Onion, but British.  This hilarious weekly podcast hosted by Andy Zaltzman Show corespondent John Oliver is full of enough revisionist history and wrong information, that Glenn Beck would have to tip his hat.   Check out all the episodes here.

4. Jordan Jesse, Go!

America’s Radio Sweetheart Jesse Thorne, and Boy Detective Jordan Morris, are two buddies who decided after their successful stint as college radio co-hosts, to give it a go in the world of Podcasting.  Thorne, who’s other talk show The Sound of Young America has been adopted by Public Radio, is very successful as anchor/interviewer but when Morris is thrown into the mix, there’s amazing talk radio chemistry that’s thus far unmatched.  Comedy is the thread that connects this show and often, successful comics

appear as guests (recent episodes featured Jen Kirkman and Paul Scheer), but otherwise, there’s not much of a theme, which is what makes the show’s flow and effortlessness all the more impressive.

5. The New Yorker Out Loud

On Out Loud, New Yorker writers discuss one or two stories from the most recent issues of The New Yorker.  It’s short and sweet but always fascinating and informative.  On one recent episode of Out Loud, Calvin Trillin talks for almost ten minutes about the intricacies and nuances of Poutine, enough said.

6. Ted Talks

The TED conference and subsequent podcast is one of the few shows in the podcasting world that has become a media force to be reckoned with in its own right.  Featuring a variety of talk topics in the realm of technology, economics and politics, episodes in the past few months have featured high profile guests like Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and Julian Assange.  TED is one of those podcasts that you need to listen to in order to be in the know.

7. The Totally Rad Show

On this video podcast, three hosts discuss recent movies, TV shows, video games, and the like, but what really makes TRS notable is the unbridled nerd-passion of its hosts.  From time to time, video games and comic book chat can get a little esoteric for those outside of the geek loop, but usually the passionate discourse and quality production is well worth your attention for the span of your commute.

8. WTF with Marc Maron

Marc Maron is not a only a genuinely dark and funny guy, but a character who represents the gruff and grumpy yet hilarious New Yorker of yesteryear.  Maron’s show has featured a variety of top-notch guests including Zach Galafianakis, Aziz Ansari and Sam Lipsyte and continues to bring the thinking man’s funny to his growing listenership. [Check out our interview with Maron.]

9. Freakanomics Radio

One needn’t really be interested in economics to enjoy this podcast.  Someone who wouldn’t watch Mad Money if it were the last show on earth might still enjoy the witty and sprawling freak philosophy in which Dubner and Levitt specialize.  After all, the very reason we’re listening to a podcast instead of “All of the Lights” for the hundredth time, is expand our intellectual horizons, right?

10. Diggnation was once the perfect refuge for anyone overwhelmed by the vastness of the internet. A Digg reader would be likely to know what Wikileaks or Twitter was, long before the rest of the world, but after loosing a large chunk of it’s community, Digg has become much less reliable on all fronts.  On Diggnation however, there’s still plenty of interesting top stories that land on Digg before the rest, and the dynamic between charismatic yet awkward Digg founder, Kevin Rose, and his more confident and animated co-host, Alex Albrecht, is still a pleasure to watch.