Pop Culture Happy Hour
Do you like pop culture? Of course you do (or you probably wouldn’t be perusing this list) – and therefore you should consider becoming a regular listener to this podcast from NPR (essentially America’s answer to the BBC).
Looking at mainstream films, television, books, music and more with a level of erudition, depth and intelligence rarely found on US broadcast media (there’s very little shouting going on here), it’s a fantastic way to keep up with what “da kidz” are into.
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Quite simply, this podcast consists of stories. True stories to be exact, told to a roomful of strangers by a single person standing under a single light (hence the podcast's name) and recorded for everyone else in the world to listen to.
Sometimes short, sometimes long, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching (and sometimes both) – but almost always totally gripping. The storytellers are a diverse bunch: some are famous, some are ordinary people, but all have extraordinary tales to tell.
Listen to The Moth
Welcome to Night Vale
More stories – but this time certainly fictional. Welcome to Night Vale is an episodic tale told through the medium of a community radio broadcast. Drily, darkly humorous, its fortnightly instalments of news, weather and bizarre adverts create a vivid picture of a small American desert town where weirdness is commonplace. If you loved Twin Peaks, you’ll appreciate its offbeat tone. And you can keep up to date with town goings-on between episodes through the podcast’s Twitter feed.
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After finishing the incredible first series of satirical news show Brass Eye, Chris Morris returned to radio to create Blue Jam, broadcast on Radio 1 in the early hours of the morning between 1997 and 1999.
Mixing surreal comedy sketches with ambient soundscapes and disquieting monologues delivered by Morris himself, Blue Jam was unlike anything else that had ever been – or ever would be – on the nation’s premier radio station. You can download all 18 episodes in MP3 or OGG format from the archive linked below.
The Flop House
There’s not exactly a shortage of geeks-making-fun-of-terrible-movies stuff on the web, but The Flop House stands out from the pack due to its presenters, a trio of friends whose quick-fire interactions with each other immediately make you feel like you’re part of the group.
They know a lot about terrible movies, too. Each of the 150+ episodes concentrates on one bad film, generally a new release – and dissects its awfulness in hilarious fashion.
Again, there’s plenty of retro gaming-related content available on the web, thanks largely to YouTube “Let’s Play” videos, but if you can’t or don’t want to stare at some form of screen for an hour and half, it’s good to know that there’s a podcast that’ll cater for your 8- and 16-bit needs.
And Retronauts is that podcast. For better or worse, its indepth-ness verges on the nerdy at times and it’s lengthy – but as an exploration of brilliant games from a bygone era, there’s nothing to beat it.
All Songs Considered
Another podcast from NPR, All Songs Considered is a frequently updated radio show-type podcast in which host Bob Boilen plays new music and chats to artists about their work and influences.
It’s been running since 2000 and became a podcast in 2005 – and it’s simply a great way to keep up to date with what’s going on in music (particularly indie rock, although other genres do feature). A must for anyone who knows their Ariel Pink from their Air Supply.
Listen to All Songs Considered