Podcasts used to rule but now the market has become oversaturated with aural dreck.
You know what that means: some subpar products that people leech onto and swear by everything holy that they're the best.
Think of some of these podcasts like this:
The Da Vinci Code of audio.
This American Life
Yeah, yeah. Ira Glass shaped the way modern radio stories are told. One can argue that there wouldn’t be podcasts at all if not for the This American Life host.
Sounds a lot like the lame argument that every band since the mid-1960s has been influenced by The Beatles.
Back in the day, TAL was spot on, but today, the podcast and the radio show are chock-full of pseudo wisdom from sufferers of first-world problems.
Two years ago, Sarah Koenig, Ira Glass’s right-hand woman at This American Life, created Serial, a 12-part series that looked back at and dissected a 1999 murder. The hype propelled the podcast to more than five million downloads via iTunes, and it was swiftly anointed as the best podcast ever/in history/of all time/never will it ever ever be topped never ever.
It’s pretty good — if boredom and substandard storytelling are the new “hip scene.”
The sophomoric script might work for two or three installments, but 12? And the self-indulgent air of “uncovering” something unique and unprecedented about a case that isn’t all that compelling? Not feeling it.
Chris Hardwick’s weekly dish on “what it’s like to be a nerd” used to be awesome when his sidekicks, Matt Mira and Jonah Ray, were constantly in the house. But Matt and Jonah have been MIA at times lately, which leaves Chris and one of his guests to try to wax poetic about nerd stuff. It’s not the same.
WTF with Marc Maron
This wildly popular podcast has a lot in common with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, with a hyperactive host constantly interrupting his high-profile guests, then talking over them and dominating the conversation. Additionally, the constant flood of advertising and event promotions on Marc Maron’s podcast is exactly like listening to commercial radio or watching TV.
ESPN Fantasy Focus Football
Fantasy sports, in general, are a drag. When you pair a cast of third-tier ESPN personalities (Field Yates, Stephania Bell and Matthew Berry, who, we swear to God, has the title of “senior fantasy sports analyst”) with breakdowns on make-believe football, you get troughs filled with dribble spittle. It also didn’t help that ESPN’s fantasy football app failed during week one of the 2016 season, leading to heaps of incensed “owners” of pretend football teams.
Inside the New York Times Book Review
We gave this one a chance for a long time, but the author interviews and force-fed recaps of books don’t quite translate into a compelling pod. It’s kind of like C-SPAN’s Book TV, which is good in theory but just can’t quite pull it off.
TED Radio Hour
The TED Talks enterprise is way overblown. This podcast is another TED outlet for the recycling of old ideas and philosophies that seem new and innovative thanks to slick production touches. TED Radio Hour is also heavy on re-broadcasts (but they appear to be new episodes in the feed).
The Joe Rogan Experience
The comedian’s pod is consistently in the top of the charts for most downloaded. But he’s run out of material and instead regurgitates anecdotes and states opinions, in a very emphatic manner, as facts. So sad.
Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
The Malcolm Gladwell brand, which includes the pseudo-social scientific books The Tipping Point and Blink, can be infuriating for its trite content that seems groundbreaking owing to Gladwell’s well-spoken, pop sociologist modus operandi. (We’ll give the English-born Canadian writer something: Dude’s savvy.)
In June, in collaboration with Panoply Media, Gladwell debuted Revisionist History, which “reinterprets something from the past.”
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By August, after ten episodes, Revisionist History was done. Did the so-called nouveau genius run out of ideas?
Last Podcast on the Left
Brevity is an art form. By that standard, the Last Podcast on the Left is art-less.
The show that focuses on serial killers, the occult and other true-crime dramas doesn’t care about a tidy, listenable length. (Two hours on Ted Bundy? Three hours on the “satanic government”? Why?)
Also unhelpful: copious amounts of bro-down riffing and jokes that are a half-step above junior-high fart jokes.