Even casual readers of this column have probably picked up on the fact that I love podcasts.
Some people become fans of a single podcast, like last year’s S-Town, and then drift away after the final episode is released.
I’m the kind of listener who always has episodes from four or five podcasts downloaded and is constantly subscribing and unsubscribing to new ones based on my mood.
Opening up my podcast app is like walking into a bookstore or logging into Netflix – I know what I’m looking for when I find it.
My preferences have been all over the board since I discovered podcasts a couple of years ago, but lately things have really taken a strange turn. The heart of my podcast lineup currently includes shows dedicated to Shakespeare’s plays and modern politics, Watergate and sports references on "The Golden Girls."
Here are a few of the podcasts I am loving lately.
I almost scrolled right past this podcast from the Wondery network because I didn’t see myself binge listening to stories about the rise and fall of businesses.
I was wrong.
I started with the eight-episode mini-series, Netflix vs. Blockbuster, and immediately got wrapped up in the showdown between Blockbuster CEO John Antioco and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.
I couldn’t believe that at times I felt myself rooting for Antioco to put that young punk in his place. I had to remind myself that if he had, my favorite Netflix original shows wouldn’t exist.
So far, the podcast has also tackled battles between Nike and Adidas, Marvel and DC, Univac and IBM and Nintendo vs. Sony.
Upon Further Review
This is a relatively new podcast from Slate that is exploring the great “what if’s” of sports.
The first episode was called “What if Nixon had been good at football?”
Apparently young Richard Nixon’s talent was in direct disproportion to his love for the sport. However, those brief years spent as a tackle dummy also introduced him to a hatred for losing that he carried with him for the rest of his life.
Gerald Ford, who assumed the presidency following Nixon’s resignation, also loved football and was much better at it. That alone doesn’t explain the differences in the two men’s temperament and approach to politics, but it’s certainly an interesting topic to explore.
I’m really looking forward to catching up on the latest episode, “What if the Dodgers had never left Brooklyn?”
If Nixon is of more interest to you than sports, then I also recommend Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcast, which covers the cast of characters from Watergate in eight episodes.
My understanding is that the same team is currently working on a series about Bill Clinton, which I assume will focus on the Lewinsky scandal and impeachment hearings.
Political junkies will also enjoy John Dickerson’s Whistlestop podcast. Dickerson is currently in the middle of a three-part series called Nixon Goes to China.
Technically, I’m cheating by including this podcast on the list because I’ve only listened to the trailer. I’ve been saving it so that Zac and I could listen to it together on our summer road trip.
The podcast is set on a mountain in Hawaii that has been converted into an imitation Mars habitat. Six people live there for a year to help NASA understand what it would be like when humans finally make it to Mars.
The volunteers kept audio diaries during their time in the habitat that have now been turned into a seven-episode series being marketed as “the true story of a fake planet.”
You Must Remember This
If you’re only interested in the best when it comes to podcasts, then I highly recommend Karina Longworth’s excellent deep-dive into old Hollywood history.
Longworth started the podcast four years ago with stand-alone episodes on icons ranging from Liz Taylor to Madonna. However, she really hit her stride when she transitioned to serials.
I loved her final two series of 2017, “Jean and Jane,” which compared and contrasted the lives of Jean Seberg and Jane Fonda,” and “Bela and Boris,” which explored the similar careers of monster movie icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
If she doesn’t release a new series by the fall, I plan to work my way through her season on “Dead Blondes” such as Veronica Lake, Grace Kelly and of course, Marilyn Monroe.
Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s features editor.