Podcasts of the moment

The McCartney/Lennon of live radio

Change comes slowly and then all at once. Looking through my list of podcast subscriptions, it’s interesting to note the ones that were the mainstays and which are now, often, the mehs.

Consider a core trio: The Talk Show (by John Gruber of Daring Fireball) is one of the earliest podcasts I ever picked up. This week, I deleted the episode straight away, as I did a couple of weeks ago. My interest in the various dealings around Apple, its hardware and its software, has diminished (along with my ability to afford them). Back in the day, I’d generally get a new Mac every couple of years. I’ve had this one since 2014, and will not be getting a new one until they fix the keyboards across the range. Another turn-off for me are the frequent discussions of sportsball. Aside from all that, I find I have less patience for the extreme length of some episodes. Hardcore History it ain’t.

A second Apple-related podcast in which I’ve lost interest, as previously noted, is ATP. And finally, although The Incomparable network barely has anything to do with Apple, it is headed by a former Macworld editor, so I consider it a fellow traveller. And I’ve probably deleted more Incomparable episodes than I’ve listened to of late: mainly because the topics have been wall-to-wall Star Wars and I won’t have it in the house. I did listen to this week’s (about The Expanse on Amazon) though.

Those three formed the spine of my early podcast consumption, with many others on my list being people I first encountered there. For a long time, my favourite podcast of all was Reconcilable Differences (featuring occasional Talk Show/Incomparable guest Merlin Mann and ATP co-host John Siracusa). But even that has gone off the boil of late. I also still listen to Roderick on the Line, but is it me, or has this show changed a lot since John moved house?

If I were to nominate a new listening spine, it would probably be as follows:

  1. Backlisted
  2. Fortunately… with Fi and Jane
  3. Nothing is Real – A Beatles Podcast

Backlisted is a books podcast. The premise, as I understand it, is for a guest to come on and talk about a loved or interesting book that might be in some way under-rated or neglected. By extension, this seems to mean, in practice, books that have been in print a while rather than just-published or forthcoming (for the popular end of that there’s Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year). Anyway, as a lifelong genre fiction fan, I’ve surprised myself by enjoying the discussions of literary fiction, and have even, gasp, read and enjoyed things I might otherwise not. The good news: there are loads of back episodes to catch up on. The bad news: it’s bi-weekly and currently on hiatus.

Fortunately is the antidote to all the two-blokes-talking podcasts, and as such is a breath of fresh air. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s very important to note that these women are two of my all-time-favourite radio voices. (Still waiting for Peter Allen or Eddie Mair to guest, and then my life would be complete. This has prompted me to check, and I note that Peter Allen’s Five Live show is podcasted for 30 days. But still: Garvey and Allen are the Lennon/McCartney of live radio.) The good news: lots of back episodes. The bad: occasionally takes a break, and episodes are too short.

Nothing is Real is me coming full circle back to the Beatles because The Word’s endless discussions of the Beats was what sold me on podcasts to begin with. There are a billion podcasts about the Beatles to choose from, and it really does take some going for me to keep listening. The presenters have to be knowledgable (preferably more knowledgable than me) and engaging, and the two Irish hosts are just that. I like the format, which doesn’t attempt to be chronological or any other kind of logical. So you never quite know what they’re going to be talking about next, but it’s all good. Introduced me to a lot of Macca solo stuff, too, which I’ve mainly ignored for 40 years. Good news: back episodes. Bad: bloody hiatus.

Bubbling Under

  • Omnibus (Ken Jennings and John Roderick)
  • Vulcan Hello (new Trek podcast)
  • Is It Rolling Bob? (Dylan podcast)

Everything else is a bit meh at the moment.

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