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This Week in Podcasts
The strongest takes, best storytelling and most intriguing guests across the podcast universe.
#1 ·February 16, 2018 · By Michael Yessis

10 Pod Takes


1) “The one problem you have at the Trump White House is you are surrounded 100 percent by people who would work at the Trump White House.”

Pod Save America: “The worst Cirque du Soleil ever.” (LIVE from Las Vegas), Feb. 12 (9:42)

2) “They're horrific guys. They’re bad guys. And they're avatars for what people hate about Washington.”

The Axe Files: Ep. 216 - Anthony Scaramucci, Feb. 12 (44:40)

  • The fallen Mooch and Pod Save America agree! Adds Scaramucci about former Trump staffers Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon: “They are dishonest. They are mischievous. They are leakers.” They’re also all eating themselves.

3) “Not all news is created equal.”

Recode Media with Peter Kafka: Facebook’s Adam Mosseri and Campbell Brown (Live at Code Media 2018), Feb. 15 (5:15)

  • Says Facebook’s Campbell Brown. We can all agree on that, she thinks. The news feed, however, presented all news “roughly the same,” and, yeah, there’s been a little fallout. On the pod, Brown and Mosseri detail Facebook’s plans to help quality news rise again.

4) “I think anybody who's successful and says that they created their own luck is an asshole.”

The Bill Simmons Podcast: Scooter Braun on Growing Up on Basketball, Managing Music Stars, and Making Music Pop (Ep. 326), Feb. 14 (9:22)

  • So says Braun. Simmons agrees. Among the luck Braun experienced: Being in Atlanta as the city’s scene exploded.

5) “It deserved it.”

Still Processing: We Sink Our Claws Into “Black Panther” with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Feb. 16 (19:04)

  • The words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, about the hype surrounding “Black Panther.” He, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris talk the better part of an hour about the build-up and context of the movie. They discuss the expected blockbuster, too.

6) “I wonder if certain reflections of certain cultures were removed from the media, if middle America would have extreme racism.”

WTF with Marc Maron: Gina Rodriguez - Episode 890, Feb. 15 (1:06:10)

  • Says Rodriguez about the perpetual one-sided presentation of different groups in television, movies, etc. She adds: In the past decade only 3 percent of lead roles were Latino.  

7) “It's a really, really intimate experience without ever having to shake my hand.”

Reply All: Trust the Process, Feb. 15 (6:08)
  • The words of a dominatrix who takes over people’s computers (with permission) via remote. She’s all up in their Facebook, resumes, cameras, taxes. Prices start at $100. Expensive? A bargain?  

8) “We’ve reached the point where we now have Project Veritas for sports.”

Pardon My Take: Johnny Manziel, Feb. 11 (1:11:10) 

9) “I'm much more interested in hearing a song written by somebody who just learned two chords on the guitar than somebody who went to music school.”

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes: Ben Gibbard, Feb. 14 (14:10)

  • Says Gibbard, songwriter and singer for Death Cab For Cutie, during a 2+ hour conversation that touches on music and creativity. He’s not dismissive of virtuosos. Just more inclined to early simplicity. Enjoy some of his own.

10) “This is what Eurovision would be like if it was run by straight people.”

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Winter Olympics, Feb. 14 (8:55)

  • That’s Glen Weldon on the “interminable” parade of nations during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. Guess the Tongan guy wasn’t enough. Could have used more glamour and showmanship. And maybe a holographic wolf?

Go Deep

1) Flu Fighter

Smithsonian Sidedoor: Killer Viruses and One Man's Mission to Stop Them, Feb. 14

The 1918 flu killed between 50 and 100 people worldwide. The 1957 flu was not so brutal, largely because of one person: Dr. Maurice Hilleman. He’s “credited with saving more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century,” says host Tony Cohn. This pod profiles Hilleman and recounts the only time we’ve averted a pandemic with a vaccine. The parallels drawn between Hilleman and Superman are strained, but there’s no doubt about Hilleman’s heroics. An excellent, if slightly scary, listen in our own flu-ridden time.

Go Deeper: Watch the doc HILLEMAN – A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children

2) Decoding the Gender Pay Gap

Freakonomics Radio: What Can Uber Tell Us About the Gender Pay Gap?, Feb. 6

The gender pay gap hasn’t been studied in depth. Jonathan Hall, of Uber’s public policy and economics team, tells host Stephen J. Dubner that’s “because of the dearth of data, and because people find it uncomfortable.”

But there’s been a breakthrough on one front: A “big, juicy new piece of research, with a huge and detailed data set drawn from an economic ecosystem that’s practically made for this kind of analysis.”

The data stems from Uber’s drivers. Dubner and Hall, and Rebecca Diamond of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and chairman of the University of Chicago economics department John List, explore the data in depth and come to some surprising conclusions.

Spoilers: Male Uber drivers make about 7 percent more money per hour on average than female drivers. The authors of the research cite three factors accounting for the gap: time and location of driving (20 percent), driver experience (30 percent) and average driving speed (50 percent). Turns out men drive 2 percent faster.

Go Deeper: The Study: The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence From Over a Million Rideshare Drivers.

Guest Appearances By...

Aronoff, Kenny Adam Carolla Show

Bell, Kristen Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Brown, Tina Skimm’d From The Couch

Bryant, Joy Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Buttigieg, Peter Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Frazier, Ian The New Yorker Radio Hour

Friedman, Jena Anna Faris is Unqualified

Glass, Todd Comedy Bang Bang

Hari, Johann The Joe Rogan Experience

Kapranos, Alex The Watch

Metcalfe, Bob The Tim Ferriss Show

Nichols, Rachel Pardon My Take

Pinker, Steven The Ezra Klein Show

Pompeo, Ellen I Am Rapaport

Povitsky, Esther WTF with Marc Maron

Rapoport, Adam House of Carbs

Risen, James Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill

Shea, Kevin Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast

Stone, Rob The Bill Simmons Podcast

Wolff, Michael Here’s the Thing

Editors' Pick

A new-to-us podcast we loved this week.

Empty Frames

A true crime podcast about an art heist? I’m in. Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna takes on one of the great unsolved art heists, the 1990 theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

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Copyright © 2018 Michael Yessis, All rights reserved.

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