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Making podcasts skimmable since February 2018. 
#6 ·March 23, 2018 · By Michael Yessis
Happy Friday. It's a landmark newsletter today: We’ve used our first umlaut, along with the usual great takes and binge recommendations. Also, our new section debuts: Podcast reviews and recommendations. Thanks for reading!

10 Pod Takes: Provocative Thoughts From This Week's Podcasts

1) “The real lesson … is just how beautiful something that’s seen as quite trashy can be.”

Listen: This Movie Changed Me: Say Anything, March 20 (5:27)

  • That’s Hadley Freeman, touting Cameron Crowe’s writing in “Say Anything” as so perfect it elevates an ‘80s teen movie — a genre seen as “flimsy” — to greatness.

  • Spoiler: She’s right.  


2) “Until they make something, Apple’s all about press releases. Their press release game has been outstanding.”

Listen: The Watch: Would ‘Black Panther’ Work As TV? Plus Guilty Pleasures and New Music In the Mailbag, March 19 (23:38)

  • Andy Greenwald skewers Apple’s announcements that they’re in the market to create high-quality shows. The company says it's lined up Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon to develop new programming.


3) “Great thinkers seem to be lacking this year.”

Listen: Sound Opinions: SXSW 2018, March 23 (3:29)

  • That’s Greg Kot, underwhelmed by the lack of relevance in the Zeitgeisty SXSW conference’s daytime panels in a moment of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and American democracy being tested.

  • Regarding the music at the conference, though, co-host Jim DeRogatis says: “I never come away without seeing a dozen or more bands that make life worth living.”

4) “We’re in an existential moment now. We are at peril and at risk if we don’t know the difference between truth and lies.”

Listen: Recode Decode: Christiane Amanpour on sex, #MeToo and North Korea, March 17 (33:45)

  • That’s Amanpour with some straight-talking truth.


5) “Frankly, we need to stop hitting children in the head.”

Listen: Ted Talks Daily: Can I have your brain? The quest for truth on concussions and CTE, March 19 (11:04)

  • So says Chris Nowinski, spreading the word about the dangers inflicted by football and other sports, even at an early age.

  • He deadpans: “Turns out it’s not a great idea to hit a 5-year-old in the head 500 times each year.”


6) “You can't fact check people’s feelings.”

Listen: Today, Explained: One Man vs. InfoWars, March 19 (18:31)

  • That’s Jane Coaston’s take on the difficulty of fighting conspiracy theories, when convictions aren’t fact-based.

  • The episode examines conspiracy theories through the eyes of Brennan Gilmore. He’s been hounded by made-up stories since recording the widely seen video of the vehicle that drove into the crowd in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. It’s chilling. Gilmore is suing.


7) “The most important thing you can give your children is empathy.”

Listen: Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: Lin-Manuel Miranda: Creativity and Compassion, March 21 (5:42)

  • It’s “the whole gig,” says Miranda. “You can’t do anything if you can’t imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes.”


8) “It used to be a place where you would talk to people. And now it is a place where you perform for people.”

Listen: Culture Gabfest: We Are a Sacred Troupe Edition, March 21 (46:30)

  • That’s Julia Turner on the cesspool of Twitter, of course. She and the Gabfesters tested a browser extension that blocks the number of likes, retweets and followers from being displayed in your feed. Sounds intriguing.  


9) “How does Jared Kushner have time to be in so many people's pockets?”

Listen: Pod Save America: “Grift while you can”, March 22, (20:03)

  • That’s Dan Pfeiffer's crack in response to the Saudi Crown Prince’s alleged remarks that he has the President’s son-in-law in his pocket.


10) “If you were to ask Jay-Z, ‘Would you rather take the train or a three-day boat trip from New York to Miami?’ of course his answer is, ‘Load up the boat.’”  

Listen: The Great Debates: Trains Are Better Than Boats, March 22 (26:48)

  • Dave King’s closing argument in a trains vs. boats debate somehow turns on speculation about Hova’s transportation preferences.

  • A key inflection point in the hilarious ongoing arguments between a guy who writes for “Veep” and a guy who wrote for “Parks and Recreation”: Would Beyoncé get seasick?

Got a Pod Take, a show to binge or a great guest I should consider for next week’s newsletter? Send it!

Go Deep

1) Atlanta Monster

Listen: Atlanta Monster, Jan. 5-March 23


2) StartUp, Redux

Listen: StartUp, March 23

  • The pod that inspired the upcoming TV show “Alex, Inc.” starring Zach Braff re-drops five fan-fave episodes, with new content.

  • An added take from investor Chris Sacca on Braff’s portrayal of real-life Alex, Alex Blumberg, during the earliest days of StartUp: “No matter how much he hammed it up, he couldn’t be as pathetic as you were.” Ouch.


3) Gerrymandering

Listen: 99% Invisible, March 20; If Then, March 21

  • Is it worse than you think? Probably!


4) Major League Baseball Preview

Listen: The Poscast, March 20; The Ringer MLB Show, March 20

  • First pitch is Thursday. Go Dodgers!


5) Inception

Listen: The Rewatchables, March 22

  • An hour-and-nine-minute deep dive into the Christopher Nolan flick.

Pick From a Podcaster

This week's podcaster: Jen Leo of This Week in Travel, co-hosted by Gary Arndt of and Chris Christensen The now semi-weekly show has three main components — travel headlines, interviews and travel tips.

Adds Jen: “Chris loves history, Gary loves UNESCO heritage sites and I love family travel — but we all love teasing each other. Our show is like sitting around a coffee table while we chat about our interests.”

Jen’s Pick: Let’s Talk Bitcoin! #360 - Bitcoin Cash in Real Life

  • Jen says: “Let’s Talk Bitcoin! is a trusted resource with some of the most intelligent and experienced communicators in cryptocurrency, including Andreas Antonopoulos, author of The Internet of Money. For an intermediate student like myself, I geeked out on this episode and had full FOMO for not having found them before (emotions found regularly in the crypto world).

  • “Don’t worry if you get lost in the language. I did too, but happily so. There is so much to learn about the challenges and power of blockchain technology, and how it will shape our future. I’ll be listening to this episode more than once.”

Guest Appearances By...

Allen, Roberta Bookworm

  • “Every truth can work as fiction,” says “The Princess of Herself” author

Apatow, Judd The Adam Carolla Show, ID10T, I Have to Ask

  • He’s out there pushing his Garry Shandling doc

Boyega, John ID10T

Cain, Susan WorkLife with Adam Grant

  • A look at introversion and personality types in the workplace

Cohen, Lyor The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

  • The head of music for YouTube once promoted Run DMC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Culkin, Macaulay Anna Faris is Unqualified

Dacus, Lucy The Watch

  • Acclaimed musician talks about her new album

Dufresne, Wylie The Moment with Brian Koppelman

  • A talk with the influential chef

Fischer, Jenna How to Keep Your Day Job

Fleiss, Jenny Skimm’d From The Couch

  • Convo with Rent the Runway co-founder

Hader, Bill WTF with Marc Maron, Endless Thread, Maltin on Movies

  • He’s out there pushing his new show, “Barry”

Hanson Edge of Fame

  • How the boy band grew up and survived fame

Iannucci, Armando The New Yorker Radio Hour, Bullseye

  • He’s out there pushing “The Death of Stalin”

Koppelman, Brian The Bill Simmons Podcast

  • “Billions” co-creator (and The Moment podcaster) talks about the love his show gets from NBA players

Merriken, Lara How I Built This with Guy Raz

  • On the drive to create Lärabar

Middleditch, Thomas Comedy Bang! Bang!

  • He talks “Silicon Valley”

Nolte, Nick WTF with Marc Maron

Palmieri, Jennifer It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders

  • Hillary Clinton’s former communications director has a book out

Ricker, Andy House of Carbs

  • Convo with founder of Pok Pok

Roberts, David How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black

  • Alpine climber on going places nobody has ever been

Scovell, Nell WTF with Marc Maron, Recode Media with Peter Kafka

  • “Lean In” co-author shares what it's like to be the only woman in a TV writers’ room

Shibutani, Alex and Maia Bon Appetit Foodcast

  • The Shib Sibs at McDonald’s at the Olympic cafeteria

Starr, Martin Comedy Bang! Bang!

  • He, too, talks “Silicon Valley”

Welch, Jack Freakonomics Radio

Yang, Jimmy O. The Adam Carolla Show

  • Yeah, he also talks “Silicon Valley”

Reviews and Recommendations

Clueless: The true-crime podcast Atlanta Monster is a meandering mess of a mystery with a hapless detective at its center (Slate, Laura Miller)

  • Her take: “Atlanta Monster, a much-anticipated re-examination of a crime wave that riveted the nation, is a meandering mess, a wasted opportunity to illuminate what has been shadowed for decades.”

10 Podcasts We Can’t Wait to Listen to This Spring (Vulture, Nicholas Quah)

  • New pods on the way about Bikram yoga, ISIS and Harry Potter.

The Boring Talks brings fervor to minutiae and defies its own title (AVclub, Podmass)

If you like The Week in Podcasts, please pass it along to someone else who might like it, too. Thanks for reading!

Find us on Twitter @WeekInPodcasts.

Copyright © 2018 Michael Yessis, All rights reserved.

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