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Making podcasts skimmable since February 2018. 
#9·April 13, 2018 · By Michael Yessis
It’s Friday again and I’ve got tacos in my future. All is well. Thanks for reading!

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


1) “What happens when the thing that you're really good at is the thing that is killing your soul.”

Listen: Pop Culture Happy Hour: Barry (7:05)

  • That’s Eric Deggans, who adds, “and the thing that you find emotionally sustaining, you are terrible at.”

  • He’s talking about Bill Hader’s character in the new HBO show, a skilled assassin with an acting problem.

  • My take: Interesting dilemma. Phenomenal show.


2) “There’s a lot of conformity in America’s hippest and coolest cities.”

Listen: The Indicator from Planet Money: Tyler Cowen Rates America (4:19)

  • Cowen’s take gets a knowing laugh from host Cardiff Garcia.

  • Cowen calls cities “a bit overrated.”

  • He adds: “The suburbs is where the action is,” arguing people in the ‘burbs are more connected to what he would call “real life.”  

  • My take: Cowen’s recurring segments on The Indicator? Underrated.


3) “If you want to stay ahead of the curve as an architect, it’s good every now and then to visit Las Vegas.”

Listen: 99% Invisible: Lessons From Las Vegas (24:28)

  • Says architect Stefan Al, one of many compelling voices in an excellent pod about Las Vegas architecture and its influence on modern buildings.


4) “We cannot be feeding people in America anymore with MREs.”

Listen: Ted Talks Daily: José Andrés: How a team of chefs fed Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (15:48)

  • That’s humanitarian and chef Andrés, who spearheaded efforts to feed real food to people in hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, not military-grade meals ready-to-eat.

  • On some days, he and everyone helping him cooked and served tens of thousands of meals.

  • My take: Andrés is a hero.


5) “Every relationship is an interfaith relationship.”

Listen: The Sporkful: Love and Chopsticks (6:58)

  • That’s Helen Rosner, amid a conversation about relationship issues that involve food.

  • The New Yorker food writer and host Dan Pashman answer questions from people with food tensions in their relationships.

  • My take: By showing up with a sack of McMuffins, Rosner sets a high bar for gift-bearing podcast guests.


6) “I can just pick up anything and knock it against a guitar, and it’s good.”

Listen: This Song: Kelley Deal of the Breeders (7:15)

  • Deal learns her lesson to follow her muse while watching Jimmy Page play guitar with a violin bow in “The Song Remains the Same.”

  • My take: An inspiring pod. May you know the joy of finding your thing to knock against your Stratocaster.


7) “This is like basketball-level interest in what Ohtani’s doing.”

Listen: The Ringer MLB Show: New York and Boston Go Nuts, and We Go Nuts About Shohei Ohtani (24:48)

  • That’s Michael Baumann, talking about the jaw-dropping hitting and pitching prowess of baseball’s newest star.

  • Baumann admits baseball season’s young. But Ohtani’s Babe Ruth-ian feats demand attention.

  • My take: Baumann’s underplaying Ohtani’s impact.


8) “I fear Donald Trump’s taint has been smeared all over the American people.”

Listen: The Gist with Mike Pesca: It’s Regulation Time (27:06)

  • Yup, Pesca goes there.

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

One Podcast That Mesmerized Twitter


The Ezra Klein Show: Sam Harris Debate / Waking Up with Sam Harris: Identity & Honesty

Klein and Harris have been debating/fighting/feuding for much of the last year.

  • The issue, very condensed: Klein and Vox called out Harris for a podcast Harris did with “The Bell Curve” author Charles Murray about the biological differences and intelligence levels of different races.

  • Klein and the stories at Vox said Murray and Harris got the underlying science and its implications very wrong. Harris strongly disagreed.

  • After a subsequent back-and-forth spilled onto Twitter and a private email exchange Harris made public, they spoke. They released their conversation on both their feeds.

A taste of Twitter’s take:

  • “Understandably, more exasperation than science in yesterday's Harris/Klein podcast.” — @rjhaier

  • “‘The weight of American history is completely irrelevant’ is quite a take.” — @mattyglesias

  • “The great thing about this debate is that Ezra Klein really shows how politeness can be a deadly weapon.” — @HeerJeet

  • “Just listened to the sam harris / ezra klein podcast. Now to head over to twitter to watch the confirmation bias play out.” — @yannikyriacos

  • “I'm now looking forward to the sitcom where you two have to share an apartment together.” — @jefftinevez

Go Deep

1) “This is Us”

Listen: It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Scriptnotes, Jamie Roxx’s Pop Roxx Talk Radio Show

  • The show that gives everyone feelings basks in the pod spotlight.

  • Chrissy Metz speaks with Sanders about the show and her new book. “This is Us” writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger talk to the Scriptnotes guys about running the show. Isabel Oliver Marcus appears with Roxx.


2) The Motown Museum

Listen: Rockin’ the Suburbs: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

  • Jim Lenahan visits Detroit’s Motown Museum and comes back with a three-part series about the landmark of American music.

  • “They came up with their own sounds. And they came up with their own styles,” says Paul Barker, the museum’s director of development, of Motown’s musical innovators.


3) “Westworld”

Listen: Binge Mode

  • Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion explore consciousness and the theory of bicameralism in the first five episodes of Season 1 of HBO’s hit.

  • Deep dive, deep stuff.

Enter Podcast Brunch Club’s raffle for free tickets to Radiotopia’s East Coast tour.

Guest Appearances By...


Abrahams, Jim The Adam Carolla Show

  • Convo with one of the guys behind hall-of-fame comedy “Airplane!”

Brownlee, Marques Recode Media with Peter Kafka

  • YouTuber with 6 million (!) subscribers shares his story and his YouTube tips.

Callard, Agnes Conversations With Tyler

  • Philosopher talks about her new book and how to care about things you don’t care about yet.

Coles, Joanna Skimm’d From the Couch

  • “I have an intense curiosity,” says the Chief Creative Officer of Hearst.

Cook, Tim Recode Decode

Couric, Katie The Tim Ferriss Show

Díaz, Junot Bookworm

  • He talks about his children’s book, not his New Yorker piece about being raped as a child that resonated this week.

Ehrenreich, Barbara I Have to Ask

Fieri, Guy The Moment with Brian Koppelman

Gates, Bill Danny in the Valley

Gelb, David Forked Up

  • Convo with the filmmaker behind “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

Graham, Lauren Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Hamm, Jon Comedy Bang! Bang!, Maltin on Movies

Kasich, John Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

John, Daymond How I Built This with Guy Raz

  • The story of the rise of the founder of FUBU.

Johnson, Jake The Watch

Leaf, Ryan Pardon My Take

  • Former NFL bust talks addiction and overcoming regrets.

Manson, Shirley The Bob Lefsetz Podcast, This Must Be the Gig

Murphy, Stephanie Pod Save America

  • Congresswoman from Florida guests live from Orlando.

Nair, Mira Cooking by Ear

  • The director makes fattoush and talking about the partition between India and Pakistan.

Newman, Laraine ID10T

  • Early SNL cast member recounts her career and personal struggle.

Nichols, Rachel Pardon My Take

Norris, Michele The Atlantic Interview

Payne, Alexander Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

  • The director believes all films, no matter what, should be charming.

Rolston, Matthew Monocle 24: The Big Interview Series

  • Convo with the photographer and the retrospective of his ‘80s work.

Schriock, Stephanie The Axe Files with David Axelrod

  • The president of Emily’s List talks about the wave of woman running for office in 2018.

Simmons, Bill WTF with Marc Maron, House of Carbs

  • One podcast heavyweight visits another. Also, on HOC, he ranks NBA cities by their food scenes.

Toobin, Jeffrey Here’s the Thing

Williams, Michael K. The Nod

  • The actor talks Janet Jackson and self-help books.

Pick From a Podcaster

This week's podcaster: Allison Carter hosts Not Your Little Lady, a podcast about women living outside of socially accepted norms in the American South. The format is conversational/interview. New episodes debut every other Wednesday.

  • Allison adds: “I began the podcast as an extension of my career as a photojournalist with hopes to create a space where guests tell their stories and listeners open their minds to think about the lives of others.”

Her pick: The Alabama Take: Louisa Amber Murray - The Bear

  • Allison says: “Alabama has a piece of my heart and always will. So, I'm for any podcast that highlights the art and culture of a state that — sometimes rightfully, sometimes not —  has a bad reputation. With that in mind, I recommend The Alabama Take not only because (full disclosure) I'm friends with the host and guest, but also because the music scene in North Alabama, aka The Shoals, is on fire.”
  • More: “The podcast introduces listeners to bands and people, and the host does it in a way that makes the listeners feel as if they're listening to their friends.”

Reviews and Recommendations

The Podcast Killed Kevin Williamson, But God Save the Podcast! (The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis)
  • Lewis writes: “Today, it is podcasting — mostly unsupervised, often a labor of love, frequently uninterested in ratings and revenue — that is providing the best content.”

Breakmaster Cylinder: A Conversation with Podcasting’s Most Prolific (And Mysterious) Artist (Discover Pods, Kevin Goldberg)

Podcasting’s New World: Groupies, Stage Fright and Sold-Out Shows (The Wall Street Journal, John Jurgensen)

America's Next Generation Of Muslims Insists On Crafting Its Own Story (NPR, Leila Fadel)
  • NPR’s series “Muslims in America: A New Generation” features the makers of the Identity Politics pod.

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

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Copyright © 2018 Michael Yessis, All rights reserved.

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