The universe of podcasts stretches out in all directions, some strands of it stretching longer than others. With the presidential election now less than a year away, it makes sense that podcasts devoted to the election and politics would expand at a greater rate, and last week was prime evidence of that. If you’re an election junky, there are plenty of podcasts to keep your habit going with shows like Vox’s The Weeds, Slate’s Political Gabfest and now the new NPR Politics Podcast. Meanwhile, if you’re already tired of hearing about the campaigns and campaigners, there is still plenty to keep you entertained with Marc Maron addressing old ghosts and an the one-year anniversary of a fantastically funny show featuring rotating hosts and guests.
NPR released a new podcast last week to coincide with the run up to the 2016 presidential election. Hosted by the team that covers politics at NPR, the new podcast will be looking at the political issues shaping the presidential campaigns. The NPR Politics Podcast will release new “weekly roundups” each Friday as well as “quick take” episodes on big news as it comes up. Last week, NPR released its first weekly roundup, with the politics team discussing the most recent debates, Hillary Clinton’s response to an overly aggressive supporter, and the impact of Black Lives Matter and other protest movements on the elections. The team also released a quick-take episode on Saturday discussing Bernie Sanders’ version of socialism and how that word is perceived by the electorate in 2015. For those unafraid to join in the political marathon that is the presidential election, NPR Politics Podcast appears to be a good running companion.
This new podcast comes from Amy Choi and Rebecca Lehrer, founders of The Mash-Up Americans website devoted to modern multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-multi America. Following on the presidential campaign theme, the subject of their first episode was a name that would draw any mashed-up American’s interest: Donald Trump. The story, however, was not about Trump’s immigration plan, but about Trump’s own mashed-up pedigree. Choi and Lehrer detailed Trump’s family roots, including the immigrant stories of his paternal grandfather from Germany and his mother from Scotland. The show provides a fascinating look at the immigrant past of Trump, and how he currently addresses it, at a time when immigration is at the forefront of his campaign.
Marc Maron tried to heal old wounds last week with a sit-down with Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Longtime listeners of WTF will be well aware of Maron’s story about his meeting with Michaels in 1995 for a spot on SNL. Michaels never extended an offer to Maron to join SNL, and WTF fans have heard how that meeting, the rejection and the thoughts of what might have been have haunted Maron since. Maron recently met with Michaels over two days in New York to talk about Michaels’ long and storied career, and of course, that fateful meeting in 1995. To get the full sense of Maron’s obsession with SNL, Michaels and the lost opportunity, you can also check out a companion episode of WTF released exclusively on Howl Premium. The bonus show features a collection of Lorne stories from the litany of SNL cast members Maron has talked to on his podcast over the last six years.
Do you have room in your tin heart for another technology podcast? Marketplace and Tech Insider hope so, and are looking to grease that heart of yours with their new podcast, Codebreaker. Hosted by Ben Johnson, Codebreaker will look at some of the fundamental questions posed by technology, like “Is it evil?” (the question Johnson says will serve as the theme for the show’s first season). In the first episode, released last Wednesday, Johnson applied the question to email, examining stories of the good and bad sides of email. You’ll need to listen to the episode for Johnson’ final judgment on the evilness of email, but he made compelling cases on both sides, from a marriage born of a misdirected email to a band breakup caused by an extended email fight. Also, if you’d like to dabble in some codebreaking yourself, each episode of Codebreaker will contain a hidden code that will enable you to access future episodes of the podcast before they are released. I haven’t cracked the code, but I would like to know whether Johnson applies the “Is it evil?” test to podcasts.
One of the funniest podcasts going celebrated its one-year anniversary last week. With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus, which I’ve mentioned in past Week in Review features and my recap from the LA Podfest, celebrated its anniversary with an episode featuring two beloved characters from the halls of the Earwolf studios: Gino Lambardo (played by comedian Jon Gabrus) and Traci Reardon (Lapkus’ most famous character and a recurring one on the podcast). Gino hosts a Long Island drive-time show with guest Traci, and the two talk about Long Island news, take listener calls and deal with the loss of Gino’s aunt. The show, as usual, is insanely funny, though its not for sensitive ears. If you haven’t been listening to WSGLL and are looking for a comedy podcast to add to your queue, this is a good time to start. If you love Gino, there’s more of him (as well as Traci) in the Comedy Bang! Bang! archives.