My podcast week in review for last week is a bit late, but sometimes real life takes precedence over things like scarcely-read, pet-project websites. That said, there were some interesting things happening in podcasting last week, so I wanted to get this posted, even if it is a little late and a little abbreviated. Probably the biggest news in podcasting last week was the return of one of the most popular sports podcast hosts, Bill Simmons, who had taken a hiatus from podcasting since being let go by his former employer last spring. In addition to Simmons’ return, last week’s podcast highlights included stories of cooking for the Pope and a former tennis star’s rough encounter with the New York Police Department.
The Bill Simmons Podcast: Before returning to television next spring, Bill Simmons returned to podcasting last week with a flurry of episodes of his new podcast. Simmons, with whom ESPN cut ties last May after he openly criticized the NFL and Roger Goodell, made it very clear in his first episode that he was looking forward to using his new podcast, free of his ESPN ties, to criticize his old network and poke fun at its on-air talent. Despite the jabs Simmons took at his former employer, the new show seemed to pick up right where the old one left off, with old regulars Cousin Sal, JackO, Wesley Morris and Joe House joining Simmons for familiar chats about the NFL, NBA and movies. Podcast-starved Simmons fans should get their fill over the next several months, with Simmons promising two to three episodes per week at least until his new television show on HBO begins next spring.
Be Honest with Cari Champion: Last week’s episode of Be Honest with Cari Champion featured former professional tennis player James Blake, who was recently mistakenly detained by the New York City Police Department outside his hotel while he was in New York for the US Open. Blake, who is black, detailed what happened, his reaction at the time, and the near-immediate apologies issued by the mayor and police commissioner. Amazingly, Blake seemed very calm about the incident and stressed his belief that the police as a whole do a commendable job. However, he is using the incident, and his own position as a well-respected and visible former sports star, to highlight the need to hold accountable those officers that break the rules. As Champion noted, there might be no one better suited for the job.
Word of Mouth with Leiti Hsu: Have you ever wondered what the Pope eats when he’s away from his home at the Vatican? Chef Lidia Bastianich served as the Pope’s personal chef during his recent visit to New York City, and she talked with Leiti Hsu about her experience. Bastianich talked about the Pope’s simple, minimalistic menu requests, and how he showed his gratitude over coffee in the kitchen. Hsu also spoke with New York chef Michael Anthony, who’s had a busy year opening a new restaurant, winning the James Beard Award, and publishing a new cookbook, V is for Vegetables.