Podcasts In 2016


To this day, I will get the question "What is a podcast?"  For a lot of techno-phobic folks out there, I simply dub it as an "online radio show that you can listen to on-demand."  On-demand immediately springs to mind things like Netflix, Hulu, etc.  I imagine my mom could probably figure out how to subscribe, but I prefer giving her CDs and making sure she doesn't come across episodes where I get dirty.  So in summation, this was a truly bizarre year in every way imaginable.  Politics aside, I find my mom using a smartphone, watching Netflix, and enjoying the Internet for the first time in her life, sometimes losing sleep as a result.  But she's still struggling with the lack of socialization that has occurred over the years, due to people's busy lives and the way busy people keep in touch (she hates that people text instead of call).  Personally, I find a lot of gratification through a different kind of active listening:  podcast indulgence on a daily basis.  Sometimes I wake up to the sound of a podcast, sometimes I go to bed listening.  I even bought waterproof earbuds to listen to podcasts as I swim and shower.  Does this make me an addict?  No, but it is one of my favorite forms of entertainment imaginable.  I think back to the mid-2000s when I worked in a cubicle, listening to Filmspotting in its inception or The Ricky Gervais Show or The Dawn & Drew Show.  I had to download an episode, add it to ITunes, transfer it to my IPod (!) and then spend ten hours working and listening.  It lifted my depression and disgust with the job at the time.  Cut to a decade later and now I am treated to so many voices each and every day, that it becomes akin to a long-distance friendship. 

Not in the conventional sense of mutual interpersonal interactions, but I look forward to "hearing from them" just as much I enjoy receiving texts from close friends about hanging out soon.  I embraced the idea of being a "loner" because I didn't feel alone with certain voices to keep me company.  Going to the gym and applying for jobs at the library became easier to do.  Hour-long commutes no longer felt overwhelming, even when there was traffic.  It's very easy to become familiarized with certain individuals that you actually look forward to what they're going to say.  Even if I am not the biggest STAR WARS fan, I had to know what the Film Junk crew thought of the latest installment because I knew they would relay their opinion in an entertaining and often very hilarious manner.  I can see how habitual the experience is and how loyal I become to shows that really click with me.  There's a lot now.  I haven't even discussed how I subscribed to a half a dozen political podcasts after the election results.  This was another special year for podcasts.  I created a network, chose to embrace certain individuals that I felt would be great podcasters, and it's good to know that each show has a fan-base and terrific content.  I was also a part of WGN again earlier in the year as a film critic, enduring some of the year's worst films, but thoroughly enjoyed talking about them with my talk radio hero.  And speaking of Nick Digilio, he finally came on to my show for two episodes on Martin Scorsese.  To have him on my show is one of the great creative highlights of my life.  But also, listening to a number of episodes from these shows really kept my spirits up during a tumultuous period in which things became very ugly in this country and I decided to leave my job.  As much as I would like to be more of an avid reader (new year's resolution), besides film and music, podcasts are my saving grace that always get me through the day.  And as bizarre as this sounds, it makes swimming laps go by a whole lot easier despite those curious lifeguards giving me odd looks as to why I am laughing so hard.  I am eternally grateful for these podcasts (and probably a dozen more) that I highly recommend checking out immediately.  I look forward to all of them in the new year.  Scroll down past the artwork, click on their name, and fill up your devices with some killer content ASAP!

It's hard to rank these, because they're all great and there are others too that I enjoy like WTF w/Marc Maron, Fresh Perspective, Our Debut Album, Fresh Air, The Treatment  and more!  Just click on the links, listen to their show, subscribe, support, and spread the word.   I will say that Tom Scharpling's The Best Show is the one that really inspires me to no end particularly when it comes to comedy, but a huge reason for my changeover to my new show Voices & Visions, is due to all the hard work that my friends have put into shows like Supporting Characters, Tracks of the Damned, Vinyl Emergency, and Movie Madness.  They all have impeccable people skills when it comes to talking with those in the same room.  I'm biased because they're also friends, but I wouldn't support their show if I didn't love what they're doing.  It goes without saying that when it comes to horror podcasts, the one to beat is Shock Waves, and when it comes to music, the one to beat is The Great Albums.  And never forget, despite my departure as a full-time host on Director's Club, there are 123 episodes (and then some) that I'm very proud to have been a part of.  Plus I will be guesting on at least five more episodes next year.  Again, I listen to all of these avidly and I'm positive I could come up with at least a dozen more worth mentioning and exploring further.  Happy Podcasting to all in 2017!

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James Laczkowski