Lead Writer, Chad Echakowitz, with Contributions from Simone le Roux, Jon-Michael Lindsey, Bethan Louise Grubb, David Whitrick, Kaitlin Bellamy, and Grae Westgate
Podcasts are amazing. They are prime examples of what the human imagination can do when left to the expanse of creativity. For as little as 20 minutes, or as long as three hours, some random people can take you out of whatever menial task you are doing with a simple conversation, and you can walk away feeling enlightened, thrilled, or just plain entertained.
And now, in celebration of the release of Forge & Flint’s own podcast, It’s Not That Bad, we would like to celebrate podcasts in general, for bringing us such wonderful moments. Here are seven writers to tell you about their favourite podcasts.
1) Ear Hustle – Chad Echakowitz
Presented by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods
Produced by Radiotopia
We’ve all had that moment in our lives where we think, I could definitely survive in prison. I used to think that way too. Then I listened to Ear Hustle.
Do not think that Ear Hustle is a podcast intended to scare you in to never wanting to go to prison; instead, this fantastic podcast sets out to educate listeners about what prison life is actually like. Earlonne Woods - one of the hosts of the podcast – is currently a prisoner at San Quentin Correctional Facility where the show is hosted. This insider scoop helps the listener gain a sense of what prison life is like, and not the lies that films and television tell you.
And while it can be grueling, and many of the episodes will make you want to run home and hold your loved ones close, it also explores the humanity of prison life, of people coming together as a community in the most unlikely of places. With a wide range of topics that explore prison life (such as choosing cell mates, or “cellies”) to things prisoners plan to do when they get out, this podcast is emotionally gripping, leaving you raw at the end of every 45-minute episode.
It is so unusual, so unique as a podcast, if you aren’t listening to it already, you need to add it to your library.
2) The Last Podcast on the Left – Simone le Roux
Presented by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski
Produced by The Last Podcast Network
If you love True Crime and laughing at things you absolutely should not be laughing at, this is the podcast for you.
After five years running, the hosts have a seamless dynamic that makes for seriously entertaining listening. The show is well-researched and the information is put forward with story telling that flows well. Marcus Parks guides you through the story, with input from actor Henry Zebrowski, who does voices and impressions to bring the characters to life (often hilariously). Ben Kissel rounds off the cast as the dad-like figure, asking questions the listener might have and reigning in some of Marcus and Henry’s wilder tangents.
What you get is the most fun way possible to learn about the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, L. Ron Hubbard and the Entfield Poltergeist. This podcast also seeks to expose these scary figures of history for what they truly are: losers. They’ll point out that Ed Kemper was just a big cry baby and that Jim Jones was some insecure dude high off his face.
Get ready to become the creepy person at the party armed with too many serial killer facts and a darker sense of humour than you knew you had.
3) Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review – Jon-Michael Lindsey
Presented by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo (and other occasional guest presenters)
Produced by Somethin’ Else
If you’re lucky enough to know the great English actor Jason Isaacs in person, you’ve probably already had your phone hijacked and force-subscribed to this podcast, and thus converted to the Church of Wittertainment. First appearing on Radio 1 in the 1990’s, it moved to its current home on Radio 5 Live in 2001. Since then, the show goes out every Friday with 2 hours-worth of film reviews and interviews. So what is it about this podcast, then, that makes it worth your time when you can find this sort of content anywhere these days?
Quite simply, it is because of the banter between host (Simon) and contributor (Mark). It’s been likened to that of a bickering married couple, but it’s what keeps the fans/Wittertainees coming back each week. Listeners to the podcast are treated to extra content not featured on the live show, including some hilarious and sometimes heart-warming correspondence, along with showbiz anecdotes and discussions about AALS (Altitude Adjusted Lachrymosity Syndrome), the cinema-goers Code of Conduct and of course the summer cruise, and they also have their own Wikipedia – the Witterpedia. With so much excellent content and additional features, it is no wonder the podcast has won the Sony Radio Academy Award and Listener’s Choice in British Podcast Awards 2018.
Jason Isaacs features regularly (an old school friend of Mark’s), with other alumni including Sir Kenneth “chuckles” Branagh, David Morrisey, Tom Hanks, Toby Jones (always better than a noby Jones) and many more, all of whom involve themselves in the spontaneous comedic outpourings. This is well worth your time and after a simple subscription on your fruit-based device (still not funny) or other, you’ll soon become a part of the congregation and LTL (Long Term Listener). All that’s left for me to say is everything is going to be alright and “Tinkety tonk old fruit, and down with the Nazis”.
4) My Brother, My Brother and Me – Bethan Louise Grubb
Presented by Justin, Travis & Griffin McElroy
Produced by Maximum Fun
“Are there dogs in the new Batman Movie?”
“Does a fart contain DNA?”
“I think I have Pepsi stuck in my lungs – what do I do?”
The McElroy brothers can provide you the answers to all of these questions and more. My Brother, My Brother and Me (often abbreviated as MBMBaM, pronounced /məˈbɪmbæm/) has been dubbed “the advice show for the modern era”. Each week you can join the brothers as they delve into the dark depths of Yahoo Answers, and give advice to those in need.
The show is very much what you could only describe as organized chaos. They talk about everything and nothing, but their friendly voices draw you in and the slapstick humour keeps you there. The agony aunts (uncles?) put themselves into the question-asker’s shoes and each brother gives their perspective on the question. The charisma and chemistry of the brothers genuinely put smiles on faces, and at the same time makes you question the unhinged inhabitants of Yahoo Answers. This podcast gives you a self-confidence boost when you realise these bizarre – and quite frankly stupid - questions are asked by real-life people walking this earth.
I now question what I used to do on a Monday before MBMBaM came into existence.
5) Inside Jaws – Dave Whitrick
Presented by Mark Ramsey
Produced by Wondery
I’ll be honest with you – my foray into the vast and frankly intimidating waters of ‘the podcast’ was tentative, at best.
After a brief dalliance with The Last Podcast On The Left - my initial blood lust quickly quelled to a faint and non-committal thud, I moved on to Lore which has succeeded in holding my attention span, albeit in a sporadic, I’m-going-to-flick-through-this-intriguing-magazine-that-has-a-couple-of-honestly-great-articles-in-it-but-also-has-quite-a-lot-of-tenuous-filler, sort of way.
I suppose what I was looking for was a story, something to grip me with both fists and twist. Twist my soaking rag of an imagination and drip all that lovely creative word-juice over my sleepy commuters lap, propelling me forward into what would doubtlessly turn out to be a predictably unimaginative day. After all, why else do we tell stories? Or listen to them? Read them? Watch them? As a lad, my love of reading would spark a simultaneous love of movies and audio books, comics and surprise surprise Cilla – Writing.
So this is where you say, I thought this was about podcasts? Stay with me friend, I’m getting there despite taking you around all of the houses in my neighbourhood. Nice isn’t it, though, right? Seriously, I guess what I’m saying is I like podcasts that tell a story, a story that grabs me. Bites me even. A story with teeth…
I first heard of Mark Ramsey and his audio-exploits through threads about horror and thriller podcasts. Inside Psycho and Inside The Exorcist are, in my humble opinion, absolute belters and anyone with a modicum of interest in either film, podcasts, horror or all three should go listen to them immediately. However, Inside Jaws is my most recent listen and Ramsey’s most recent release. And as Jaws has a very special place in my heart, this has to be my recommendation. For me, Jaws was a formative, gateway experience. Despite the fact it terrorised me and left me dreaming of sharks swimming through my bedroom window for weeks (I was only six, I swear), it was among the first films I can remember being truly rapt and would spark a passion in me that burns to this day: sushi. I love sushi. I do but that’s not what I meant.
6) Annotated – Kaitlin Bellamy
by Book Riot
I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable person when it comes to literature. So when I tell you that Annotated is a constant educational delight, know that I mean it with my whole heart.
Annotated presents itself as, “stories about books, reading, and language.” However, it doesn’t stop there. Every single episode is a journey into the obscure corners of familiar things. For instance, exploring the fascinating history of EXACTLY how Mary Shelley came to create the genre we now know as Science Fiction, and the rainy holiday bet that drove her to write Frankenstein. Or the exploration of just how Shakespeare became the household name he is today, and how close he truly was to being lost forever as an unknown genius.
The episodes run less than 30 minutes each, perfect for your daily commute or a quick jog on the treadmill. It is easily at the top of my personal list, and I cannot recommend it enough.
7) We Hate Movies – Grae Westgate
Presented by Andrew Jupin, Stephen Sajdak, Eric Szyszka and Chris Cabin
Produced by HeadGum
I live my life through movie tropes. Indeed, I live my life through BAD movie tropes, and I take an immense pride in my encyclopaedic knowledge of terrible movies. As such, I’m always on the lookout for great podcasts that revel in ripping apart the dregs of cinema.
We Hate Movies, presented by a group of improvisational comedians, is a hilarious look at the crap that Hollywood insists on serving us. Each episode centers on a different film, ranging from the well-known blockbuster, such as The Lost World or any number of superhero fayre, to lesser-visited bargain basement classics like Dr Giggles and Samurai Cop.
A prior knowledge of a movie adds an extra level to the humour as we laugh along with the ridiculousness that we’ve come to loathe (the running gag of Stan Lee pissing all over Jack Kirby’s legacy is side-splittingly funny), but it’s often the films that you’ve never heard of that bring some of the biggest belly laughs.
With a new hour-long episode each week, often punctuated with live shows centered on infamously bad ventures such as Howard the Duck or The Emoji Movie, along with the Patreon exclusive “Animation Damnation” in which the team looks at classic cartoons of our childhoods through world-weary eyes, We Hate Movies is a must for any cinephile.
Of course, we wouldn't be able to end this article with a little self-promotion:
8) It's Not That Bad
Presented by Simone le Roux and Chad Echakowitz
Produced by Forge & Flint
Simone and Chad are two of the most optimistic people you have ever met. Being twenty-somethings in a world not made for twenty-somethings, they endure the hardships of modernity with smiles on their faces and chipper attitudes.
And now they bring their optimism to you where, every week, they review two of the world's worst mainstream movies and tell you why they aren't actually as bad as you think. Simone and Chad search and pry through the cold, stagnant waters and somehow, someway, tell you, "It's not that bad".
With continuous positivity, laughs, and segments examining not only the films but the people who created them, these two plucky millenials will bring a little bit of sunshine into your life.
And now you are ready. Whether this is the first time you are going to venture in to the world of podcasts, or you are a seasoned veteran, you now carry the wisdom and advice of people who have no justification to give it. Even if you only adopt one of these recommendations into your library, you are in for a treat. There is something for everyone here so pop those headphones in, you have a lot of catching up to do.