My Favorite Podcasts

My Favorite Podcasts

If you know me, you know that I do a weekly podcast with a friend called Men in Gorilla Suits. Men in Gorilla Suits is a [sometimes] philosophical look at pop culture. (Sometimes we’re anything but philosophical.) I also have a novel out as a podcast, which also hangs out at Podiobooks.com.

But I don’t just make podcasts — I also listen to a handful regularly. (Since I pay the bills writing, I can’t really listen to as many podcasts as I’d like because I can’t listen to people talk while writing. Also, my commute is only 10 minutes each way to work, and I work from home half the time. So when I listen to podcasts, it’s time dedicated solely for listening — there is no multitasking involved.)

Someone recently asked me what I listened to, so I figured I’d share.

My Favorite Podcasts

Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project podcastStill Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

This is one of the podcasts I will drop things for to listen to. It’s not just because I’ve watched a lot of Mythbusters in the past…I just love people who make things — and Adam, Norm, and Will make things.

But it’s much more than that. For me, the people behind the show not only make things…but they talk about travel, reading, and so much more.

Even if you don’t like Mythbusters, give it a try. The only podcast that’s ever made me think, “Yeah, I would pay for the premium content for this…”

Favorite Episode(s):

Getting On with James Urbaniak podcastGetting On with James Urbaniak

If you do not know who James Urbaniak is…FOR SHAME!!! Just kidding! (Not really.)

James is the voice of Dr. Thaddeus Venture in The Venture Bros. More than that, you may have seen him in things you watch and love (and not even known it).

I cannot even describe the brilliance. It’s so brilliant, you might argue with me that it’s brilliant at all (bearing in mind that I am 6′ 3″ and built like a defensive tackle). But seriously: brilliant!

Favorite Episode(s):

A Tiny Sense of AccomplishmentA Tiny Sense of Accomplishment podcast

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter write like badasses. And I am sooooooooo grateful for the mighty Lisa Eckstein for recently telling me about this podcast…that’s fast become an all-time fave!

You want readings of works in progress — you’ve got it! You want funny commentary about everyday life — it’s there. Interviews with cool, creative people? They have that covered.

Really, there’s nothing bad I can say about this podcast. It might be one of the few that, at times, reaches the level of all-time best things ever recorded. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Favorite Episode(s):

Cheston, Applied Science, and Star Anna (Jess Walters reading “Cheston” would make this worth PAYING for…and you get it FREE!!! That line about 20-year-old scotch is wonderful!)

Psalms, Spokane, Stusser, and Seeping Gunk (I really DO like Sherman Alexie, but Jess Walter’s poem about Trader Joe’s is the star of this episode.)

Jess Walter Is Taking His Talents to the Grave, With Special Guest John Sirois

Nerdist podcastThe Nerdist

In the nerd world/geek world (listen to the episode with Wired’s Chris Anderson for a discussion about nerd vs. geek), being there first counts to some. I do not hold that philosophy, but if I did — I win against MOST Nerdist listeners.

While unemployed, I discovered this podcast on its second episode (the one with Drew Carey). I don’t think there’s a podcast I’ve listened to more.

I’ll go ahead and say it: one of the few podcasts that’s brought me to tears it’s so touching at times. The ONLY podcast that’s made me tear up from laughter AND sentiment in the same show. Truly one of the best, even though it’s now big and Hardwick has a media empire (and in some geek circles, that means I must now hate it…but I never will).

Favorite Episode(s) (HOW CAN I CHOOSE JUST ONE?!?!?!):

  • Drew Carey (The one that started it all for me!)
  • Rob Zombie (Think you multitask? Think again!)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (When JGL realizes this isn’t a normal press interview, it becomes a beautiful talk.)
  • Andy Serkis (Want to learn what being different and working hard can get you? Listen!)
  • Grant Morrison (When he talks about Superman…damn!)
  • Mike Mignola (One of the all-around best talks about doing your thing I’ve ever heard!)
  • Billy West (What can you learn from a voice actor about ANYTHING you are doing, no matter what it is? More than you can probably imagine!)
  • Billy Hardwick (Chris Hardwick interviews his father. A beautiful episode.)

On Being podcastOn Being

If you know me, you know I’m an atheist. Solidly…all my life. There has never been a time (nor will there ever be a time) that I believe in a god of any sort.

But I’m not a dick about it.

On Being is definitely spiritual at times, but it’s also beautiful. Just as I’m not a dick about atheism, I don’t mind people talking about faith…as long as they aren’t dicks about it. On Being does that well…and more times than not, it’s just about reflective moments we can all love — no matter what we believe (or don’t believe).

Favorite Episode(s):

OtherPpl podcastOtherppl with Brad Listi

If you like reading and authors, you should be listening!

I can’t describe what I love about this podcast, other than it’s like when The Nerdist interviews authors without the trademark Nerdist stuff. That may or may not make sense to you, and it is praise for both shows.

Definitely one of the better podcasts out there interviewing authors.

Favorite Episode(s) (Some of he best interviews (Jim Lynch, George Saunders, and Susan Orlean) require a premium account. But still…):

  • Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I’ve read that last page over 100 times! Seriously! I just got up and read it again. It’s THAT good!)
  • Dan Chaon (I would not mind being Dan Chaon for a day.)
  • Austin Kleon

Evolution Talk podcastEvolution Talk

A recent edition (because it’s a relatively new podcast), Rick Coste’s Evolution Talk has quickly become my favorite new podcast. I put it up there with A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. It’s that good.

One of the few scripted podcasts I’ll listen to (think “being there,” instead of just being talked at), Coste does such a damn good job with this podcast that it’s almost ridiculous! (And his output of other shows and videos will make even a productive person feel puny!)

The production of this show is wonderful; the way it’s presented makes one think of the potential for the medium.

(Oh yeah…Rick also does Philosophy Walk, which is also mighty impressive. He might be the only podcaster I’d follow into battle!)

Favorite Episode(s):

Grammar Girl podcastGrammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty is kinda badass.

I make a living writing, and have for some time, and these short podcasts always leave me thinking about better writing.

You might think, “But I’m not a writer.” If you wrote even one email or posted on a social network in the last week, you need to listen to this show!

Favorite Episode(s):

Too many! Just go to the site!

Freakonomics podcastFreakonomics

I heard the podcast before watching the documentary.

The documentary made me realize these guys think in some really cool ways. (Even when I have an opposing view, I love the way they lay things out.)

You can say this is about economics, but it’s really a show about how humans look at…everything. With something that solid, how can you not listen?

Favorite Episode(s):

Like Grammar Girl, there are too many to list. Just hit the archives and have at it!

Intro Machine podcastIntro Machine | Building Better Podcasts

Another newer podcast. I met Ian at Podcast Movement 2014, and he was torn between a couple shows.

When he mentioned Intro Machine, I — and others waiting for a session at the conference to start — told him that Intro Machine sounded great!

We were not wrong…

Favorite Episode(s):

They’re short, so just listen. (I like the How to Make a Thing episode…but really, all of them are good. And there’s a bit more than sound at the end of each episode that makes the show about more than just production.)

The Gary Leland Show podcastThe Gary Leland Show

Gary Leland is a cool guy. Seriously.

Gary started selling blinds door-to-door in the 80s, and in the earlier part of the 90s…sold wallpaper ONLINE…when everyone told him it was a dumb move. It wasn’t, and Gary now has his own little entrepreneurial empire (that really leans toward fast-pitch softball. Seriously)

I shy away from entrepreneurs interviewing entrepreneurs, but Gary makes even talks with people I’m not too fond of something worth listening to. And you would be hard-pressed to meet a cooler, more genuine person. Gary’s the real deal, and I would say that even if he wasn’t a friend.

Favorite Episode(s):

Cash Car Convert podcastCash Car Convert

I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to reading and thinking about money. I read Your Money or Your Life, and I was good. (Full disclosure: I have not read the version I linked to, and the book can be sumarized like this: figure out what your time is worth for every hour of your life…and decide if that 2.5 hours in traffic and business travel and time away from all you would rather be doing is really worth it!)

James Kinson is one of those truly good people…so I’m glad he has a podcast. It’s about much more than buying used cars/driving your existing car for a decade or more to put your money elsewhere. It’s about finances, but it’s also about being decent and living a good life.

Like On Being mentioned above, it’s one of a few podcasts that I don’t turn off when it gets more spiritual. It’s always with purpose, and I can see the parallels in the life I live. James is just a mighty good person! (And yes, I know him…but knowing him does not change that one bit.)

Favorite Episode(s):

Podcasts I’ve Listened to (and Mean to Listen to More Regularly)

Radiolab podcastRadiolab

A good friend told me to listen to an episode with They Might Be Giants.

Other friends have told me to listen.

Hell, Laura Mills mentioned the show in this blog entry, and I am convinced you will not find a more intelligent and reflective Millennial on the planet! So…I need to listen more!

Favorite Episode(s):

It Might Be Science

This American Life podcastThis American Life

Psst…Maybe you’ve heard about this show 🙂

Maybe you saw this video about how to listen to podcasts.

This is one of those shows that people will miss decades down the line when Ira Glass is no longer around. I don’t know why I go through periods of not listening, and then consuming like a fiend…

Favorite Episode(s):

WTF with Marc Maron podcastWTF With Marc Maron

Sure, you can say, “He’s crass,” or whatever you want…but Marc Maron is rather badass.

I read fiction because I want real, and I love that Maron freely admits that he was a complete asshole in so many ways in his past.

More than that, I love that his redemption came as one of the podcasters out there to pave the way for the rest of us. Like him or not, those of us podcasting will probably never have the success Maron’s made for himself. For that reason alone, his interviews are worth listening to.

Favorite Episode(s):

Remembering Robin Williams (A beautiful interview)

Skate to Create podcastSkate to Create

What if I told you a small group of skaters thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a business podcast…that focused on skate culture and how that led to entrepreneurs making a living doing what they love within skateboarding?”

You might think, “I’m not sure about that…”

Regardless of where you stand, this is one of the most genuine and focused shows I’ve heard about turning what you love into a business.

Favorite Episode(s):

The Starters Club podcastThe Starters Club

Confession: I would go as far as saying I loathe with the passion of 10,000,000 white-hot suns podcasts with an entrepreneur interviewing other entrepreneurs.

I mostly feel that way because it all comes off like a big friggin’ circle jerk, with “Entrepreneur A” interviewing “Entrepreneur B,” whom every other “Entrepreneur” has interviewed 20-times over already. It all sounds the same, and the industry it’s spawned is even worse than the shows feeding the beast!

Erin Smith is actually an entrepreneur. She’s not just saying, “I’m en entrepreneur,” because she has a podcast — she has a podcast because she’s started several successful businesses. Sure, they may not be the kinds of things I want to do, but between her weekly tips and interviews, I can see how what she talks about can apply to being a full time writer.

Favorite Episode(s):

Compassion Plans podcastCompassion Plans

I like genuine things.

The handful of episodes of Compassion Plans I’ve listened to are genuine.

That alone makes it one of the shows I go to when I’m done with my absolutely must-listen-to shows!

Favorite Episode(s):

How to Disrupt Compassionately with Evo Terra

Marketing is Compassion with Tad Hargrave

Running Over the Debt Monster with James Kinson

 

My Favorite Thing About Podcast Movement 2014

My Favorite Thing About Podcast Movement 2014

This weekend, I attended Podcast Movement 2014. I considered writing one of the early, big recaps about the conference online — packed full of tasty SEO hooks and smart moves along those lines. But I realized this weekend that kind of thing just isn’t me.

At the same time, I was reminded what is my kind of thing…

The Friday Night Plan

Podcast Movement opened Friday night to a large crowd full of all kinds of cool people there to network. I knocked out day job work early and planned to zip into Dallas to get there before the crowd. I would have done just that were it not for a Coloradan I met years ago and a Haligonian I’d never met until that night…

During a previous conference, I saw a tweet from a guy in Colorado asking for a ride from the airport to the conference site. I previously wrote about it, here — but if you don’t want to read that, here’s the gist: my wife and I planned to arrive early to check into our room and start the weekend, but we left later to give a stranger a ride. In the process, we made a good friend. So when I got a message on Podcast Movement’s community from a guy in Halifax, Nova Scotia who was going to attend the conference, I decided to offer him a ride to Dallas.

It’s not every day someone sends you an introductory message that reads:

“I like the cut of your jib, good sir!”

(Seriously, that was Jesse Harley’s introduction to me.) So later Friday afternoon I offered Jesse a ride to the conference. He sent email during a connecting flight saying he appreciated the offer and would love that, only…he boarded his connecting flight before providing flight info.

A Wild Guess

When my workday ended, I headed for DFW Airport. I took a wild guess which flight he was on and decided to sit and wait in Terminal D. (A Halifax flight connecting in Toronto was coming in about the time I figured Jesse would arrive.) I emailed and told him I’d be waiting; I told him if I was in the wrong terminal (I was) that I’d swing to wherever he was to get him. He arrived later than planned and told me where he was. I zipped over there, found him at his baggage claim, and…we quickly realized his bag was lost!

Imagine: you’re coming into a new town for a 3-day conference and you only have the clothes you’re wearing! (The bag didn’t arrive all weekend, although I think Jesse will get to pick it up tomorrow, in time to head home with it.) You’ve arrived late, and you’re tired and hungry after dealing with a baggage claim guy who was so quiet and mumbling and out of it that you start looking for the candid cameras and wait for the punchline.

But the punchline is this:

“Your bag is lost and we have no record of it anywhere.”

Hanging Out (Not in Dallas)

Instead of zipping to the conference, since Jesse was hungry, we got a bite to eat locally. Between being tired, finding out his bag was lost, and the ambiance of a TexMex restaurant (they don’t have those in Halifax), it was a bit surreal for Jesse. When they brought him a margarita the size of his head (and a complimentary shot at the end of the meal that he described as “being punched in the face with a bag of sugar!”), that was the capper. We decided to not rush to Dallas.

I could have been there Friday, making connections that could have helped Men in Gorilla Suits, Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doorsmy other blog, my YouTube channel, and even hyped the things I’m planning to do in the vaguely-near-future. Instead, I hung out with a really cool new friend, driving around Grapevine Lake and taking the long way to Dallas so we could talk about all kinds of cool and geeky things.

The Best Part of This Weekend

Podcast Movement was a great conference. (They’ve already announced next year’s venue: The Omni Hotel in Ft. Worth.) I enjoyed today more than yesterday; today, the sessions seemed more about specifics and less about hype. I got to see friends and meet new people. I was reminded again of my initial shyness in crowds, but how I quickly open up because I love hearing about what others are up to — more than telling people what I do.

You might think the best thing about this weekend was meeting Jesse — and in many ways you’d be right. But the absolute best thing was introducing Jesse to Mason Pelt.

Like Jesse, Mason is obsessed with media — especially video. I’ve known and respected Mason for years and figured he and Jesse would get along great.

Here’s proof that they did:

 Jesse Harley and Mason Pelt

Lost luggage and three days in the same clothes be damned! When Jesse Harley talks about video production, he becomes a blur of excitement.

What I’m Good At

If you ask me what I’m good at, my answer is usually, “Juggling, writing, being nice to people, and listening.”

I’m not the best at pushing my own stuff, but I’m good about taking chances and introducing people to each other — even if it doesn’t benefit me in any way.

Seeing Jesse and Mason chatting was the best part of my weekend.

On Second Thought…

Okay, I lied: this was the best part of the weekend!

Jesse Harley and Christopher Gronlund and Podcast Movement 2014

Any time you can help out someone you don’t know and — after a taking a silly photo — get a big hug goodbye and part good friends is a great weekend!

Here’s to a safe trip home tomorrow, Jesse…and to hoping the airline has a lost bag full of clean clothes waiting for you just in time for the return trip to Nova Scotia!

Why I Podcast

Why I Podcast

I’ve had people ask me, “If you don’t make money with Men in Gorilla Suits and Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, then why do it?” Here are five reasons:

  1. While I love the solitude that comes with writing novels, it takes a while to complete a book. Podcasting gives me a weekly sense of completion — not one that comes every few years.
  2. Men in Gorilla Suits is just as much an excuse to hang out with Shawn Kupfer on a regular basis as it is to complete something new every week.
  3. I like picking any topic I find interesting and running with it. Look at the list of shows we’ve done and you’ll see we’ve forced ourselves to really examine how we feel about much more than a single focus. (Not that there is anything wrong with podcasts with a single focus; in fact, if you asked me what you should do to get a large audience, I’d say, “Focus on one thing and do it really well — not discuss random topics every week like we do!”)
  4. I like making our weekly images for the site. Seriously — it’s a blast!
  5. I like when a show takes on a life of its own and I go back and listen and think, “I’m especially proud of that episode!”

But what I like most about podcasting is the people I’ve met along the way!

Podcast Movement

Podcast Movement 2014 IconThis weekend is Podcast Movement. For a first-time conference, it’s bringing in over 600 people from all around the world.

I’ve already been chatting with a guy who makes short films and shoots video in Canada. One of the people who inspired me to podcast will be up from Austin. There will be plenty of local podcasters from the Dallas/Fort Worth area whom I see at a monthly podcast meetup.  And there will be a lot more people I don’t know and look forward to meeting.

All the sessions look great — Gary, Dan, Mitch, and Jared have done a great job getting presenters for no matter where you are with podcasting and your goals.

Get in Touch

If you bump into me at Podcast Movement and want to get in touch (or even get in touch before the conference), here’s how to do it:

Social Media:

Podcasts:

Books:

Oh Yeah…

Cash Car Convert LogoThis week’s Men in Gorilla Suits podcast is about subcultures. There’s a bit about podcasters as subculture from roughly the 9:00 mark to the 11:15 mark, including a bit about James Kinson’s Cash Car Convert, which is really a lot more than just how to save money by buying a cash car.

James is a panelist at the Getting A-List Guests for Your Podcast at Podcast Movement on Sunday. While I plan to attend Darrell Darnell’s Advanced Audio Editing Techniques at that time (we don’t have guests on Men in Gorilla Suits), all the panelists for the session with James look great — check it out!

How To Do Something New

How To Do Something New

I recently mentioned that the weekly podcast I do with a friend reached its 25th episode. If you’ve read anything here or on The Juggling Writer, you know I write and juggle. I like photography, hiking, canoeing, and many other things as well.

And I do these things because I simply started doing them.

Don’t Begin with an Excuse

I’ve met people at jobs, at conferences — even in line at the grocery store — who are terrified to try new things. If they aren’t terrified, they still try talking themselves out of trying something new for a variety of reasons.

It’s sad that so many people begin with an excuse.

Old Tennis Balls

Juggling’s not necessarily an expensive hobby, but some of the props aren’t cheap — especially when you begin juggling many things. I’m sure I’ve spent well over $1,000 on juggling props over the years. But that spring day in 1981 then I taught myself how to juggle, it was with three used tennis balls found around tennis courts in the park behind my house.

It cost me nothing to get started doing one of the things I love most in my life.

Podcasting on the Cheap

I look forward to the day Shawn and I get better gear for the Men in Gorilla Suits podcast and we sound like a radio show, but if we went into it feeling like we needed to build a full-blown recording studio, we’d probably never have started. We record using my Zoom H2n recorder as the main sound, with Shawn’s Zoom ZH1 as backup.

Shawn’s recorder cost about 100 bucks. My recorder — about $175.

Zoom Recorders

The Exceptions

When I talk about things in this manner, people sometimes say, “Well, if you were trying to get into racing cars or yachting, you couldn’t afford it!”

If I wanted to race F1 cars or command a huge sailing yacht — true — it would be long odds that I’d see myself do either regularly. But…I know a guy who races his VW Golf on parking lot tracks made with traffic cones — and a small sailboat for one or two people isn’t out of financial reach for many people. So there are even ways around the exceptions.

Where There’s a Will…

Sure, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” is a cliché, but it’s with good reason: it’s true! If you want to do something badly enough, you find a way to do it.

I like photography, but more expensive gear is out of my budget. Thing is, I’ve taken photos good enough to sell with articles I’ve written using $100 cameras. The best camera in my bag (a Nikon Coolpix P7100) can be had for $350. I’ve seen people take photos with pinhole cameras they made out of recycled material that I liked more than images captured with cameras worth thousands.

Most of us aren’t planning to buy our own LearJet and learn to fly; most of us want to do something that’s within our reach on some level. It may not be the ideal start due to budget or time restraints, but it’s not impossible unless you believe it is.

Still not convinced? Watch this:

The Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors Podcast

The Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors podcast is live!

Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors is the first novel I ever wrote. It’s a humorous coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross country in a possessed station wagon.

In episode 1:

When Michael O’Brien’s father, James, buys a new car just in time for the family vacation, he signs away more than his old ’74 Gremlin as a trade in.

I hope you’ll come along on this 21-week ride. Think of it as summer vacation dragged out through the cold months coming up.

If you like the Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors podcast, I hope you’ll tell your friends about it.

Podcast

I’ve wanted to podcast my first novel for a couple years. I’ve wanted to do a bi-weekly podcast for The Juggling Writer since I started the blog almost a year ago.

My first novel, called Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, is a humorous coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross country in a possessed station wagon. Check out the podcast here.

I’m still knocking around ideas for the The Juggling Writer podcast, but it’s something I’d really like to do.

I just found myself unemployed [again] after working for a month following a 7-month bout with unemployment.

Hopefully this time around with no job won’t last more than a week or two, but while I’m looking for work, I may as well put the time to good use and start figuring out how to get the best sound for podcasts.