Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jess's Favorite Podcasts

I love podcasts (though Kyrie doesn't) and I listen to tons of them. I don't include all of them here, because a) you don't care and b) they aren't all feminism-related. Some of the ones I choose here are only tangentially feminist, but I think they'd still be of interest for someone looking to feminist up their podcast feed.

Bitch Radio: This is the podcast from the writers of Bitch Magazine, my personal favorite magazine of all time. Bitch is a feminist critique of pop culture. It doesn't update all that regularly, and the sound quality isn't the greatest - but that's because this is a low-budget operation without a fancy studio. They have no corporate sponsors, and rely on readers/listeners to support them. Read the magazine, listen to the podcast.

Citizen Radio: This is a four-times-a-week political commentary podcast with comedian Jamie Kilstein and journalist Allison Kilkenny (who are married. To each other, even!). They're radical leftist/vegans/atheists, and they're funny. The podcast can sometimes be frustrating, and they do what they call a 20 minute "douchebag buffer" of weird randomness at the beginning. The buffer, and the podcast in general, is funnier some days than others, because Jamie and Allison are people and sometimes they have good days and sometimes they have less-good days. I think they have a lot of interesting takes on issues, and they both certainly identify as feminist. There is also a forum for listeners that has turned into quite the community.

Democracy Now!: I mean, come on. Listen to or watch Democracy Now. Just do it. News with no corporate sponsorship is really hard to come by these days. Amy Goodman is a national treasure.

Double X: I could have grouped this one with the other Slate podcasts below, because it's a Slate production, but this is the only one ABOUT feminism. Double X is also a blog on the Slate site, and has a wider array of voices there. This particular group of women (and it's pretty much always straight, cis, white women podcasting) are not the most radical feminists around, but they do have an eye on cultural moments, and they're smart. Give it a try, see if it's for you.

Extra Hot Great
: This podcast is hosted by Tara Ariano, her husband David T. Cole, and their friend Joe Reid, all of Television Without Pity fame (Tara started it with Sarah Bunting, but neither of them work for the site anymore). Not a feminist podcast, but feminist podcasters, and they talk a lot about LGBTQ representations in film and television. It's hilarious, upbeat, and informed.

Filmspotting: So, this is not a feminist podcast, and both the hosts are men. But they are very smart and entertaining, and they often critique movies from a feminist perspective (even though they don't say that explicitly). Of all the movie podcasts I listen to, and I listen to many, this is the most feminist one. If they get all white-male-privilegey, which is rare, they respond very well and open-mindedly to criticism, and that's awesome.

NPR's Culturetopia (Pop Culture Happy Hour editions, especially): Pop Culture Happy Hour is a once-weekly edition of the Culturetopia podcast. Culturetopia is fine, it's NPR-y, it sometimes examines feminist issues. But I freaking love Pop Culture Happy Hour. The usual podcasters are more diverse than some, in that they include gay voices, and the host is a woman (Linda Holmes, whom I have an enormous "girl crush"* on). They talk about a variety of cultural moments and issues in smart, funny ways, and I love it. Love love love. Makes me happy every week.

PostBourgie: Here's a good one for intersectionality. It describes itself as "a semi-orderly conversation about class and politics and media and gender and whatever else we can think of." What else do you want, really? They don't mention race in this description, but that's a lot of what they talk about. It doesn't come out as often as I wish, but it's so interesting. Definitely worth downloading back episodes.

Overthinking It: The tagline of Overthinking It is "subjecting the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn't deserve." I think the culture deserves it, and this podcast is worthy of a listen. They ramble LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE, so if you can't handle that, don't bother, but wow, are these folks smart. I am such an overthinker that I can totally relate to their stream-of-consciousness discussions. The regular hosts are men (all identify as straight, but they're not all white) but they bring women on as guests with more frequency than most of the other all-male podcasts I listen to do. They're also over-educated (like me! And Kyrie!) and are very prone to examining issues of privilege, including their own. Thumbs up.

Rationally Speaking: This is for the science-minded among you. Not that the others aren't, but you know. This is hosted by one man and one woman, and they are intimidatingly brilliant. It comes out every couple weeks, and the hosts explore more issues around rationality than would have ever occurred to me to consider. They're secular, and so is the show. They interrogate religious issues, but unlike so many podcasts about secularism, they aren't nasty, sarcastic, or rude. They're smart, and thoughtful, and professional.

Reality Cast: This is the podcast for RHRealityCheck, hosted by Amanda Marcotte, whom you may know from Pandagon. Every week, she looks at women's health issues in the news and culture. It's usually only about 30 minutes long, but packed full of goodness. Marcotte is insightful and sharp, and gets interviews with really interesting people. Top-notch.

Slate Culture/Political Gabfests: These shows have different foci, as you can imagine. They're all hosted by straight white people, but tend toward feminism. Nothing radical here, but interesting discussions of events in the culture and in the news. Listen with a critical ear, though, as they can sometimes be privilege-blind.

Smiley & West: This is hosted by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. They are two of the best people we have. Inclusive, diverse, aware, they interrogate privilege at every pass, do phenomenal interviews, and bring people on the show who "take them to task" for things they said. That is a level of intellectual honesty that is hard to come by. They also inspire me to try not to hate people so much.

The Smartest Man in the World: Greg Proops. I don't need to say anything else about this, right? Listen, dammit.

The Tobolowsky Files: Oookay, I'm offering this one with a great big asterisk. This is a story-telling show hosted by my buddy Dave Chen of /Film fame. Stephen Tobolowsky, from every movie you have ever seen, but most memorably Groundhog Day and Mississippi Burning, tells stories of his life. He is an extremely gifted story teller (you can get a whole movie with just him telling stories at a party). Tobolowsky needs to do some work examining his straight white male privilege, though. He's not particularly nice to atheists - I think he believes we don't really have anything to believe in, which I think is silly - or to bisexuals, whom he once said will "by definition sleep with anything that moves." I hit the roof when he said that and had to take some time off. But he's smart, and needs to be called out on that shit, so listen to him tell great stories and let him know when he's being a jerk. He can take it, it's good for him.

Two Whole Cakes: You guys. Lesley Kinzel and Marianne Kirby have a podcast. It is a treasure. Go. Listen. To. It.

So, these are a lot of great podcasts, but some things are missing, I think. I have yet to find a queer podcast I really love (though Bitch, especially, covers a lot of queer issues). There's also not a lot of great intersectionality in podcasting, apparently. If you have suggestions I should try, I would LOVE to hear them.

* Yes, I'm using the word "girl," but "girl crush" is a specific term for a non-sexual crush on a lady type, especially a straight woman, by another lady type. In fact, I think this is a term straight used primarily by straight women. But since I am married and Linda is, as far as I know, straight, "crush" seemed inaccurate and "non-sexual crush" makes it sound like I don't think she's a hottie, which I do. I am in no way attempting to diminish Linda or myself through the use of the term. I tried to come up with a better way to say it, and this rambling overthinky footnote is the best I could do. Kyrie? This okay?

Er, not sure I can think of better wording. "Quasi-platonic crush"? "Semi-hetero laydee crush"? All my solutions are super goofy, I'm afraid. -- Kyrie

Squirrel-crush? -- Jess


  1. Wow - more podcasts for me to catch up with - awesome! Thanks for the list, Jess. If you're looking for another fun movie-related podcasted, try "Doug Loves Movies" - a live pod hosted by comedian Doug Benson with groups of comedians having smart fanboy and fangirl conversations about the latest releases. Check it out!

  2. Thanks! Yeah, I've heard of that podcast and listened to it a couple times. It needs a more regular place in the rotation. Some of my podcasts are on the chopping block right now. Oh, do you listen to The Bugle? I could have put that on this list, I guess, though it doesn't get around to feminism with any regularity. It's got John Oliver Andy Zaltzman as the hosts, and they're hilarious. I think it would be right up your alley. And please give yourself the gift of Smiley & West, if nothing else.

  3. Definitely - The Bugle is on my regular rotation along with Democracy Now, of course. I'm loving "Citizen Radio" already - I can't believe that those two can put out a daily pod - amazing!

  4. The subject of Jess's "girl crush" reminded me that I have a "man crush" on Massimo Pigliucci, one of the hosts of Rationally Speaking. He's an Italian dude living in New York, and he has two PhDs and has had a career in multiple academic fields. "Smart" doesn't begin to describe it. Yet, he doesn't strike me as arrogant or smug.

  5. Massimo is certainly man-crush worthy. Rarely am I intimidated by someone else's brain, but woah.