The Best Podcasts of 2011

This list re-begins my favorites of 2011. Since it is actually the new year, I figure it is time to reflect upon my favorites of 2011. Coming later in the next few weeks will be lists on my favorite songs, albums, films, and general things of 2011. All lists are based on personal opinion and experience and are ultimately subjective. Feel free to comment with your own favorites.

In 2011, I took a bigger step into the podcasting world, probably doubling the amount of podcasts I listen to. I think that podcasts are taking the place of talk radio and are doing so in a way that nearly anyone can put themselves out there. I look forward to see what people will do with the platform in years to come.

This list is especially subjective, because each podcast is generally based around a certain subject, so if you have no interest in the particular subject, you will likely not enjoy it as much as I have. However, I do believe these people to be at the top of their game in their subjects, so if it does interest you, I suggest checking it out.

5. The Relevant Magazine Podcast-I have tried for a couple years now to get into this podcast, but it was either not serious enough for me or had too many inside jokes to really enjoy. This year however, I gave it a few episodes, where I committed myself to listening to it in its entirety and I became hooked. The hosts really have a great chemistry and this makes the segments flow really well. For the most part it contains lighthearted conversation about random subjects, but it also has live performances, interviews with artists, leaders, and organizations, and discussions about the magazine. Not necessarily for those who love the magazine, but entertaining for sure.

4. Rob Has a Podcast-RHAP is hosted by two time Surivor contestant Rob Cesternino (whom, to be clear, is my favorite contestant ever). For the most part the show covers reality television (mostly Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, and Big Brother) and it may be hard to get into if not a fan of any of those shows, but Rob is hilarious and his chemistry with his wife and co-host Nicole is fantastic. Rob has a brand of nerdy humor that I love and a real knowledge of social media that makes everything he does work great. If you’re a fan of reality television, or just television in general, it is definitely worth a listen.

3. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour-NPR’s hour long, weekly podcast touches on just about everything possible in culture. Its four hosts are experts on everything from music and television to opera and comic books, giving it quite a range in perspective that definitely places it ahead of some of their colleagues. At times it can get a little highbrow for a simple minded kid like me, but they pick such great topics to talk about that it always remains interesting. The “what is making me happy this week” segment is always great to listen to and makes me want to participate in my own culture podcast.

2. The AV Club’s Reasonable Discussions-The AV Club barely edged out NPR with their own culture podcast due to their more serious approach to art and how culture interacts with it. They have different people participate depending on the discussion, which makes it suffer a little as the relationship and chemistry is not developed week after week like in other podcasts. That’s not to say that the chemistry is not there, because it certainly is, especially in Scott Tobias and Tasha Robinson’s movie debates. Overall, they have a true love for the art that they discuss and a fervor for discussing it making it one of my favorite podcasts out there.

1. Slate’s Hang Up and ListenHang Up and Listen is a sports podcast for the intellectual. It is a weekly podcast featuring three highly educated sports lovers conversing about all the latest in sports around the world. While mostly talking about the four main American sports, they also try to cover other main sports events as often as possible. What makes them unique is their thought and attention to things that most sports fans or reporters often look over. Ethics and behavior for some reason get a pass in the sports world, as our stars can get away with things that a regular person would not. These guys call out this lack of accountability in the sports world and view sports through the lens of a philosopher. My experience has been eye-opening (as a sports fan who often glossed over these ethics in the sports world) and it has also been entertaining and informative. For these reasons Hang Up and Listen is my top podcast of the year.

Other podcasts worth checking out: Filmspotting, The Film Talk, The Tribe: A Survivor Podcast, Neue, CBS Sportsline Fantasy Football Podcast, The BS Report with Bill Simmons, The Kindlings Muse, NFL Podcast with Peter King, The Sports Poscast with Joe Posnaski

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