I think there is a certain type of person who just sees the word "podcast" and stops paying attention. It's an odd word that sounds sort of dorky, the type of old-Internet Frankenstein word that probably should have gone away with "cyberspace," "blogosphere" and "information superhighway." Some people just hear podcast and tune out.
It's really a shame. I can honestly say it's my favorite form of media. I've written about this before, but well-done podcasts can enlighten, inform and entertain -- the three basic tenets of modern journalism -- and do so at their own pace, completely à la carte. If you care about something, someone's putting together a podcast about it, just for you. The best ones are simply whole conversations between smart people allowed to flow at their own pace. As I wrote in that previous column: "It's smart people whispering things I didn't know into my ears. … Podcasts are for the avid, the diehards, the ones who care so much about a topic that they will actively seek it out in every possible medium: The people who want their obsessions to, literally, follow them around." Remember: Podcasts aren't for when you're sitting at your desk. They're when you're not. (Occasionally, even though it might not seem that way sometimes, you're not in fact at your desk.)
I honestly have no idea why anyone would ever listen to the radio; with podcasts, you get to pick your radio. (You know, like the internet.) You can listen to them in your car, while walking down the street, during your workouts … whenever you want. If you are not listening to podcasts built around your interests, you're only doing yourself a disservice.
I wrote that column before I started my own podcast, The Will Leitch Experience. I'm not sure if my podcast has reached the levels I hope it will at some point -- I still have some work to do as a broadcaster and as a host -- but it's improving, and today, we're actually starting our second season with our 65th podcast. (I decided I'd make each season 64 episodes, in case, uh, I want to put them in a bracket someday. Hey, stop pointing at me and giggling.)
The whole idea of the show was simply to have me talk to someone I found compelling, or insightful, or just fun, for half an hour every day. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but 30 minutes is the target. Hey, here's a daily conversation with a different interesting person from the sports world. It is not difficult to find compelling people to have on the show every day. It's difficult to fit them all in.
As you can surely tell, this is a passion project of mine, so I'll stop trying to convince you and simply direct you to some of the best podcasts we've had so far. If you listen to these and still think podcasts are dumb, then I promise not to bother you with this again. (Note: This promise is likely going to be broken.) I might not be the best host, but I do get the best guests.
Leigh Montville, 1.2.
The legendary sportswriter talked to me the day after the Boston bombing about the race, the city and how it'll never be the same.
Drew Magary, 1.3
The interview was good, but the audio quality was definitely not. It got better.
Earl "the Pearl" Monroe, 1.12
The basketball Hall of Famer had tons of stories, my favorite of which was the time someone slipped him angel dust at a party hosted by Bubba Smith. It didn't go well.
Cyd Zeigler, 1.15
The founder of OutSports came on the day after Jason Collins came out to Sports Illustrated and talked about how quickly attitudes about gay athletes have changed, and how much further they have to go.
Willie Geist, 1.17
The co-host of the "Today" show and "Morning Joe" talked about the Olympics, his career and how he loves nothing more than Illinois basketball.
Mike Breen, 1.23
The ESPN/ABC head NBA broadcaster -- the best play-by-play guy in the business, to my ears -- explained how insane it was to call the Malice at the Palace game.
Rick Chandler, 1.32
My old cohort at Deadspin and I reminisced, and Rick explained that he quit baseball beat reporting because there was an elephant in his parking spot.
Ben Mathis-Lilley, 1.35
I debated (and sorta lost) a debate about the new age of online journalism with the sports editor of Buzzfeed.
Jack McCallum, 1.36
No better person to preview the NBA Finals with than one of the best NBA writers of all time.
Jerry Lucas, 1.37
The guy is in the Hall of Fame. He's Jerry Lucas.
Cory Schwartz, 1.41
I did some serious nerding out with the head of MLB.com's stats department.
Spencer Hall, 1.46
The SB Nation/EDSBS head honcho walked me through what my move to Athens, Georgia was going to be like. And why the SEC is insane.
Marc Tracy, 1.51
The New Republic writer looked at the intersection of sports and politics.
Dom Cosentino, 1.55
The Deadspin writer is a lifelong Pirates fan and makes the most compelling case yet as for why you should be cheering for Pittsburgh.
Tom Ziller, 1.57
We ran down every single NBA free agent signing, and which ones were particularly idiotic.
Matt Vasgersian, 1.62
The MLB Network broadcaster tells the most hilarious story about working on the first-ever XFL telecast.
Joe Sheehan, 1.63
One of my favorite guests starting a yearly tradition of pretending he's commissioner and explaining what to fix in baseball, and what not to.
Michael Schur, 1.64
The co-creator of "Parks and Recreation" -- my favorite show on television -- and the guy who played Mose Schrute talks baseball.
The other ones have been good too! I just can't list them all. (Though I can here.) We've also had tons of Sports On Earth contributors, from Dave Kindred to Shaun Powell to Emma Span to Mike Tanier to Chuck Culpepper to Gwen Knapp to Patrick Hruby to Joe DeLessio to Howard Megdal.
There are tons of other excellent podcasts to listen to other than mine. But I don't think mine's too bad either. Subscribe, listen and rate if you're into that. Give podcasts a chance. I promise you will like them.
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