Over the past year, podcasts have slowly taken over all the quiet time I previously had in my life. What started as casual listenings on the train has transformed into errand running, walking to the mailbox and cooking dinner. It’s like I have an earworm to feed, and getting excited about hearing intros has become standard.
If you have talked to me at all in the past 6 months, you’ll know I won’t shut up about a few. So here I am using my blog as an outlet to shout it out on the internet, for a few people here and there to read about.
Note: These are not in favorite order, it’s just a list of 6. You know I couldn’t pick favorites that way.
- Hello From The Magic Tavern
Synopsis: Arnie Niekamp, the host of the podcast, fell into a portal behind a Chicago Burger King into the magical land of Foon. He quickly made friends with Usidor the Wizard (with an unbearably long name) and Chunt, a shapeshifter currently in the form of a badger. Each week Arnie interviews people of Foon to enlighten those of us on Earth about this magical land.
Chunt Pleeeeease! I’ve listened to 36 episodes in roughly two weeks time, and it has quickly become a staple in my routine. I first read about this on a listicle of “podcasts you should be listening to” via Geek & Sundry, and proceeded to put it on my list of subscriptions, but not listen to it until ~4 months later.
I was driving home one night and decided to give it a shot. My commute is heavy traffic most nights, so I could easily fit 2 episodes into one drive home. I almost had to pull my car over once I heard the second episode.
Why? Well, the first ever guest on the podcast was in love with a milkmaid named Rhiannon. I mean. Come on. How could I not immediately fall in love with this podcast? Episode TWO. It was a done deal.
As an aside, I also learned that Arnie is a writer for Jackbox Games, which has been a long time favorite of mine.
- The Adventure Zone
Synopsis: The McElroy family sits down for a bi-weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons. Griffin plays the DM while Travis, Justin & Clint (Dad) play as the band of travelers trying to save the world from evil relics, while pulling totally crazy stunts and taunting reoccurring characters lovingly.
I have to tell you all that the McElroy family is a gift to mankind. Griffin puts so much effort into the details of this podcast, fan suggested weapons that can be bought at the Fantasy Costco (which has it’s own theme song!), names of fans in the episodes, plus he’s written the entire storyline thus far. Listening to this podcast inspired me to want to become a DM, and I have all the means to do it, I just have to you know… prepare. Having to prepare anything like that makes me appreciate Griffin’s effort even more.
The show itself is a riot. It seems to be that Travis and Justin go out of their way to be ridiculous, but also to drive their little brother DM crazy. It all comes together so perfectly when Clint gets confused about which die he has to roll. Taako, Merle and Magnus have so much character and do some of the funniest things with robot arms and pocket spas you’ll ever hear anywhere. The character favorites that the podcast has make me so happy too, with Angus and Klarg being two that everyone gets so stoked about. My husband and I have ordered the fanart book for this, and I couldn’t be more excited to get it.
- CoolGames Inc.
Synopsis: Griffin McElroy and Nick Robinson take suggestions from the internet and discuss how to develop them into video games.
Griffin again! This was the first introduction I had into the McElroy family, and I was certainly not disappointed. Though the show wouldn’t be as successful without Nick either, so Griffin only gets half credit. I was looking for an entertaining gaming podcast that didn’t feel like a bunch of uppity dudes sounding like elitists about video games, and this was a perfect fit.
I couldn’t tell people about this show fast enough, because I laughed so damn hard at their first game. Half of the enjoyment you get out of listening to this is the banter that goes on between Nick and Griffin as they discuss how a game could or should work, and how Griffin is angry at Nick’s lack of general pop culture knowledge.
One of the best parts of the show is that you can tweet them your suggestions for them to discuss as video games. Psst… one of mine actually made the episode title. I lost my mind, screaming in my kitchen when that one went live. And Griffin got my name right (not my twitter handle, which is entirely forgivable), and I still just want that as a soundbite to set as a text noise. There are games that come out of this podcast that I would actually want to play too, so any indie developers who have too much time on their hands… get on that.
Synopsis: Justin McElroy & Sydnee McElroy discuss medical history throughout the ages, with it’s mishaps and really unfortunate attempts at “cure-alls.” Justin provides comedic support & questions from the everyman.
I know, you’re sensing a McElroy trend here. Sawbones took over my entire summer. Any time I was in a car, sitting in my kitchen or mowing my lawn, this was playing. There are a massive amount of episodes to catch up on (3 years worth at least), so I really enjoyed listening to them and mimicking Clint’s disclaimer intro every time. This podcast really feeds my general thirst for knowledge and learning.
There have been a few episodes that stand out to me in particular, like hysteria and the plague, but the one episode I listened to that affected me like nothing before was Justin & Sydnee’s birth story of their baby Charlie. I have no children yet, and have never in my life felt so much empathy for someone as I did for both of them. I found myself completely choked up and had no idea what to do with all of the feelings I had. That episode is not for the feint of heart, and it really just put so much perspective on how technology has given us so much in the way of life. Disclaimer: everything turned out fine and Charlie is happy and healthy now. Just so you know.
Synopsis: Aaron Mahnke divulges the origin stories of urban legends, hauntings, monsters and spooky phenomena, some being real and some not.
I feel like most people I know who have any semblance of podcast listening have heard of Lore at this point. Aaron has made a huge splash in the podcasting realm and for good reason: the way he tells the stories is a combination of haunting and historical. Aaron (up until the last episode or two) has done all his own research on stories like the origins of vampires, the jersey devil, haunted dolls & the affects of digging up bodies when they should be left alone. I started listening to these podcasts October 2015 and I couldn’t get enough. Not only is there a massive amount of stories around my area (I’ve grown up and lived in New England all my life, we’re quite haunted here), but he covers so many other interesting areas, New Orleans, London, parts of Canada… everyone’s got a story.
Another fun note: A lot of what Aaron discusses in his episodes overlaps with some of the medical history that is talked about on Sawbones. I certainly like hearing both sides of the story.
- Within The Wires
Synopsis: The “listener” in question has been given relaxation tapes that slowly go from standard directional tapes any facility would use to not-so-indirect directions on how to escape.
If you’ve listened to “Welcome to Nightvale,” then you may be familiar with the eerie story telling type of podcasts coming out of that group of folks. While I love the idea of Nightvale, I had really hard time getting into it because I kept zoning out – the voice artist is extremely calming to me. However, Within the Wires was so intriguing because there is so much left to the imagination at first, and then you can’t help but ask questions. What is this announcers relationship to the patient? Who are you? Why are you in this facility?
The whole podcast has a serious “Portal meets Arkham Asylum” vibe, where you desperately want to know more about the situation. Who are these people? What do they want with these patients? Particularly, this person the woman on the tapes gradually starts talking to, and eventually you find out she clearly knows from a previous life.
- Alice isn’t Dead – Also by the Welcome to Nightvale folks, about a woman who becomes a truck driver to find her wife who mysteriously disappeared.
- Invisibilia – Also feeding my curiosity, a podcast dedicated to studying the effects of invisible forces in everyday lives. Mostly mental & psychological states of mind, but also diving into general customs of human kind.
- Psychic Teachers – A way to feed my inner Sabrina and figure out how crystals, tarot and meditation can change my outlook on life.
Now that I’ve rambled about so very much, what do all of you listen to? What should be my next obsession? Leave me notes in the comments, and if you listen to any of these above – tell me your favorite parts about them.