There's no denying yesterday was a watershed for podcasting (and no, not just because Dan tidied up the Savage Lovecast studio). The fact that President Obama not only appeared as a guest on Marc Maron's WTF, but did so for a full-length episode, IN THE GARAGE (even Mick Jagger and Keith Richards could only be bothered to call in for 10 minutes apiece), represents a huge moment not only for Maron's show, but for the form itself. It's a bigger deal than the popularity of Serial, bigger than the first time Ricky Gervais called Karl Pilkington an idiot, bigger even than Lindy West's astonishingly powerful troll confrontation on This American Life.
If the president is seeking out WTF, not merely as a promo device but as a legitimate avenue for communicating in ways the frame of conventional media can't or won't contain (and no, I don't just mean that one word), it means that the open secret is no longer secret, which is already wasn't, but damn. Anyway, as a fan-with-complicated-feelings of both the president and the show, I found the episode exhilarating. But it also made me realize that I finally had a good excuse to point Slog readers to a two other podcasts that deserve to become staples in their weekly diets.
But first, two other ones:
You of course already know the venerable (and, let's be candid, brilliant) Savage Lovecast, and I'm hoping that by now you've had a chance to sample The Stranger's newest in-house aural delight, Blabbermouth, which is a Seattle-newsy week in review with a liberal sprinkling of wonkcentrism that features the sharp tongues of our excellent newsiepoos, notably host Eli Sanders (but check out the mighty Sydney Brownstone getting all up in it about climate change with meteorologist Cliff Mass!). Blabbermouth also occasionally stoops to offer its mic to members of the paper's arts department, which is always good.
(And obviously, you're aware of the locally produced Here Be Monsters, because you read this delightful profile of the guy who makes it. HBM announced this week that it will be partnering with Santa Monica public radio station KCRW for its fourth season—WHICH BEGINS TOMORROW!—fantastic news for everyone concerned, especially us. If you'd care to bone up on HBM in advance of S4, here's a good pu pu platter.)
NOW, the two ones I referred to way back before the jump:
Starlee Kine's Mystery Show is only a few weeks old, but it has already become a good friend (or as people like to say on social media, a dear, dear friend). Having been a fan of Kine's work on This American Life (and a minor-league lisp aficionado), I knew MS would be worth checking out, but the show is way better, more surprising, more affecting, and funnier than I'd imagined. These stories—which concern Kine's efforts to solve, duh, mysteries about disappearing video stores, belt buckles of mysterious provenance, and the vanity license plate that reads "I♥911"—are a crafty combination of journalism, absurd humor, personal essay, and audio wizardry. It relates to This American Life the way Parks and Recreation related to The Office—after a few minutes, you forget it's any kind of a spin-off (actually, I don't even know if it technically is, but it basically is) and simply revel in the joy of its relentlessly witty invention. Plus the theme song is by Sparks! I heartily recommend every episode that has yet been posted, including the latest one, which I haven't even heard yet, and also the Britney Spears one, which reveals that Spears regularly shops at the mall where both Stranger editor Christopher Frizzelle and your humble narrator independently spent the bulk (all puns intended) of our miserable preadolescences.
• My number one, very favorite podcast, however, is film historian/author/former LA Weekly critic Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This, which is dedicated to exploring, as she puts it, "the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century." The show is an intersection of Kenneth Anger and Robert Osborne, made of equal parts reverence for dream factory self-mythology and kill-yr-idols self-awareness. Longworth (whose name has always struck me as suitable for a Barbara Stanwyck antiheroine) is a fantastic writer and fascinating narrator equally adept at research, analysis, and the grippingly delectable details that fall in the shadow between gossip and scholarship. Best of all is the balance between stories you definitely know, things you vaguely think you might remember, and totally thrilling discoveries. If the age of panoply hasn't killed your appetite for movie history, the 40-ish minutes Longworth cooks up every week are a deeply edifying meal, made even more sumptuous by the ingenious (which is to say '90s indie rock/British pop-heavy) music selections that underscore each chapter.
The YMRT highlight reel abounds with memorable episodes: the series about the many loves of Howard Hughes (especially the Gene Tierney installment), the Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift one, the Lena Horne one, the Kim Novak one, the one about Sinatra's Trilogy LP, the feminist-realist reading of Raquel Welch, the Theda Bara one, the Marlene Dietrich one, the two-parter about Mia Farrow in the '60s, and of course the Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth one... truly, nearly every episode becomes the best one while it's playing. She would appear to have outdone herself with the current 11-part series entitled Charles Manson's Hollywood, the latest episode of which, Part 5: Doris Day and Terry Melcher, was posted today.
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to it right now.