In my day job, I am District Manager for a district that is half the size of Texas. Unfortunately, that means I’ve had very limited time to write for the Bureau in recent months. On the plus side, it means a lot of travel time and a lot of podcasts get listened to. Many of these are genre related, so I decided to share some of these with our readers, including a couple of fairly new ones that are very entertaining and right in line with Bureau 42 material. They are listed below in alphabetical order. What are you listening to?
- Aw Yeah Podcast with Art and Franco – Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, very nearly the sole creators of DC’s entire all ages line of comic titles, hang out with John Siuntres and just talk. Typical episodes release weekly and last about two hours. Comics are discussed but aren’t the focus. It’s really about three funny guys hanging out and recording their highly amusing conversations. They have also recorded commentaries for Superman (1978) and Planet of the Apes (1968) that are very, very worthwhile. You can listen via iTunes, LibSyn or an iOS app. Content is generally appropriate for all ages. This one I can recommend on the basis of having listened to every episode. The audio quality is poor in the early episodes, but it improves significantly. I’d say episode 31 guest starring Mark Waid is one of the best, and is a good sample episode to try out the series. It’s also one of the few with a guest star.
- Comic Book Club – This weekly podcast updates Tuesday nights, with rare extra episodes, and has an average running time of about an hour. Alex, Justin and Pete do a live comedy show with guests and trivia primarily about comics with other major geek topics thrown in when appropriate. Not necessarily right for all ages. I’ve heard every episode still available on iTunes, and find it generally enjoyable. You can find it at ComicBookClubLive.com or on iTunes. Those who live in New York or visit New York can be part of the audience during the live weekly recordings.
- Dimension X and X Minus One – This one is a new one for me to listen to. I’ve listened to a lot of generic sci-fi and superhero podcasts collecting material from old time radio, and Dimension X and X Minus One are among the strongest of the series. This podcast seems to be releasing episodes in batches, and in the original broadcast order. (There’s another podcast out there which is airing the 127 episodes of X Minus One in such a random order that after 225 episodes I still haven’t heard them all.) Available via iTunes. There are some original stories, but it’s more common to heard adaptations of works by Ray Bradbury and other notable talents.
- Doctor Who: Radio Free Skaro – This is a weekly 30 minute podcast covering all things Who. I just found out about it this weekend, and have listened to the first four episodes (which I enjoyed) and the first few seconds of the most recent episode, which was enough to get to spoiler warnings about this weekend’s premiere and bail before it is too late. One of the original two hosts is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which is also where I live. There’s not a lot of quality entertainment that comes out of this city, so it’s nice to hear. It is now up to three hosts, and the third is also from Edmonton. It can be found at its homepage or on iTunes.
- Fat Man on Batman – This is one of the best of the lot. Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) has spent the past couple of months interviewing people who have been somehow involved in Batman, with emphasis on the animated series. Episodes run about 90 minutes and are not family friendly in all cases. Less than ten episodes have come out so far. The general format is to hear the life story of the guest with emphasis on ties to Batman. Guests so far have included Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Tara Strong, Arlene Sorkin and more. This frequently goes beyond entertaining and into the realm of fascinating, particularly with Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy. (Conroy went to school with Christopher Reeve. The greatest Batman and the greatest Superman met each other long before either of them was associated with DC Comics.) This can be found via smodcast.com and via iTunes.
- The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio – Adam Graham hosts this show every weekday. Currently at five episodes a week, and soon to be six, he plays great detective series of the 1930s-1950s, with bonus content for “anniversary” episodes. There are five different shows every week, but each weekday has been consistent. (For example, Sherlock Holmes every Thursday.) That aspect will change a bit with the change of format with Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar from 30 minutes to 15 minute serials, but it’s still predictable. Graham has commentary before and after each episode. He is well past the 700 episode mark and iTunes only retains the 200 latest episodes in the main feed, but there are individual feeds for each series as well, including Box 13 (which was fantastic), Barrie Craig, The Thin Man, Father Brown, Pat Novak for Hire, Nero Wolfe, Pete Kelly’s Blues and a whole lot more. Very, very worthwhile. His Old Time Radio Dragnet series is about to end (which I’ve downloaded but haven’t started listening to), at which point a sixth day will be added to this podcast with a police procedural. Series are aired in original broadcast order, and are as complete as one can legally manage. It can be found via the official site, the iTunes podcast feed or the iOS app. Family friendly, and typically around the 30 minute mark.
- Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast – The first episode of this hit on August 8 of this year. They are only three episodes in, but I’ve enjoyed them all. The goal is to watch all 726 episodes of all six Star Trek series in (almost) broadcast order and discuss them. Episodes are in the 46-63 minute range thus far. Discussion includes a recap of the episode in question, comments on how it has aged from a production standpoint, as well as any moral lessons gleaned and a discussion of how well they age. The three episodes thus far have discussed the original series episodes The Cage (the original pilot that was unaired until 1986 and which is a bonus feature on the season three DVD and Blu-Ray sets, and which may also be the only episode discussed out of broadcast order), The Man Trap and Charlie X. At the rate of one episode per week, they should finish in 2026, unless Star Trek returns to TV. I am not yet sure if the movies will be included, or if the J.J. Abrams reboot will be discussed as well. This can be found at the official website or on iTunes. I’ll be following along for as long as possible, using this podcast as an excuse to take time each week to watch something not related to work. Content has been family friendly so far.
- The Nerdist – Chris Hardwick, founder of the Nerdist Network, interviews interesting people. I’ve only listened to three so far, but I’ve enjoyed them all. I particularly enjoyed the Danica McKellar episode, and gained tremendous respect for both McKellar and Hardwick when they expressed the belief that math is a language and should be taught as such, which is an idea I’ve advocated for years. It can be found on Nerdist.com and on iTunes.
- Nerdist Writer’s Panel – One of the top five podcasts on the list. Ben Blacker, who has written for Supernatural and other series, interviews professional writers once a week for an hour or two, typically in groups. We hear breaking in stories, audience questions, and all sorts of frequently hilarious and candid behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the industry. There is a heavy representation from people who have worked with Joss Whedon, but not yet Whedon himself. It can be found at nerdist.com or on iTunes. Usually family friendly, but not always.
- Old Time Radio Superman Show – Another show hosted by Adam Graham (who also does the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio mentioned above) this airs twice a week, replaying the 1940s radio Superman series in broadcast order, omitting serialized stories too incomplete to make sense. This project will likely take about a decade to complete, as there are approximately 1200 episodes that qualify for inclusion, and episode 500 should come some time this fall. Typically about 15 minutes, Adam provides commentary before the Sunday episode and after the Wednesday episode. (Early episodes had much more commentary than that.) The radio show was the source of much of Superman’s mythos, including first appearances of Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and the Daily Planet. Elements that were in the radio series but in missing episodes were kryptonite (invented solely so voice actor Bud Collyer could take a vacation; a sound alike moaned into the microphone for a week while other cast members carried the story) and the first ever meeting of Superman and Batman in any medium. It can be found at the official site or on iTunes.
- Thrilling Adventure Hour – Acker and Blacker collaborate on this new time show in the style of old time radio, and it is one of the funniest things on the internet. Recorded live once a month, this anthology series ranges from 10 to 60 minutes (30 minutes being, by far, the most typical length) with segments such as Beyond Belief (episodic stories about alcoholic mediums), Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars (serialized fiction about a marshall on Mars) and several more. Nathan Fillion is a frequent guest star, along with many others you’ll recognize. I suggest listening to a Beyond Belief chapter as a sample if you are so inclined, as they stand alone while many other entries are serialized. Your best bet, though, is to just download them all and start at the beginning. Once again, it is part of the Nerdist network, and can be found on iTunes. 94 episodes to date, and probably in the PG range of family friendly. (The language and explicit content is always clean, but there can be messages thin veiled between some of the lines.)
- Writing Excuses – 3-4 professional writers put out 15 minute podcasts every Sunday offering advice to beginning writers. Currently in season seven. The content is always clean. This is more informative than entertaining, but there are still some laughs to be had. It can be found at the official website or on iTunes.
- Word Balloon – This was the first podcast to grab my attention, and is still one of my favorites. Typically weekly, John Siuntres interviews comic book professionals for 1-4 hours in long form interviews that cover the latest products as well as personal conversations. Episodes with Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis and others are more likely to end up with an hour about favorite TV shows and movies than end up talking about comics. It can be found at the official site or on iTunes or via the iOS app. There is no guarantee of family friendly content, even on the podcast with the “clean” tag.
Finally, here’s a quick list of my top five picks:
- Thrilling Adventure Hour
- Fat Man on Batman
- Word Balloon
- Nerdist Writer’s Panel
- Aw Yeah Podcast
Honorable mention goes to Mission Log, which has a hell of a lot of potential but is still a little too new to be judged properly.
What did I miss that you are listening to? Please provide your recommendations (with or without links; we can use search engines) in the comments below.